Tiger boys fall at state

The Marshall Tigers boys basketball team had just four losses entering the Class AAA Minnesota State High School League Boys State Basketball Tournament – one of them courtesy of Orono to open the 2014 campaign. It was those Spartans who handed the Tigers loss No. 5 on Wednesday in the state quarterfinals at Williams Arena.

In a physical contest, the Spartans (22-8) defeated the Tigers, 77-72, in the second of four state quarterfinal games Wednesday to advance to face top-ranked DeLaSalle.

Marshall finishes its season at 24-5.

The fourth-ranked Spartans used a 16-8 rebounding advantage in the first half to take a 35-26 lead into the locker room. They opened the game with a 6-0 run. Marshall started the second half better than they started the game, scoring four straight points. Later, a Riley Sharbono three-pointer brought Marshall to within four points, but Orono was able to build its lead up to 10 with two free throws and a layup by Cole Hennings with 12:15 to go.

Marshall got back to within five points before Hennings answered with a big three-pointer with just over 10 minutes left. Sam Sustacek and Drew Hmielewski traded three-point plays, and Hmielewski brought the Tigers to within four points at 52-48. CD Douglas nailed a three-pointer to make it a 53-51 game – the closest they got to Orono since the first half – but the Spartans scored four straight to reclaim a six-point advantage with 6:05 left in the game.

The Spartans’ six-point lead stood up as the game went under 5 minutes and up to eight with two free throws by Sustacek. Orono later went up by 10 on two free throws, but the Tigers hung around and refused to let Orono run away with it. They trailed 69-64 with 1:04 remaining and Connor Winkelman cut it to 69-66 with a free throw. The last few minutes of the game were filled with free throws from both teams.

Riley Sharbono led the way for the Tigers with 22 points, and CD Douglas had 16.

Hennings finished with 23 points for Orono, which was 23-for-26 from the free throw line.