State-bound Saints beat rivals

Princeton Tigers fall in nail-biting section championship

On Thursday, March 16, the boys basketball team beat the Princeton Tigers in an overtime thriller. 

The Fighting Saints came into the section final loaded with confidence and support from the community after beating Monticello and Big Lake a week prior. Blowouts and pure domination coming out of the wins by scores of 77-42 and 66-46. Princeton wouldn’t be an easy task to handle being the highest scoring team in the state. 

Top scorers on St. Francis, Matthew Bothun, who was averaging 25.4 PPG and Derek Stone and Landon Povlitzki who were averaging over 9.0 PPG, had to have one end goal in mind- going to the state tournament. Having to face off against Cooper Drews, who was averaging 25.9 PPG alongside Graham Peterson and Aaron Keykal averaging over 14.0 PPG made Princeton tough to beat. 

The Saints have fallen to the Tigers every game for the last six years, never being able to pull one out. That would soon change on Thursday night.

Fans slowly started filling in empty seats at Monticello High School where the student sections were getting bigger and bigger. The St. Francis fan theme was blackout and navy and white pom-poms were handed out to each student as they walked in. Princeton had a St. Patrick’s Day theme as the game was the day before the holiday. 

From the tip-off when Matthew Bothun won it back to Wes Johnson, the game as off to a hot start. As the boys in blue pushed up the court, Derek Stone would start the scoring as he drove towards the basket to get the first two points of the game. Princeton would do the same damage right after that. 

The Saints would continue the scoring and get clutch rebounds from Princeton’s missed shots to eventually gain the largest lead of the first half with a score of 13-4. 

 The Saints were up 24-21 going into halftime as both teams would slowly chip away. Considering the Princeton Tigers were the highest scoring team in the state, the Saint’s were doing a great job on defense. It was crucial from the start that the Saints limit Princeton’s points throughout the game to even have a chance at winning. 

The second half was a nailbiter with defense like no other on both teams. Number 55, Christian Williams, fouled out in the game and left Princeton without one of their top starters. 

The Saints were down by just one point with 15 seconds left in the half when Jaxon Skogquist swished a three pointer from the top of the key to gain a two point lead. Princeton players tied it with 5.5 seconds to make it 52-52. 

Heading into overtime was a high energy crowd feeling the nerves of a potential state birth. 

Princeton struck first to get a two point lead while on the other end, Landon Povlitzki made a three pointer to retake the lead.  Matthew Bothun would take back the Fighting Saints three point deficit as he would make his first one and draw a foul. Bothun missed his free throw shot but came back down the court and got passes from Stone and Johnson and hooked the ball in the hoop to take the lead by one. 

Everybody in the arena was on their feet for the last 13 seconds of overtime. Nobody thought that St. Francis even had a chance to have the lead, let alone win. 

The last Princeton drive down the court was a scramble at the three point line as players were getting anxious for the final shot. Aaron Keykal of Princeton found open space as he got a pass from Cooper Drews with the final seconds counting down. Keykal threw the ball up and as the ball bounced off the back of the rim and sealed the deal. 

The final score was 59-58, Saints.

This was the first time the Fighting Saints have clinched a state appearance since 2015.