March 18, 2023 at 4:19 p.m.
Gerads leads Huskies past Milaca in 6AA championship
Tysen Gerads is not Irish. The way the Albany senior plays basketball, he did not need St. Patrick’s Day luck.
Gerads gave a lesson on how to slice and dice an opposing defense, scoring 27 points – mostly on drives to the basket -- in leading the Huskies to a 74-57 victory in the Section 6AA championship Friday, March 17, at St. Cloud State University’s Halenbeck Hall. The win puts Albany in the Minnesota State High School League Class AA State Tournament for the fifth time in school history and first since 2015.
Albany lost to eventual state champion Annandale in the section final a year ago.
“We prepared good enough for this one. We didn’t need any luck,” said Gerads, who had 15 points at halftime. “It hurt a lot last year not winning in this round, so we came in very motivated. This feels so good. It was our goal to come back and get to this game, and we’re not done yet.”
The Huskies (29-1), who were ranked seventh in the final Class AA rankings, earned the No. 2 seed and will play Pequot Lakes (25-5) in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, at the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Albany beat the Patriots 74-52 Jan. 9 in the regular season. The quarterfinal round in Class AA is a day earlier than normal due to a Timberwolves game at Target Center Wednesday, March 22.
Top-seeded Holy Family faces Eden Valley-Watkins, No. 3 Plainview-Elgin-Millville faces Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton and No. 4 Maple River plays No. 5 Minnehaha Academy in other quarterfinal matchups.
A slew of upsets in section finals across the state likely means the Class AA field is wide open. Top-ranked Holy Family held off Minneapolis North in the Section 5 championship, but only Maple River (No. 5), Albany (No. 7) and Minnehaha Academy (No. 8) were represented in the final state rankings among tournament teams.
Plainview-Elgin-Millville upset second-ranked Lake City in Section 1AA, Eden Valley-Watkins claimed the 3AA title, while Pequot Lakes and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton won Sections 7AA and 8AA, respectively.
“We knew we had a pretty good crew this season,” 10th-year Albany head coach Cory Schlagel said. “This group is pretty special in the way they come to practice every day and the way they prepare. We expect to come out and compete. Now we go down and play with the big boys and see how we measure up.”
The Huskies defeated Milaca twice in Granite Ridge Conference games this season, including 90-55 Feb. 28. Any worries about over-confidence were erased quickly, however.
The Wolves, who finished 23-7, scored the game’s first five points. Albany wasted little time roaring back, increasing its lead to 27-13 on the first of a pair of two-handed dunks from Gerads.
Leading 33-22 at halftime, the Huskies scored the first 12 points of the second half and kept Milaca out of legitimate striking distance thereafter.
“This is what we tried to do and why we practiced so hard all season,” said sophomore Sam Hondl, who had 15 points. “We’re not done yet. We still want more. We’re looking onto the next game, and we’ll be ready. This was amazing. Since I was a little kid, I’ve been coming to these games and dreaming of playing on this floor one day.”
Ethan Borgerding, a huge factor in the Huskies’ section semifinal win over Sauk Centre, scored 10 points. Sophomore Zeke Austin added 10 points and junior Andrew Olson hit three second-half 3-pointers to finish with nine points.
“It’s a new game in the playoffs and anything can happen, so we just came in here and played as hard as we can,” Austin said. “It’s so fun in here. The crowd was loud and that made it awesome. I’m really excited to play at state and be with my team.”
MIL 22 35 – 57
ALB 33 41 – 74
ALBANY: Zeke Austin 10, Tanner Reid 9, Andrew Olson 3, Gerads 27, Hondl 15, Borgerding 10.