You remember the old saying, "it's hard to beat the same team three times"? Waconia may agree with it. Twice this year in conference play the Wildcats defeated Orono 69-51 but in the Class AAA State Tournament semi-final the Spartans survived a last second Ben Korteum shot that rimmed out at the buzzer. Orono will now play Columbia Heights Saturday in the state title game.
It terms of "fun games" the third Orono versus Waconia battle of the season wasn't. There were questionable calls, 34 turnovers, 18 missed free throws out of 43 overall attempts, and shooting percentages in the lower 30s for both teams.
Vanderbilt signed Waconia star Shelby Moats recorded a double-double at 10 points and 14 rebounds but he struggled from the field making 4 of 12 attempts. Shelby wasn't alone in his shooting woes. The only Waconia player to make more than half of his attempts was Korteum who sunk three treys and eight free throws on his way to a team high 19 points.
The numbers on the Orono side weren't much prettier. Nobody on their team who took more than one shot made half of their attempts and only three Spartans were able to make more than one shot.
Leader Jordan Smith scored on 8 of 21 attempts, he made four triples, and scored a game high 22 points with six boards. The difference between Smith and everybody else was when the game was on the line Jordan made the big play.
Waconia had been behind for most of the second half but a Korteum made three with about 90 seconds seemed to turn the game. The make sent the mostly purple and gold crowd into a frenzy giving the Wildcats the momentum.
A minute later Smith would silence the crowd and stop Waconia momentum with a pull-up jumper at about the elbow that will be relived in Orono circles for years.