Prep boys basketball: North Woods powers way to Class A semifinals

MINNEAPOLIS -- Early in the second half of North Woods' state tournament quarterfinal Thursday evening against Westbrook-Walnut Grove at Williams Arena, Dylan Chiabotti let fly a 3-pointer that never had a chance, traveling about 18 feet, 9 inche...

032219.S.DNT_.BoyshoopsNorthwoods c10.JPG
Tyler Schank / North Woods players cheer after a 3-point basket in the second half of the Class A boys basketball state quarterfinal Thursday against Westbrook-Walnut Grove at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS - Early in the second half of North Woods’ state tournament quarterfinal Thursday evening against Westbrook-Walnut Grove at Williams Arena, Dylan Chiabotti let fly a 3-pointer that never had a chance, traveling about 18 feet, 9 inches, less than ideal considering the line is 19-9 from the rim.

But Chiabotti’s errant attempt dropped right into the hands of teammate Trevor Morrison, who went up for an easy layup. It was that kind of close for the Grizzlies, who, when things are going good, look like a handful of kids playing pick-up basketball at the park. And they have fun doing it.

Morrison promptly turned and pointed at Chiabotti, basketball sign language for “great look.”

“I said, ‘Hey, man, good pass,’ ” Morrison joked afterward.

The Grizzlies were all smiles after turning a three-point game at the break into a drama-free 56-39 victory - their 19th in a row - that has them in the semifinals vs. Ada-Borup on Friday afternoon at Target Center.


No. 3 North Woods (28-2) is vying for a third straight championship-game appearance following successive runner-up finishes. But that’s hardly been the focus of this postseason.

“We’re not talking about, ‘Let’s get to the title game and let’s give it a third shot,’ ” Grizzlies coach Will Kleppe said. “We just want to keep playing. The boys are giving us an opportunity to do that, and we want to make the most of it.”

Morrison, a junior, recorded game-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman T.J. Chiabotti added 11 points and veteran point guard Cade Goggleye had 10. Those three were in the media room afterward, with the latter two doing their best to prevent Morrison from keeping a straight face when it was his turn to face the cameras.

Indeed, the Grizzlies are comfortable in this building, where Goggleye’s half-court heave won a 2017 quarterfinal at the buzzer. Thursday, they shrugged off a dangerous start by seizing control in the second half thanks to a defensive adjustment that flustered the unseeded Chargers (23-8). Switching to a matchup zone while leading just 22-19, North Woods totaled nine steals over the final 18 minutes.

Westbrook-Walnut Grove never settled down.

“We just couldn’t find a way to counter that,” Chargers coach Derrick Jenniges said.

Goggleye keyed the decisive stretch offensively. He threw in an off-balance, left-handed shot from the lane to quiet a Chargers spurt, then, moments later, inbounded the ball and curled off a screen to the corner, where he swished home a no-doubt 3 for a 37-26 lead.

Dylan Chiabotti avenged his earlier airball by burying a long-range shot from almost the exact same spot, turning to salute the North Woods bench when it sailed through to create a 43-31 advantage.


Just as he’s done throughout his decorated prep career, Goggleye makes the Grizzlies go.

“It comes easy because Cade’s a great distributor,” Morrison said.

Goggleye acknowledged that North Woods “came out kind of slow, flat.” But the Grizzlies kept things close and went into the intermission buzzing after Darius Goggleye - Cade’s cousin - beat the horn with a jumper, before putting the Chargers away in the second half.

Now they get No. 2 seed Ada-Borup (29-1), which features 6-foot-8 big man Mason Miller.

“It’s just another challenge along the road,” said the 6-4 Morrison, who likely will be one of the Grizzlies tasked with tracking Miller on Friday. The semifinal gets underway at 2 p.m.

Thursday, 6-7 Parker Freeburg tallied 16 points on 8-for-11 shooting, but he was the only Charger in double figures.

Westbrook-WG 19-20-39
North Woods 22-34-56 Westbrook-Walnut Grove - Ethan Mischke 3, Wyatt Christians 4, Nathan Ross 7, Andrew Quade 5, Parker Freeburg 16, Hunter Lien 2, Coltin Pilaczynski 2. Totals 15 6-11 39.

3-point goals - Mischke, Ross, Quade.


North Woods - Cade Goggleye 10, Chase Kleppe 2, T.J. Chiabotti 11, Trevor Morrison 20, Darius Goggleye 6, Tanner Barto 1, Dylan Chiabotti 6. Totals 22 9-17 56.

3-point goals - C. Goggleye,  D. Chiabotti 2.

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