HAYFIELD, Minn. - From small town Hayfield to the hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities, the Vikings are prepping for the biggest game of their careers.
"To go from playing in these little gyms down here in small towns to going up in Minneapolis and play at the Target Center, I think it's going to be a really cool experience," senior Ethan Slaathaug said.
Hayfield will share the same court as the Timberwolves, a team the players grew up watching. It helps put an exclamation point on an extraordinary season for the program.
"They've sacrificed a lot and to be rewarded with not only just a state tournament appearance but now getting to play in the Target Center on TV," head coach Chris Pack said. "These are things they'll never forget, lasting memories for a lifetime."
They have a chip on their shoulders. They were ranked No. 4 in the state tournament pairings. But it didn't seem to matter. Hayfield blew out top-seeded Legacy Christian 62-43 this past Wednesday.
"We had to prove to ourselves that 'hey we're still here,'" Slaathaug said. "We're still hear to prove something that we're one of the top teams so going out there and beating the one seed by almost 20 points was kind of setting the tone for hopefully the rest of the tournament."
Setting the tone was a strong defensive showcase. Sophomore Easton Fritcher grabbed an eye popping 29 rebounds, a number that kept the game in their favor.
"A huge part of the game because they shot many threes and they weren't hitting," Pack said. "For [Fritcher] and our hole team to hold them to one shot as often as we did was a key to that victory."
Wins, states and venues aside, all that matters Pack says, is the Vikings bringing their 'A' game Wednesday.
"The most important thing is come 12 o'clock, when that ball comes up that we're ready to play our game no matter what gym we're in. The focus is on the game itself," Pack said.
The Vikings will face North Badger Greenbush Middle River in the Class A semifinal on Wednesday at noon.