The St. Cloud Apollo boys basketball team is in a section final for the sixth time in seven years and possibly for the first time the Eagles are underdogs.
Second-seeded Apollo (16-12) plays top-seeded Delano (25-3) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Cloud State’s Halenbeck Hall for the Section 5-3A championship.
The Tigers beat the Eagles 70-53 Jan. 18 at Delano. The Tigers are big, strong and have had a stellar season. Apollo plays hard and, of course, has been this far plenty of times.
In 2007, they lost to eventual state Class 4A champion Buffalo in the Section 8-4A final, 60-53.
From 2008 to 2010, they lost three straight Section 8-3A finals to Little Falls, all on late heroics by the Flyers.
In 2011, Apollo erased its section final demons by hammering Detroit Lakes 68-41 in the final. The Eagles then lost a heartbreaker to eventual state Class 3A champion Orono, 67-62 in overtime in the state quarterfinals at Williams Arena.
A quick look at a busy hoops week:
* Sartell vs. Alexandria boys basketball, Section 8-3A boys basketball playoffs, 6 p.m. at Minnesota State-Moorhead.
The game was postponed Saturday. The Sabres (15-12) has beaten Alexandria (13-12) twice this season, 50-40 and 58-56. The winner plays either Fergus Falls (17-10) or Thief River Falls (20-7) for the section championship at 6 p.m. Thursday at Halenbeck Hall.
* New London-Spicer vs. Morris boys basketball, South Sub-Section 6-2A basketball semifinals, 7 p.m. at Sexton Arena, Collegeville.
This was another postponement Saturday. New London-Spicer (13-14) beat Morris (19-7) 69-59 in overtime Feb. 26. The winner faces Litchfield (22-5) at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in Collegeville.
* St. Cloud Cathedral vs. Annandale, Section 5-2A boys basketball semifinals, 6 p.m. at Dassel-Cokato High School.
Top-seeded Cathedral (22-6) beat Annandale (18-9), 91-85 on Dec. 13 at St. John’s. The winner plays either Mayer Lutheran (17-10) or Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (21-7) at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Halenbeck Hall.
* Melrose vs. Albany, North Sub-Section 6-2A boys basketball final, 6 p.m. at Sexton Arena, Collegeville.
No. 1-ranked Melrose (28-1) dodged a bullet with a 63-60 win over fourth-seeded Long Prairie-Grey Eagle on Saturday. Third-seeded Albany (18-10) tripped second-seeded Sauk Centre (21-6). Melrose beat Albany 95-54 Dec. 7 to open the season.
The winner plays the South Sub-Section 6-2A champion at 8 p.m. Friday at Halenbeck Hall.
* Upsala vs. Bethany Academy, state Class A girls basketball quarterfinals, 11 a.m. at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Like the Class 2A tournament that Sauk Centre is in, the Class A field is not seeded.
Upsala (24-5) draws a Faribault Bethlehem Academy (21-9) squad back in the state tournament for the first time since 1998. Upsala makes its first appearance and is led by Miss Minnesota Basketball candidate Aimee Pelzer.
The semifinals are at noon Friday at the Target Center in Minneapolis. The final is at noon Saturday.