MINNEAPOLIS -- His teammates were wondering ... is Zach ever going to make a move?
With the ball tucked under his arm like a bag of textbooks, Zach Kinny acted like he was in no hurry to get to class.
At the last moment, he dribbled toward the key, pulled up at the free-throw stripe and buried the game-winning shot with a second to spare.
Before Perham could get a timeout, the horn sounded, signaling Litchfield was headed to today's Class AA championship game with a painstaking 33-31 win over the No. 1 seed and 2011 champion.
"The first thing I thought is that the shot was short because I was nervous," said the junior forward, who finished with 8 points on 3 of 9 shooting.
The Dragons ran the final 1:24 off the clock after a block-and-rebound by Mitch Wollin at the Dragons' defensive end.
Litchfield head coach John Carlson signaled two timeouts during the clock rundown. The last came at :15.
"We gave the players two options to run and we told them to choose," said Carlson.
The team wanted 1-4-low, which means Kinny would cradle the ball up high and make the last move.
"I was a little concerned he was waiting too long to go to the basket," said Carlson.
"Us too," said Jon Terning, speaking for his teammates who were on the floor with Kinny.
Kinny released the jumper with shoulders square over the reach of 6-foot-7 Perham center Mark Schumacher.
"Give them credit, they made the shot they had to make," said the Yellowjackets head coach Dave Cresap. "Our team played with a lot of heart and will. Last year, we got a couple of shots to go. This year, we didn't."
The Dragons are back in the title game (and the state tournament) for the first time in 10 years. The two wins this year give the three-time state champions 11 consecutive state tournament victories 2000.
Neither team played a slow-down by design. It's just the way it developed with both defenses so persistent.
"They knew our plays and we knew their's," remarked Kinny, who also had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Litchfield led 21-20 at intermission and outscored the Jackets 12-11 in the final half. Nobody on either team reached double figures, but it was never boring with the game so close and the outcome so uncertain until the last second.
"This is a dream come true for us," said senior captain Tyler Larson, the first sub off the bench and who came off the floor for the final 15 seconds. "Those last five seconds were the most exciting of my life."
The Litchfield delegation, which filled a good portion of their side of the arena, roared as the ball dropped through the iron.
On the 100th anniversary of the boys state tournament, it went immediately into the top 100 shots.
The Dragons, seeded No. 4, improved to 26-5. Perham ends up 29-3.
Jordan Bruhn led the deliberate Yellowjacket offense with 8 points. Schumacher, Jordan Anderson and Jordan Cresap tallied 7 apiece.
For Litchfield, Kinny and Dylan Koll had 8 each. Koll got all his points after the 14:00 mark of the second half on two 3-pointers and a deuce. Those were Litchfield's last 8 points until Kinny's buzzer-beater.
Sports editor Tom Larson contributed to this article.
Litchfield 33, Perham 31
Litchfield (26-5) 21 12 -- 33
Perham (28-3) 20 11 -- 31
LITCHFIELD - 14-36 FG (3-9 3-pt); 2-4 FT; 20 rebounds; 10 fouls ... Scoring: Jon Terning 2-7 0-0 4, Zach Kinny 3-9 2-2 8, Zach Whitchurch 3-6 0-2 7, Mitch Wollin 2-6 0-0 4, Dylan Koll 3-4 0-0 8, Riley Pater 1-2 0-0 2 ... 3-point shots: Whitchurch 1-3, Koll 2-3 ... Rebound leaders: Kinny 10 ... Assist leaders: Kinny 4 ... Steal leaders: Terning 2
PERHAM - 14-32 FG (2-10 3-pt); 1-4 FT; 23 rebounds; 8 fouls ... Scoring: Mark Schumacher 3-8 1-1 7, Jordan Bruhn 4-9 0-3 8, Mike Wiskow 1-3 0-0 2, Jordan Anderson 3-7 0-0 7, Jordan Cresap 3-5 0-0 7 ... 3-point shots: Anderson 1-3, Cresap 1-1 ... Rebound leaders: Bruhn 8, Wiskow 6, Schumacher 5 ... Assist leaders: Bruhn 2 ... Steal leaders: Five players with 1