Trojans make first state basketball trip since 1959
Fifty-eight years of anguish for the Wayzata boys basketball program ended on March 15 at Osseo High School, when the Trojans won a trip to the State Class 4A Tournament by beating Hopkins 66-51.
The win is historic because it gives Wayzata its first state tourney berth since 1959. In the championship game that year, the Trojans defeated Carlton, a small high school from the Duluth area, 55-41.
Dean Sullivan was the star guard and leading scorer for Wayzata, while Ray Zitzloff, who went on to play football for the University of Minnesota, was a standout at forward. It is interesting to note that the only other state basketball trips for Wayzata were in 1925 and 1926. None of those fellows are around to enjoy the Trojans’ success.
After splitting with Hopkins during the 2016-17 regular season, Wayzata knew this would be a tough, physical game, and probably a close one.
But the Trojans’ three-point shooting gave them a 31-19 lead at the end of the first half. Senior guard Ryan Lindberg hit two threes in the first 18 minutes, and sophomore guard Luke Paulson came off the bench to hit two. Wayzata’s other sophomore guard, Jacob Beeninga, also hit from long distance.
Wayzata led by as many as 16 points in the first half, and then in the second half they led by 10-12 points most of the way.
Hopkins did cut the margin to seven points, but only for a few seconds.
Going into the final minute of the second half, Wayzata led 63-51, then senior center Alex Jensen took a charge that, which ended Hopkins’ hopes.
“Wayzata deserved to win,” said Hopkins head coach Kenny Novak Jr. “Ishmael [El-Amin] tried to keep us in the game, but he needed more help. Wayzata just didn’t give us any easy shots.”
“Hopkins is a really good team,” said Wayzata head coach Bryan Schnettler. “Before the game we talked about this as just another basketball game. Our guys had been waiting a long time for this moment. They all put the team first and gave a great effort.”
Senior co-captains Lindberg and Gavin Baumgartner, the modern versions of Dean Sullivan and Ray Zitzloff, were determined to get it done.
“We’ve been confident all season,” said Baumgartner. “Going into every game, we’re thinking, 1-0.”
“Our shooting in the first half was obviously big,” said Lindberg, who finished the evening with 16 points. “The second half we were able to get a lot of shots around the rim. Whether it was outside or inside, we made the extra pass and got a lot of good shots.”
Baumgartner said he had a good feeling when Paulson entered the game in the first quarter.
“I am in gym class with him, and he’s been making everything all week,” said Baumgartner.
What kind of gym grade will Paulson earn?
“This week, an A-plus,” said Baumgartner.
In addition to Lindberg’s 16 points, the Trojans had 10 from Baumgartner, nine from Paulson and junior guard Drew Galinson and six each from Beeninga, Jensen and senior center Mitchell Faust.
El-Amin sparked Hopkins with 17 points, while Zeke Nnaji, Hopkins’ 6-8 sophomore center, showed promise of things to come with 16 points. Senior guard Anthony Davis scored nine points in his final game for the Royals.
“All nine of our main guys scored and contributed,” said Schnettler, who was doused with water following the victory.
As he was drying himself off, he noticed that his socks were totally saturated.
“I don’t need them now,” he said, as he wore the victory net around his neck.
Contact John Sherman at [email protected]