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St. Bernard's derails B-G-MR

MINNEAPOLIS - St. Bernard's senior forward Trevor Mbakwe sat down with 8 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first half. He had just picked up a technical foul for taunting Badger-Greenbush-Middle River after he made a thunderous slam dunk. Befor...

MINNEAPOLIS - St. Bernard's senior forward Trevor Mbakwe sat down with 8 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first half.

He had just picked up a technical foul for taunting Badger-Greenbush-Middle River after he made a thunderous slam dunk. Before the 6-foot-7 Mbakwe departed, he had five blocks, two dunks and several other acrobatic plays above and around the rim.

Mbakwe spent nearly as much time on the bench as he did on the court in the second half, as he ran into foul trouble.

But his game-altering first 10 minutes, in which his team took a 20-3 lead, were more than enough to spark St. Bernard's to a 64-46 victory against the Gators in the Minnesota Class A boys state high school basketball tournament Wednesday in the Target Center.

Still unbeaten


St. Bernard's improved to 31-0. The Bulldogs will meet Ellsworth in Friday's semifinals. Badger-Greenbush-Middle River ended its season at 23-7.

The Gators' first trip to the state boys basketball tournament was an eye-opener in terms of athleticism. In a span of eight seconds midway through the first half, Mbakwe had a slam dunk on one end and a high-flying blocked shot on the other.

A transfer from Henry Sibley this year, he showed why he will be playing at NCAA Division I Marquette beginning next season. And the Bulldogs showed why they're undefeated, getting key contributions from others.

"I actually thought we did a pretty good job on Trevor," Badger-Greenbush-Middle River coach Kent Christian said. "We got him in early foul trouble. We just came out and didn't shoot the ball like we're capable of in the first half."

Imposing defender

Mbakwe's ability to block and alter shots had a little to do with that. The Gators were just 3-for-20 from the field while being held to 11 points in the first 18 minutes after entering the game averaging nearly 75 points per game.

"Their defense was definitely better than I had anticipated," Christian said of the Bulldogs. "But also a lot has to do with the first state-tournament jitters. Not that we had very good looks, but the ones that we had we just couldn't get down."

In addition to playing solid defense, the Bulldogs showed a balanced offense. Chad Jones had a game-high 22 points, including 2-for-3 shooting from 3-point range, to lead St. Bernard's.


Teammate Patrick Cassidy added 12 points. Mbakwe finished with 11 points, six rebounds and seven blocks in 26 minutes of court time.

"(Mbakwe's) a phenomenal athlete," Christian said. "He can really get up. I think we did a really good job defensively on him, but we definitely had to send a lot of guys at him, and that opened a lot of shots for Jones, and he buried them.

"If he's going to do that, we knew we were in big trouble."

Jones scored 16 of his points in the second half to keep the Bulldogs from being threatened. Mbakwe wasn't as big of a factor in the final 18 minutes, missing two dunks and sitting out for several minutes with four fouls.

"I probably spent more time on the bench in this game than I have the whole season," Mbakwe said. "It was hard to get in a groove."

Among the biggest cheers for the Gators came when backup forward Carl Gaukerud nailed a 3-pointer with 1:39 left in the second half and backup guard Jordan Holm hit a trey at the final buzzer.

Despite trailing 32-11 at halftime, Badger-Greenbush-Middle River played a spirited second half. The Gators outscored St. Bernard's 35-32 in the final 18 minutes.

Zachary Creviston had a team-high 19 points for B-G-MR. Teammate Jordan Creviston added 10.


"They are very scrappy," St. Bernard's coach Ed Cassidy said. "I had some tape on them and watched them and was very worried. They have a nice club, and they're here for a reason.

"You saw what they did with their size. They basically took our inside game away to some degree. Chad hit some big shots for us from the perimeter. And we need to do that, because if we're not hitting from the outside, they throw five guys in the paint and make it very difficult for us to try to score."

The Bulldogs finished 51 percent from the field, compared to the Gators' 33 percent.

"I'm very proud of their effort the second half," Christian said of his players. "We definitely could have folded the tent, being down that much. Our whole goal at halftime was to maybe make a run at getting into the game but definitely beating them the second half."

Christian said the team will stay in the Twin Cities for the weekend.

"We have to enjoy the experience," he said.

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