2017 Open Period 1

The 1st D1 open period of the 2017 AAU season is upon us with back to back open weekends.  Now this weekend there's nothing of note going on locally.  Just a couple of minor tourneys.  But here's where everybody else will be.

In the Des Moines area, its the Midwest Live Tourney.  13 17U teams make the trip.  That includes 8 local teams in the 32 team top bracket.  43 Hoops has a pretty open bracket in the top quarter.  They knocked off D1 Minnesota last weekend (no Matt Hurt though).  D1 Prospects and WOTN could meet in the 2nd round in the 2nd quarter of the bracket.  But Nike rep MOKAN has their 16s playing against WOTN in the 1st round.  Fury Wilde and MN Eagles are in the 3rd quarter.  Spiece Indy Heat's 16s from the Nike circuit are also here.  The quarter of doom is the bottom quarter.  Fury Antl, Mpls FAB, MOKAN Select, SD Attack and a Grassroots group are all here.  Also in Des Moines, 10 16U teams and 8 15U teams.

In Sioux Falls, its the Sanford Pentagon Spring Jam.  12 Minnesota teams make that trip.  GetShook 15s who are off to a very nice start will be in Chicago.

As to the teams in leagues.  Comets and Select will be at the Lone Star Invitational in Dallas as part of the NY2LA league.  Also in Dallas is the Adidas Gauntlet.  D1 Minnesota will have their top 15, 16 and 17U teams there.  Net Gain also has 15s and 16s in the top Adidas gauntlet.   The 16U teams are in separate brackets in Dallas but the 15s could meet in the semifinals.  Howard Pulley has their top 2 teams in Virginia for the opening weekend of the EYBL.  The 15U teams are in a local event.

Let's talk matchups for those teams playing on the shoe circuits.

Howard Pulley has a matchup against a loaded California Supreme team on Saturday.  That includes Shaquille O'Neal's son Shareef who just committed to Arizona.  Manute Bol's son Bol Bol is also a star on that roster.  Pulley finishes with a pair of fun point guard matchups.  Tre Jones is ranked #27 in the new Rivals rankings.  He'll see #30 Ayo Dosunmu of Mac Irvin Fire and #129 David Dejulius (Michigan recruit) of The Family in the last 2 games.    #75 Daniel Oturu not only gets O'Neal but also #96 Trevion Williams of The Family.  #107 Jeenathan Williams and #38 in 2019 Isaiah Stewart will be the challenge in the Friday opener vs Albany City Rocks.

Grassroots has a tough Under Armour Association opener against Team Breakdown in Brooklyn.  Jalen Suggs will see #28 Elijah Weaver and #51 Anfernee Simons.  Game 2 isn't much easier as #21 6'9" Miles Norris and Earl Watson Elite are the matchup.  Washington Supreme and Houston Defenders are the other 2 opponents for Grassroots.  The Grassroots UA schedule is favorable as the 1 team they'll miss is DC Premier.

D1 Minnesota will see Texas PRO, Mass Rivals, Stackhouse Elite and Game Elite in the 1st half of Kyle Lowry division play. Their 1st pair of games are tough as well.  #65 Jaedon LeDee vs #117 Race Thompson and #6 2019 Matt Hurt (assuming he plays with the hand injury) is the matchup there.  #55 5'11 G Kendric Davis is going to  be a tough matchup for the D1 guards.  Mass Rivals has a couple of players on the edge of the top 50.  #50 David Duke is 6'3" and 6'5" AJ Reeves is #54.

2017 Comets Shootout 17U Preview

Its time to kick off another AAU season.  That means the annual trip to St. Cloud for the Comets Shootout.  As usual the 17s will start late with 3 games at 3:00, 4 more at 4:10 and the final 9 openers starting at 5:20.  In a change from recent history, the tournament goes back to pool format.  In recent years its been a 32 team bracket with 2 games Saturday night and the quarterfinals to finish on Sunday.  This year its still 2 Saturday games for everybody.  But we're back to 16 pool winners making the championship bracket.  That begins bright and early at 8 AM on Sunday and goes thru the traditional 5:20 final.  That takes a toll on even the deepest of teams.  16 2nd place teams will play in the Gold bracket.  Then 12 3rd place teams will play in the Silver bracket.  Its a unique format with the last 4 pools being only 2 team pools.  Those pools will start play with a cross-over game but only the head to head game at 7:40 PM will have any meaning for pool standings.  The 4 cross-over pools will play their games at St. Cloud State.  Everybody is at the home base of Whitney Rec Center or Sauk Rapids Middle School.  While the format has changed, the concept of having a balanced championship bracket has not.  That still means very little in the way of surprises in Saturday pool play and plenty of blowouts.  So let's get to the important stuff.

The Favorites
Comets Lewis and D1 Minnesota are the clear top 2 teams in the tourney.  D1 Minnesota has already started their season with a 3-1 record at the Real Deal In The Rock tourney in Arkansas last weekend.  They lost to eventual champion and fellow Adidas squad Marcus Smart YGC36 in the semifinals.  The Comets return a talented squad and have some nice additions.  Monticello PG Matt Todd joins group as does Hopkins C Joe Hedstrom.  They also added a talented top 30 ranked forward from Wisconsin.  They go 2 deep at every position and have pieces to do a bit of everything.  I expect a dynamite final between these 2.

Other Teams of Note
Half of the Sanford League is represented with Select, Heat, Fury, WOTN and ECI also attending.  Select's top team keeping the guys who played up last year plus adding many guys from last year's very nice 16U crew.  Not much size there but they have a couple of solid PGs in Charlie Gove/Cire Mayfield and a scorer in Beijan Newbern to go with a solid group of wings.  For WOTN, PG Bryce Phillips and W Jon Martens are nice pickups for them.  Dalton Kubista from Owatonna gives them a forward scorer who can play in and out.  Fury will feature high scoring wing Michael Jones along with Charlie Jacob.   Heat's group from last year fell apart.  Former St. Anthony star Josh Pratt has the Sanford group this year.  Kameron Davis from Spring Lake Park had a nice season.  St. Anthony's Aaron Smith could break out for this group.  More on ECI later.

Other Minnesota notables.  We have to start with MN Powerhouse bringing 2 teams.  What looks like their top team gets D1 MN Prospects in their pool.  That's one of few compelling pool games.  MN Eagles come back together for the spring.  That's Apple Valley guys coming off a state title.  Crossfire brings 2 squads.  That includes 2nd division Sanford League team Crossfire-Schmidt who should give Heat Pratt all they want in the crossover game.  The Comets have all their other teams playing as expected.  Fury's 2nd team, Mpls FAB, MN Magic, MN Phenom also on the list.  FAB is the young Brooklyn Center kids playing with some Tri-Metro seniors. They got off to a nice start in Arkansas last week as well.    FAB part of the 1 pool that could be called the Pool of Doom with the WI Playmakers top team and Minneapolis Henry.  MN Phenom went 3-1 and finished 2nd in Iowa last weekend.  Center Michael Johnson is a sleeper name to be aware of for that crew.

Its not just Minnesota that's well represented.  Three Wisconsin Playmakers teams on the list but not the Playmakers-King team (that's Owen King) that will play in the Sanford events.  But Playmakers-Knutson is their NY2LA team.  I like the size of that team and they have 4 top 50 Wisconsin kids.  I'm looking forward to seeing forwards Josh Dahlke and Jaxon Knotek from that crew.  North Dakota Phenom brings their top 2 teams.  That means between the ECI and ND Phenom top 2 teams we should see 3 of the top 5 kids in North Dakota in the event.   Center Josh Kihle with ND Phenom.  Guard Josh Sipes and Forward Kade Amundson expected for ECI.

Predictions
Now for the always infamous predictions.  Here's how I see the championship bracket ending up.

Round of 16 Games (better games here than you might expect)
Comets Lewis vs Crossfire Schmidt
WOTN Ewing vs ND Phenom
Select Ohnstad vs D1 MN Rise
Powerhouse Black vs Fury Antl
D1 MN vs Select Ellis
MN Eagles vs Comets Servaty
Fury Wilde vs MN Phenom
ECI Prospects vs WI Playmakers Knutson

Quarterfinal Results
Comets Lewis over WOTN Ewing
Powerhouse Black over Select Ohnstad
D1 MN over MN Eagles
Fury Wilde over WI Playmakers Knutson

Semifinals
Comets Lewis over Powerhouse Black in a grudge match
D1 MN over Fury Wilde

Championship
D1 MN wins a nailbiter championship over Comets Lewis

Studying The Four Factors At State

In past seasons, I've done a Hubie Brown like analysis of the games of the state tournament.  In that analysis I looked at turnovers, free throws and shooting percentage.  Since it is the era of analytics, I've decided to advance that study.  One very similar way is to use The Four Factors of Dean Oliver.  If you watch the Timberwolves broadcasts, you'll see Jim Petersen reference these and you likely know what they are.  For those who aren't familiar here's what they are.
  • Effective Field Goal Percentage
  • Turnover Percentage
  • Rebounding Percentage
  • Free Throw Rate
One fundamental idea you'll see is that all of the values are percentages.  For the 3 items that aren't shooting %, that normalizes the data to take away differences in number of opportunities.  20 turnovers sounds bad but if you add the context of 100 possessions vs 50 possessions, it has far more meaning.  That's in contrast to my previous studies where I only looked at the final result without any manipulation.  For the detailed explanation of each factor and how its calculated, read this link.

So now that we have a reasonable tool, let's apply it to my subject, high school hoops.  No better time than the present with the state tournament just finishing up.  The data for the state tournament is easily found and I have reams and reams of it laying around.  That allows me to dig up the last 5 years of games at the boys state tournament.  That's 172 games of data with 43 games in each of the 4 classes.  I deem that a big enough sample size to provide reasonable value

Let's start with a chart of how winning teams did with respect to the factors

YEAREFG%FT RateTO%Reb%
201779.55%77.27%59.09%68.18%
201690.63%87.5%65.63%62.5%
201571.88%78.13%75%68.75%
201484.38%68.75%65.63%50%
201381.25%62.5%62.5%59.38%
OVERALL81.4%75%65.12%62.21%

So when a team won a game in the last 5 years, 81.4% of the time they had the higher effective field goal percentage. This is in line with my previous simpler studies and something I've been saying for years.  If you shoot it better, odds are very very good you'll win.  Period.  Basket->Ball.  Put ball in basket.  In this case is just over 4 out of 5.  Don't overthink it, just make shots. 

So what happened in the other 18.6% of wins where the winning team lost the EFG% battle?  The winning team won the TO% battle 29 out of 32 times.  That's 90.63% of the time, a very insane number.  Here's how that EFG% result broke down per class.

Class A: 88:37%
Class AA: 81.4%
Class AAA: 79.07%
Class AAAA: 76.74%

Let's look at how many factors each winning team won

YEAR1234
20174.55%25%52.27%18.18%
20160%25%43.75%31.25%
20153.13%25%46.88%25%
20143.13%31.25%59.38%6.25%
20133.13%37.5%50%9.38%
OVERALL2.91%28.49%50.58%18.02%

So 68.6% of the time a team won at least 3 or 4 of the factors.  More importantly, when a team won only 1 factor, they only won 2.91% of the time.  In those 5 wins, 2 of the wins were 20+ point wins thanks to winning the EFG% category.  The other 3 wins were by 3, 3 and 2 points and the winning team won the turnover battle in each.

Winning a 2nd factor wasn't a guarantee as winning 1 or 2 factors meant a win only 31.4% of the time.  That's less than 1 out of 3.  There are 6 combinations of winning 2 factors.  But the combination of EFG% and FT Rate accounted for 34.69% of those alone, double the amount of an even distribution.    The average margin of victory was 9.9 PPG with almost 60% of the games being single digit finishes.

When a team won 3 factors, effective field goal percentage was included 87.36% of the time.    The margin of victory expanded to 14.8 PPG.  The number of single digit games decreased to 37.9%

When a team won 4 factors, a blowout was in order as expected.  The average margin of victory was 21.45 PPG.  Only 12.9% of those games were single digit finishes.  That exactly matches the number of games that had a margin of 44 points or more.

Here's a breakdown of the number of factors won across classes.  Percentages are percent of the column total.

# Factors WonAAAAAAAAAA
12.33%0%2.33%6.98%
213.95%37.21%25.58%37.21%
355.81%48.84%55.81%41.86%
427.91%13.95%16.28%13.95%

83.72% of the games in class A were 3 or 4 factor games.  So in single A, odds are very high that you're going to see a game that ends up lopsided.  On the other end of the spectrum was class AAAA with 55.81% of the games seeing a team win 3 or 4 of the factors.

Here's how margin of victory related to the 4 factors in each class.  The values in the table are the average margin of victory.

# Factors WonAAAAAAAAAA
12N/A316
211.339.2513.279.9
315.751314.7514.83
425.2519.3322.2921.45

The class A 4 factors won number jumps up because of Minneapolis North's dominance the last 2 seasons.  Interesting that 2 of the 5 wins were blowout by doing nothing more than shooting better.  To win only 1 factor and steal a close game makes sense but 40% of the outcomes being blowouts is interesting.  Granted that's a very small sample size of 5 games.  Otherwise its what you expect, the more factors you win, the bigger you win.

Overall conclusions.  Shooting is big, rebounding can be overcome.  Dominate the factors, dominate the game.

2017 State Tourney Wrap

What a season!  2016-2017 has come to a close and in great fashion.  Some thoughts from this year's state tourney.

The Buzzer Beaters
How often can you say the state tournament made the Sportscenter top 10 not once but twice?  Sam Dubois became a cult hero right away on Wednesday morning as his prayer was answered vs Chaska.  Not to be outdone, North Woods soph guard Cade Goggleye threw in a half-court winner in the class A semis at Williams on Thursday. 

The Champions
As to champions, quite honestly nothing was a significant surprise.  North crushed everybody in their path with wins by 47, 44 and 47 points.  That means back to back state titles with no doubt for the Polars.  Next year they move up into section 5AA.  That section will have a new champ as Annandale shifts to 6AA next season.  They were the dominating pick at the start of the season and did everything expected.  The beat AA champ Minnehaha and their only 2 losses were to Hopkins and AAAA champ Apple Valley.

Speaking of AA and Minnehaha, the Redhawks were also a big favorite and didn't disappoint.  They put away solid Lake City and Crosby-Ironton teams and crushed a very good Annandale team.  The Redhawks started the season 7-5 but won their last 19 games to win the title.  With only 1 role player graduating, Minnehaha will be the favorite to repeat next season.  They won't see North in the tourney until state as Minnehaha remains in 4AA.

De La Salle handled Austin in the 2013 and 2014 title games by double figures.  Some thought this was the year that the Packers could make a run at the Islanders.  Not so much as the Islanders rolled 72-44 to their 6th straight title.  Once again the suffocating defense was too much.  They lost to loaded IMG Academy plus AAAA final 4 teams Champlin Park and Maple Grove. 

Class AAAA was the most wide open with any of 7 teams that would not have been a surprise as the winner.  It was Apple Valley who avenged regular season losses to the same 2 local teams as De La Salle.  The Eagles knocked off Maple Grove in the semis in impressive fashion and then Champlin Park in a great final.  Nothing like a tied championship game with under a minute to go.  Apple Valley gets a hoop and harm and rebounds the missed free throw to basically win it.  Apple Valley also knocked off CDH in the 1st round for a 2nd time this season.  CDH went on to knock off Lakeville North in a rematch for the consolation championship.  Apple Valley loses 3 role guys but they have an incredibly deep junior class that includes Tre Jones coming back.  Clear preseason favorite next season.

The Players
Tre Jones (Apple Valley)- Any mention of players for the state tourney and for the season has to start here.  Jones averaged 25.7 points, 14.1 rebounds and 6 assists in the 3 state tourney games.  He put the games away vs CDH and Champlin Park and dominated Maple Grove.  As the point guard, he set the school single season record for rebounds.  The role players did their thing but it was Jones who put everybody at a completely different level this season.  You knew he had to step up this season but he played at a level far beyond lofty expectations.

Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha) - He carried the Redhawks to their title.  In the semis vs Annandale, the switch of him to defend Cardinals star Jared Wilken changed the game.  Then in the championship game, he took over after Crosby-Ironton had rallied to within 1.  He sliced and diced the Rangers zone and had an impressive and critical helpside block to take away a Rangers change to go ahead.  Huge momentum changing play.  His potential is through the roof.

Theo John (Champlin Park) - He averaged 13.7 points, 11 rebounds and 5.3 blocks in the 3 games.  He had 14 blocks (plus plenty more uncounted) in the last 2 games.  That showed a dominating prescence that many thought he'd develop into over the years.  That shot blocking was disruptive but the Rebels gave up 43 offensive rebounds in the tourney.  Apple Valley ended up with 23 points on 21 offensive rebounds in the title game.

Goanar Mar (De La Salle) - He took his game to another level this season including a monster 40 point outing against Armstrong.  He was the catalyst in the tourney too.  He averaged 20.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2 blocks in the 3 wins.  Those steals were often game changing and leading to runs.  A major factor on both ends and definitely deserves to be on the Mr Basketball final 5.

McKinley Wright (Champlin Park) - After a pair of high level performances in the 1st 2 rounds of the tourney, Tre Jones got the better of him in the final.  It was unfortunate to see the news about Dayton head coach taking the Indiana job on the same day as the final.  Wright did look to be off in the final and while Jones certainly was part of it, I hope the whole college thing wasn't a distraction.  He ended up at 21.7 points, 6.3 rebounds but only 3.3 assists for the tourney.   That was the shooters for the Rebels not knocking down shots.  Shooting always seems to rear its ugly head during the tourney.

Other Random Thoughts
I usually don't talk much about the outstate but some noteworthy items there too.
  • 13,893 was the attendance for the AAA/AAAA championship session.  Big crowd in the upper deck.  That's the biggest crowd at state that I can recall in my time at the tourney.  Great to see the turnout.  Austin fans brought 25 fan buses, wow.
  • Loved the Austin band, great variety.
  • Crosby-Ironton band also deserves a mention.  Hearing a quality rendition of Thriller on each of the last 2 days was well worth it.  The band director taking multiple roles directing with 1 hand, playing lead trumpet with the other. Then picking up signs and pom poms to cheer the Rangers on during play.
  • Center Noah Gindorff of Crosby-Ironton was a nice outstate player that I hadn't seen.  He was the key to all of the Rangers offense.  When JaVonni Bickham got in foul trouble in the championship game, I thought he should have received far more post touches to take advantage.  While Crosby-Ironton missed some open looks, I thought Gindorff's lack of touches hurt their final chances.
  • The future is bright.  North Woods, North, Minnehaha, Apple Valley, Lake City, Cretin-Derham Hall, Austin and more all return plenty of talent from state qualifiers. 

2017 6AAAA Championship Thoughts

Prologue
Now 3 days of section finals to prepare for the state tourney.  Its the traditional Wednesday finish in 6AAAA.  That's Osseo hosting a Lake Conference rubber match between top seed Wayzata and 2 seed Hopkins.  Both bands on hand which is never a bad thing.  Especially after no bands for the 5AAAA doubleheader last night.  More Jet's pizza and Pepsi on the concessions menu.

Game Time
Wayzata opens with a pair of triples countered by a pair of Hopkins hoops.  Ish El-Amin stops an 8-2 run with floater out of a timeout.  14-8 Wayzata at the midpoint of the 1st half.  Then its soph Luke Paulson off the bench with a pair of triples.  Ryan Lindberg with his 2nd 3 of the night.  25-11 Wayzata at 6:13.  31-19 Wayzata at the break. 

Hopkins would rally to within 7 with an El-Amin drive and Zeke Nnaji 3 point play.  But a big story was how Wayzata made Hopkins pay for mistakes.  Shooting foul, turnover and 2 bad shots and Wayzata converts all of that into a 9-0 run in 2 minutes.  Gavin Baumgartner 4 free throws, Lindberg for 2 and Drew Galinson with a triple.  40-24 Wayzata with 14:18 left and this one is out of hand.  Blaise Beauchamp with a hoop but can't convert the 3 point play. That cuts the lead to 11 but Wayzata gets a hoop and Paulson tacks on yet another triple.

Hopkins tries to stay close with a Dane Zimmer hoop, El-Amin bucket and a Anthony Davis drive.  47-37 Wayzata with 9:35 left.  But the Trojans won't give up the lead.  Alex Jensen runs for a layup after a block and puts back a miss on a long possession.  Jacob Beeninga adds 2 freebies and the lead is back to 16 with 6:23 left.  Its bucket trading and free throws after that.  Wayzata wins 66-51 and is the 1st team to advance to state.  This is the 1st Wayzata appearance at state since 1959.

Post Game
Hopkins finishes their season 23-6.  Ish El-Amin leads the Royals with 17 points.  Zeke Nnaji adds 16.  Shot selection was a huge issue for the Royals.  Way too many tough shots.  Plus they couldn't get big stops.  The bigs were not a factor inside which was the main advantage.  Nnaji had 16 but mostly on dump offs not on postups. 

Wayzata gets 16 points from Ryan Lindberg.  A quiet 10 from Gavin Baumgartner (2 buckets) is the only other guy in double figures.  But 2 others had 9 and 3 others had 6.  The bench outscores the Hopkins bench 19-6 with Luke Paulson's 3 triples being 9 of those.  This was a clinic in great offense.  The term good to great shot is becoming large in today's game and this was a textbook clinic in it.  Basic pass and cut action with the flare screen thrown in from time to time.  Wayzata was very patient and moved the ball to great looks.  Their guards, particularly the tiny sophomore guards Paulson and Beeninga, didn't turn it over.  Anytime Hopkins made a mistake, Wayzata would hit a big shot to demoralize them.  As to state seeding, I think they'll get the 5 seed if all holds.  Lakeville North, Champlin Park, Apple Valley and Maple Grove would slot in front of them.  But I think they would be in front of Chaska (worst case from 2AAAA), anybody from 7AAAA and in front of either Tartan or CDH from 4AAAA.

2017 5AAAA Semifinals Thoughts

To Maple Grove for another early 5 PM weeknight start of section semifinals.  This time section 5AAAA is on display.  Jet's pizza not a bad thing plus more Gatorade to wash it down.  No bands tonight is a surprise and disappointment.  JMOA on duty for the late game.  Appalachian State in the building to watch the games along with St. Olaf, Bethel and Hamline just to name a few.

Game 1: Osseo vs Park Center
Osseo not rattled at all early by Park Center's athleticism and half court man pressure.  John Bezdicek (Matt didn't play) with an early 3.  Mar Mar Hughes and Zach Theisen also drain triples and Osseo jumps out to a 13-3 lead at the 14:22 mark.  Frosh post Dain Dainja with 2 inside hoops for Park Center.  Losini Kamara adds a 3 and the lead is down to 4.  Marice Nelson counters with 2 triples for Osseo taking inside out passes and knocking it down.  Bezdicek adds 3 free throws right before the halftime buzzer for a 37-24 Osseo lead at the break.

Osseo would stretch the lead to 15 but no further.  Park Center would get to 13 but not get any closer.  Finally the Pirates start to cut the margin.  Khari Broadway with a putback for 2 free throws and he turns a turnover into a 3 point play.  52-46 Osseo with 7:28 left but they're losing momentum.  Theisen with 4 free throws and the lead is back to 58-48 with 4:11 left.  Kamara with 1 free throws and eventually puts back the miss of the 2nd.  He adds another free throw after a terrible call inside against Osseo on a flop.  That cuts the lead to 6 before 2 more Osseo turnovers.  Xavier Bonner banks in a 3 with 1:50 left to cut the lead in half.  Osseo makes 3 of 4 free throws around a Dainja bucket.  Then a crazy offensive foul call on Theisen gives Park Center the ball back.  The Pirates promptly go to Dainja on the inbounds and he cuts the lead to 2 with 31 seconds left.  He fouls out on the Osseo possession.  Osseo makes 1 of 2 to give Park Center 1 last chance.  They miss and the putback at the buzzer is meaningless.  Osseo wins 62-61.  Zach Theisen with 18 points.  Marice Nelson came up big with 15 of his 18 in the 1st half for Osseo.  John Bezdicek added 13.  Losini Kamara 14, Khari Broadway with 17 to lead Park Center.  Dain Dainja added 12.  Osseo held Kamara mostly in check and mostly handled the pressure (until the end).  Their experience was a difference in hanging on.

Game 2: Champlin Park vs Mounds View
Mounds View did everything they could to try to slow the pace.  They walked it up after misses and played zone extensively.  But a bad early omen for Mounds View when DJ Hunter knocks down 2 3s and Champlin Park jumps out to a 10-3 lead.  Nick McMillan with back to back triples to pull Mounds View within 19-15 at the 6 minute mark of the half.  That gets their crowd energized.  But Champlin Park finishes the half on an 11-2 run.  McKinley Wright and Brian Smith with 3s in that run.  Most of that without Theo John who sat the last 5:04 with 2 fouls.  30-17 Champlin Park at the half.

John picks up a quick 3rd and sits for 6:35 before playing 23 more seconds and getting his 4th.  But it doesn't make a huge difference.  A McMillan hoop pulls Mounds View within 32-22.  But Champlin Park spreads the zone out and finally puts McKinley Wright in the middle.  He hits a 3 off a BLOB vs the 2-3 zone and then catches in the middle and finishes.  41-22 Rebels with 12:03 left.  Mounds View has to go man after that and that's not good.  Champlin Park outscores Mounds View 37-8 over the final 14:40.  Champlin Park wins 69-40 and will play Osseo for the section title in Rogers on Friday night.  McKinley Wright leads all scorers with 21 points.  Marcus Hill chips in with 11.  Brian Smith with 9.  Nick McMillan leads Mounds View with 16 points and 3 triples.  Brian Stone with all 13 of his points in the 2nd half.  But nobody else had more than a bucket.  Theo John with only 4 points and was in foul trouble for a large chunk of the game.

2017 4AAA Semifinals Thoughts

Its semifinal Saturday Night for the big school metro teams with 4AAA, 6AAA, 1AAAA, 2AAAA, 4AAAA and 6AAAA all playing semfinals Saturday night plus 8AAAA having the afternoon session at St. Cloud State.  I took in the 4AAA games.

Semifinal 1: 2 Columbia Heights vs 6 St. Paul Johnson
Very light crowd for the early part of this one.  Johnson with the strong start thanks to a Shemar Tucker-Adams 3 ball.  9-4 Govs just under 5 minutes in.  Columbia Heights would go on a 20-4 run to take control after that.  The Heights lead would stretch to 16 thanks to Wendell Matthews inside.  Johnson would cut a 20 point margin to 13 at the break with the last 7 of the 1st half.  Add in the 1st bucket of the 2nd half for a 9-0 run but Johnson would never get the lead to single digits in the 2nd half.  Columbia Heights wins 88-76.  Too much Quentin Hardrict as he goes for 31 to lead Columbia Heights and all scorers.  Wendell Matthews with 19 inside.  Justin Yang with 16 to lead Johnson.  But ultimately not enough firepower for the Govs.  Both teams end with 5 players in double figures.  Heights played without leading scorer Deaundra Roberson due to injury.

Semifinal 2: 1 Mahtomedi vs 4 Totino-Grace
Tied at 6 early but TG would knock down 4 straight bombs to open an 18-8 lead.  Rocky Kreuser doing the rest for TG.  Parker Fox struggling for Mahtomedi.  That allows TG to take a 28-22 lead to halftime.  They add 6 in a row to stretch the lead to 45-31 with 11:59 left.  Then the Parker Fox show began.  Shuffle cut for a 3 point play, reverse dunk and a quick technical, drive off and inbound and tip in a miss.  He scores 13 straight Mahtomedi points.  TG keeps the lead with a Nathan Kavolak for 3, Charlie Jacob for 3 and Kavolak scoring the quick inbounds lob.  58-44 TG with 6:45 left.

Then it all falls apart for TG.  Jacob sits with his 4th foul and Mahtomedi turns up the press.  Lincoln Rock converts a turnover and Fox with a strong dunk.  Jump ball to Mahtomedi and Fox with the tough 2 on Kreuser inside.  Another TG turnover leads to Mahtomedi free throws.  They miss a front end but get it back for another Fox dunk.  61 all with 2:13 left.  Braeden Mischke with a free throw and a clutch triple around a Fox hoop and TG is up 2 with 1:13 left.  Crowd on their feet.

That Mischke triple is the only TG FG in the last 6:45.  Fox spins for a 3 point play and Andy Voyen runs for 2 after a TG miss.  68-65 Mahtomedi inside 30 seconds left.  TG runs a set to get Kavolak a look for 3 but its no good inside 10 ticks left.  Fox makes 1 of 2 free throws to seal it.  Mahtomedi wins 69-65.  The Zephyrs trailed by 14 with 6:45 left and finish the game on a 25-7 run.  Parker Fox goes for 29 of his 37 in the 2nd half.  TG had absolutely no answer for him.  Nobody in double figures for Mahtomedi.  Rocky Kreuser with 21 points, 16 in the 1st half.  No points in the last 13 minutes which was very surprising considering his dominating 1st half.  Nathan Kavolak with 5 triples and 22 points to lead Totino-Grace.  16 of those points in the 2nd half.  Charlie Jacob added 13.