Trojans denied chance to dance

The New Prague Trojan boys basketball team was hoping for a ticket to the Big Dance, the state boys basketball tournament, as they faced the St. Thomas Academy Cadets Wednesday, March 19, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.

But the defending state champion Cadets used a smothering defense to stop the Trojans' run and claim the ticket for themselves in a 47-28 win.

New Prague ends its season with a 23-6 record. In the process, the Trojans won a share of the Missota Conference title and advanced to a section championship game for the first time in 11 years and added two players to its 1,000-point club, Adam Michel and Tony Johnson.

St. Thomas Academy advances to the State Class AAA Tournament with a 22-6 record. They received the No. 2 seed, behind Benilde-St. Margaret's and were scheduled to face Little Falls (14-14) at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Mariucci Arena.

The Trojans will lose three starters Michel, Johnson and Brad Weiers as well as seven other seniors Nick Zweber, Ben Litzau, Jamie Kollasch, Tim Stepka, Ben Hendricks, Colin O'Brien and David Dubbe. The returning starters are Danny Geiger and Sam Dittberner along with two others who have significant playing time on varsity - Stephen Gross and Connor O'Brien.

Cadets 47, Trojans 28

Both teams started cold in the section championship game. St. Thomas Academy scored the first points of the game after nearly two minutes of play, on a three-pointer by Michael Fitzgerald. New Prague missed its first six shots from the field and didn't score until there was 11:30 left in the first half, when Geiger drove through traffic for a lay-up. That made it a 6-2 game.

The Cadets led 8-2 when Michel hit a three-pointer and Dittberner scored on a lay-up to cut the lead to one point with 9:50 remaining.

That was as close as the Trojans would get.

The Cadets extended their lead to nine points on a basket by Fritz Waldvogel, with 3:23 left in the half, and led by seven at halftime.

Any hope the Trojans had for a quick start in the first half disappeared when the Trojans turned the ball over twice in the first 30 seconds of the half. The teams traded baskets, then Waldvogel hit a three-pointer to extend the Cadet lead to 10. Michel hit a basket then Johnson scored a free throw to pull New Prague to within seven at 26-19, but the Cadets took control from there. STA led by 12 when Geiger hit a basket, making it 35-25 with 9:58 left in the game.

New Prague would not score another basket.

Alex Schneider scored on a dunk with 9:05 left to start the Cadets on a 12-3 run that ended the game. New Prague scored just three free throws in the game's final minutes.

New Prague shot an abysmal 27 percent from the field and committed 16 turnovers. The Cadets shot 37 percent and had just 11 turnovers. Both teams collected 30 rebounds.

New Prague's leading scorer was Michel with 10 points, while Geiger had 10. Waldvogel had 16 and Schneider 15 to lead the Cadets.

St. Thomas Acad. 21 26 - 47

New Prague 14 14 - 28

Mar. 19, at Mayo Civic Center, Rochester

St. Thomas Academy (47) Fitzgerald 9, Waldvogel 16, Ratelle 4, Szymanski 3, Schneider 15,

New Prague (28) Dittberner 2, Michel 10, Johnson 3, Geiger 8, Weiers 0, Gross 2, N. Zweber 0, Litzau 0, Con. O'Brien 4, Stepka 0, Hendricks 0, Col. O'Brien 0,

Fouls: (na) Fouled out: none; Technicals: none; Three point goals: STA 4 (na), NP 1 (Michel)

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