The top seed in the Section 3A-North boys' basketball tournament, the Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks wanted to make sure they played like it Saturday in their first game of the postseason.
With more size, athleticism and speed than their quarterfinals opponent, the Blackjacks handily defeated Lincoln HI 63-35 after getting out to a fast start at Montevideo High School.
Dawson-Boyd held Lincoln HI, the No. 8 seed in the sub-section, to just one shot in the first three minutes and knocked down seven 3-pointers in the opening half as they built a 43-18 lead through the opening 18 minutes of action. Senior Nathaniel Huot hit six of those 3s and finished with 21 points and seven assists, while sophomore forward Michael Lee tallied a double-double with 22 points and 10 boards.
"This was one of those games that certainly everybody thinks you're going to win, but you have to come out and control the game early and I thought we did that on both ends of the floor," Dawson-Boyd head coach Cory Larson said. "We got a few easy ones inside and Nathaniel knocked down some 3s early."
Dawson-Boyd (20-5), the eighth-ranked team in Class A, advances to face No. 5 seed Minneota at 6 p.m. Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State University. The Rebels end their year with an 8-16 record.
Junior guard Joey Lee added 13 points, six rebounds and four assists for Dawson-Boyd. He also combined with his teammates to slow down Lincoln HI's top player, Jordan Beck.
Beck had scored 27 points Tuesday in an opening-round game against Renville County West. He had just five points Saturday as clean shots were few and far between.
"He's good at coming off screens to get open shots, but they're so good at defending everything that it's tough for us to get an open look, even from our best player," Lincoln HI head coach Brock Citterman said. "Their speed and their quickness is one of a kind and we could hardly get a shot off."
Michael Lee's size allowed him to have a major impact on both ends. At 6-foot-4, he stood at least five inches taller than any of Lincoln HI's starters. He blocked three shots and altered a few more.
Michael Lee, Joey Lee and Huot scored all but seven of Dawson-Boyd's points Saturday. It's been a common occurrence for the team to have those three score the vast majority of points in games throughout the season. Though the other players don't always score much, Larson said he has been happy with the roles that they have adapted to.
"Those three kids do trust their teammates and they're playing unselfishly," Larson said. "At the same time, we need to keep them aggressive but we also need to make sure that they're getting the other kids involved. Probably the biggest thing I'm happy with with those other kids is they've stepped up and played fairly solid defense for us and they understand their strengths, which has made us a pretty competitive team."
Nate Pavek led Lincoln HI with 14 points and Ryan Rybinski hit two 3-pointers and scored eight.
The Rebels struggled at times this season due to their lack of size and the inexperience of some players, but Citterman said he thinks the team has set a solid foundation for the future.
"A lot of these guys didn't have any experience at all before this year other than Nate (Pavek) and Jordan Beck," Citterman said. "They grew a lot throughout the course of the year. We'll have all five of our starters back, plus our first two or three off the bench, so we'll have a nice core group to build on and it all starts tomorrow in getting better for next year. Good things are expected next year and hopefully we can build on this."
Lincoln HI (35)
Devon Buffington 1 0-0 2, Nathaniel Citterman 1 0-0 3, Jordan Beck 2 0-0 5, Ryan Rybinski 3 0-0 8, Nate Pavek 6 2-2 14, Trysten Sudemann 1 0-0 3. Totals 14 2-2 35. 3-pointers 5 Rebounds 20 (Beck 4) Assists 4 (Jeff Gladis 3) Steals 7 (Gladis 2) Blocks 0 Turnovers 19 Total Fouls 8.
Nathaniel Huot 7 1-1 21, Noah Stelter 1 1-2 3, Joey Lee 6 0-0 13, Michael Lee 10 2-2 22, Cody Aafedt 1 0-0 2, Zach Stratmoen 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 4-5 63. 3-pointers 7 (Huot 6) Rebounds 26 (M. Lee 10, J. Lee 6) Assists 15 (Huot 7, J. Lee 4) Steals 5 (Huot 2) Blocks 4 (M. Lee 3) Turnovers 11 Total Fouls 7.
Halftime Score: Dawson-Boyd 43, Lincoln HI 18.