MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- About a half hour after winning their third state title in four years, with the seats at Target Center almost empty, members of the Litchfield basketball team sat and stood by their bench, still soaking up the moment.
None more than John Carlson.
Both of them.
"I've been playing with these guys since I was eight," John Carlson the player said after his team beat DeLaSalle 51-33 for the Dragons' second straight Class 2A title. Carlson, a senior, played his last game for Litchfield (30-2) and will play football at Notre Dame this fall.
"We've become so close. We know each other so well. It's so hard to be done."
Ditto for his coach, and father, John Carlson Sr.
"I've never coached without one of my sons," he said.
Carlson the player scored 20 points on an 8-for-8 performance from the floor and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Dragons. It was a fitting way for him to end his basketball career: on top.
In other championship games on Saturday, Mankato Loyola claimed the 1A crown by beating Ellsworth 65-55; Minneapolis Patrick Henry beat Sauk Rapids-Rice 69-55 and Minneapolis North pulled out an 82-73 double-overtime win over Osseo.
Carlson, who averaged 17 points and nine rebounds coming into the state tournament, had 15 of his points midway through the third quarter and had his way with DeLaSalle (23-9) in the low post.
"We knew we had the size advantage and we knew we had to exploit it," Carlson said.
That size advantage was evident from the start to DeLaSalle coach Dave Thorson.
"During introductions, it looked like the J.V. versus the varsity," Thorson said.
The unranked Islanders were looking for their third straight upset in the tournament after beating No. 5 Pipestone Area and No. 6 Esko. But the Dragons proved to be too tough on offense and defense. DeLaSalle's quickness was stuffed by Litchfield's power.
The Dragons suffocated the Islanders with a zone defense and never let them get a good look at the basket. The Islanders were making their 13th tournament appearance after missing it last year.
"I hope this will motivate them," Thorson said.
The only other defending champion in the field, Minneapolis Patrick Henry, also retained its crown.
The Patriots won their fourth straight title by wearing down top-ranked Sauk Rapids-Rice (26-4) with a swarming defense and excellent rebounding. Henry (26-6) forced the Storm into 12 turnovers and outrebounded them 46-30.
Calvin Walls, who along with Lawrence McKenzie scored 20 points to lead Henry, was already talking about next year, and the next.
"It's not going to end with a four-peat," Walls said. "It's going to five, six, seven, even eight. We're building a dynasty here."
The win was especially sweet for the Patriots, who started out 2-5 but finished by winning 24 of its last 25 games. The Patriots believed all along they were still the team to beat in the tournament.
"The whole year we were wondering who this Sauk Rapids team was, and why they was ranked No. 1 ahead of us," McKenzie said. "It was just great just letting them know who was really No. 1."
The Storm stayed with the Patriots through two quarters and through much of the third, but couldn't hang on.
"We tried to focus on some of our strengths on the inside on offense and defense," Storm coach Jon Roesch said. "But they came out and hit a couple of deep shots to make us extend our 'D."'
The most exciting game of the day was the double-overtime marathon match between No. 2 North and No. 9 Osseo. With Osseo threatening to swipe the Class 4A title, North rode the bulky shoulders of 7-foot James Davis, who scored 13 of his 26 points in the two overtimes.
"I just do what the coach tells me to," Davis said. "He was telling the guys to get me the ball and for me to put it in so I was just doing what I was told."
The game was tied at 66 after the first overtime. But then Davis took over as North outscored Osseo 16-7 in the second overtime.
"James is a dominant force underneath," North coach Bret McNeal said. "Our game plan for the whole game was to work it to him down low. We just didn't execute that for most of the game."
Still, Orioles coach Tim Theisen praised his players.
"The score shows we lost, but those kids played great," Theisen said. "On paper, North is a much better team but you can't gauge everything on paper. Those kids gave it their all tonight and they just ended up wearing us down."
In the Class 1A game, Mankato Loyola's Tyler Westman and Truc Ho got the best of Ellworth's Curt Schilling and Dylan Kvaale, Westman scored 27 points and Ho 16 as the Crusaders won their first-ever state championship and finished 32-0 -- the only boys team in the state to go undefeated.
"It doesn't get any better than this," Westman said.
Schilling had 17 points for Ellsworth, but only two after halftime.
"They really plugged up the middle," Ellsworth coach Ken Kvaale said. "When our shots didn't fall, it wasn't pretty."
The Panthers (25-2) would pull within six points in the fourth quarter, but wouldn't come any closer as Loyola sank its foul shots to close the game out.
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