It took Daniel Oturu all of 50 seconds to set the tone for Cretin-Derham Hall on Wednesday at Target Center.
The Gophers commit blocked a shot by Wayzata’s Drew Galinson less than a minute into the Raiders’ 70-48 victory in a Class 4A boys basketball state quarterfinal.
“I just like to intimidate the paint,” Oturu said. “Just make sure they’re scared to come in.”
Oturu finished with 24 points on 12-for-14 shooting to go with nine rebounds and an astounding eight blocks Wednesday, headlining an impressive defensive performance from the tournament’s top seed.
Cretin-Derham Hall (28-2) held a usually potent Wayzata offense to 31 percent shooting. The 48 points marked the Trojans’ second lowest offensive output this season.
“We didn’t shoot it as well as we could’ve today, and that happens sometimes,” Wayzata coach Bryan Schnettler said. “We honestly thought coming over here that we were going to have a chance to win. … But sometimes when the lights turn on and there’s a guy in the lane that can do what (Oturu) can do, it makes it tough.”
Junior guard Jacob Beeninga powered Wayzata’s upset win over Hopkins in the Section 6 final with 30 points, but he was held to 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting — including 2 for 9 shooting from deep — on Wednesday with the 6-foot-8 Sy Chatman following him around all day.
“It’s more like a pride thing; you just tell yourself before the game, ‘I’m going to hold this person under their average,’ ” said Chatman, who finished with 22 points. “That’s what (the coaches) expect from us, and that’s one thing I look forward to coming to the games.”
Wayzata advanced to the state semifinals last season and is the type of unseeded squad capable of making an run if it can find an opening. Raiders coach Jerry Kline couldn’t sleep Tuesday night, knowing well how valuable a quick start would be for Cretin-Derham Hall to gain control and squash any potential upset bids.
“Wayzata (hits) threes, all of a sudden you’re down 10-2,” Kline said of a possible doomsday scenario. “All of a sudden, we’re scrambling. So we had a huge emphasis the last couple of days when the matchups came out Sunday morning that the start of the game was huge for us.”
Wayzata did keep it relatively close early, trailing 20-16 through 10 minutes, but the Raiders pulled away with an 8-1 run over a four-minute stretch during which they held the Trojans (18-12) without a field goal.
That might be the biggest difference between this Cretin-Derham Hall team and the won that fell to Apple Valley in last year’s state quarterfinals despite leading by as many as 12 points in the second half. Last year, Kline said the Raiders were laser-focused on scoring. This year, the attention has shifted to the other end.
Kline noted the Raiders have collegiate-level length and athleticism — something his teams haven’t had in his 15 years with the program — but the Raiders are also seemingly always in the right spots defensively. That, he said, is a testament to how coachable his players are and how hard they go at one another in practice.
That commitment to defense has proved invaluable at various points throughout the season, including in the Section 4 final against East Ridge, which the Raiders won in a 62-52 slug fest.
“They’re on a mission,” Kline said. “That’s what I’m probably most proud about with this team is their ability to defend better.”