East Ridge falls to Cretin in section finals
HASTINGS — The East Ridge Raptors boys basketball team's historic season came to an end Thursday night in the section 4AAAA section finals against Cretin-Derham Hall to go to state. The Raptors lost 62-52 in East Ridge's very first time playing in a section final.
The Raptors got off to a slow start, trailing the Raiders, 9-2, six minutes into the game. They were able to make a comeback thanks to two drives to the basket by junior Courtney Brown for two and-ones, as well as sophomore Ben Carlson finishing at the rim over Minnesota Golden Gopher commit Daniel Oturu. Just a couple minutes later, Oturu would be forced to sit for the rest of the first half with two fouls, giving the Raptors a golden opportunity. However, they were unable to take advantage and went through a several-minute drought before Carlson broke it with a free throw and Brown hit two threes. The late comeback kept East Ridge in the game and Cretin-Derham Hall led 29-21 at halftime.
East Ridge struggled to generate offense against the Raiders' tough man-to-man defense in the first half. In the second half, they were able to create more looks on the perimeter for Carlson while the guards and Brown more actively attacked Oturu and Chatman at the rim. They got off to a quick start with a couple of threes by junior Zach Zebrowski and soon cut the Raiders' lead to 36-33. However, Cretin-Derham Hall answered the Raptors' run as Oturu began to assert himself on the glass for putbacks and dunks.
Every time East Ridge made a run, Oturu or Chatman answered. East Ridge cut the lead to six or seven points several times down the later part of the game but were never able to get it closer. Trailing by six with 25 seconds left in the game, the Raptors were unable to get closer and took a last-gasp three with a couple seconds left. Oturu punctuated the win by grabbing the rebound and outletting it to a guard down the floor, trailing behind for an alley-oop off the backboard for a thunderous slam as time expired.
East Ridge was missing a key part, freshman guard Kendall Brown, in the game against the Raiders. Courtney Brown led all scorers with 19 points off of a couple threes and several hard drives to the basket. Carlson really got going from deep in the second half and had 18 points. Zebrowski added nine points. Cretin-Derham Hall had four players in double-figures, led by Chatman with 18, Oturu with 14 and two others with 12.
East Ridge matched a program-high 23 wins this year including section playoffs. They finish the season with a 23-6 overall record including the playoffs and they took second behind Cretin-Derham Hall in the Suburban East Conference. The Raptors lose just four seniors from this year's team and will return almost everyone, including the Brown brothers and Carlson, next season.