Eagles won’t be back-to-back champs

Cretin-Derham Hall upsets Apple Valley in section final

Apple Valley guard Tyus Jones goes to the basket during the Class 4A, Section 3 championship game against Cretin-Derham Hall. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy
Apple Valley guard Tyus Jones goes to the basket during the Class 4A, Section 3 championship game against Cretin-Derham Hall. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

One day after Apple Valley’s boys basketball season ended earlier than many thought it would, the Eagles were still having trouble processing the result.

“It’s 2:30 (Friday afternoon) and I feel like I should be in the gym getting ready to play next week,” Eagles coach Zach Goring said.

Apple Valley isn’t there because of an 89-77 loss to Cretin-Derham Hall in the Class 4A, Section 3 championship game Thursday night at Farmington High School.

The Eagles held an eight-point lead (65-57) with 6:45 remaining in the second half but couldn’t maintain it. Neither team scored in the first overtime as the Raiders held the ball for most of the four minutes. In the second overtime, Cretin-Derham Hall outscored Apple Valley 15-3.

Eagles fans also saw starters Tyus Jones and Dennis Austin hit the floor hard within seconds of each other in the final minute of the second overtime.

Austin was taken out of the gym on a stretcher with an apparent back injury. Austin was evaluated, tested and then released from the hospital at 12:30 a.m. Friday, Goring said.

Jones stayed down for a couple of minutes after he collided with a CDH player, then walked slowly to the locker room. He returned to the floor and played briefly in the final minute.

Although Cretin-Derham Hall is ranked fifth in Class 4A, its victory over Apple Valley was portrayed as a massive upset. And perhaps justifiably so – the Eagles had not lost to a team from Minnesota since December 2012.

Apple Valley (27-2) will not get a chance to defend the state championship it won in 2013.

“The hard part is, the kids loved playing at the Target Center and wanted to do it again,” Goring said.

Cretin-Derham Hall (23-6) limped into the playoffs with three losses in its last five regular-season games, but the third-seeded Raiders best No. 2 seed East Ridge and No. 1 seed Apple Valley to earn their place in the state tournament.

The Raiders attempted more three-point shots (37) than two-pointers (32) in the section final, and their comeback took shape when some of their long-range shots started falling. They had 12 three-point baskets to Apple Valley’s two.

“Whenever we were up by five or seven points, I thought if we could get a stop or two we’d have a lot of momentum,” Goring said. “But we couldn’t do it. Every time there was a loose ball it seemed like they got it, got an open three and made it.”

Cretin-Derham Hall also created some matchup problems for Apple Valley, Goring said, because the Eagles’ taller players had to spend some time defending the perimeter, which took them out of rebounding position.

Guards Michael Hannon and Donnell Gresham scored 26 and 25 points for Cretin-Derham Hall.

Jones, Apple Valley’s career leader in points and assists, finished his five-year Eagles career with 35 points on 14-for-25 shooting from the floor. He also made six of nine free throws and had eight assists.

Sophomore center Brock Bertram had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Austin had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

In addition to Jones, Apple Valley will graduate starters Austin and Robert Tobroxen. Goring said he expects Austin to continue his playing career, possibly at a junior college. Tobroxen sacrificed some of his offense to guard opponents’ top scoring threats.

Trey Pipkins, a 6-foot-7 senior, became a key player off the bench for the Eagles this season. Guards Jake Rhyner and Charles Young also graduate.

Jones, who was Apple Valley’s starting point guard from the day he joined the varsity as an eighth-grader, will be at Duke University next year. But there still should be plenty of Jones family influence on the Eagles. Eighth-grader Tre Jones, who missed the end of this season because of a broken clavicle, will be back next year. Older brother Jadee is an Apple Valley assistant coach.

As for Tyus Jones, “he was always great with the traveling basketball kids and the (Valley Athletic Association) kids,” Goring said. “There are many kids in Apple Valley who want to be the next Tyus Jones. That’s leading to more numbers in our youth program and kids spending more time working on their skills.”