Skip Dolan was talking Hoosierville. The Annandale coach was relating the Gene Hackman flick “Hoosiers” with his squad’s challenge: dealing with the much taller Byron Bears.
Wednesday night was going to be no cakewalk, Dolan said. He was right. It was more like “Friday Night Lights.”
Annandale beat Byron 56-42 in the state Class 2A quarterfinals at Target Center. The fifth-seeded Cardinals (21-9) prevailed in a physical, rugged contest over the fourth-seeded Bears (24-5) before a loud, excited crowd.
“It’s exciting, fun to be in that kind of atmosphere, especially in the Target Center with all the fans,” said Annandale junior forward Matt Miller, who had 16 points and five rebounds.
Annandale plays top-seeded Minnehaha Academy (24-6) at 6 p.m. Friday at Target Center in the state semifinals. Minnehaha Academy beat Perham 53-41 in the other evening quarterfinal at Target Center.
At Williams Arena, second-seeded Litchfield beat Redwood Valley 64-55 in double overtime and Esko surprised third-seeded Hayfield 60-64. Litchfield plays Esko at 8 p.m. Friday.
Annandale, which made it to the state semifinals in football, used some fine outside shooting in the first half before tussling with the Bears around the hoop in the second.
The Cardinals were 7-for-11 from three-point range in the first half, taking a 33-23 lead.
“It was fun, to say the least,” Annandale senior guard Brett Ahsenmacher said. He had 12 points and four assists.
Brett Fobbe had 12 points, including 10 in the first half.
Byron cut its deficit to 37-33 early in the second half, but could get no closer.
The Bears shot 29.2 percent (14 of 48) and were pestered by Annandale’s pressure, turning the ball over eight times in the first half.
“I thought we got them playing faster than I thought they were comfortable playing,” Dolan said.
In the second half, Miller scored 14 of his 16 points, mostly inside.
Annandale, with no one taller than Miller and John Kalthoff, who are each 6-foot-3, kept 6-6 Brandon Schubert and 6-5 Jack Nelson off their games.
Schubert had four points and Nelson, who is headed to Winona State to play football, had 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals. He shot 5-for-16 and had four turnovers.
And besides being tall, the Bears were physical. Ask Brett Fobbe. He had a bloody nose from an errant elbow.
“I don’t think I’ve ever taken a shot like that, not even in football,” Fobbe said.
He did and he survived. Like Dolan said, it was no cakewalk.
Bring on Minnehaha Academy.
ANNANDALE — Brett Fobbe 12 (6 rebounds, 2 steals), Matt Miller 16 (5 rebounds, 2 steals), Brett Ahsenmacher 12 (4 assists), John Kalthoff 0, Kyler Fobbe 8 (5 rebounds, 2 steals), Andrew Fort 2, Tanner Olean 3, Chase Knickerbocker 3, Eric Navratil 0, Riley Atkinson 0, David Hoien, Barrett Bataille 0. FG 19-41, FT 11-16, REB 28, PF 11, ASST 8, TO 7, BLK 1, STL 6.
BYRON — Buster Meyer 3, Brandon Schubert 4, Jack Nelson 17 (11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals), Joe Smith 2, Tyler Coble 13 (7 rebounds), Evan Richardson 0, Cody Baumbach 3, Wyatt Nelson 0, Andrew Root 0, Ricky Brown 0, Lance Mortland 0, Michael Carl 0. FG 14-48, FT 8-10, REB 32, PF 14, ASST 7, TO 11, BLK 2, STL 5.
Halftime: Annandale 33, Byron 23.