Small School Delight

Prologue
To Macalester for the 4A and 4AA championships.  Jammed packed house at the Leonard Center for both games.  The always fun 500 ml bottle of Coke is the drink that closes out the official tally for the beverage counter (hard to track cups at state).  Boo the Toddler Ref is in the house for the late game.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 159 (70 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1658.7 ounces (107 days, 144 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
  • Pepsi: 844 ounces
  • Coke: 208.9 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: 22

Song of the Day: Fleetwood Mac - Seven Wonders

4A Championship (#3 Maranatha vs #2 Minneapolis North):
Cam Monson with a layup to start and a Jeremiah Hanson drive for 2 free throws.  4-0 MCA at 15:57 as the North offense can't get going.  JaQuan Sanders-Smith off the North bench with the nice give and go via Odell Wilson in the post and another layup.  Timeout North at 13:27 down 10-9.  Its Sanders-Smith again, this time its a 3 point play to give North their 1st lead.  He adds bonus free throws and Wilson with a jumper as the frosh continues to produce.  21-18 Polars at the 8 minute mark.  Hanson heating up as he buries back to back 3s as the North offense is really ragged.  He then outmuscles a Polar for a rebound and gets fouled.  Then a North attempt to save a loose ball goes haywire and Hanson turns that into a 3 point play.  4 straight turnovers, outworked on that rebound and they give up an offensive rebound of a free throw.  That's an ugly sequence for North.  31-26 MCA at 2:22 after that.  Isaac Johnson with a tough stepback, a 3 point play and running out for 2 more.  Monson with 3 of 4 free throws during that stretch.  Hanson with a technical free throw after the 2nd North delay of game call and he scores the last bucket of the half.  38-35 Maranatha at the half.  Hanson with 21.  Isaac Johnson with 10.

Jamil Jackson had a rough first half but got off to a quick 2nd half start with a hoop and a putback as the Polars score the 1st 6 of the second half.  Isaac Johnson to the left hand for 2 and Tyler Johnson for 3 to end the Polars 11-2 run.  46-40 North at 13:20.  Jackson sits with his 4th foul a minute later.  Monson with a free throw off a turnover, Hanson saves a miss for a Jake Meyen free throw and then Hanson scores.  49-48 North inside 10 to play.  Then the chess match begins.  MCA with a little momentum and in a 1-1-3 zone.  North looks a bit confused but they'll go 4 corners 2-1-2 and hold it.  Then a strange North timeout with 7:31.  MCA stays zone and North will hold for another 50 seconds.  But for some reason North decides to play at 6:40 and Sanders-Smith makes 1 of 2 free throws at 6:32.  MCA takes time and they'll come out man after they miss.  North misses and Hanson scores to tie it.  Jackson comes back in with 5:37 left.  Bad North miss and Damario Armstrong makes 2 free throws with 4:43 left for a 52-50 MCA lead.  They'll go back to the zone.  Tyler Johnson converts a turnover to tie it as its as 2 minute stretch of bad shots and turnovers both ways.  Hanson makes bonus free throws with 2:07 left, Sanders-Smith scoops for 2 but Jake Meyen scores the other way.  56-54 MCA 1:48 left.  Another bad shot and Armstrong makes an ill advised double clutch bank.  58-54 MCA 1:20 left.  Jackson makes 2 free throws and Maranatha helps the Polars by jacking a crazy shot.  Tyler Johnson to the rim for a monster dunk attempt over Hanson that almost went in.  He makes 1 free throw to cut the MCA lead to 1.  Hanson makes 1 of 2 free throws after the last MCA timeout.  North misses and MCA appears to get whacked but its an overrule to a jump ball with 30.3 left and it goes to MCA.  MCA travels with 20 seconds left, Jamil Jackson tips in a miss and North takes a timeout to set their defense with 9.4 left.  MCA gets in the inbounds and darn near turns it over.  But 1 outlet later they're on the break and its Monson under the rim.  Pump once and its a layup for the game winner with 2 seconds left but it doesn't go down, oh my goodness.  59 all and we'll play overtime.

In overtime, Jackson a tip in to put North up 1.  Armstrong off the bounce, Sanders-Smith with a floater.  Armstrong to Monson for a layup.  64-63 MCA with 2:15 left in OT.  Hanson up and under but its a walk with 1:30 left.  Tyler Johnson puts back a miss and Hanson misses with 1 minute left.  North bails out MCA with a quick miss.  Monson makes 1 free throw and MCA gets the miss back for Hanson to score .  Sanders-Smith fouled and makes 2 with 33.1 left and we're tied at 67.  Maranatha takes their last timeout to setup the final possession . Its Armstrong off the bounce and he makes the floater with 14 seconds left.  North out of timeouts and here they come.  The push up the right wing and Jackson has an open right side look that's no good with 5 seconds left.  MCA grabs the rebound and North makes no attempt to foul?!?!?!?!  Maranatha wins 69-67 in OT.  Jeremiah Hanson leads all scorers with 33 points, Damario Armstrong with 11 and despite struggles in regulation came up large with 2 buckets and an assist for another in the OT.  JaQuan Sanders-Smith leads North with 15, Issac Johnson with 15.  Jamil Jackson with 12 and Tyler Johnson with 10 points but both of them struggled as well.

4AA Championship (#1 St. Croix Lutheran vs #3 Minneapolis Roosevelt):
To show you how respected Roosevelt was in the section, SCL had 2 losses all year (DLS and St. Thomas Academy), #1 in the state poll and power polls and a better record but Roosevelt still got the top seed.  Interesting defensive matchups as its Trenton Krueger who gets Elijah Hannah, Ade Lamu gets London Cobbs and Venkat Valluri gets Arione Farrar.  Ade Lamu active early for SCL with a pair of steals for a bucket and 2 free throws plus a tap in.   London Cobbs carrying the Roosevelt offense as he scores their 1st 9 points with 3 buckets and a triple.  That 3 starts a 7-0 Roosevelt run to put them up 13-10 at the 8 minute mark.  Trenton Krueger and a high low feed for free throws vs the 2-3 zone.  That surrounds a Cobbs 3.  16-15 Roosevelt.  Then Roosevelt coach Rob Mestas leaves the bench at the 4:30 mark and does not return.  Krueger with a 3 point play.  Cobbs fouled and then makes a free throw.  He won't take the 2nd due to blood on the cheek.  But a Roosevelt assistant fixes that by ripping off his tie and using it to get rid of the blood.   Arione Farrar finds Abdullah Aden for a momentum building 3 right before the half.  Roosevelt 23-18 lead going to halftime.

Lamu active again to start the 2nd half as he goes steal for 2 and steal for 2 free throws.  After Cobbs puts back his own miss, its Aage Rovney for 3 and Krueger with another 3 point play.  12-2 Crusaders run puts them back on top 30-26 with 14:20 left.  Cobbs will sit with his 4th foul at the 10:52 mark.  Rovney hit on a 3 for 2-3 FTs and Gunnar Maki converts inside to push the lead to 6 with 9:20 left.  Aden a BLOB 3, Farrar pull for 2 and then buries a 3.  That's a quick Roosevelt 8-0 run for a 38-36 Teddies lead with 7:12 left.  Cobbs back in with more than 6 minutes in a bit of a surprise considering how close the game is.  Lamu with a sick ridiculous block going high at the rim to smack one away.  Krueger with a layup and a SCL pins the backside of the zone for a Rovney 3 from the left corner with 4:10 left.  41-38 SCL back on top.  Roosevelt misses, SCL takes time.  They'll spread the floor but not hold against the zone.  That patience pays off in a Krueger layup thanks to great ball movement with 3:20 left.  43-38 SCL after their 7-0 run.  But the Crusaders can't take care of the ball (PG Valluri sitting).  Farrar to Cobbs for 3 after a turnover, another turnover leads to Cobbs getting hit on a 3.  He makes 2 of the 3 to tie the game at 43 with 1:29 left.  Another SCL turnover with 1:05 left.  Roosevelt takes another timeout to set up offense and SCL comes out 1-3-1.  They get a trap at the halfcourt circle to force another Teddies timeout with 37.8 left.

Teddies shot no good, Cobbs hustles to snare the miss and Krueger bumps him with 22 seconds left.  That's his 5th foul.  Cobbs makes the 1st free throw but misses the 2nd.  Roosevelt runs down that miss too and Farrar is fouled with 18 seconds left.  Timeout SCL before the free throws.  Farrar misses the front end and here come the Crusaders.  Down the right side we go and the ball eventually ends up in the hands of Tommy Metcalf, the 5th guy you would think of in the Crusaders starting 5.  Maybe he's not even in the game if Krueger doesn't foul out.  But who cares, its an open 12 footer from just off the left lane line and its pure with 7 seconds left!  Roosevelt pushes the ball back and Farrar gets called for a walk right at the 3 point line with 0.7 left.  St. Croix Lutheran wins a thriller 45-44.  Trenton Krueger 14, Ade Lamu and Aage Rovney 12 as the big 3 do their part for SCL.  London Cobbs leads all scorers with 21 points, Arione Farrar with 11.

What an amazing night of basketball.  The stands were packed and people were 2 and 3 deep on the 3 rails.  Great fans, great hoops and an overall great environment.  Heartbreak hotel for the Minneapolis City Conference (and my picks) as they lose all 3 of their section finals by a combined 7 points. On a more serious note, best wishes to Rob Mestas, hope he gets well soon.

Revenge is best served cold

Prologue
Off to Farmington for another epic section final matchup.  Its the 3AAAA final between #2 Apple Valley and #4 Cretin-Derham Hall.  This is a rematch of last year's amazing final where CDH pulled the double OT upset.  Early arriving crowd and we end up with a full house including the rails.  Both bands on hand with outstanding work.  CDH kids with a beach theme.  AV students with business suits to match the team's Unfinished Business season mantra.  Another quality game means we have to have a bottle of Pepsi.  Tonight I don't pass on the pizza though. But this game should never happen until state.  Having 2 of the 4 or 5 teams playing each other in the final 16 should be avoided and a reason why I'm a huge fan of a 64 team seeded proposal.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 159 (68 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1641.8 ounces (106 days, 142 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
  • Pepsi: 844 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: Brown Eyed Girl  - Van Morrison (AV Pep Band)

Game Time:
Interesting defensive matchups at the start.  Donnell Gresham on Gary Trent, Trent on Sam Neumann.  I felt Apple Valley need a good start and they got it.  Gary Trent a couple of jumpers to get him going.  Tre Jones converts a turnover and Brock Bertram scores to sandwich a 3 and free throw from Donnell Gresham.  12-10 Apple Valley 4 minutes in.  CDH gets it going with Rosga free throws and putback.  Sam Neumann 2 long 3s after another Trent jumper.  Jalen Ousley-Brown 2 free throws to end a 12-2 CDH run and force an Eagles timeout at 10:38.  22-14 CDH on top.  Apple Valley right back with their own run.  Trent for 3, Jones a layup, Cam Kirksey converts a turnover, Jordan Bolton makes a free throw.  The run is 9-0 and CDH gets the MoKiller timeout after 2 Rosga free throws.  Those Rosga freebies come on Bertram's 3rd foul.  24-23 CDH with exactly 6 minutes left in the half.  Neumann starts to post Trent inside and scores 5 straight CDH points out of it.  Chris Perry tips in a miss for a 31-27 CDH lead at 3:20.  Riley Parham goes spin cycle, Trent leaks out on a turnover and makes a free throw.  Jones for 2 (misses the 3 pt play chance) and 2 late free throws to end a 9-0 run.  But Gresham is fouled on a 3 with 0.1 left to put a dent in the run.  36-34 Apple Valley at the break.  Gary Trent 15 efficient points.  Sam Neumann 11, Joe Rosga 9. 

Apple Valley keeps Trent with a transition 3 off a turnover, Kirksey a free throw and Jones for 2 to force a CDH timeout 94 seconds into the half.  Bertram back to back inside hoops to end the 19-3 run across the half and 10-0 to start the half.  Good work by Apple Valley to go horns into high low action and keep going to it.  No CDH FG during that 6 minutes.  Gresham with a 3 to cut the margin to 48-39 with 13 minutes left.  Bolton for 3 to push the lead to 14.  Ousley-Brown scores and Rosga adds a free throw to cut it to 11 with 10 minutes left.  Kirksey and Bertram both sitting with 4 fouls.  Big chance for a CDH run. 

Neumann for 3 with 8:17 left and the Apple Valley lead is still 10, 57-47.  But CDH just can't buy a hoop in the 2nd half.  Trent scores, Steve Christiansen a right baseline drive for an easy 2 to push the lead to 14.  Bertram and Kirksey come back in with 6:14 and 5:40 left and there went CDH's chance.  Trent buries back to back 3s to slam the door.  Then just for good measure Trent makes 1 free throw, grabs his miss of the 2nd and throws it off CDH.  He'll score 1 more time as Apple Valley as its a 17-0 run to slam the door.  Apple Valley wins 74-50.

Post Game:
Cretin-Derham Hall finishes their season 25-4.  They have a 17 game winning streak snapped.  The Big 3 of Gresham/Rosga/Neumann combine to shoot 10-39.  The team shoots a horrific 6-29 (20.7%) in the 2nd half including 3-18 from 3.  That leads to an overall mark of 15-51 (29.4%) for the game.  Yikes.  Hard to win any game with a shooting number like that.  Donnell Gresham finishes with 13 points and 10 rebounds (3/11 FG).  Sam Neumann 5/16 FG on his way to 14 and 6.  Joe Rosga 10 points on 2-12 shooting.

Apple Valley advances to state where I would give them 2 seed behind Champlin Park (if the Rebels advance vs Wayzata, otherwise the top seed).  Gary Trent comes up big with 29 and 11.  10-20 FG, 4-6 from 3.  Tre Jones was outstanding with 14 points and had a couple of impressive finishes against size.  Brock Bertram chips in with 10 and 8 despite the first half foul trouble.  The Eagles shoot 53.8% for the game . They run away in the 2nd half 38-16.  Apple Valley wins the points off turnovers margin 17-5 and holds CDH to only 8 points in the paint.

Royals return to State

Prologue
Its the 2015 Section 6AAAA Championship game between #5 Eden Prairie and #6 Hopkins.  These teams played a classic to end the regular season.  Have to expect that again.  Sold out crowd at Cooper for this one.  No pizza on my menu which is a bad choice by me but a game this good does require Pepsi.  We get both pep bands as an added bonus.  Augustana and Concordia with full or close to full staffs to see John Warren.  St. Thomas and Bethel also in the building. 

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

Beverage Consumption Counter: 1621.8 ounces (105 days, 141 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

  • Pepsi: 824 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: Lips are movin - Meghan Trainor

Game Time:
The offense is slow to start but Graham Hutson breaks the ice with a 3 just before 4 minutes in for Hopkins.  Ishmael El-Amin with the pull up, a John Warren floater and Erik Davis runs the floor for a 3 point play at 10:07 to force an Eden Prairie timeout.  El-Amin adds a jumper and Vinnie Shahid with a 3 point play at 8:37.  22-14 Hopkins in front.  Josh Lanasa punishes Hopkins for gambling for a steal by taking it strong for a dunk.  Blake Cashman cuts for 2 and Jake Ruppert adds a layup to cut the margin to 2 at 5:50.  Ryan Jacobus with a layup and a 3 to put the Eagles back up 30-29.  Xavier Johnson's late 3 sends Hopkins to the locker room up 32-31.

Owen Chose turnaround and a 3 and Cashman runs out for a layup.  Hopkins not messing around as they take time down 38-34 with 13:45 left.   John Warren scores and El-Amin converts after a bad EP shot.  Hopkins pressure really pushing EP out on the floor away from the scoring zone.  But EP not going away.  Lanasa 2 layups and why not bury the 3 from straight away.  7-0 Lanasa run and its another Hopkins timeout.  45-40 EP with 9:46 left.  Hutson with a layup and Warren tips out a rebound and it eventually becomes a Shahid 3 to tie it.  Game really physical during this stretch with almost nothing being called but it was consistent.

El-Amin off ball screens for 2 hoops and its Hopkins back up 49-48 with 5:45 left.  Cashman 2 free throws, Jacobus with 1 of 2 free throws.  Eden Prairie grabs the miss and Lanasa turns that possession into a pretty 3 point play.  Then after a Hopkins miss its 2 on 1 and Cashman gives it up for Chose for a layup with 2:57 left.  Critical 8-0 run for the Eagles puts them up 56-49.  Hopkins calls timeout to regroup.

Shahid with a clutch 3 off hammer action and the extra pass, teams trade misses and then another quick EP shot.  That gives Hopkins the ball back and El-Amin goes up and under to take the hit.  He makes 1 of 2 with 1:32 left.  EP lead down to 3.  EP called for a double dribble but El-Amin misses.  Then Cashman drags the pivot foot for another turnover.  Xavier Johnson 3 to tie goes in and out.  EP rebounds and brings it back.  Pat Rock has a 10 second call as the trail but the lead official waves him off and grants EP's last timeout with 40.8 left (EP bench in the frontcourt).  Karma rears its head as Jacobus slips and falls as he catches the inbounds.  That's a walk and Hopkins still has life.  El-Amin hit with 34.1 left and he makes both ends of the bonus.  Brady Rudrud runs for a layup and the lead is still 3 with 27 seconds left.   Hopkins will play without a timeout and El-Amin hits the tough fadeaway for a long 2.  Hopkins still trails by 1.  Hopkins fouls Chose with 13.8 left and takes a timeout.

After the timeout, Chose misses the front end and here we go.  Hopkins will push to the front court, they miss a 3, Warren grabs a miss, another miss.  Ball loose just below the foul line as time is running out.  Shahid grabs it and heaves it toward the basket and its a foul call!  Shahid to the line with 1.3 left.  Cold blooded daggers as both free throws are nothing but net.  Xavier Johnson steals the inbounds.  Hopkins wins 59-58 to advance to state.

Post Game
Eden Prairie finishes their season 24-5.  Josh Lanasa 15 points to lead the Eagles.  He had 11 of those in the 2nd half.  Blake Cashman adds 10.  Owen Chose and Ryan Jacobus 9 each.  Brady Rudrud adds 8.  This one will eat away at the Eagles.  3 bad shots, 3 turnovers, a missed front end and 2 offensive boards (on the last possession) all in the last 3 minutes.  After some good long possessions early, Hopkins was able to ratchet up the pressure and force EP out.

Ishmael El-Amin leads Hopkins with 17 points off the bench, 11 in the 2nd half.  Vinnie Shahid 8 of his 11 in the 2nd half.   Both came up large down the stretch.  John Warren only 6 points but I also had him for at least that many rebounds.  Most cases you would say Hopkins really stole one and frankly you'd be right.  But Hopkins has done this time and time again over the years.  Once again they find a crazy way to win and take advantage of the Eagles mistakes.


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.