State boys basketball: Miles Bollinger’s big shot, Raiders’ big stop lead Cretin-Derham Hall past Farmington in Class 4A quarterfinal

20 March 2024

Cretin-Derham Hall’s Miles Bollinger was 1 for 8 shooting from the field and 0 for 4 from 3-point range in the final minute of the boys basketball state tournament’s tied-up Class 4A quarterfinal game Wednesday at Target Center.

But with the shot clock winding down to its final ticks and the Raiders without their leading scorer — Joe Mitchell, who fouled out late in the second half — someone had to fire something up.

So as Bollinger came curling up toward the top of the arc, he caught a pass from Anthony Knight and, while drifting to his left, fired up another triple.


His shot put the Raiders up three points, and they held on from there to secure a 57-56 victory over fourth-seeded Farmington.

Fifth-seeded Cretin-Derham Hall will meet top-seeded Wayzata at 6 p.m. Thursday at Williams Arena in the Class 4A semis.

“The golden boy!” Mitchell said. “The chosen one. Miles Bollinger is the chosen one.”

The golden boy?

“Did they call me that?” Bollinger asked.

Yes. Do they usually?

“Yeah, they do,” he said. “I don’t even know. It started this year early, and I haven’t been able to shake it. I take it as a compliment, I guess.”

He lived up to the name Wednesday.

“You see what he just did? Big shot when we needed it. He comes through every time,” Raiders forward Manteff Dixon said. “That’s what he does, even if he wasn’t hitting early.”

Bollinger’s confidence will never wane, that much is for certain.

“I like to let it go. Great athletes, short memories. I always tell these guys, ‘I’m feeling it,’ even if it’s not going in,” Bollinger said. “I was in a rhythm, I caught it up at the top, and I like that spot, so I let it go. I was kind of off balance, but it went in.”

That make was one of just two buckets Cretin-Derham Hall scored in the final 7 minutes, 58 seconds of the game. Mixon scored to put the Raiders up by six at that time mark. And, from there, everything became hyper-difficult.

Mitchell was the offensive engine for much of the afternoon, with 17 of his 23 points coming in the first half. But Farmington’s Jonah Ask did an admirable job taking away his space in the second half.

“He was right in his hip pocket making life miserable, and that’s how we kind of crept back,” Farmington coach Tharen Johnson said.

But even as Farmington (23-7) generated stops, it, too, struggled to get buckets on the other end. Defense is what Cretin-Derham Hall (25-4) hangs its hat on, and that end of the floor carried the Raiders on Wednesday. They held Farmington to just 38 percent shooting.

And while Farmington had a noticeable size advantage, the Tigers’ advantage on the glass was just 36 rebounds to Cretin-Derham Hall’s 34.

“I would just say grit, like try to fight,” Mixon said of mitigating the size differential. “They’re clearly bigger than us, we’re going to have to put a body on somebody and just find a way to get the ball. They out-sized us a lot, but we just fought hard to get the ball.”

Farmington managed to erase what was a 12-point second-half deficit to take the lead with four minutes to play before a triple from Aidan Macke put Cretin-Derham Hall back in front.

The score was then tied at 54-54 before Bollinger’s heroics.

Still, after a pair of free throws from Brandon Hrncir, who had 12 points and nine boards for the Tigers, trimmed the Raiders’ advantage to one, Farmington had a shot to take the lead in the closing seconds. But standup defense from Knight forced a missed shot that essentially ended the game.

“All season, we’ve been saying defense is going to win us games,” said Mixon, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. “And, clearly, at state, defense won us this game. Because offense is going to be hard sometimes on these big stages, but Coach (Jerry Kline) said before the game, defense will help us in these games when the shots aren’t falling. We have to rely on defense. We’ve been doing it all season, so this wasn’t a surprise that we got a stop and we won the game.”

The Tigers were making their first state tournament appearance in 87 years. They certainly delivered a strong showing.

“Credit to that Bollinger kid for hitting that shot. Still had an opportunity,” Johnson said. “During one of those timeouts, I told our guys, ‘Hey, we’ve got to fight back in this thing, give ourselves a shot at the end,’ and we did that. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t go in, but that’s basketball. That’s sports.”

The Raiders said they have been doubted all year. Those doubts will continue to exist heading into Thursday’s date with the defending champions. Fine by them.

“It’s been that way the whole season, no matter who we took down. We never get our respect,” Mitchell said. “We’re a private school, we get that, but we’re some dogs.”

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