Aiden Wichmann kept the ball in his own hands when the pressure was on Friday.
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton's senior guard scored 23 points and dished out 10 assists Friday as the Knights overcame a seven-point second-half deficit to beat Cherry 61-57 in the semifinals of the Class 1A boys basketball state tournament at Target Center.
"Aiden makes the right play most of the time," Knights coach Daren Gravely said. "He can get to the free throw line and convert."
Wichmann made six consecutive free throws with the Knights clinging to a three-point lead in the final three minutes. He finished 9-for-9 from the line.
"Staying calm is all about winning," Wichmann said.
Senior forward Hayden Gravely made two free throws with 21 seconds remaining to give the No. 6-ranked Knights a 59-55 lead.
"It's tough to knock seniors out," Daren Gravely said. "There is no tomorrow for seniors."
The Knights (30-1) wound up 13-for-14 from the free throw line. The No. 5-ranked Tigers (27-5) went 4-for-12 on free throws.
"You can always look at missed opportunities," Cherry coach Jordan Christianson said.
Cherry junior guard Isaac Asuma, who is committed to the Gophers for college, came out of halftime playing aggressively. He scored the Tigers' first seven points, giving them a 33-26 lead.
"I had a slow first half," Asuma said. "I had to come out and play my style."
Cherry maintained that seven-point lead with just over 12 minutes remaining. The Knights made that up and more with a 15-3 run. Wichmann had back-to-back baskets, breaking a 40-40 tie, during the run. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton never trailed again.
"It was go time," Wichmann said.
Knights junior forward Drew Werkman finished with 16 points.
Isaac Asuma finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. His brother, freshman Noah, had a double-double (13 points and 10 assists). Sophomore forward Carson Brown added 11 points and eight assists.
None of that stopped Russell-Tyler-Ruthton.
"We faced some adversity right away in the second half," Daren Gravely said. "We responded very well. I am extremely proud of our effort."