The Minnesota boys basketball Class AA state tournament resumes action Wednesday afternoon and the Waseca Bluejays will face off against the Otters of Fergus Falls with a trip to the state championship game on the line. Here is a preview of the action.
No. 1 Waseca (21-1) versus No. 3 Fergus Falls (16-7), April 7, 5 p.m., Target Center
The Bluejays easily overcame the Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Tigers in the quarterfinals of the Class AA state tournament, 83-58. The Otters upset a very good Annandale team, 47-44. Both teams are in the midst of nine-game winning streaks.
Minnesota-Scores.net QRF rankings
Fergus Falls: 6
Key wins (QRF ranking)
Waseca: Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta (9), Marshall x3 (15; Class AAA), Blue Earth Area x2 (20), Waconia (22; Class AAA), New Prague (51; Class AAAA)
Fergus Falls: Annandale (4), Perham x2 (14), Sauk Rapids-Rice (18; Class AAA)
It would be difficult to argue that Waseca doesn't have the more impressive résumé between the two teams. The Bluejays have more wins against higher quality opponents than the Otters, though it should be mentioned that the vast majority of Fergus Falls' wins came against mid-level Class AAA teams. Fergus Falls' wins over Annandale and Perham provide solid evidence that their Final Four appearance is no fluke, however, Waseca holds the edge here.
Waseca: Minnehaha Academy (1; Class AAA)
Fergus Falls: Alexandria x2 (3; Class AAA), Brainerd (22; Class AAAA), Sartell-St. Stephen (23; Class AAA), St. Cloud Apollo (32; Class AAA), Detroit Lakes (43; Class AAA), St. Cloud Tech (45; Class AAA)
Once again, the advantage tilts in the Bluejays' favor. The Otters arguably played the more difficult overall schedule between the two teams with many of their games coming against Class AAA and AAAA opponents. However, a number of their losses came against Class AAA teams with a ranking above 23. By comparison, Waseca went 4-0 — and rather easily — against stiffer competition (Marshall, Waconia).
Matchup to watch
Ryan Dufault versus Dominic Aguilar
This game may very well be determined by a battle of the guards. While the matchup between the 6-foot-9-inch Andrew Morgan and 7-foot-1-inch Chance Fazio may draw a lot of eyeballs — and rightfully so as those are two big, talented athletes — whoever exerts their will the most between Dufault and Aguilar will ultimately determine which team comes out on top.
Aguilar is a dynamic athlete and Fergus Falls' most dangerous offensive weapon. Dufault is a stout point-of-attack defender who is no slouch offensively in his own right. However, one of these players was among the best boys basketball players in the state according the Minnesota Mr. Basketball committee, while the other was not. Advantage goes to Dufault.
Waseca 72, Fergus Falls 52
This matchup is a battle between an unstoppable force (Waseca's top-ranked offense) and an immovable object (the defense of Fergus Falls). However, at the end of the day, the Otters simply don't have the fire-power to hold rank with the Bluejays all game. Much like the game against Morris Area, this one will likely be close at halftime, but Waseca will pull away in the end. Fergus Falls holds Waseca to a scoring total well-below their season average, but the Bluejays still win comfortably.