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Vikings land a counter punch, shoot down Rockets

ROCHESTER — No. 2 seeded Hayfield made all of the plays it needed down the stretch as it beat No. 3 seeded Randolph 68-60 in a Section 1A boys basketball semifinal in Mayo Civic Center Saturday.

Randolph’s AJ Weidener knocked two threes in less than a minute to tie the game at 53 with 3:38 left, but the Vikings (24-5 overall) took the lead for good when Luke Dudycha knocked down a pair of free throws to make it 55-53 with three minutes left. Dudycha, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, made another huge play when he pulled down an offensive rebound and found Ethan Slaathaug, who connected on a three to put the Vikings up 58-54 with 2:25 left.

“All year we’ve been doing that,” Dudycha said. “I knew I was going to kick it out and he knocked it down. It was a huge shot for us. Ethan was knocking them down and that got us up. He’s a great shooter.”

Slaathaug knocked down six-of-eight from downtown and he finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

“We hit some big shots,” Hayfield head coach Chris Pack said. “It was two good offensive teams that were going to make runs at each other and whoever answered, was going to win. It was a game of punch and counter punch.”

Dudycha was a big force in the paint for the Vikings throughout the night as Hayfield tried to keep Randolph’s 1,000 point scorer Nick Drinken from wreaking havoc.

“We had to slow down Drinken,” Dudycha said. “He’s quick on the drive and in the second half we shut him down and made it hard for his teammates to get open shots. We put ourselves in a good spot to win the game.”

The Rockets (22-7 overall) led by as many as 10 in the first half, but the Vikings closed the frame on a 6-1 burst to get within three at the break. Slaathaug hit four threes in the first half for Hayfield.

The Rockets made seven threes in the first half.

“Our game plan was to flash the middle against that zone and we did a good job,” Pack said. “Isaac (Matti) hit a couple from the inside and I was happy with our attack, they were just on fire too.”

Hayfield will take on Blooming Prairie in the Section 1A title game in Mayo Civic Center at 6 p.m. Thursday. BP won both regular season games against Hayfield, which last went to the state tournament in 2013.

Randolph 34  26    60

Hayfield 31  37    68

Hayfield scoring: Ethan Slaathaug, 20; Luke Dudycha, 16; Easton Fritcher, 10; Isaac Matti, 10; Patrick Towey, 9; Brady Nelson, 3; free throws: 80 percent (16-for-20); rebounds: 37 (Dudycha, 11); turnovers: 10