by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Dominant rebounding and hot-handed shooting carried the Rogers Royals into the Section 5AAA finals with a 71-44 victory over the Big Lake Hornets on Saturday.
Michael Schreiber with 15 points and eight rebounds, Trevor Morlock with 14 points, Trevor Berkley with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Austin Barbeln with 11 points led the semifinal victory at St. Cloud State.
“Our defense played great the entire game,” said coach Joe Belka “We shot pretty well, with eight 3-point shots, and we crushed them on the boards.”
After their second straight blowout of conference rivals, the No. 2 seeded Royals (19-8) are ready to take on top-seeded Orono with a state tournament trip on the line. The section final is slated for 9 p.m. Thursday at SCSU.
“Orono is a very good team — there’s a reason they’ve been ranked all year,” said Belka. “Jordan Smith is a very good guard and one of the best shooters we will see. They pressure you with a 2-2-1 zone and trap a lot. But we are bigger, and physically stronger, and if we can handle the ball, and do a good job on their big scorer, we will have a chance.”
The Royals were 8-for-16 on 3-point shots, led by Barbeln at 3-for-5, and 15-for-19 on free shots, led by Morlock at 7-for-8, while pulling down 52 rebounds to Big Lake’s 19.
Michael Stephens scored 15 points and Brian Larson 12 for Big Lake (16-12), which split with Rogers in the regular season.