ROCHESTER, Minn. — After entering halftime tied at 46, the Caledonia High School boys basketball team dominated the second half to defeat St. Charles 99-78 in an MSHSL Section 1AA semifinal game Saturday at the Mayo Civic Auditorium.
The Warriors (25-4) earned a trip to the section championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday, right back at the Mayo Civic Auditorium.
They will play the winner of Saturday’s late matchup between Byron and Lake City for a shot in the MSHSL Class AA State Boys Basketball Tournament.
Lake City ended the Warriors’ season in the section championship game a year ago.
“It’s unbelievable to get this win,” Caledonia senior Owen King said. “We knew we would have to bring it defensively. They’re a great team, they hit a lot of shots. We just had to keep attacking. Some of our shots still weren’t falling, but we were able to get the win.”
The Warriors rode a late surge of momentum in the second half from the first half to put some distance between themselves and the Saints.
After St. Charles (24-5) went on a run late in the half to take a 46-42 lead, Caledonia got a pair of steals by Noah Kearney and Owen King in the final seconds to flip the momentum and go into the break tied at 46.
“Noah Kearney made a big play on the play before that to get a steal so we could make it a 2-point game,” Owen King said. “And then we knew Maloney was going to dribble it up and I saw him turn his back and I was able to go get it and get that layup. That was huge for our momentum to tie it up into the second half.”
Caledonia came out hot, scoring eight straight points in the first 90 seconds. Owen King got a steal and an end-to-end layup. He assisted his brother Noah King on another basket, Morem made a basket, and Noah King got another to make it 54-46.
Eight points is as close as the Saints got the rest of the way, as the Warriors built their lead from there.
“We definitely shot better in the second half, and they shot better in the first,” Caledonia coach Brad King said. “We ran a few more sets in the second half and it ended up working out for us. We had a couple of advantages that we were able to take in the second half that we didn’t in the first.”
St. Charles made eight 3-point shots in the first half, but slowed down in the second as the Warriors defended them better and didn’t let them get the same open looks they had before the break.
“We didn’t want to give them set 3s,” Owen King said. “We wanted them to have to dribble into it and come of screens into 3-pointers and we did a better job of that in the second half.”
The back-and-forth first half featured seven lead changes and four ties.
Midway through the first half, Keagan Maloney scored seven-straight points for St. Charles to erase a four-point deficit and turn it into a 24-21 lead. He made a 3, two free throws and a layup during the run before Noah King answered with a 3 to tie it up at 24.
Noah King scored a game-high 37 points, while Owen King scored 26 for Caledonia and Marten Morem scored 22.
“My outside shots weren’t falling,” Owen King said. “I settled a little bit for 3-pointers and jumpers. At times, I did a good job of getting to the rim. My teammates helped me by setting screens and moving to the ball. And Noah did a great job scoring for us, too.”
Maloney finished with 26 for St. Charles while Drew Leistikow scored 22.
St. Charles defeated Caledonia 79-75 in the regular season, but Coach King wasn’t interested in any talk of a revenge game.
“We rarely ever talk about a revenge factor,” the Brad King said. “We look at the regular season as preparing for this season — the postseason. They’re a heck of a basketball team. It was a fun game.”