Trojans conquer the Crimson

Prologue
Its a rematch of a late January showdown between 3 seed Wayzata and 2 seed Maple Grove.  Wayzata gave away an 11 point lead in the last 5 minutes in that meeting.  A surprisingly late and not as full as expected crowd.  An early arrival means plenty of time to add another hot dog to the counter and a can of A&W to go with it.  The Wayzata band outstanding from start to finish.  We get today's song (straight link, no rick rolling here) and then after the game we get Pharrell's Happy on the way out the door.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 159 (67 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1609.8 ounces (104 days, 140 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
  • Pepsi: 812 ounces
  • Coke: 192 ounces
  • Dr. Pepper: 48 ounces
  • Sprite: 200 ounces
  • Sierra Mist: 12 ounces
  • Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
  • A&W Root Beer: 72 ounces
  • Red Powerade: 120 ounces
  • 0 Calorie Fruit Punch Powerade: 20 ounces
  • Red Gatorade: 96.9 ounces
  • Water: 500 ml
Hot Dog Counter: 21


Song of the Day:

Game Time:
Brad Davison was very quiet in the last meeting until the last 5 minutes.  No such thing today.  Off the ball screen for 3, a deuce and he'll bank home a long 3.  Then another bomb and a drive.  Then a pass for Jack Hutchinson free throw and a steal for 2.  That means he's in on the 1st 18 Maple Grove points, scoring 16 of them.  Wayzata would keep up thanks to Jack Sowada.  Double curl BLOB for 3, a putback, a drive and a 3.  18 all at 9:40.  Then back to back 3s from soph Ryan Lindberg and a 3 from Ty Gelinske to end a 14-2 run.  27-20 Trojans at 5:30.  Davison pulls off the ball screen, scores again and then buries another 3 in a 9-2 Crimson run to cut the margin to 2.  He adds 4 free throws to cut the lead to 1 before Sowada drives and reverses to end the half's scoring.  36-33 Wayzata at half.  Davison with 27 of the 33 and a pass that became 2 free throws.

Johnny Beeninga quiet in the 1st half but he drives for 2 and then finishes off glass over Reed Nikko.  Soph Gavin Baumgartner with a 3 and Beeninga with a pair of hoops to push the lead to 9.  50-41 Wayzata with 13:13 left and Maple Grove needs a timeout after the 11-3 run.  Austin Slater with a putback and Baumgartner with a great hustle play to grab an offensive board and finish all in 1 motion while taking the hit.  55-43 Wayzata after that 3 point play.  Davison with 4 in a row to cut the lead to 6 and Wayzata takes time with 8:44 left.   Baumgartner sandwiches a Davison hoop with a layup and 2 free throws.  But out of the free throws, Davison goes over the top of the 1 time only Wayzata 2-3 zone to Nikko for a dunk.  Davison then for 3, MG draws and offensive foul and Davison finds Tywhon Pickford all alone for a layup on the inbounds.  Timmy Bishop drew that charge and then gets a steal and a timeout.  61-58 Wayzata lead with 5:34 left but Maple Grove has the momentum and the ball with a chance to tie.  They can't convert and Slater puts back a miss with Nikko helping on a drive.  Lindberg then hits another big 3 and Davison gets called for a charge at the 3:50 mark.  Bishop forces another turnover for a Davison layup with 3:33 left.  68-62 Wayzata lead.  But Maple Grove wouldn't score again.  Slater with 2 free throws after he grabs another miss.  Beeninga 2 free throws going to the rim, Slater 2 layups vs traps and Wayzata puts it away.  Wayzata wins 77-62 but it was much closer than that.

Post Game
Maple Grove finishes the season 23-4.  Brad Davison goes for 42 points on 14-23 shooting with a handful of rebounds and assists.  Reed Nikko with 11 of the other 20 and a handful of blocked shots, mostly early in the game.  No other help on this night though.  Timmy Bishop came in and committed 3 quick fouls with about 10 minutes left but then his defensive energy became a factor forcing at least 3 turnovers.  I would have liked to see more Mitchell Rekstad to help space the floor for Davison.

Wayzata moves on to play Champlin Park in the 5AAAA final at Rogers on Friday night.  Great balance from the Trojans.  Jack Sowada goes for 21 points, Austin Slater 17, Johnny Beeninga 13, Gavin Baumgartner 12 and Ryan Lindberg 9.  Ty Gelinske with quality energy guarding Davison in the 1st half.  I loved the tactic of forcing Davison left on everything, ball screen or not.  No double teams to let his passing become a major factor, stay home fight over the screen and get back.  Despite giving up 42 to him, he wasn't the same threat going left as when going right.  More of a passer going left than a scorer.   But he's still crafty enough to get steals and get himself to the line to create offense.  Add that with 5 made 3s and you still end up with a big night.

Section Blowouts and Blowups

Prologue
A busy 24 hours of hoops.  I pull out the passport for a Friday trip outside The Kingdom to see Chisago Lakes 7AAA opener.  They should count as a former Kingdom member though (from their North Suburban days).  Then back to the metro for 3 games on Saturday.  Plenty of Pepsi on this trip so the beverage counter gets an appropriate boost.  Domino's and Little Caesar's pizza included, but I did skip the Walking Taco at Highland Park (lunch plans between sessions).  Bad choice.  We get The Rev working the late game and a special appearance from Toddler Ref.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 159 (67 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1597.8 ounces (101 days, 139 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
  • Pepsi: 812 ounces
  • Coke: 192 ounces
  • Dr. Pepper: 48 ounces
  • Sprite: 200 ounces
  • Sierra Mist: 12 ounces
  • Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
  • A&W Root Beer: 60 ounces
  • Red Powerade: 120 ounces
  • 0 Calorie Fruit Punch Powerade: 20 ounces
  • Red Gatorade: 96.9 ounces
  • Water: 500 ml
Hot Dog Counter: 20

Game 1: 8 Hibbing at 1 Chisago Lakes (Fri 7AAA Quarterfinal)
Chisago Lakes won the regular season meeting in big fashion.  PG Ethan Hickcox would sit for Chisago Lakes with 2 fouls in the 1st 1:41.  Chisago Lakes would go on a 14-2 run  to take control 21-7 at the 6:52 mark.  Jake Lindquist  with 3 triples and a 3 point play in that run.  Hibbing cuts it to 9 but a 10-2 run to close the half puts the Wildcats ahead 32-15 at the break.  The run extends to 23-5 as we get under 14 left.  45-18 Wildcats.  They get a bit sloppy but still win easily 70-51.  Jake Lindquist 19 to lead Chisago Lakes.  Dylan Takkunen 21 to lead Hibbing.

Game 2: 4 St. Paul Academy vs 5 Concordia (at Highland Park, 4AA Quarterfinal)
This one was even for the 1st 6 minutes as we're tied at 10.  Then Concordia's wheels fall off.  Dalante Peyton dunks a turnover, Emerson Egly to the rim for 2, Peyton flares for one 3 and then buries another.  29-14 SPA at 8:38 after a 19-4 run.  Concordia just trying to do too much on the offensive end.  Concordia switches Isaiah Maddox on to Peyton to try to slow him down.   The bleeding is stopped enough.  36-23 SPA at the break.  Kent Hanson slips the flare screen he sets for Peyton for a layup and Abdul Osman puts back a miss to push the lead to 18.  Maddox goes for 6 in a row via a 3, a free throw and a floater to cut the margin to 53-41 with 8:02 left.  Hanson with 7 straight SPA points on 2 free throws a steal for 2 and a 3 point play.  Peyton adds a transition 3 with 3:50 left to slam the door.  The lead is 19 and SPA finishes it off to win 75-53.  Dalante Peyton 22 points and 7 boards along with hounding Roger Moore all day.  Kent Hanson 19 and 11.  Abdul Osman 12 points in effective minutes.  Roger Moore 20 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, Isaiah Maddox with 18 to lead Concordia.  Moore had 11 turnovers on my sheet.  I feel both pressed too much and the rest of roster only combined for 15 points.

Game 3: #9AAA St. Thomas Academy (3) vs #7AAA Hill-Murray (2) (at Washington 4AAA Semifinal)
Tough charge call on Marshawn Wilson at the 13:26 mark is his 2nd foul.  Unlike the holiday matchup where Wilson stayed in, coach Hannigan will sit him down for a bit and then shuttle him in and out in offense/defense type situations.  Senior Jimmy Quirk off the bench for 3 countered by Nate Chaffee going lefty inside and then Ryan Jacobsen shooting the passing lane and going the other way for a dunk.  18 all at 10:25.  Sam Westby drives and scores then Wilson comes back in.  He promptly buries a 3, grabs a defensive board and then kicks it ahead to Jack Fahey who drives and scores to end a 10-2 Pioneers run.  28-20 Hill-Murray at 8:12 as the Cadets need a timeout.  Chaffee controlling the paint but a couple of late Simeon Davis 3s help keep the lead.  46-41 Hill-Murray at the break.

Kai Endahl playing like Wilson in the 2nd half as he just bullied people.  But every time the Cadets would threaten the lead, the Pioneers made a play to keep it.  Endahl drive and a Andrew Mayleben hoop cut lead to 1, Fahey counters for 3.  Endahl free throw, Wilson coast to coast and buries the pull up 3.  Jacobsen for 3, Wilson double clutches the jumper and adds another hoop.  60-52 Hill-Murray with 12:10 left.  Wilson with another hoop to keep the lead at 7 with 5 minutes left.  Endahl to the fade, Jacobsen coast to coast to cut the lead to 3.  Jacobsen makes 2 free throws to keep the margin at 3, Wilson misses 2 free throws and Jacobsen throws a bullet to Endahl on the backside for a layup with 1:50 left.  Hill-Murray misses 4 of 6 free throws but the Cadets can't convert.  Finally Chaffee grabs a miss and makes 2 free throws with 20.5 left.  Another Pioneers missed free throw gives the Cadets a last chance with 9.8 left.  Endahl misses from the right wing at the buzzer.  Hill-Murray wins 81-79.  Marshawn Wilson 30 points and 12 rebounds on my sheet.  3 other Pioneers in double figures as well.  Jack Fahey 14 with 3 triples, Chris Moore 14 points inside and Simeon Davis 10 points (all 1st half).  Ryan Jacobsen goes out with 27 points.  Nate Chaffee scored 16 of his 20 in the 1st half but didn't get many post touches in the 2nd half.  Kai Endahl 11 of his 17 in the 2nd half and was a difficult matchup.

Game 4: #8AAA Simley (4) vs #2AAA Johnson (1) (at Washington 4AAA Semifinal)
The Rev working this game which gets my attention.  Better yet, we get Toddler Ref making a special appearance running up and down the sideline with him.  Pure comic gold.  Justus Murphy with 3 early hoops being productive inside.  Jalen Mobley adds a hoop for a 12-8 Govs lead.  Johnson goes mass subs early bringing in 4 bench guys at once.  Simley takes advantage of that to go on a 9-0 run mostly against those bench guys.  Jack Stensgard for 3 in transition to start it and then a tough floater from Matt Amspoker to finish it.  17-12 Spartans at the 9:30 mark.  Its all Johnson after that.  Simley botches a 4 on 1 break for a Mobley layup, Andre Smith for 3, Mobley to Eric Elliot for a layup to put the Govs on top.  Smith another 3, Murphy a hoop and a Mobley 3 and Elliot bucket before Mobley beats the halftime buzzer.  26-6 Govs run over the last 8:30 and 17-2 in the last 4:45.  38-23 Johnson at half.  The next 5 go to Johnson as well for a 22-2 spurt (or 31-6 if you wish) and the lead is 20.  Simley not quite done as Jack Stensgard hits a pair of 3s and a 3 point play from Alex Anderson cuts the lead to 51-40 with 11 minutes left.  A 8-0 Govs run at that point puts the game away as the lead is back to 19.  The last 4 minutes make the final even worse.  Johnson wins 93-65.  Junior Andre Smith 24 points with 3 triples to help keep Simley's zone honest.  Jalen Mobley and Eric Elliot both add 17.  Justus Murphy with 13.  Jack Stensgard with 4 3s and 18 points.  Alex Anderson and Sam Stensgard 12 each.  The game became a track meet and that's Johnson's way to win.  Simley needed this to be a slow down execution type of game and it wasn't that.

Pride of the Lions is strong

Prologue
To the eastern shore of The Kingdom for the 4AA 7 vs 10 matchup between St. Paul Humboldt and St. Croix Prep.  SCPA going with a beach theme for the student section.  Blow up palm trees included but I didn't see a beach ball.  Some overzealous admin probably would have confiscated it anyway.  Coach Matt McCollister in a dapper black outfit as always.  I on the hand didn't have time to properly prepare so no bow tie and dapper get up for The Czar.  I walk in right at opening tip so no concessions tonight either.  The Beverage Counter and I are about to have a fight.  Gustavus and Hamline amongst the colleges looking on.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 157 (65 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1545.8 ounces (97 days, 132 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
  • Pepsi: 760 ounces
  • Coke: 192 ounces
  • Dr. Pepper: 48 ounces
  • Sprite: 200 ounces
  • Sierra Mist: 12 ounces
  • Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
  • A&W Root Beer: 60 ounces
  • Red Powerade: 120 ounces
  • 0 Calorie Fruit Punch Powerade: 20 ounces
  • Red Gatorade: 96.9 ounces
  • Water: 500 ml
Hot Dog Counter: 20

Song of the Day:  Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

Game Time:
SCPA star Michael Gutierrez with a 3, an assist for 3 more and a steal for 2 to get the Lions off to a 8-2 start.  He then trades 3 point plays with Humboldt star Demond Dawson then Quinn Fisher with the wild behind the back dribble to split the defense and its coast to coast for a 3 point play.  17-10 Lions at 13:03.  Dawson with a pair of hoops for Humboldt.  Soph Matt Kaul with a pair of 3s off the SCPA bench.  Sam Richardson adds another bomb and its 28-17 SCPA at 7:52.  Jared Shea sits with 2 fouls and Humboldt is faceguarding Gutierrez.  That means the Lions offense struggles.  Soph Guadalupe Tovalin off the Humboldt bench with all 5 of his points to ignite a 10-0 Hawks run.  Terel Haughton-Lyons converts a turnover and Dawson uses a ball screen to score.  Haughton-Lyons ends the half with a 3.  Tie game at 34 going to the halftime break.

Shea scores the 1st 6 of the half for SCPA and we stay tied at 40.  Shea's hoops start a Lions run.  Gutierrez with a steal for 2 free throws, Kaul with another 3 and Shea ends it with a layup.  54-44 SCPA with 9:20 left after their 18-4 run.  Dawson 5 in a row, Marion Moore a problem off the bounce for 2, Haughton-Lyons with a bomb and Moore finishes the 12-0 run with 2 free throws.  56-54 Humboldt 5:59 left.  Shea drives for a layup and Moore counters off the screen and roll with the left hand for 2.  Humboldt adds a free throw to go up 65-61 with 2:11 left.    Gutierrez with a clutch 3 with 1:50 left and that's his 1st FG of the half.  Moore on another isolation for 2 more, SCPA misses and Humboldt has it back up 3.  Gutierrez picks up Dawson on defense, the off arm comes up and Gutierrez is the 1st nominee for the 2016 Oscars.  His world-class flop gets the call and of course he ends up making the tying 3 on the ensuing possession.   Dawson misses with 15 seconds left and Gutierrez will hold for 1 at the horn but that's no good.  67 all to OT.

In OT, Dawson opens the scoring off a ball screen.  Kaul gets run off the line but takes 1 bounce to avoid the defense and buries the jumper.  Moore gets a breakaway layup with 1:55 left.  Dawson misses 2 critical free throws with 1:30 left.  This was after Shea made 2 moves to the hoop and didn't get a call.  SCPA can convert after those charity stripe misses but Humboldt walks on the other end.  High ball screen and its Gutierrez with the long 3 for the lead.  72-71 SCPA with a minute left.  Dawson gets to the rim but can't finish with the right hand (weak hand).  Gutierrez makes 3 of 4 free throws around a Dawson turnover.  St. Croix Prep wins 75-71 in overtime.

Post Game:
Humboldt finishes their season 8-17.  They lose their last 12 games of the season.  Demond Dawson leads the Hawks with 22 points.  The 5'8" lefty would be a nice pickup for some body in the MCAC.  Marion Moore adds 17 points.  Terel Haughton-Lyons with 14 points.  Nice work by Humboldt out of their 1-2-2 faceguarding Gutierrez.  When he was in a player's area, it was a faceguard.  Different concept but it was effective.

St. Croix Prep is now 14-13 with the win.  Michael Gutierrez was quiet for about 30 minutes in the middle of the game.  But he had 7 quick points and then 2 huge 3s to force overtime plus the one to put them over the top in OT  He ends up with 26 points to lead all scorers.  Jared Shea picked up his game in the middle of the Humboldt zone in the 2nd half to fill in during that Gutierrez lull.  Matt Kaul 3 critical bombs off the bench on his way to 11 points. Sam Richardson with a pair of 3s and 10 points for the Lions.  They will play at 2 seed St. Croix Lutheran on Saturday.

Falcons stop the buzz

Prologue
Its the 4 vs 5 game in loaded section 6AAAA with 20-6 Armstrong visiting 18-8 Edina at the Edina Community Center.  I save the stomach from the pizza but that also makes the beverage counter very sad.  Fair number of Edina students in attendance despite their hockey game.  Armstrong with a nice group of vocal students and a full baseline worth of cheerleaders.  Surprising number of scout types in attendance too.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 157 (64 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1545.8 ounces (97 days, 132 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
  • Pepsi: 760 ounces
  • Coke: 192 ounces
  • Dr. Pepper: 48 ounces
  • Sprite: 200 ounces
  • Sierra Mist: 12 ounces
  • Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
  • A&W Root Beer: 60 ounces
  • Red Powerade: 120 ounces
  • 0 Calorie Fruit Punch Powerade: 20 ounces
  • Red Gatorade: 96.9 ounces
  • Water: 500 ml
Hot Dog Counter: 20

Song of the Day:  The Byrds - Turn Turn Turn

Game Time:
Jerome Dixon with a floater and a 3 and 3 layups from Sean Burns get Armstrong off to a 11-5 lead at the 12:45 mark.  Edina fights back with a transition 3 from soph Jimmy Connell, an inbounds layup and a cherry picking layup and they're on top 14-13 after a 9-2 run.  Armstrong with their own run via Evan Nolan for 3, Dixon to frosh Race Thompson for a 3 point play and a turnover becomes a Burns dunk.  24-16 Falcons at 6:30 and Will Moreton goes to the bench with his 2nd foul right before that dunk.  Then a couple of Burns assists, 1 for a back door and Dixon for 3.  Those counter a couple of Ben Boone jumpers  Max Lynch a couple of post hoops and Edina scores the last 3 of the half.  35-29 Armstrong at the break.  22 points plus at least half of the rest of the offense created by Burns and Dixon.

Dixon and Walt McGrory trade 3s in the broken floor.  Then a pretty Armstrong possession where everybody touches it as it goes backdoor, drift pass to weak side corner then 2 more to the top for a Nolan triple.  Edina still hanging around though.  McGrory with the jumper, then a layup off quality BLOB action, McGrory cherry picks for a layup and then vs the Falcons 3-2 zone he takes the skip pass and buries a 3.  He has 10 of the first 15 in the half for Edina.  Jubie Alade and Race Thompson with post hoops during that time to keep Armstrong ahead 49-44 inside of 11 to play.

Then its all Armstrong the rest of the way.  Dixon to Nolan for 3, Nolan scores on a turnover, Alade on the give and go with Burns to push the lead to 14.  Tre Tate for 3 and the lead is 15 inside of 6 left.  Edina gets a 3 point play from Max Lynch at the 6:39 mark but that's their only field goal in the last 11:25.  Boone makes 2 free throws to cut the margin to 63-50 with 4:27 left.  Armstrong slams the door with 18 of the last 20.  Armstrong finishes the game on a 32-8 run.  Falcons win 81-52.

Post Game:
Edina finishes their season at 18-9, 2-6 in the Lake Conference (5th).  Walt McGrory leads the Hornets with 18 points, 13 of those in the 2nd half and 10 of those early.  But on this night, even those 18 points seemed quiet.  That helped Edina get as close as 4 points.  But nobody else with more than 9 points (Max Lynch).  Lots of missed bunnies and some good looks that just didn't go in.   Ben Boone 6 points, Will Moreton 1 3 for 3 points.  They settled for some quick 3s as they started to fall behind and Armstrong made them pay with solid possessions for scores on the other end.

Armstrong improves to 21-6 and they will play at top seed Eden Prairie on Saturday.  Jerome Dixon with 20 points, Sean Burns with 19.  Evan Nolan with 3 3s on his way to 13 points.  Race Thompson leading the bench mob with 11, 26 total for the bench.  Armstrong ran a ton of offense through Burns at the elbows, usually the left one so he could take it to Lynch with his strong right hand.  Quality tactical move against the shot blocker.  Dixon was also able to create off the bounce without much trouble.  The bench not only provided scoring but great energy all the way down to 10th guy Chance Bowen.

Elks survive a Thundering Herd of Bison

Prologue
No finer time of year than playoff time.  Tonight's a 4 vs 5 game to open the section 8AAAA playoffs.  Its a rematch of Buffalo at Elk River from November when Elk River won 40-34.  Fairly spare crowd on hand but they were vocal.  A super late opening to the concession stand means nothing for the beverage counter tonight.  The Horror!

Number of Teams I've Seen: 157 (64 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1545.8 ounces (97 days, 132 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
  • Pepsi: 760 ounces
  • Coke: 192 ounces
  • Dr. Pepper: 48 ounces
  • Sprite: 200 ounces
  • Sierra Mist: 12 ounces
  • Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
  • A&W Root Beer: 60 ounces
  • Red Powerade: 120 ounces
  • 0 Calorie Fruit Punch Powerade: 20 ounces
  • Red Gatorade: 96.9 ounces
  • Water: 500 ml
Hot Dog Counter: 20

Song of the Day:  Right Now - Van Halen

Game Time:
Its Matt Keller hot early for Elk River.  A pull up jumper and a 3.  Then whacked on a 3 for 3 free throws and then another 3 out of the secondary break.  Then he gets a flare screen, not there so he comes right back to the ball off of the rescreen for his 3rd triple.  15-10 Elk River 5 minutes into the game and we clearly won't have the low scoring affair of early in the year.  Jonathan Senger for 2 and a 3 point play from Taylor Spier bring us to 17 all just inside of 10 minutes left in the half.  Mitchell Weege, Keller and frosh Jack Burger off the bench with 3s as the Elks go on an 11-4 spurt.  Jared High 2 hoops to stop that but Weege hits from deep again.  Zach Dahl with a late 3 point play for Buffalo to keep it tight.  33-29 Elk River at the break.  The Elks make 7 3s in the half.  17 of the 1st 25 for Elk River from Keller.  High with 12 of his own for Buffalo.

Dahl grabs a miss and makes 2 free throws to tie the game at 35 2:20 into the half.   Elk River makes the critical run.  Weege inside out for 3, a blocked shot leads to a Keller 3 point play.  Soph Wyatt Morrell for 3 and a jumper that ends a 15-4 run.  50-39 Elk River with 11:05 left.  Burger inside for a 3 point play and a hoop with 8:10 left to push the lead to 12, 55-43.  Burger continues his big half with 2 free throws.  Senger to High on a beautiful backdoor at the 6:10 mark.  But post Trent Pink counters and its still 59-47 Elk River inside of 6 to play.

Buffalo rumbles back into the game.  High for 3, Elk River misses 2 front ends and Dahl scores.  Burger makes 2 free throws but that's countered by a Cory Thielman putback for a 3 point play.  Lead down to 6 inside of 4 minutes left.  A steal for 1 Senger free throw, Elk River makes 3-6 free throws before Senger goes coast to coast with 2:31 left.  64-60 Elk River and they are hanging on for dear life.  Buffalo can't convert a turnover and a Buffalo 3 gets stuck in the rim and the arrow goes to Elk River.  After a dicey call, Dahl makes 2 free throws and the lead is 3 with 1:50 left.  Elk River just avoids a 10 second call and turns it over anyway.  Senger fouled on a BLOB curl but misses both free throws with 1:32 left.  Jump ball goes to Buffalo on the miss but they turn it over for a Keller 3 point play and another dicey call on that foul.  High drives and scores and Buffalo not happy with another trip to the line for Keller.  He makes 2 to keep the Elk River lead at 6.  Dahl goes for a 3 point play to cut the lead in half.  Burger on the breakaway scores but gets hit and comes down awkwardly and doesn't return to the game.  That'd be a tough injury for the promising freshman.  The free throw is taken by Morrell and good and the lead is 6 again.  High makes 1 free throw and the miss is grabbed by Dahl for 2 more freebies.  Then Keller beating the press and a mysterious carrying call with 26 seconds left.  That gives Buffalo a chance. After a timeout, they miss once and Senger takes the offensive board back to the line and his 3 is around and out at the horn.  Elk River hangs on 73-70.  The 2nd half (41-40 Buffalo) had more scoring than the entire 1st game.

Post Game
Jared High leads Buffalo with 24 points.  Zach Dahl adds 16 and Cory Thielman chips in with 13.  Strange to see the Bison go straight 5 out rather than their traditional screening system.  But this group doesn't have the shooters of years past.  The Bison finish the season 12-15.  They had some chances down the stretch but just never got over the top.

Elk River came in losing 6 of 7 and almost gave this one away.  They missed 8 free throws in a 2 minute stretch counting 2 front ends of the bonus.  But Matt Keller made the last 3.  The Elks made 7 of their 9 3s in the 1st half.  Freshman Jack Burger with 19 points off the bench.  Lets hope his late injury isn't serious.  Matt Keller with 17 of his 26 in the 1st half.  The Elks move on to play in 8AAAA semifinals at St. Cloud State Saturday afternoon.  The likely opponent is St. Michael-Albertville who beat them by 14 at the end of January.

Eagles soar over Knights

Prologue
Its the last night of my regular season and the record number of games pace continues.  Tonight I complete the sweep of the St. Paul City Conference with a trip to Washington to see the Eagles take on Harding.  20th hot dog of the season with 20 oz of Pepsi on tonight's menu.  Always different to see Washington when its not setup for a Twin Cities Game or section play.  Only 10 rows open on the near side tonight.  But always fun to see the historical banners of the old St. Paul schools on the wall.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 156 (64 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1545.8 ounces (97 days, 132 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
  • Pepsi: 760 ounces
  • Coke: 192 ounces
  • Dr. Pepper: 48 ounces
  • Sprite: 200 ounces
  • Sierra Mist: 12 ounces
  • Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
  • A&W Root Beer: 60 ounces
  • Red Powerade: 120 ounces
  • 0 Calorie Fruit Punch Powerade: 20 ounces
  • Red Gatorade: 96.9 ounces
  • Water: 500 ml
Hot Dog Counter: 20

Game Time:
Both teams go zone for most of the night.  Mohamed Saleh with the drive and 3 for an early Washington lead.  Soph Curtis Bell with a steal and dunk to push the lead to 9-4.  Deon Houskin with a layup to pull Harding within 2.  Shooter Essa Adam sits the last 9:08 for Harding with 2 fouls.  That's an important loss vs the 3-2 zone but Harding hangs around.  Houskin with a 3 point for a 1 point lead.  Malik Samuel with a floater and assist to Houskin for a 19-15 Harding lead.  Bell with a layup and a Courtney Walker for 3 to put Washington back on top.  Washington takes a 25-24 lead to halftime.

Washington turns the tables their way right away to start the 2nd half.  Saleh for 3, Walker converts a turnover, Keenan Williams with a pair of layups.  Robby Sanders hoop and harm and converts a turnover.  Bell takes another turnover for 2 and its getting out of hand.  17-5 Washington run in the 1st 5 minutes of the half for a 42-29 Eagles lead.  Washington would show good patience and hold the ball a bit vs the 2-3 zone.  Extend, feed the high post, feed it low for a layup.  Harding scores the next 4 to close the gap to 9 but they never get closer.  Washington pulls away and wins 64-48.

Post Game:
Harding closes the season 6-17 overall and 2-10 in the St. Paul City.  They'll finish 6th thanks to 2 wins over Humboldt.  Deon Houskin scores 11 of his 15 in the 1st half to lead the Knights.  He had some success diving to the rim out of the high post and running the floor.  Essa Adam held to 2 3s and 8 points.  Malik Samuel also with 8 for the Knights.  They'll finish Johnson on Wednesday in the 1st round of the 4AAA playoffs.

Washington gets 15 from Mohamed Saleh to lead 4 players in double figures.  Soph Curtis Bell with 12.  Robby Sanders and Keenan Williams with 11 each.  Williams making himself available inside for dump offs for easy hoops.  They did a nice job moving the ball against the Harding 2-3 zone.  Washington evens their regular season record at 11-11.  They finish 5th in the St. Paul City at 4-8.  They will host Prairie Seeds Academy in the 4AA 8 vs 9 game on Thursday night.

2015 Section Predictions

Now that seeding is done and the games have been played, some of the teams are who we thought they were (thanks Denny Green) and others were not.  So with all seeds in hand, let's do some predictions for the 2015 tournament.  We start with the small schools and then go big.  All games are at High Seed at 7 PM unless otherwise noted.

Section 4A
Pigtails: 2/24
Round of 16: 2/26
Quarterfinals: 2/28
Semifinals: 3/3
Championship: 3/6 at Macalester, 5:45 PM

In the pigtails I see 13 Nova over 20 North Lakes, 14 Bethany over 19 AFSA and 15 Christian Life over 18 Learning for Leadership in big fashion.  Best game of the 4 is 16 Math and Science over 17 Calvin Christian.

Round of 16: The top 4 seeds, North, MCA, MTS and SW Christian get the 4 pigtail winners.  They move on with no problem.  Hope vs Legacy is the always dangerous 5 vs 12 game.  Expect lots of 3s in that game.  Heritage should handle CPA in the 6 vs 11 game.  Cristo Rey my favorite over West Lutheran in the 8 vs 9 game.  The only upset I'll pick here is 10 seed CHOF over 7 seed PACT.  CHOF won the regular season meeting at PACT in early December.

Quarterfinals:  North over Cristo Rey and Maranatha over CHOF in blowouts.  MTS handles Heritage and SW Christian over Legacy..

Semifinals: North takes out SW Christian.  Maranatha def Transitions in a very interesting game.

Finals: #2 North won the meeting with #3 Maranatha in huge fashion at North in January  The neutral court will make a difference but North has too many horses and the motivation of not making state last year.  I'll take the Polars to advance.

Section 4AA
Round of 16: 2/26
Quarterfinals: 2/28
Semifinals: 3/3
Championship: 3/6 at Macalester, 8:15 PM

Round of 16: The top 7 of the top 8 seeds move on in easy fashion.  1 Roosevelt over 16 St. Paul Prep, 2 St Croix Lutheran over Great River, 3 Minnehaha over 14 FAIR, 4 SPA over 13 Mounds Park Academy, 5 Concordia over 12 St. Agnes, 6 New Life over 11 Trinity.  8 Washington over 9 Prairie Seeds.  The one opening round game that I think is close is 10 Humboldt at 7 St. Croix Prep.  SCPA won the regular season meeting at home by 8 in mid-December.  The guard matchup of Humboldt's Demond Dawson vs SCPA's Michael Gutierrez is going to be fun.  Gutierrez had 40 in the 1st meeting while Dawson was held to 14 (avg 18.6 during season).  Give me the Lions at home in a fairly high scoring game.

Quarterfinals: The top 3 seeds are clear favorites and I'll pick them to move on without much trouble.  The 4 vs 5 game should be very tight.  Concordia won the regular season meeting with SPA by 1 at Concordia but this game would be at SPA.  Expect Dalante Peyton to spend some time defending Roger Moore so Concordia will have to find other offense.  Kent Hanson was held to 5 but Peyton went for 22 and Abdul Osman for 15.  I think Osman is the X factor here.  Home court advantage is the difference in this one.  SPA in a very tight game.

Semifinals.  These would both be rematches of regular season meetings.  St. Croix Lutheran beat Minnehaha on the road by 12 in January.  I think the Crusaders do it again, this time at home.  Roosevelt beat SPA by 3 at the end of November.  But Roosevelt has turned it up a level since then.  SPA's size will be a problem for the Teddies, but the Roosevelt trio of Cobbs, Hannah and Farrar is a bigger problem.  I think Roosevelt moves on.

Finals: A projected heavyweight battle between #1 St. Croix Lutheran and #3 Roosevelt.  Trenton Krueger gives the Roosevelt a problem inside.  Ade Lamu is big enough and athletic enough to guard Elijah Hannah.  Can they slow down Farrar and Cobbs?  St. Croix Lutheran will want to grind this one to a screeching halt while Roosevelt will want an up and down game.  I think Roosevelt can turn St Croix Lutheran over enough to make the difference.  I'll take Minneapolis Roosevelt as my 2nd team to represent the Minneapolis City at state.

Section 5AA
Round of 16: 2/26
Quarterfinals: 2/28 at St. Michael-Albertville (6-8 PM)
Semifinals: 3/3 at St. Michael-Albertville (6-8 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at St. Cloud State (doubleheader with 6AA)

Round of 16: I'm only going to go into detail in the south half since the only metro team in the north is Spectrum and I'll take St. Cloud Cathedral to knock them out in round 1.  Breck gets a bye as the top seed since International School is not playing.  2 Watertown-Mayer should have no problem with 7 Minneapolis Edison.  3 Providence had no trouble with 6 Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted at home in December.  I see the same thing here.  5 Rockford will host 4 Brooklyn Center due to gym issues for the Centaurs.  I think BC is a very dangerous 4 seed and I wouldn't surprised to hear that some people sandbagged in the seeding meeting to avoid them.  I think they're too athletic for Rockford.

Quarterfinals: I like Providence to knock off Watertown-Mayer again.  The Lions beat Watertown-Mayer by 5 at home on Friday.  Brooklyn Center got Breck at Breck on a buzzer beater in their regular season meeting.  I think Breck has their hands full to get through this game but ultimately I think they survive.

Semifinals: I think Breck also has a tough game with Providence in the sub-section final.  I think they survive that too with too much firepower.  The other half should be absolutely dynamite with Cathedral or Annandale taking on Maple Lake or Braham in a heavyweight battle.

Final:  The winner from the north half will be too battle tested.  I like the north winner over Breck for a trip to state.

Section 3AAA
Quarterfinals: 2/26
Semifinals: 3/3 at Coon Rapids (6 and 8 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at Coon Rapids

Quarterfinals: 1 De La Salle over 8 Como Park and 2 Fridley over 7 St. Anthony in easy fashion.  I think Henry beats a scrappy Spring Lake Park group .  In the 4 vs 5 game, I'm torn.  I thought Columbia Heights would be better and I think their athletes bother the Eagles.  Totino-Grace is coming in with a couple of good wins over Osseo and Elk River.  That and home court propel them to a close win over the next door neighbor Hylanders.

Semifinals: De La Salle big over Totino-Grace.  Henry beat Fridley on the road in the regular season.  I'll take the 3 seed to win again.

Finals: De La Salle wins big in their attempt to win a 4th straight state title.

Section 4AAA
Quarterfinals: 2/25
Semifinals: 2/28 at St. Paul Washington (6 and 7:45 PM)
Championship: 3/5 at St. Paul Washington

Quarterfinals: Central went 3-10 outside the St. Paul City but did play Hill-Murray and Orono tough early in addition to only losing by 2 at Johnson at the end of January.  But Simley shoots it too well and they're at home, I think they move on in the 4 vs 5 game.  The other 3 games are blowouts.  1 Johnson over 8 Harding, 2 Hill-Murray over 7 S St. Paul and 3 St. Thomas Academy over 6 Highland Park.

Semifinals:  4 of the top 9 teams in the current state poll here.  I think #2 Johnson's presssure will really bother #8 Simley.  Especially with the game in Johnson's backyard and not at Simley.  I like Johnson to move on.  As to the #7 Hill-Murray vs #9 St. Thomas Academy 3rd meeting, ponder this.  Marshawn Wilson fouled out early in the 2nd half of the 1st meeting and Hill-Murray won (neutral site).  Wilson plays the whole way in the 2nd meeting and goes for 34 and 10 and they lose by 11 at St. Thomas.  Both teams have won 10 of their last 12.  I think Wilson gets his but St. Thomas holds the others down.  They'll get plenty of offense and move on.

Finals: Washington/Arlington has not been a friendly building to the Cadets.  #2 Johnson brings a totally different game that the #9 Cadets really haven't seen this year.   I'll take the Govs on home turf.

Section 6AAA
Quarterfinals: 2/24
Semifinals: 2/28
Championship: 3/5 at Chanhassen

Quarterfinals: 1 Washburn blows out 8 Blake and 2 Waconia blows out 7 Richfield.  6 Mound-Westonka played 3 Holy Family tough at home in mid-December, but I think the Fire at home burn the White Hawks.  4 Benilde-St. Margaret's won by 13 at 5 Holy Angels in early December.  I think BSM has too much firepower and they move on.  Note that the Waconia and BSM games are doubleheaders with regular season girls games.  The Waconia boys get the early game while the  BSM boys get the late game at the Haben Center.

Semifinals: These are home site games.  Top seed Washburn too much firepower for BSM.  As to Holy Family and Waconia, these Wright County foes were 13-13 against brutal schedules.  They split their 2 matchups with home court wins.  The key here will be the backcourts as the front lines are the strengths.  UNI recruit Justin Dahl had 2 monster games for the Fire with 27/26 at home and 26/14 on the road.  The Joey Korteum vs Jack Mugford shooting matchup may be the difference.  I like Waconia at home in a tough one.

Finals:Washburn took Waconia to the woodshed by 27 at Waconia in mid-January.  Waconia really struggles with athletic perimeter play (see this game and the Columbia Heights game where they got down 24 early before rallying to win in the season opener).  I like Washburn as the 3rd Minneapolis City team to advance to state.

Section 1AAAA
Quarterfinals: 2/25
Semifinals: 2/28 at Mayo Civic Center (6:30 and 8:15 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at Mayo Civic Center (8 PM)

Quarterfinals: 1 Rochester John Marshall handles 8 Rochester Century.  3 Lakeville North takes out 6 Owatonna.  4 Northfield holds down Dan Jech just enough to get their 3rd win over 5 Rochester Mayo.  My initial reaction to 2 Hastings vs 7 Farmington was one of high interest.  But Farmington has really struggled recently losing 7 in a row before beating Eagan to end the regular season.  Hastings won by 14 in the regular season but that was without Zach Speikers.  Hastings did have a big stumble vs Hill-Murray last week but they still won the big games to win the Metro East.  So I'll take the Raiders to win here.

Semifinals: Rochester John Marshall hasn't lost since I saw their ugly game against Rice Lake a month ago. Northfield keeps the semifinal interesting but JM moves on.  Hastings vs Lakeville North should be a good one as well.  9 of Lakeville North's last 10 games have been decided by 10 or less. I like Lakeville North here thanks to the tough schedule. 

Final: Lakeville North will apply pressure and really try to bother the JM guards.  I think JM can win this game but their year is next year.  Connor Flack vs the Hurt brothers is the matchup to see.  Lakeville North has more role guys and that will be the difference.

Section 2AAAA
Quarterfinals: 2/25
Semifinals: 2/28 at Apple Valley (5 and 7 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at Apple Valley

Quarterfinals: 1 Shakopee over Kennedy, 2 Chaska over 7 Burnsville.  6 Prior Lake vs 3 Bloomington Jefferson expect a slow paced struggle there.  I like Prior Lake's chances there.  Jefferson pulled the upset a year ago as a 7 seed to make this section a mess.  I'm going down the same route this year, give me the Lakers.  4 Chanhassen has won 10 straight. Jack Sorenson and Brenon Larson-Gulsvig are dangerous for Lakeville South as the 5 seed but I'll take Chanhassen here. 

Semifinals: Shakopee over Chanhassen in another grind it out game.  Too much Steffon Mitchell in that one.  Chaska has been too good this year to pick against them in the 1 vs 6 game. 

Final: Shakopee vs Chaska would be a rematch of a 5 point Shakopee win in the Eden Prairie tournament.  Expect another close matchup but Shakopee has added a piece they didn't have back then in 4 year starting PG Evan Hagen.  Have to take the Sabers as they'll find a way to slow down Jake Hansen.

Section 3AAAA
Quarterfinals: 2/25
Semifinals: 2/28 at Farmington (times ??)
Championship: 3/5 at Farmington

Quarterfinals: I think the top 4 seeds move on without any trouble.  1 Apple Valley over 8 Sibley, 2 CDH over 7 Park, 3 East Ridge over 6 Eagan and 4 Eastview over 5 Rosemount are all games I don't see being close.

Semifinals:  That leads to a pair of 3rd meetings between conference foes.  CDH got East Ridge twice during the regular season, I just don't see East Ridge having enough to get over the top in this one.  As to the Apple Valley vs Eastview matchup, that is very interesting.  Eastview shot the lights out at home to pull the upset on Apple Valley a couple of weeks ago.  That would hopefully keep Apple Valley from looking ahead to a rematch.  Eastview hangs around before Apple Valley wins.

Final: Now one of the huge AAAA section final games.  #2 Apple Valley looking for revenge after last year's classic CDH Double OT win.  But #4 CDH has all their stars back and there's no Tyus Jones this year.  CDH is super hot right now losing only once in over 2 months.   I picked CDH at the start of the season, I can't change that pick now.  Jordan Ammons and Chris Perry on Gary Trent gives CDH a defensive option to watch.  Expect another high scoring classic.

Section 4AAAA
Quarterfinals: 2/25
Semifinals: 2/28 at East Ridge (5:30 PM and 7:30 PM)
Championship: 3/5 at East Ridge

Quarterfinals: 1 Roseville blows out 8 North, 2 Stillwater handles 7 Woodbury, 3 Mahtomedi on upset alert vs 6 White Bear Lake.  White Bear Lake beat Mahtomedi in the season opener of neighbors.  But this game is at Mahtomedi and if the Zephyrs hold down Andy Lockwood (and I think they will)  I think they have too much to be upset again.  Expect 4 Mounds View to show some box and 1 vs Jordan Horn and 5 Tartan.  I see Mounds View throwing a bunch of role guys at Horn to try and wear him down.  Tartan will have to find an answer for Ryan Kaczynski.  Mounds View is at home and deeper, I'll take the Mustangs in a tight one at home.  Expect some fun tactical maneuvering in that one.

Semifinals: Roseville got Mounds View twice in the regular season.  Roseville too much firepower and they move on.  Mahtomedi just beat Stillwater on the road.  I expect a very tight game here.  Mahtomedi got great output from their guards in the win and Anderson/Mckinley were held to a combined 11.  I don't see that happening again.  Give me the Ponies.

Final:  Roseville beat Stillwater twice but by a combined 5 points.  Stillwater's physical style is a bit of Kryponite to Roseville's play.  Connor Gamble (who played with Kobe Critchley this summer so familiarity breeds contempt) will need to come up big.  Stillwater will have to hold down Mitch Poss who's become a knockdown shooter.  Stillwater has knocked Roseville out of the playoffs the last 2 years.  This is the year Roseville built their program for but I'll go with the old "Its hard to beat a team 3 times" saying here.  Give me Stillwater.

Section 5AAAA
Quarterfinals: 2/26
Semifinals: 3/3 at Rogers (6 PM and 8 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at Rogers

Quarterfinals:1 Champlin Park vs 8 Robbinsdale Cooper, 2 Maple Grove vs 7 Irondale, 3 Wayzata vs 6 Park Center.  I expect blowouts in all 3 of those.  5 Osseo won at 4 Centennial in their regular season meeting in mid-January.  Coin flip this one as Osseo has lost 3 in a row, Centennial has won 4 in a row coming in.  Centennial moves on.

Semifinals: Champlin Park beat Centennial twice by 20+, I don't see any problem for the Rebels in advancing.  Wayzata vs Maple Grove should be oustanding.  Wayzata gave up an 11 point lead late at Maple Grove a month ago.  That was until Brad Davison took over.  Wayzata truckload of shooters in their 4 out look really puts Maple Grove's desired 3 out look in a quandry.  Maple Grove will really need to pound that inside matchup of their 2nd big vs a Wayzata guard.  I'll take Wayzata in this one.

Final: I like Champlin Park to move on in the final.  JT Gibson has been too good.  Theo John makes an impact inside and the rest of the base lineup is too good against the rest of the opponent's lineup.  The game stays close for a while before Champlin Park pulls away.


Section 6AAAA
Quarterfinals: 2/25
Semifinals: 2/28 at Highest Seed (1 PM and 3 PM)
Championship: 3/4 at Cooper

Quarterfinals: Much like section 5, the top 3 seeds move on in blowouts and the 4 vs 5 game is very good.  1 Eden Prairie over 8 Mpls SW, 2 Hopkins over St. Louis Park and 3 Minnetonka over 6 Minneapolis South.  4 Edina vs 5 Armstrong is the top 4 vs 5 game out there.  Nothing like being in a tough section where winning 20 games doesn't get you a home game.  Walt McGrory/Ben Boone/Will Moreton vs Jerome Dixon/Jubie Alade/Evan Nolan is a nice perimeter duel.  I see Edina not having a good matchup for Sean Burns.  Armstrong's quickness is a problem so I think they get the close road win

Semifinals: 1 Eden Prairie with too many weapons for 5 Armstrong.  2 Hopkins gets revenge for last weeks' home loss to archrival 3 Minnetonka.  I think Hopkins will defend better and move on.

Final: This is another classic final with #6 EP taking on #7 Hopkins.  I see Hopkins also motivated for not closing out the conference title at EP on Friday.  Give me Hopkins to advance in a high quality game.

Section 7AAAA
Quarterfinals: 2/26
Semifinals: 3/3 at North Branch (6 PM and 8 PM)
Championship: 3/6 at North Branch

This section has the potential to be very wide open.  But I see chalk.  St. Francis no problem with Coon Rapids.  Blaine gets the home win over Duluth East.  Andover gets their rival Anoka in round 1 and Forest Lake gets another win over Cambridge-Isanti.  St. Francis will apply too much pressure to Blaine's guards and move on.  Andover will take out Forest Lake.  St. Francis defeated Andover by 15 in the regular season.  I think the Saints get another win and move on to state.

Section 8AAAA
Quarterfinals: 2/24
Semifinals: 2/28 at St Cloud State (2 PM and 3:30 PM)
Championship: 3/5 at Neutral Site

Top 2 seeds STMA and Moorhead move on in big fashion in round 1.  Rogers takes out Brainerd at home again in the 3 vs 6 game.  Elk River vs Buffalo is a rematch with Elk River getting the home game thanks to the head-head 40-34 home win in the season opener.  I'll take Elk River in a low scoring close game.  1st one to 45 wins.  STMA too much size and they'll take out the winner in round 2.  Rogers lost by 16 at Moorhead in the regular season.  I think the 2 vs 3 rematch is closer but Moorhead moves on with too much Cody Dorow.  STMA beat Moorhead by 11 at STMA in early December.  But after winning 13 in a row, STMA has lost 2 in a row coming into the tourney.  Cody Dorow scored 26 in the 1st meeting, he goes off again to carry the Spuds to state in a good game.  Moorhead hasn't lost to a Minnesota opponent since their holiday tournament.  11 straight wins to close the season.