Morris Area won the Section 6AA West championship Tuesday by defeating Staples-Motley 79-64 at the University of Minnesota, Morris.
The Tigers improved to 23-4 on the season and advanced to the Section 6AA final against New London-Spicer at St. Cloud State University March 20.
"This was our best game of the year as a team," said coach Mark Torgerson. "We knew we had to step it up to win, and we did."
The Cardinals, a historically talented basketball team, finished the season 20-9. Torgerson said their losses came to quality teams including Pelican Rapids (ranked No. 1 in Class AA), St. Bernard's (No. 3), and Breckenridge (No. 15).
"From the opening tip off, we never trailed," added Torgerson. "We also kept the Cardinals in check."
Morris Area jumped to a 6-0 lead and took a 32-24 advantage into halftime. The Tigers led by as many as 24 points in the second half.
The Tigers played a high-energy game to keep the Cardinals off guard.
"We led in all facets of the game," Torgerson said. "Our unselfish passing was really noticeable."
The Tigers recorded 22 assists.
The Tigers outrebounded the Cardinals 40-24 and forced the Cardinals into 20 turnovers.
The Tigers shot 56 percent (33-59) from the field, while holding the Cardinals to 38 percent (23-61).
At the free-throw line, the Tigers were 11-of-19, while the Cardinals were 4-of-10.
Jackson Henrich led the Tigers with 21 points and Lincoln Arnold added 20.
Also scoring were Cory Hennen with 10, Taylor Nohl with nine, Tyler Meichsner with seven, Chris Scott with five, Eric Riley with four, and Corey Nohl with three.
Scott grabbed nine boards to lead the team. Henrich pulled down six rebounds.
Hennen and Meichsner dished out five assists apiece. Corey Nohl had four.
Five Tigers recorded two steals each to help with the high number of turnovers. They were Taylor Nohl, Meichsner, Corey Nohl, Arnold, and Scott.