Crimson clip the Falcons

Prologue
Its a showdown to take early control of the West division of the Northwest Suburban as #3AAAA Armstrong visits #5AAAA Maple Grove.  Its whiteout night and we get an appearance from the Maple Grove pep band.  AAU guys all over place for this one with no fewer than 5 programs represented.  Chanticlear Pizza (sausage) on the menu with a 20 oz bottle of Pepsi.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 67

Beverage Consumption Counter: 470 ounces (30 days, 40 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 224 ounces
Coke: 80 ounces
Dr. Pepper: 12 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces
Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
A&W Root Beer: 12 ounces
Red Powerade: 60 ounces
Red Gatorade: 20 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 5

Song of the Day
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond (Pep Band)

Game Time
Brad Davison off to a hot start with an assist for 3, coast to coast for 2, a 3 of his own and a tough right baseline step back fade away.  Then a pretty cut for a pair of free throws to finish the 12-0 spurt.  12-2 Maple Grove at 12:35.  Sean Burns out on the run with Reed Nikko chasing him down.  Its a big challenge at the rim and its Nikko's 2nd foul at the 11:40 mark and he'll sit the rest of the half.  Armstrong goes to an extended 1-2-2 and Davison flashes middle for a jumper and dives down the lane for 2 more.  16-5 Crimson at 8:55.  But the zone does take some of the starch out of the Crimson.  Burns scores in the post and a hustle play nets Jerome Dixon his 2nd 3 of the half.  The last 2 hoops go to Maple Grove.  Crimson lead at the half 33-19.  Armstrong 3-12 FTs in the half.  Besides Dixon's 2 bombs, only 3 other outside field goals as Armstrong couldn't buy a shot.

Reed Nikko back in to start the 2nd half and he nets a couple of quick putbacks.  Soph guard Tywhon Pickford with another putback and a nice back cut for Maple Grove gives the Crimson a 19 point lead.  Davison 3 of 4 FTs then its Nikko tipping home a lob, scoring in the post and another bucket.  50-24 Maple Grove running away and hiding.  Burns fouls out with over 9 minutes remaining but it didn't matter on this night.  Maple Grove wins 66-52 and it wasn't that close.

Post Game
Armstrong falls to 8-1 with the loss, 5-1 in the NW Suburban.  Evan Nolan 9 points, Jerome Dixon and Sean Burns 6 each. No one in double figures for the Falcons.  They start the game 4-19 from the charity stripe.  The outside shooting numbers had to be dismal.   Overall, a performance the Falcons will want to forget.  They have a non-conference game at St. Louis Park before a couple winnable conference games in January.  Then the big single game showdown with #2AAAA Champlin Park on January 13th.

Maple Grove is now 8-0 and they lead the NW Suburban West at 6-0.  Brad Davison with 20 points and 4 assists for 10 more points.  Most of his damage was in the 1st 9 minutes.  Reed Nikko was saddled with 1st half foul trouble.  He has a major contribution in the 2nd half with all 14 of his points.  His post offense is very hesitant right now for a developing big guy.  But when that switch turns on (and you have to believe it will), the sky is the limit.  Next up is a huge game against #1AAAA Apple Valley on Friday at the Granite City Classic.  Nikko and Bertram, Tre Jones and Brad Davison.  Yes Please!  But the thought of Cam Kirksey guarding Brad Davison is one that I would really like to see.  Then they play Rogers on Saturday also in St. Cloud.  Then they open the new year at rival Osseo on January 6th.

The battle of 7th St

Prologue
Earlier in the week it was the battle for Dale Street.  Now let's move south for the battle of West 7th Street as CHOF makes the short trip down West 7th to section 4A rival Nova Classical Academy.  They host the EMAC championship at the end of the season and rightfully so.  Its a very nice small school facility.  It also checks off one of the few metro schools that I haven't seen a game at.  12 oz of Dr. Pepper on tonight's drink cart but a light concession stand means I go beverage only.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 66

Beverage Consumption Counter: 450 ounces (29 days, 39 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 204 ounces
Coke: 80 ounces
Dr. Pepper: 12 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces
Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
A&W Root Beer: 12 ounces
Red Powerade: 60 ounces
Red Gatorade: 20 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 5

Song of the Day
Mickey - Toni Basil

Game Time
Its all Nova to start.  Frosh guard Cole Bothun for 3, puts back a miss, then another bomb.  Bakari Jackson and Nicolas LaFrombois also bury 3s.  18-4 Nova at the 10:13 mark as CHOF has to take their 2nd timeout to try and stop the bleeding.   CHOF goes 1-3-1 which turns Nova over.  Bothun sitting with 2 fouls as well.  Kit Piepkorn also gets hot for CHOF.  He goes for back to back 3 point plays as the lead drops to 10.  He adds 2 free throws and converts a turnover as the lead gets cut to 4.  39-36 Nova at the half.

Piepkorn with another bomb as CHOF quickly gains their 1st lead of the game since the 1st minute.  Jackson counters with a pair of free throws and a putback for a 3 point play.  Piepkorn for 3 but Bothun replies with a 3 point play and Piepkorn pulls up for 2 more.  49 all with 12 minutes left.  The pressure mounting from CHOF as they go on a 12-2 run with a pair of Dillon Alleman hoops and it finishes with another Piepkorn hoop.  61-51 CHOF with 7:46 left.  That's a 24 point swing from being down 14 in the 1st half.

Nova not going away as Bothun with another bomb and Jackson with a theft for 2 to end a 7-0 spurt.  Piepkorn and Alleman with bombs and the CHOF lead is 7 with 4 minutes left.  Nova misses 3 of 4 free throws and can't convert a blocked shot into points.  But CHOF can't take care of the ball down the stretch.  After a Jeremiah Rogers jumper with 2:25 left, CHOF turns it over and the extra pass inside out leads to another Bothun 3.  68-66 CHOF with 2 minutes left.  Piepkorn off the bounce and the nice assist for a layup with 1:35 left.  After a Nova turnover, Piepkorn makes 1 of 2 for a 5 point lead with 52.2 left.

Rogers with 2 free throws with 51.6 left . CHOF immediately turns it over.  Dominic Bumgarner put back a miss with 23 seconds left and Nova is within 1.  CHOF turns it over again and Bumgarner is fouled with 15 ticks left.  0-3 for the night to that point at the charity stripe and he misses both.  But Rogers cleans up the mess and Nova is back on top by 1.  CHOF gets the ball to half court and almost turns it over again before getting their last timeout with 7 seconds left.  The inbounds is clean but on the drive the pass is errant and CHOF turns it over again with 3.3 left (3 turnovers in the last 42.5 seconds).  Nova ball on the baseline.  The inbounds is a long pass to half court in front of the scorers table, its tipped away.  Tim Rohlf comes up with it for CHOF.  1 dribble, 2 dribbles.  Top of the key 3 is up, off the front iron and down it goes!  But wait, the official immediately and emphatically waves it off.   It did seem like a long 3.3 so I'd understand if that was the call, but to the fans, I think there's no doubt it was released in plenty of time.  Nova Classical Academy def CHOF 72-71

Post Game
CHOF falls to 4-2 overall with the loss.  The Lions are off until after the new year when the start a 3 game road swing.  Kit Piepkorn with 32 points, 16 in each half, to carry the Lions offense.  He took the offense into his own hands when they needed buckets.  4 turnovers , a missed free throw and giving up an offensive board on a free throw all in the last 2:18 is a killer.  This was a game that was in hand that they didn't finish in the last 2:30.  Jacob Bluhm chips in with 13 for the Lions.

Nova Classical Academy improves to 4-0 overall.  They already are 2-0 in EMAC play as well.  Freshman guard Cole Bothun leads the way scoring 20 points with 5 3s.  Senior Bakari Jackson scores 16 points to continue his run toward 1000 career points for the Knights.  The Knights will be tough in EMAC play with those 2 and the towering duo of the Tritabaugh's inside.  Anytime you can alternate a pair of 6'6" guys to fill the 36 minutes at the 5 spot, that's a good thing.  Both are very raw offensively but 6'6" is still a factor in the EMAC.  The Knights resume play vs Math and Science Academy in the Nova holiday tournament on December 29th

Beacons zone blinds the Cougars

Prologue
Off to St. Paul Como Park to see their non-conference game against Concordia.  Former St. Bernard's star Jordair Jett in the house before he ventures off to Europe to play.  The Como Park gym very fitting for this time of year with red, green, blue, white and black lines on the court.  An early dinner means I manage with only a beverage.  Its a bottle of Pepsi to keep the beverage counter moving.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 62

Beverage Consumption Counter: 438 ounces (26 days, 37 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 204 ounces
Coke: 80 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces
Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
A&W Root Beer: 12 ounces
Red Powerade: 60 ounces
Red Gatorade: 20 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 5

Song of the Day
Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant

Game Time
Sam Root with a layup and a steal for another hoop as Concordia jumps out to an 8-2 lead.  Lefty wing Demetric Peterson very active for Como Park.  He scores 8 points in a Cougars spurt that ties the game at 16 at the 10:43 mark.  Root with a layup from PG Roger Moore and Moore takes a turnover for a layup at 9:30.  22-16 Concordia leading.  Como Park goes on a 12-0 run in the next 4 minutes thanks to Markel Peterson off the bench.  A spin move and a drive off an offensive rebound bound net him 3-4 free throws.  Then he buries a 3 and then pulls out the McHale up and under for the old fashioned 3 point play.  35-33 Como Park at the half.  Concordia with a sloppy half of turnovers and not rebounding.

Root with a couple of easy post buckets off Fist, Concordia's High/Low action.  But that's all negated by Carlos Rucker who gave Como Park great bench minutes in the 2nd half.  Rucker's 2 putback and conversion of a turnover into an easy bucket.  47-41 Como Park inside of 15 minutes left.  Then Concordia goes 3-2 zone with Isaiah Maddox on top and that changes everything.  Concordia scores 6 in a row to tie. Rucker with yet another putback to keep Como Park up 5.  Maddox with a putback, Ben Vallin runs for a layup and then its Moore to Mark Stage for back to back transition 3s.  Its a 10-0 run for a 57-52 Concordia lead with 10:17 left.  Falk runs for a layup to extend the run.  Back to the High/Low set for another Root bucket.  Falk from Moore for another bunny and the lead is 8.  Peterson counters with a 3 point play for Como Park and they go 2-3 zone to stop the post action.  63-58 Concordia with 7:38 left.  Falk from the high post and then off a zone post set for another easy one to negate a Cougars 3.  Maddox coast to coast as Concordia is flying out off of Cougars misses.  Moore to Falk again and Moore on the run for 2 of his own.  Maddox with a tip and an assist to Falk.  Moore with back to back buckets and the lead is up to 18 after an 18-5 run.  Concordia wins 83-68

Post Game
Como Park falls to 0-6 with the loss.  Demetric Mitchell finishes with 19 points as he was very active inside.  Carlos Rucker with all 10 of his points off the bench in the 2nd half.  Markel Peterson adds 12.  They got destroyed in transition, particularly in the 2nd half when they didn't make shots.  They host #3A Maranatha on Friday before a trip to Minneapolis South on Saturday.

Concordia improves to 5-2 overall.  Jacob Falk with 21 off the bench.  Roger Moore with 20 and a handful of assists.  Sam Root also adds 14 inside.  In the 2nd half, everything was easy.  Layups on post sets or running out for easy buckets.   The zone was the difference maker as the entire game changed at that point.  The Beacons do get beat on the glass though so there is soemthing to work on.  They host section rival St. Paul Academy on Friday and Heritage next Monday.  Then they'll be in the St. Cloud Cathedral tourney.

Mustangs run wild

Prologue
After seeing top ranked Minneapolis North on Saturday, its only fitting that I see their top foe in section 4A.  That means a trip to #3A Maranatha to see the Mustangs take on Minneapolis Southwest.  Plenty of teams scouting with Chaska, Minneapolis North, Minneapolis South and New Life Academy all on hand to watch.  The concession stand at MCA is one of the best around and while the variety wasn't there tonight as I've seen in the past, no complaints.  The corner sausage slice of Jet's pizza was outstanding.  20 oz of Red Powerade makes it go down smoothly.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 60

Beverage Consumption Counter: 418 ounces (25 days, 36 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 184 ounces
Coke: 80 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces
Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
A&W Root Beer: 12 ounces
Red Powerade: 60 ounces
Red Gatorade: 20 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 5

Song of the Day
Horse with no name - America

Game Time
Jeremiah Hanson off to a quick start with a spin for 2 inside, a nice cut for 2 and a drive.  Damario Armstrong with a pair of 3s as well.  14-6 Maranatha at 12:55.  The pace remains frenetic.  Lanick Knight 5 in a row to keep SW within 3.  Armstrong with his 3rd bomb of the half in addition to his pushing the pace.  33-20 MCA at the 8 minute mark as the Mustangs are galloping up and down the court.  That lead grows to 17 at the half.   55-38 MCA with Armstrong and Hanson combining for 39 of those.

Hanson for 3 and a left baseline floater to start the 2nd half.  SW falls asleep on a dead ball full court inbounds and a long pass finds Armstrong who converts it into a 3 point play.  Hanson slips a Spurs elevator set for a layup.  Jake Meyen 2 freebies, Armstrong with a steal for 2 and Meyen runs for a layup.  Hanson adds another bomb and Cam Monson runs for a layup.  Then its Armstrong on the break, behind the back with the perfect bounce pass in stride to Hanson for a layup.  It ends a 20-6 run that puts this one way out of reach.  84-53 MCA with 12 minutes left is the biggest lead of the night.  SW crashes the glass the rest of the way to make the score look far more respectable.  Maranatha wins 101-87.

Post Game
Minneapolis Southwest falls to 1-5 with the loss.  They host Minneapolis South on Thursday before trips to Chaska and St. Louis Park before Christmas.  The Lakers do end up with 4 players having at least 16 points.  Keion Alexander with 3 triples on his way to 19.  Lanick Knight with 17, AJ Ray and Arthur Frazier 16 each.  Frazier very active on the glass.  AJ Ray with a nasty tip dunk attempt that missed in the first half.  Besides soph Brennan Hawkins, the Lakers don't see anything from their bench.

Maranatha improves to 6-0 with the win.  This was their closest final of the year but not nearly as close as the final appears.  Jeremiah Hanson goes for 33 with 5 3s, Damario Armstrong hits 3 1st half triples before going cold.  He still ends up with 31.  The other 3 starters also reach double figures.  The running game was very impressive.  The players get out and run the floor and they willingly throw that long pass ahead.  They'll still use the euro ball screen offense in the half court, but besides Hanson I wonder who makes a play for them out of it.  The discipline to run their stuff and ability to run does make the game vs a fairly undisciplined Minneapolis North team pretty compelling.

2014 Tipoff Classic lives up to the hype

Prologue
Its the 2014 Breakdown Tip Off Classic once again held at Minnetonka.  Lots of high expectations with all 4 #1 teams participating and matchup of #2 vs #3 in class AAAA.  Great crowds for the later games and great energy for those games.  Close games all over the place made for a very entertaining day.  I didn't borrow a Christmas sweater for the coldness of the gym early in the day but it was hot by the end of the day.  Plenty of Pepsi to keep hydrated and Dominos pizza to keep me fed.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 58

Beverage Consumption Counter: 388 ounces (24 days, 35 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 184 ounces
Coke: 80 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces
Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
A&W Root Beer: 12 ounces
Red Powerade: 40 ounces
Red Gatorade: 20 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 5

Song of the Day
Star Wars Theme - John Williams

Game #1: #3AAA Hill-Murray vs Minneapolis Henry
Hill-Murray star Marshawn Wilson sat out with the flu.  Henry's Jermal Davis with quality bench minutes in the 1st half, a big 2nd half from Demetrius Edwards-Brown and a big game from Jacarius Ford had the Patriots primed for an upset.  Jack Fahey's hot shooting and clutch play from Simeon Davis kept the Pioneers in this one.  Fahey would shockingly miss 2 late free throws and Henry goes 4-4 in the last minute of regulation and appears to be ready to win.  But Davis knocks down a straight away 3 at the buzzer to force overtime.  Hill-Murray has a chance to tie with 15.3 left in OT but they miss 2 of 3 free throws.  Henry turns it over and Davis buries a left wing 3 with 5 seconds left in OT to win it 83-82.  Jack Fahey 27, Simeon Davis 26 (19 after halftime) for Hill-Murray.  Demetrius Edwards-Brown 18 of his 25 after halftime, Jacarius Ford 22 for Henry

Game #2: #8AAA Orono vs Eagan
Forward Sam Sustacek still out for Orono and SG Chase Seiberlich also out for Eagan with a concussion.  The game starts slowly with a 4-4 tie at the 14:58 mark.  Orono then goes on a 26-4 over the next 9:30 holding Eagan to 1 FG.  Cole Hennings 9 points in that run.  30-8 Orono at the 5 minute mark.  Blowout city?  Not so fast.  Eagan comes back with a 14-4 run to close the half and only be down 12.  Alexander Kill made 2 3s in the 1st half run and he adds to 2 more in the 2nd half to keep Orono up 10 with 10:45 left.  Junior Sam Schuberg with 5 points in a 12-2 Eagan run.  49 all with 4 minutes left.  Hennings with a reverse layup and a pair of free throws to end a 6-0 Orono run to counter that spurt.  That's enough for Orono to hang on 59-53.  Cole Hennings 22 for Orono.  Sam Schuberg 16 for Eagan.

Game #3: Lakeville North vs #1A Minneapolis North
No Patrick Dembley or Randy Mathews for Minneapolis North.  Minneapolis North jumps out to a 10-2 lead, but Lakeville North climbs back in it with quality play from Marquise Walker off the bench.  Issac Johnson knocks down 4 3s in the half.  Minneapolis North by 1 at the break.  Carter Brooks continues a stretch of good play and his back to back hoops put Lakeville North up 10 with 10 left.  Minneapolis North gets a big 2nd half from Tyler Johnson and he is a big part of a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 2.  Carter Brooks with a pair of tip ins to preserve the lead and Cal Pesola with a big transition 3 with 3:20 left to put Lakeville North up 5.  The rest is free throws.  Lakeville North wins 83-76.  Tyler Johnson 21 of his 23 after the half for Minneapolis North.  Isaac Johnson adds 20 on 5 3s.  Jamil Jackson 2 points.  Carter Brooks 20 points in a coming out party for Lakeville North. Lakeville North with 5 in double figures.  Also keep an eye on sophomore forward Nathan Reuvers.  Minneapolis North with bad body language and bad team defense.  They played a game based on individual talent rather than team chemistry. 

Game #4: #6AAAA Maple Grove vs #10AAAA Hopkins
This was the Brad Davison show.  He was finding Reed Nikko for lob dunks or driving to find Jack Hutchinson for corner 3s.  Then he's scoring on top of that.  A 13-2 run late in the 1st half by Maple Grove sends the Crimson to halftime up 16.  The lead expands to 22 on a Hutchinson 3 with 14:22 left.  John Warren starts a big Hopkins run as he scores the 1st 13 Hopkins points of the half.  Then its 14 in a row from Vinnie Shahid.  The Hopkins run is 27-6 to cut the lead to 62-61 with 5:12 left.  Davison with an assist for a layup, a 3 point play off the bounce and he closes it with free throws.  Maple Grove wins 75-69.  Brad Davison with 25 points and I had him for 11 assists that turned into 27 more points.  John Warren 21 of his 23 in the 2nd half, 5 triples.  Vinnie Shahid 16 of his 22 points in the 2nd half.  Only 2 points from anybody else in the 2nd half for Hopkins.  I thought the Maple Grove size and strength inside would be a factor and it was totally not there.  Nikko scored his points on dump offs and lobs and only 1 hoop from Kayode Awosika.

Game #5: #7AAAA Eden Prairie vs Stillwater
This looked like a quick blowout too as Eden Prairie jumped out to a 15-4 lead.  Connor Gamble's hot hand kept the Ponies close.  Grantham Gillard matched that hot hand for Eden Prairie.  Eden Prairie holds Gamble down to 1 late 3. Stillwater holds the pace down in the 2nd half with 3 man X offense and a couple of quick and effective Randy Jordan timeouts.  But its not quite enough as Eden Prairie wins 71-65.  Grantham Gillard with 6 of his 8 3s in the 1st half on his way to 32 points.  Connor Gamble 20 of his 24 in the 1ts half for Stillwater.  Eden Prairie more open with their offense this year as they have lots of guys who will shoot it from 3.

Game #6: #2AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall vs #3AAAA Champlin Park
Joe Rosga goes off for 17 points and 3 assists early to carry CDH.  Like he did against Hopkins earlier this year, JT Gibson picking up his game to keep the Rebels close.  McKinley Wright adds a late 3 point play and bucket to propel Champlin Park to a 32-28 halftime lead.  Jeremy Johnson up high to throw down a lob and that causes the full house to explode.  Rebels by 6 and a CDH timeout.  CDH with a 12-0 after that.  Johnson for 3 and then Gibson with a 4 point play.  Sam Neumann with his 3rd bomb of the half.  Gibson counters with a block, steals the rebound and goes for 2.  Gibson with a stepback and runs for 2 more.  Marty Hill for 3 to end the 11-2 Rebels run.  54-48 Champlin Park 6:18 left.  Rosga with a 3 for his only bucket of the 2nd half, Donnell Gresham back in with 4 fouls and takes a steal for a 3 point play before fouling out.  59-57 Champlin Park 3:08 left.  They make 6-6 free throws down the stretch and survive 1 last CDH chance.  Champlin Park wins 65-62.  Joe Rosga 20 points, Sam Neumann 19.  JT Gibson 23, McKinley Wright 17.  Wright also very active on the glass on both ends.

Game #7: Chanhassen at #5AAAA Minnetonka
Chanhassen without their star wing Joey Witthus for this one.  Center Evan Altenburg out of the Minnetonka lineup.  The early story is turnovers for Chanhassen as they fall behind 13-2.  Chanhassen scores the next 7 before Cedric Boone converts 2 more turnovers into 5 points to stretch the lead to 27-14.  Chad Mapes hot shooting is most of the Chanhassen offense.  He buries 2 3s to keep Chanhassen within 8 at half.  Amar Miller with a pair of early 3s and he runs for a layup and the lead is back to 14.  It oscillates between 10 and 20 the rest of the way with the outcome never in doubt.  Minnetonka wins 79-67.  Chad Mapes 6 3s on his way to 22 points for Chanhassen.  Amar Miller 25 points with 3 3s.  Justin Moes 4 3s for 19, Cedric Boone with 19 off the bench.  Seth Coatta 2 points.

Game #8: #1AAAA Apple Valley vs #1AAA De La Salle
Early on, Gary Trent on fire.  He buries a knocks down a jumper, Jarvis Johnson dunks on the other end, Trent for 3 and the hush sign and Jarvis scores and gets fouled on the other end, Trent then buries another bomb.  Players making plays, great atmosphere, high level teams, this is fun.  25-15 Apple Valley at the midpoint of the 1st half.  Trent goes cold and won't score the rest of the half.  Sacar Anim goes on a 7-0 run and after a Brock Bertram bucket, takes a steal for a dunk.  Cam Kirksey's offense has gone up a level this season.  He makes 2 free throws, drives for 2 and spins for 2 more to ignite a 10-0 run.  44-33 Apple Valley at the half.  Jeffrey Daubanton with a nice lefty 2 in the lane and Anim off the high ball screen to take the hit and finish.  61-53 Apple Valley lead with 8:11 to go.  Bertram tips in a miss, Kirksey runs out for a dunk and Trent hit on a 3 and makes all 3 free throws before making a 3.  That 3 ends a 12-4 spurt to push the lead to 16.  De La Salle makes 1 late push with Anim for 2, a Josh Collins reverse, Jarvis Johnson for 3 and a 3 point play from Anim.  Islanders within 6 with 1:33 left but they won't get closer.  Apple Valley wins 83-69.  They pound De La Salle 52-19 on the glass per Eagles stats.  Sacar Anim goes for 35, Jarvis Johnson adds 21.  Gary Trent 31 points, Brock Bertram with 17 points and double digit boards for Apple Valley.  Apple Valley with 5 in double figures.  Outside of Johnson/Anim, the rest of the Islanders combine for only 13 points.  Jordan Bolton and Cam Kirksey giving Apple Valley great secondary contributions this season.  I still don't like the fact that they don't run like they used to (find the PG and kick it up the sideline in half a millisecond) and I think their offense is too isolation oriented.


Govs take out another big school

Prologue
Off to #2AAA St. Paul Johnson to see the Governors continue their stretch of at least 9 straight games against class AAAA opponents to start the season.  Tonight its a visit from another South Suburban foe, Prior Lake.  Bethel in to see Austin Heidecker.  St. John's in to see Connor Bair.  Very quiet crowd.  A can of Pepsi keeps the beverage ticker on track.  That washes down a pricey but very well done Walking Taco.  No Lucas Olson for Prior Lake.  No Justus Murphy to man the middle for Johnson.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 51

Beverage Consumption Counter: 340 ounces (23 days, 27 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 136 ounces
Coke: 80 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces
Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
A&W Root Beer: 12 ounces
Red Powerade: 40 ounces
Red Gatorade: 20 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 5

Song of the Day
Skid Row - Youth Gone Wild

Game Time
Its a quick start for Prior Lake.  Austin Heidecker with a pair of hoops and Kevin McKiernan buries a kick out for 3.  9-2 Prior Lake less than 3 minutes in.  Vern Simmons with a timeout just over a minute in to get his guys attention.  The Govs work their way back behind star guard Jalen Mobley.  He scoops to the hoop, posts up on the backside on an inbounds (we'll describe that later) and attacks the rack for 2 and a foul.  Johnson doing a nice job with their pressure to get back in it as well and with only 8 guys, a small rotation for them.  Eric Elliot with a layup and Malik Jones with a drive to tie it.  McKiernan for 3 before Elliot gets 4 in a row at the time.  23-22 Johnson with their 1st lead at 6:46.  Connor Bair with a bucket and a pair of free throws to keep the lead at 28-24.  Johnson makes a run in the last 1:30 of the half.  Mobley caps the 7-0 run with a steal for 2.  39-35 Johnson at the half.  11 guys with at least 2 fouls.  That forced Prior Lake to go deep into their bench.

Jones puts back an airball, Prior Lake misses a dunk and Jones makes a 3 on that.  Elliot cuts for a layup and Mobley scores in the post in nice design.  Another bucket pushes the Johnson lead to 13.  McKiernan for 3 and an Isaiah Sims drive cut the lead to 8.  A 5 second call against Prior Lake ignites a 6-0 run and forces a Lakers timeout down 61-14 with 9:51 left.  Mobley with another postup that he turns into an assist for a layup.  Elliot sits with his 4th at 9:16.  Andre Smith buries a 3 and Mobley goes for a 3 point play after Bair scores against the press.  70-53 Johnson with 8:20 left and they appear in control.  Prior Lake starts to find Bair.  He cuts for 2 and runs the break for 2 more to force a Johnson time out.  Sam Schultze for 3, Bair a putback.  McKiernan draws the 4th on Mobley with 5:25 left and makes both.  Bair runs and puts home the reverse.  A Johnson timeout at 4:48 brings Mobley and Elliot both back in.  Bair finishes the 16-0 run with a bomb from the left corner.  70-69 Johnson with 4:25 left.

Smith drives for 2 to break the run.  Then Prior Lake turns it over on their next 3 possessions.  Jones gets a 3 point play out of 1 of those and that's the only damage.  Mobley with an assist to Smith for a clutch 3 with 2:45 left to push the lead to 78-71.  Schultze misses an open right wing 3 and Johnson outruns the Lakers back for a 3 on 1 break that results in an Elliot dunk.  Another turnover for the Lakers becomes a Jones layup.  The rest is Mobley free throws.  Johnson wins 94-79.

Post Game
Prior Lake falls to 1-4 with the loss.  Connor Bair scores 18 of his 26 in the 2nd half to lead the Lakers.  Kevin McKiernan almost matched Jalen Mobley bucket for bucket in the 1st half with 15 of his 23.  Prior Lake turns it over 25 times and many of those very sloppy unforced turnovers.  Plus they didn't get enough inside touches.  The offense was totally different when McKiernan didn't handle the ball.  The Lakers continue South Suburban play next week at Rosemount and Shakopee.

Johnson improves to 5-0 overall with all 5 wins against AAAA opponents.  Jalen Mobley with 34 points and 7 boards on my sheet.  I liked how they spread the floor and put him in the post, but I wish it was for more than a handful of possessions.  Malik Jones with 19, Andre Smith 18 points, Eric Elliot 15 to add balance.  The concept of running a guy back to double McKiernan in the backcourt was extremely effective.  That took Prior Lake out of their stuff.  The Govs get their biggest test so far with a trip to Eden Prairie on Tuesday.

Play of the Day
This is the play that got Mobley on the backside on the post in the first half.  Its a triangle set with a guy at the nail, Mobley on the backside block, an athlete at the front of the rim and a post on the ball side block.  Guy at the nail is an outlet, athlete clears to the strong side corner.  Mobley ducks in hard on the backside.  Throw it to him for a quick isolation inside.  Reminds me of something Orono's Barry Wohler ran for Jordan Smith once upon a time.

The battle of Spartans

Prologue
Its another Wednesday in the Metro East as Mahtomedi visits Simley in the conference opener for both squads.  Tartan, Sibley and North St. Paul all scouting (they all opened league play last night).  The long trip means we only have time to up the beverage counter with a can of root beer.  Our song of the day is from halftime. 

Number of Teams I've Seen: 50

Beverage Consumption Counter: 328 ounces (21 days, 26 games, 2 scrimmages added on)

Pepsi: 124 ounces
Coke: 80 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces
Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
A&W Root Beer: 12 ounces
Red Powerade: 40 ounces
Red Gatorade: 20 ounces

Hot Dog Counter: 5

Song of the Day
Beyonce - All the Single Ladies

Game Time
The Stensgard brothers Jack and Sam start quickly in this one for Simley.  Jack with a pair of pull ups and Sam knocks down a kickout for 3  Mahtomedi post (and future Kentucky baseball pitcher) Sean Hjelle with a kickout for 3 and a putback.  Sam with 5 in a row thanks to another 3.  Hjelle inside for 2 and its 14-12 Mahtomedi at the 7:30 mark.  Another inside 2 for Hjelle at 4:40, 17-16 Simley.  Simley continues their spurt with some productive play from Derrick Gray and Matthew Amspoker off the bench.  Jack Stensgard adds a tough 2 at the halftime buzzer.  27-17 Simley as they end the half on a 15-3 run over the last 7:20.  Nobody besides Hjelle scores for Mahtomedi in the last 10:45 of the half.

Lucas Buller with a pair of buckets to cut the Simley lead to 8 with 16:27 left.    The lead hovers there with both Stensgards knocking down triples.  Sam Mustar with a triple and a Hjelle bucket with 11:30 left keeps Mahtomedi within 39-31.  Then the critical run to seal it as Simley goes to some run and jump at half court.  Gray with a floater, Jack with a drive and another bucket off a turnover.  Another turnover is a Sam 3 point play and then he runs for a layup that he reverses home with the foul.  Then he's lost in transition and the straight away 3 concludes a 15-5 run.  54-36 Simley with 7:50 left.  Sam Newman makes 5 of 6 free throws to cut the lead to 13.  Then Simley goes 4 corners with the Stensgard and Ben Scheffley up high.  The outcome never really in doubt.  Simley wins 66-48.

Post Game
Mahtomedi falls to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the Metro East with the loss.  Junior forward Lucas Buller leads with 13 points.  Center Sean Hjelle adds 11.  The guard play is experienced but no real true point guard and no really good shooter.  They aren't physical or athletic and really struggle to score.  There are 3 winnable games coming up with 4 straight at home including South St. Paul, Sibley and North Branch with Tartan thrown in.

Simley improves to 3-1 overall, 1-0 in the Metro East.  Jack Stensgard with 21 points, Sam Stensgard with 22.  23 from the rest of the roster.  They will need to find an extra scorer as the season goes on.  Alex Anderson is their main front court presence tonight and wanted nothing to do with Hjelle's length inside (understandable).  I liked the move to 4 corners down the stretch.  Fits their roster well and you don't want to foul any of those 3 guards.  Both Stensgards can create out of that too against many teams.  They host North St. Paul on Friday before a quick turnaround against Benilde-St. Margaret's at noon on Saturday in the Tip Off Classic.


Play of the Day
Today's play of the day is Zephyr from Mahtomedi.  Horns set, corner pops to the wing to catch.  Point guard follows his pass to the corner.  The wing catch turns into a double side ball screen that is really a decoy for a back door look on the opposite side.  If that back door isn't there, the posts are setting a double for the point guard coming back to the top for 3.