The Fertile-Beltrami Falcon Boys Basketball team’s outstanding season wrapped up on Saturday in a 78-40 loss to the Cherry Tigers in the Minnesota Class A State Boys Basketball Championship at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Both defenses got off to a great start before Cherry converted the game’s first basket to take an early 2-0 lead. Cherry built up an 11-0 lead before Masen Nowacki knocked down a midrange jumper to put Fertile-Beltrami on the board with 12 and a half minutes left in the half. Nowacki buried another jumper to make it 11-4 with Cherry still on top. Cherry would get their lead up to 18-4 before Caiden Swenby knocked down a jumper for the Falcons, but they still trailed 18-6 halfway through the first. Cherry went on a 6-0 run to pull ahead 24-6 before the Falcons called a timeout with just under eight minutes left in the half. Swenby drained a three after a Cherry layup to make it 26-9. Swenby hit another midrange jumper to make it a 15-point game.  Swenby then hit a left-wing three for the Falcons to make it 28-14 with Cherry still on top. Preston Hanson used a nice spin move in the post to draw
contact and convert on the traditional three-point play to make it 28-17 as Cherry held the lead. Later in the half, Derek Sorenson used a nice cut to the basket to get an easy lay-in, but the Falcons trailed 38-19. With 30 seconds left in the half, Sorenson got another layup for the Falcons, but Cherry had the halftime lead of 43-21. 

The Falcons started the second half with a Preston Hanson layup and,
after a steal, hit a three to make it 43-26. Cherry then went on a 10-0 run to build a 53-26 lead three minutes into the second half and forced Fertile-Beltrami to call a timeout. Later in the half, Easton Petry connected from beyond the arc to make it 53-29 with Cherry still on top. Hanson answered a Cherry three with one of his own to make it 56-32 with just under 11 minutes left in the half. Swenby used a solid drive to the basket, but Cherry was able to answer that quickly with a bucket, which was the other way to go up 59-34 halfway through the second half. Nowacki dropped in a perfect pass to Swenby, who turned and banked it in, but once again, Cherry responded, this time with a three. After a pair of Cherry baskets, their lead went up to 67-36 with six minutes to go. Hanson drove to the basket and used a finger roll to lay it in and make it 67-38. Cherry pulled away at the end to take the championship, 78-40. 

Caiden Swenby and Preston Hanson were named to the All-Tournament Team. The other members of the All-Tournament Team were Cherry’s Noah Sundquist, Isaac Asuma, Noah Asuma, Isaiah Asuma; Heritage Christian Acadamy’s Abu Tarawallie; West Central Area’s Camden Anderson; Nevis’ Alex Lester, and Austin Ahrendt. 

Fertile-Beltrami finishes the season as the Class A Runners-up with a record of 27-7. They say goodbye to the following seniors, Masen Nowacki, Cody Opdahl, Derek Sorenson, and Caiden Swenby.
Cherry is the Class A State Champion with a record of 31-2. 

CLICK HERE to listen to Coach Neil Steffes’ postgame interview. 


1st  2nd Final
Cherry 43 35 78
Fertile-Beltrami 21 19 40
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