Lake City topples Albany to advance to Class 2A boys basketball state title game

Mar. 22—MINNEAPOLIS — The Lake City boys basketball team is going to play for the Class 2A state championship.

The third-seeded Tigers reached the championship game by defeating No. 2 Albany 69-59 on Friday night at Williams Arena. Albany was the defending Class 2A state champion.

Lake City will be playing in a state final for the fourth time in school history and for the first time since 1990. The Tigers are 3-0 in state championship games.

"It's amazing," Lake City senior Jaden Shones said. "Especially with all of your friends. The seniors have played together since second or third grade so it's pretty awesome to play with each other for so long and compete to be the best in the state."

Lake City will play Breck, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A, in the title game.

"We're a little bit familiar with them, they're familiar with us," Lake City coach Greg Berge said. "They're a very, very athletic team and we're going to have to play a great game. We have it in us to do it, but it's going to be a battle."

Albany had defeated Lake City during the regular season, but Lake City senior Hunter Lorenson did not play in that contest. On Friday, Lorenson came up huge with 22 points and the 5-foot-11 guard also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds.

"Heart of a champion," Berge said of Lorenson.

Lorenson hit a 3-pointer just before the half ended to put Lake City up 30-28. The Tigers had led by as many as seven in the first half.

"That shot was big," Lorenson said. "We had a lot of momentum coming into the second half and it kind of showed. We had a pretty good showing to start the second half."

Lake City opened the second half with a 20-9 run. Lorenson had a big stretch when he hit a jumper and 3-pointer for five straight points to put the Tigers up 50-37 with just over 10 minutes to play.

"We're on a big stage and I'm a very competitive person," Lorenson said. "I just had the mindset that I'm going to take over this game; I'm going to lose."

Albany was in catch-up mode after that and the lead never got below six. When Albany pulled within 55-47, Lorenson hit two free throws and scored in transistion to make the score 59-50 with 4:23 left.

Lake City also received some big inside play. The 6-foot-3 Shones had 17 points and six rebounds while 6-5 Rylee Fick had 14 points and six rebounds.

"Rylee, no one really thinks of him as a scorer, and him bringing that, they have to guard him now and it helps us with a (inside) presence," Shones said. "You have to guard him. And I like my post game and being physical in the post so I was going to bring it and try to score. And it happened to work out."

Lake City was solid on offense, but the Tigers might have even been better on defense. That was likely the reason they won the game as they held Albany to 11 points under its season average.

"We said all year we're going to go as far as our defense takes us," Berge said.

The Tigers made scoring difficult for the Huskies all game in the physical contest. They held high-scoring 6-3 junior Zeke Austin to 2-for-18 shooting, although he was 11-for-14 at the line for 16 points.

Shones guarded Austin much of the game with Lorenson also pitching in. Berge said it was a great overall defensive effort.

"Very proud of this team for its defense," the coach said.

The Tigers have had to battle through some injuries and other adversities throughout the season. Now they are one win away from a state championship.

Seniors Lorenson, Keegan Ryan and Shones are all in their fourth season on the Lake City varsity.

The Tigers will face top-seeded Breck in the Class 2A championship game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Williams Arena. Lake City is making its first state berth since 2019, when it placed third.

"We've wanted to get to this moment all season long and we're there," Berge said. "And it's going to be a battle. These guys are competitors and they're going to lay it on the table against a good Breck team."

Notes: Ryan was sporting his Mohawk haircut — which he called "The Skunk" with a stripe down the middle — for the second straight state game. He said he did the haircut just to have some fun at the tournament.

"It's his personality," Berge said.

—Lorenson passed Lake City legend Randy Breuer for third place on the school's all-time scoring list during the game. The feat came on the same court where Breuer's banner is hanging in the rafters from his playing days at the University of Minnesota.

"That is very special," Lorenson said. "I don't have words to say."

Lake City/Albany complete boxscore

Lake City 69, Albany 59

No. 2 ALBANY (59)

Zeke Austin 16 P, 5 R, 1 3-PT; Jack Rieland 16 P, 6 R, 2 3-PT; Andrew Olson 2 P; Ethan Meyer 5 P, 7 R; Sam Hondl 13 P, 6 R; Elliott Burnett 3 P, 1 3-PT; Jacob Buttweiler 4 P.

No. 3 LAKE CITY (69)

Hunter Lorenson 22 P, 14 R, 4 S, 2 3-PT; Josh Wohlers 3 R; Gavyn Lorenson 9 P, 4 R; Keegan Ryan 7 P, 6 R, 4 A; Rylee Fick 14 P, 6 R; Jaden Shones 17 P, 6R.

Halftime: LC 30, ALB 28.

Free throws: ALB 19-25, LC 17-26.

Three-point goals: ALB 4-19, LC 2-8. Field goals: ALB 18-56, LC 25-56.

Rebounds: ALB 33, LC 41. Turnovers: ALB 13, LC 14.