If Annandale felt there was ever any doubt — that its chances to go back to state for the first time since 2004 — was in jeopardy, Brett Ahsenmacher quelled all of those fears and more Friday night — posting 30 points for the Cardinals in a 60-38 romp over Mayer Lutheran in the Section 5-2A championship game at Halenbeck Hall.
Ahsenmacher and Annandale used a 2-3 zone defense to overwhelm the Crusaders (16-11) in front of a jam packed crowd. The Cardinals (19-9) shot 67 percent from the field — and 63 percent from beyond the arc — in the first half to propel them to a 36-22 lead at the break.
And it was due in large part to the production Annandale received from its senior guard.
“Ahsenmacher played a whale of a game,” Cardinals coach Don Dolan said. “He’s had two back-to-back championship games and gone above and beyond. He’s been big time.”
Mayer Lutheran stayed within striking range in the first half thanks to big plays from junior forward Cole Buttenhoff. The biggest came at the 9:54 mark in the first half when Buttenhoff drove the lane and successfully converted a behind-the-back reverse layup in front of his own student section.
But this night belonged to Annandale.
“We felt we had a chance to be a quicker team when we saw them on tape, we knew they were solid players but our goal was to get them rattled,” Dolan said. “We wanted to get them to play faster than they were used to. We got them into uncomfortable situations where they were shooting faster than they wanted to.”
Annandale started the game off with a full-court press that stifled any chance for an early Crusaders’ run. The Cardinals jumped out to a 9-2 lead that forced Mayer Lutheran to call an early timeout, foreshadowing a long road ahead.
“We came out and played our game,” Ahsenmacher said. “We play with Wright County teams all year so it’s been great practice for games like this. They’re a really physical team but we were able to stay on top of them. It was just huge for us tonight.”
Ahsenmacher notched 21 of his 30 points in the first half. Senior guard Brett Fobbe pitched in 12 points and four assists.
“We’re just going to take it one game at a time and prep for whoever we get,” Ahsenmacher said. “We’ll prep and hope for the best.”
“We are not going to change, our job is not to change who we are,” Dolan added. “Everybody always says, ‘oh these teams are bigger and stronger’ but we don’t change. We play physical teams all year.
“We might be a little bit smaller, but we make the other teams play our game.”
ANNANDALE — Brett Fobbe 12, Matt Miller 8, Brett Ahsenmacher 30, Eric Navratil 1, John Kalthoff 1, Brock Fobbe 7, Andrew Fort 1.
MAYER LUTHERAN — Chad Anenson 7, Joel Burfeind 2, Tanner Luebke 5, Cole Buttenhoff 10, Phil Burfeind 2, Anthony Gruenhagen 8, Mason Diedrick 2, Sam Schlueter 2.
Halftime score: Annandale 36, Mayer Lutheran 22