Boys basketball: St. Charles wins thriller over Caledonia, advances to Section 1AA Championship

March 14, 2019

ROCHESTER, Minn. — The outcome was up in the air right up to the final sinal second, but St. Charles outlasted Caledonia and is on its way to the Section 1AA championship game after defeating the Warriors 65-63 in boys basketball semifinal action on Wednesday at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.

In a back-and-forth affair that featured eight lead changes, a pair of Kooper Vaughn free throws with 6.4 seconds to go made the difference for the Saints. Vaughn drew a foul after recovering a loose ball as time wound down and pushed SC ahead 65-63.

With six seconds to go, Warriors junior Noah King lobbed a pass up to Riley Gavin at the rim, but his tip-in try bounced in and out.

And the Saints rejoiced.

SC will play Lake City in the Section 1AA Championship at 8 p.m. Friday at the Mayo Civic Center Arena. The Tigers and Saints did not play in the regular season.

St. Charles and Caledonia traded makes for the final two minutes, tying it up three times down the stretch.

Noah King made the first of two free throws to tie the game at 61 with 1:14 to play, but his second bounced out, the Saints grabbed the rebound and were off and running. Leistikow drew a foul in transition and made both free throws to go ahead 63-61. And Noah King answered with a jumper after grabbing an offensive rebound to tie it back up.

The Saints were holding for last shot as the clock ran down from 30, but the Warriors poked the ball away. Vaughn and a Caledonia defender each dove after it, but Vaughn recovered the loose ball and drew a foul, sending him to the line for the game-winning free throws.

Vaughn finished with 14 points, with four 3s and those two free throws. Sam Holtz led the Saints with 21 points, while Drew Leistikow scored 12, Drew Maloney scored 11 and Sawyer Hander scored 7.

Noah King dominated the scoring for Caledonia, scoring 31 of his team’s 63 points. But he was erratic from the line and three missed free throws down the stretch made all the difference.

The Saints opened the game on a 9-0 run with makes by Hander, Holtz, Maloney, and Vaughn.

The Warriors went on an 13-0 run midway through the first half to cut their deficit down to 19-18. Noah King started the run with back-to-back baskets in transition, and Sam Privet, Riley Gavin and Austin Klug followed him up.

Leistikow finally got the Saints back on the board with 4:40 left in the first.

Noah King tied the game with a deep 3 with a defender in his face with 2:41 to go in the first. Sam Holtz pushed the Saints ahead with a pair of free throws, but an Austin Klug 3 gave the Warriors their first lead of the game 25-24.