2017 Boys Tipoff Classic Thoughts

Its the 14th annual Breakdown Boys Tipoff Classic.  Bigger than ever with 9 games on the main court and 8 on the east court.  Great crowd on hand for the Gopher recruits playing.  I make it thru the day with only 3 beverages (serious restraint) and choking down a couple of slices of pizza.  Give Hopkins credit for using healthier options but since when do I enjoy healthy.  Better than expected on the predictions as I went 15-2 missing 1 game on each court.  14 ranked teams in action out of the 18 I saw, 10 of them in the top 5 in their class.  Here are some of the sights and sounds from 14 hours and 36 minutes of games on the main court.

Game 1: #7AAAA Osseo 91 #3AAA St. Thomas Academy 77
A surprisingly high scoring affair.  Osseo's Zach Theisen and St. Thomas Academy's Jack Thompson would go back and forth early on to carry their offenses.  Then it was about Emmette Page (Osseo) and Sam Vascellaro (STA).  They both exploded in the latter stretches of the 1st half and the entire 2nd half.  The lefty Page with 21 of his 34 in the 2nd half with 5 triples.  The right corner was his friend for many of his 7 3s in the game.  Vascellaro attack at will and had 18 of his 31 in the 2nd half.  St. Thomas Academy would close to within 6 in the 2nd half before 2 Page 3s pushed the margin back to double digits.  Zach Theisen with 20 of his 27 in the 1st half.  Jack Thompson with 19.

Game 2: #9AA Perham 82 Breck 75
No Gopher FB recruit Logan Richter for Perham (all-star football game).  That would have been a big help against Breck star David Roddy.  Roddy goes for 37 points and 9 rebounds in the game as he had his way inside once again.  That gives him 30+ in all 3 of his games this year.  Joey Ganley would add 19 for Breck.  But Perham with too much firepower.  The junior duo of Jenson Beachy and Josh Jeziorski too much.  Beachy with 6 bombs and 36. Jeziorski with 3 triples and 24 points playing a PF role in the Yellowjackets offense.  Always fun to watch Perham execute their Euro ball screen offense (same stuff Apple Valley runs).  They slip screens, the bigs attack off the bounce, and have nice counters.  13 Perham triples ultimately the difference to overcome Roddy inside.

Game 3: #10AAAA Lakeville North 71 St. Cloud Tech 42
Tech missing a ton of guys for this one.  That included star F Brevyn Spann-Ford and James Kaczor who were at the all-star football game.  Tech was up 3 early but then went scoreless for 10 minutes while Lakeville North went on a 27-2 run.  North ran 2 very simple but well designed BLOB sets and got as many points in a game off of them as you'll ever see.  Another solid showing from Tyler Wahl as he goes for 19 pts and 16 boards for North.  Cole Anderson adds 16.  Trent Meyer with 5 bombs and 17 points to lead Tech.

Game 4: #5AAAA Wayzata 88 #9AAAA Woodbury 64

Another disturbing start for Woodbury as they were down early at Lakeville North last Thursday and fell behind 33-11 out of the gate in this one.  Wayzata hit 9 of their 14 3s in the 1st half and took a 24 point lead at half.  The lead would grow to 30 before Michael Jones would help trim that to 14.  Jones scores 24 of his 35 in the 2nd half and also adds 10 rebounds.  Jacob Beeninga 28 points with 4 3s, Luke Paulson 19 with 5 3s, Drew Galinson 4 3s and 16 points.  Keep an eye on 8th grader Camden Heide for Wayzata as well.  Solid 6 point performance off the bench for the youngster.  Freshman Kody Williams also part of the Trojans rotation.

Game 5: Rochester John Marshall 75 Lakeville South 72
Important section 1AAAA matchup in this one.  This one was tight the entire way.  JM would score 6 in a row to break a tie and lead by 6 with just over 2 minutes left.  Matt Hurt would foul out with 42 seconds left and the drama would begin.  Shae Mitchell with a FT and a jumper and a Beau Bailey 3 to cut it to 1.  South would get a driving layup chance to tie at the end but it was no good (maybe contact?). Shae Mitchell with 26, Beau Bailey 18 for South in quality performances.  But it was Matt Hurt with the performance of the day. 46 points, 17 boards, 4 blocks on 16-26 shooting.  He left 50 on the table though with a unexpected 9-15 at the line.  This after he lit rival Mayo up for 38 and 13 the night before.  They put him at the high post and he's just unstoppable when catching there.

Game 6: #1AA Minnehaha 61 #3AAAA Park Center 55
Jalen Suggs 2 quick fouls and a 3rd in the 1st half.  Park Center would jump out to a 19-3 lead.  But Minnehaha would claw their way back.  Jarius Cook would pick up his 4th foul right at the end of the 1st half.  An unbelievable mistake from James Ware.  Minnehaha within 11 at half.  Cook would sit well into the 2nd half.  That would allow Minnehaha to rally.  Cook would come back at the 9:48 mark with the lead at 4 but his rhythm was shot.  The Pirates would go up 12 with 14 minutes left after a mean tip dunk by Levonte Parker.  But they would have only 2 field goals the rest of the way until a late Cook 3 after the outcome was already determined.  Jalen Suggs 24 points to lead the Redhawks.  Jarius Cook 21 of his 24 in the 1st half.

Game 7: #4AAAA Hopkins 84 #1AAA De La Salle 79
De La Salle would lead most of the way in this one including by double digits. The connection of Tyrell Terry to Jamison Battle would work all day.  Terry to Battle for a layup and 2 Battle free throws would put the Islanders up 5 with 3 minutes left.  Then a Hopkins putback and 2 DLS turnovers would allow Hopkins to take the lead with just over a minute left.  Great drive by Rayquan Moore to score and get fouled with 19.5 left but the And 1 is no good.  Zeke Nnaji grabs a missed FT and puts it back for a 3 point play with 6.4 left to eliminate a final De La Salle chance.  Soph Kerwin Walton with 14 of his 17 (4 3s) in the 2nd half.  Blaise Beauchamp with 4 1st half 3s as Hopkins hung around.  He finished with 19.  Zeke Nnaji 17, Anthony Davis 16 as well for Hopkins.  Great outing for Jamison Battle with 6 3s and 24 points.  Tyrell Terry adds 3 3s and 20 points, love his poise.  Gabe Kalscheur had 1st half foul trouble and finished with 17.  The De La Salle offense much more open than in past years.  The role guys have far more freedom than ever.

Game 8: #2AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall 77 #2AAA Orono 76
The game of the day for the fans and we do get Jarvis Omersa and Daniel Oturu going at each other.  Oturu would get the better of the head to head battles as Omersa had problems scoring against him all day  CDH would lead the whole way and Orono could never get over the hump.  2 late Sy Chatman dunks as CDH would hang on.  Daniel Oturu 21 pts, 9 boards, 7 blocks on my sheet.  One of those blocks was a monster block with 25 seconds left and CDH up 3.  Jarvis Omersa 18 points and 13 boards.  Sy Chatman 17, Jaeden King 13 with 3 3s, Ryan Larson 16.  Max Bjorklund 19 of his 26 in the 1st half.  Colton Codute more aggressive than I've seen with 15 points.

Game 9: #1AAAA Apple Valley 81 #2AA Minneapolis North 73
Jimmy Butler and Jamal Crawford in the house with Tyus Jones for this one.  AV would go on a 10-0 to take a 10 point lead.  Tre Jones 2 quick fouls and then he sits the last 7:11 of the 1st half with his third foul.  North goes on a run during that time to get it back to even.  But with Jones and Luke Martens (injury) out, Apple Valley holds it together to remain tied at the half.  Odell Wilson was a problem all day and his bucket with 9:05 left would pull North within 60-57 with 9 minutes left.  Then 2 Tre Jones free throws, 2 North FT misses and Jones on the break with the dunk of the year so far.  He gets a T on the dunk and North remains within 5.  Then Zach Korba for 3, Nathan Macho and Korba convert turnovers and the lead is up to 12 with 4:45 left and its over.  Apple Valley shoots 33-53 from the charity stripe to 11-26 for North and the Polars fans weren't happy.  Tre Jones finishes with 19 points and 12 rebounds on my sheet.  Zach Korba 19 points and many were at important times.  Josh Arnold 20 on 16-19 FTs.  Tayler Johnson 21 for North.  Odell Wilson was the man inside with 20 points.  8th grader Trejuan Holloman with 12 points off the Polars bench as well.

No Bull Eagles hang on

Prologue
Its a late starting girls/boys doubleheader with Heritage visiting St. Agnes.  Decent crowd on hand.  Tonight's meal is a 1/4 lb Nathan's beef hot dog sticking out of the bun.  Excellent.  A can of battery acid washes it down.  A unrecognized 2 man crew working the tilt.  Nice crowd of folks on hand.  I had to limit my climb up the heavily inclined bleachers due to leaving my oxygen tank at home.  Today's tune is from warmups.

Song of the Day: Katy Perry - Roar
Number of Teams I've Seen In Person: 26 (13 games, 9 days)
Number of Games I've Seen Online: 6

Beverage Ticker: 140 ounces (1340 Calories)\
  • 7 Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Coke: 32 ounces (380 calories) 
  • Pepsi: 36 ounces (450 calories)
  • Sprite Zero: 20 ounces (0 calories) 
  • Sprite: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Red Powerade: 20 ounces (130 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs: 4
  • Walking Tacos: 2
  • Pizza: 1
Game Time:
Heritage's Seth Halvorsen with a deep triple and he also converts a turnover.  12-8 Heritage at the 10:30 mark.  St. Agnes guard Marcus Johnson went for 38 against Henry earlier this week.  He has his game going out of the dribble weave look against the Heritage man defense.  A drive and a triple from Johnson get the offense going.  That's despite Heritage switching to a 2-3 zone.  Norman Strickland with the 1st of his 4 triples.  Johnson with another 3 and a bucket.  That ends a 15-2 St. Agnes run.  Aggies up 23-14 at the 4:30 mark.  Offense hard to come by the rest of the half.  Nothing for St. Agnes and only 2 Sam Frederickson buckets.  24-18 St. Agnes leads at the half.

Ben Allen and Phil Berge with bombs and Heritage is back to even 90 seconds into the 2nd half.  Frederickson adds 3 hoops in a row, 2 of them off of turnovers and he's psyched.  The run is 17-4 Heritage in just under 6 minutes (21-5 over 10 minutes across halftime).  35-28 Eagles with 12:12 left.  St. Agnes tries to rally as Strickland hits 2 more 3s.  38-34 Heritage inside 8 minutes to play.

Halvorsen banks a floater and converts a layup with 3:45 left.  Heritage appears safe as the lead is back to 8.  But the best is just beginning.  Luke Brezny for 3, Heritage misses a front end.  Tom Gutzmann converts a layup off a great Jacob Brezny steal.  Lead down to 3.  Heritage misses another front end and Johnson makes 1-2 free throws.  Then Heritage misses both ends of the double bonus with 30 seconds left.  St. Agnes advances the ball and takes timeout down 2 with 26.5 left.

Heritage stays with the 2-3 zone and the ball gets swung to Strickland's favorite spot on the right wing and BANG!.  That's good with 12 seconds left.  Heritage takes time out to set up their last chance.  Halvorsen takes the right wing entry, waits for the UCLA cut and then drives it baseline and scores with 1.7 left.  St. Agnes has 1 last chance full court.  They inbound, throw it ahead and the shot is good but its well after the buzzer.  Heritage wins a thriller 44-43.

Post Game
St. Agnes falls to 0-2 with the loss.  They'll host Mounds Park Academy next Friday as they continue a 4 game home stretch to begin the season.  Marcus Johnson leads the Aggies with 15 points.  But 14 of those were in the 1st half.  He didn't have a field goal after the 4:30 mark of the 1st half.  The zone help limit his scoring opportunities.  Norman Strickland knocks down 4 3s to chip in with 12 points.  Tom Gutzmann with 7 points and I liked his defense.

Sam Frederickson leads Heritage with 16 points.  Seth Halvorsen's game winner gave him 15 on the night.  Ben Allen and Phil Berge each with a pair of 3s for 6.  The 2-3 zone was wide open in the middle but the Eagles got away with it.  St. Agnes didn't punch the ball in the middle to make plays nearly as much as they could have.  That said, the move to the zone made sense as the St. Agnes dribble weave was having no problem getting easy penetration and great driving looks. The Eagles improve to 2-1 on the season.  Heritage returns home next Friday to host neighborhood rival Providence Academy.

Tommies win a battle of cats

Prologue
The Rev and big Zach once again on duty together.  A lower profile game for that crew as its PACT visiting Edison.  The teams come out for warmups with 25 min on the clock and the Rev is still on the rail in street clothes.  Gotta love that.  Tonight's walking taco was just nacho cheese as I declined the jalapenos.  Simple but effective to go with a regular Sprite.  None of this 0 calories stuff tonight.  Today's tune is also from Tuesday but is heard everywhere to get the crowd to make noise.

Song of the Day: Handclap - Fitz and the Tantrums
Number of Teams I've Seen In Person: 22 (11 games, 8 days)
Number of Games I've Seen Online: 5

Beverage Ticker: 128 ounces (1200 Calories)\
  • 7 Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Coke: 20 ounces (240 calories) 
  • Pepsi: 36 ounces (450 calories)
  • Sprite Zero: 20 ounces (0 calories) 
  • Sprite: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Red Powerade: 20 ounces (130 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs: 3
  • Walking Tacos: 2
  • Pizza: 1
Game Time:
PACT can't buy a bucket in this one.  They don't get their 2nd field goal until the 5:35 mark of the half.  That allows Edison to jump out to a 19-4 lead.  PACT not helping its own cause with double digit turnovers in the 1st half.  That 2nd field goal is a Cade Johnson triple and breaks the ice.  He adds another bomb and a nice cut for 2 more.  26-14 Edison at the break.

2 quick Edison hoops pushes the lead to 16 but we never reach blowout territory.  Jaylen Schweiger gets going with a couple of buckets and frosh Jordan Stone with a 3. PACT within 30-21 with 11:30 left.  Tenzing Chime counters another Cade Johnson triple with 2 buckets of his own.  He'll add a lefty drive after 2 Johnson freebies.  That keeps the lead at 13 with 2:35 left.  Edison wins 49-36.

Post Game
PACT falls to 1-1 with the loss.  Star guard Cade Johnson leads the Panthers with 10 of his 15 in the 1st half.   The ball wouldn't go in for him though as he shot 4-18 on my sheet.  Jaylen Schweiger with 11 of his 13 in the 2nd half to keep the game interesting.  Turnovers a huge problem and were the difference in the game.  Too much athletic pressure on the ball for PACT to handle.  PACT hosts Cristo Rey on Friday.

Edison wins their home opener to improve to 1-1 on the season.  Tenzing Chime leads the Tommies with 18 points.  George Terry with 3 3s and 11 points.  Forward Jackson Rusnucko held scoreless.  But the defense picked up the slack.  The Tommies visit Nova Classical on Tuesday.

Youthful D leads the Titans

Prologue
No programs last night so no writeup of the tight Prairie Seeds at Henry game.  Tonight the color red is still in order as I visit Richfield for an old Classic Suburban showdown with Tartan.  Stoney was the highlight of tonight's 3 man officiating crew.  Oversized slice of sausage pizza is the meal with a bottle of red Powerade.  And a quality selection of music including this 80s hit from The King of Pop

Song of the Day: Bad - Michael Jackson
Number of Teams I've Seen: 20 (10 games, 6 days) (not counting 3 online)

Beverage Ticker: 108 ounces (960 Calories)
  • 7 Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Coke: 20 ounces (240 calories) 
  • Pepsi: 36 ounces (450 calories)
  • Sprite Zero: 20 ounces (0 calories)
  • Red Powerade: 20 ounces (130 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs: 3
  • Walking Tacos: 1
  • Pizza: 1
Game Time:
Good start for Tartan with soph Joseph Kearney knocking down a kickout for 3 and driving for a 3 point play.  Antwan Kimmons adds his own 3 point play on a turnover.  13-6 Tartan at the 14:29 mark.  Richfield frosh Ryan Miles off the bench and tries to stop the bleeding with pair of free throws and a layup.  Tartan counters that with a 12-0 run.  Kimmons with 2 buckets off turnovers and a putback in that span.  25-10 Titans at the 9:10 mark.  Kimmons will expand that lead to 19 with a lefty 3 point play and another putback.  Richfield's best scorer Devin Wade-Henderson then sits the last 4 minutes with 3 fouls but Richfield only gives up 1 field goal in that stretch.  43-22 Tartan at the break.  Kearney for 3 and a nice curl for 2 more as the lead grows to 56-27.  Wade-Henderson tacks on a few to get his but the name is never in any doubt as the bench empties with 3 min left.  Tartan wins 79-61

Post Game
For Richfield, Devin Wade-Henderson scores 18 points.  The Tartan defense with soph Joseph Kearney getting most of the duty held him to 7-22 shooting on my sheet with 5 turnovers.  Freshman Ryan Miles with a very nice debut for the Spartans with 17 points off the bench.  He knocked down 3 triples.  Richfield opens the season 0-1 and they get another former Classic Suburban foe next as they visit St. Thomas Academy on Thursday.

For Tartan, Antwan Kimmons leads the way with 16 of his 21 in the 1st half.  Andre Jenkins-Whitmore with 14 of his 20 in the 2nd half.  Soph Joseph Kearney with 16.  Dante Aganmwonyi chips in with 10.  The Titans as you would expect of a Mark Klingsporn group are defensive minded.  Aganmwonyi, Kearney and Kimmons really get after it on that end.  They'll be fine defensively but how the offense progresses is what I'm watching.  Tartan opens 1-0 and visits North Branch on Friday.  That's part of a 3 game road trip to start the season.

Strategy Session
After talking about how teams get open off the dribble, we look at Tartan's offense.  They use a Villanova women's style cutting offense.  Its 5 out and instead of reads its all called vs the read and react variation often used in 5 out.  That includes anything from straight pass and cut to curl cuts to intentionally back cutting the screen.  The curl cuts were definitely available on this night and they did get some looks out of rejecting the screen as well.

Opening Saturday Action

The opening Saturday as is recent tradition included a set of boys games as part of the girls tipoff classic.  Rather than stay thru the early girls games I took in a separate boys game.  Here's a look at the 5 games that I saw.

Game 1: St. Cloud Apollo at St. Louis Park 
This game was setup due to some rescheduling required by ESPN taking the Apple Valley vs Minnehaha game.  Apollo would shoot a ton of 3s in this back and forth game and made 12 of them.  St. Louis Park used a 12-2 run in the 1st half to take an 8 point lead.  Apollo would see an 8 point lead cut to 1 but one of those triples would extend the lead to 65-56 with 4 minutes left.

Both teams would squander late chances with very sloppy play.  Apollo with 4 turnovers in the last 2:15.  That would help St. Louis Park would score 13 in a row before a meaningless 3 at the buzzer.  St. Louis Park wins 69-68.  Cire Mayfield with the last 6 Orioles points and finishes with a team high 17.  Aiden Doherty with 16 now playing out of the post.  DaShawn Emerson with 13 and hounding defense off the bench.  Renell Edwards carried the Apollo offense with 18 points and 3 3s.  As they get older and more used to the new system plus refining their shot selection, they can be a dangerous team to play against.

Game 2: #1AAA De La Salle vs Iowa City West
Now the 4 boys games at the girls tipoff.  Iowa's top ranked team in town to take on the 6 time defending AAA champs.  Full Gophers staff on hand to watch all 3 of their commits in 3 straight games.  Gabe Kalscheur with 20 of his 31 points in the 1st half (4 3s) as the Islanders would take a 4 point lead to halftime.  But he was also attacking the rim aggressively.  Patrick McCaffrey with 13 of his 23 in the 2nd half including a late hoop and 2 free throws.  Difference here was the interior play of Seybian Sims.  He finished with 20 points and was a problem on the offensive glass all day.  Tyrell Terry with a late 3 to tie the game and got bumped late for a debatable no-call with DLS trying to win it.  Iowa City West wins a battle 65-62.  The rebounding issues and the integration of Jamison Battle are issues to watch for the Islanders.

Game 3: #2AAA Orono vs Robbinsdale Armstrong
Armstrong with a very scrappy 1st half to take a 29-26 halftime lead.  They kept the ball out of Jarvis Omersa's hands.  The hot shooting of Thomas Lecy, particularly from the left corner, was a problem all day.  He hit 4 of his 6 3s in the 1st half to keep the Spartans close.  Then Omersa was too much in the 2nd half.  He scores 6 points in a 16-0 Orono run early in the 2nd half.  That turns a 4 point deficit into a 12 point lead.  Add in another hoop plus a 3 point play and the lead grows to 16.  Orono in no danger after that.  They win 64-50.  Jarvis Omersa with 18 points and 17 rebounds on my sheet with a double double in the 2nd half alone.  Also showed some nice passing ability.  Thomas Lecy 6 3s for 18 points.  Soph Jake Breitbach with 11 off the bench to lead Armstrong.

Game 4: #2AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall at #4AAAA Hopkins
This was the surprise of the day.  CDH would jump all over the Royals to the tune of 21-5 in just over 6 minutes.  Then Daniel Oturu would leave the game with an injury and not return.  Jaeden King knocking down shots and Sy Chatman continuing his progression.  Both score 15 in the 1st half as the lead grows to 19 and is 43-27 at the half.  17 point game inside 9 minutes to play before quick 5 in, 5 out rotations allows Hopkins to rally.  Joe Hedstrom dunks a turnover to end a 14-2 Royals run and the lead is down to 7 with 4:24 left.  CDH would score the next 9 to put the game away.  Chatman with 6 of those on his way to a game high 33 points.  Jaeden King with 22, Ryan Larson with 19 for CDH.  DJ Davis a bright spot for Hopkins off the bench with 16.  Zeke Nnaji also with 16, Anthony Davis 13 for Hopkins.  Hopkins will likely want to burn the black jerseys they used for the game after how they looked in the 1st half. 

Game 5: #1AA Minnehaha vs #6AAAA East Ridge
East Ridge keeping this one at a slow pace.  Combine that with a quiet 1st half from Jalen Suggs and Minnehaha only had 3 field goals in the 1st 13 minutes.  That was part of a 12-2 East Ridge run to take a 15-9 lead.  Minnehaha would end the half on a 10-2 run of their own with East Ridge not scoring a field goal in the last 4+ minutes.  Courtney Brown with a quick triple and hoop as East Ridge would go up 5.  Then a 15-3 Minnehaha run with Suggs asserting himself.  Minnehaha would stretch the lead to 47-37 after Javonni Bickham converted a turnover.  Courtney Brown for and the 4th and 5th 3s from Zack Zebrowksi.  East Ridge within 3 with 4:29 left.  Bickham bonus freebies and a Suggs FT for a 7 point lead inside 2 left.  But Courtney Brown isn't done.  He hits a pullup and a triple. Then a tough catch to finish a pick and roll to cut the margin to 2.  Bickham puts back a miss and Brown with another 3 to cut the lead to 1.  After a Minnehaha free throw, the teams trade turnovers and East Ridge doesn't have a time out.  Nothing good on the last shot.  Minnehaha wins 60-58.  Courtney Brown went off in the 2nd half with 22 of his 29 points for East Ridge. He scored in the post, midrange and hit 5 3s.  Zach Zebrowski with 5 3s for his 15 points.  Only 4 players score for the Raptors though.  Jalen Suggs with a quiet 8 points for Minnehaha.  Javonni Bickham leads the Redhawks with 19 points.  Terry Lockett adds 10.  Big difference at the charity stripe with Minnehaha shooting 17-31 to 1-2 for East Ridge.

Cougars overcome a foul fest

Prologue
To Roseville for a section 5AAAA matchup between Centennial and the host Raiders.  Solid but quiet student section on hand.  A very basic concession menu as always.  But I'm more and more a fan of prewrapped hot dogs.  My looked disappointing immediately on opening but actually turned out to be good.  Add in the daily dose of battery acid (Coke) to keep the beverage counter rolling.  Lots of older music on the public address including Journey and the Bee Gees but we'll pick the 1st and oldest song of the night for today's tune.

Song of the Day: Let Your Love Flow - Bellamy Brothers
Number of Teams I've Seen: 4 (2 games, 2 days)

Beverage Ticker: 32 ounces (380 Calories)
  • 7 Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Coke: 20 ounces (240 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs: 1
  • Walking Tacos: 1
Game Time:
The stars of the night get started right away.  Soph Carter Anderson for 3 for Centennial countered by a Roseville 3 from Drew Adams.  2 quick fouls on Gary Smith for Roseville and he'll sit for the rest of the half after only 3 minutes.  Adams with another 3 before Anderson splits 2 pairs of free throws.  Then its Matt Wyffels for 3 on a throwback pass and shooter Ricky Eason with a triple to break a 13 all tie.  Quick Roseville timeout at 10:28.

Fouls all over the place and lots of guys with 2 in the 1st half.  The lead hovers in that 6 point range until Anderson makes 4 straight free throws and adds a hoop in an 8-2 run.  That extends the lead to 37-26 late in the half.  The 12th guy Roseville used in the 1st half was JV starting center Spencer Nath.  He makes 2 free throws and a hoop late.  That cuts the Centennial lead to 42-33 at the half.

The lead gets to 12 before Roseville goes to their "Hawkeye" 1-2-2 3/4 trap.  Adams with a putback and 3 point play off a turnover thanks to that trap.  Its part of a 10-0 run over 3:40 and gets the Raiders right back in the game.  45-42 Centennial with over 12 minutes left.  Then an up and down sequence with the teams racing back and forth but no points.  Adams with 2 blocks during that stretch.  Daevonte Munson with good minutes and his 3 keeps Roseville within 54-50 with 5:46 left.

Wyffels counters with another throwback 3 off the dribble handoff.  Then a post feed and Andrew Nordquist comes from the weakside and just takes it away for an Eason layup.  Nordquist then adds a runner for a 61-50 lead with 3:40 left.  At this point, the game should have been over.  Smith finds Munson for 3 and he makes a free throw.  Adams adds a 3 point play and Roseville still has life down 6 with 2:30 left. 

It only gets worse for the Cougars.  Centennial turns it over, misses a front end and then takes 2 horrific shots quickly with Roseville not trapping or fouling.  All of that allows a Smith drive to cut it to 3 and then after an offensive rebound its Adams from the deep beyound and we're all tied at 63 with 1:06 left.  That's a 13-2 Raiders run in just over 2 and a half minutes.  Wyffels immediately scores on the other end to put Centennial on top. Roseville takes timeout and draws up a baseline double screen. 

The play said the ball had to go there so the pass went there.  Unfortunately, a defender was already there for a Roseville turnover.  Anderson makes 1 of 2 free throws, Centennial fouls and Roseville misses both freebies.  Centennial makes only 1 FT again and Smith goes quick to the rim for 2.  Still a 2 point game with 14 seconds left.  Centennial gets out on the break and its an intentional foul from behind (new emphasis this year) with 7.9 seconds left.  Centennial makes 1 and then on the inbound they are fouled and miss both.  Roseville has 1 last chance but is out of timeouts.  2 desperation 3s are no good.  Centennial wins 68-65.

Post Game
For Roseville, Drew Adams was outstanding with 25 points and 3 triples to lead all scorers.  He was very active on the glass and was at the top of the 1-2-2 trap that got Roseville back in the game. Daevonte Munson with quality minutes for the Raiders as well with 4 triples and 3 free throws for 15 points.  Gary Smith with all 9 of his points in the 2nd half after missing most of the 1st half with 2 fouls.  Roseville starts the season 0-1.  They'll continue their 5 game homestand to start the season with a visit from Rosemount on Tuesday.

For Centennial, soph Carter Anderson scores 16 of his 21 in the 1st half to lead the Cougars.  Shooter Ricky Eason adds 16.  Starters Matt Wyffels and Andrew Metz also in double figures with 13 and 11 respectively.  Centennial's run and jump style traps were effective in the 1st half.  I liked what I saw and the Cougars will be better than I expected.

Neither team with a post presence and that showed in the strange stat of the night.  The starting "big" for each team was scoreless and fouled out.  Of the 11 bench guys who played, none of them had more than 1 field goal.  67 FTs in the game, 16-30 for Roseville, 18-37 for Centennial.  Note that I count missed front ends as 2 attempts and misses.  That was due to over 50 fouls called.

Strategy Session
In the last strategy session, I talked about how Johnson gets their guards going to the rim.  Tonight showed another way to do that.  Its the Bethel Dribble Drive inspired offense that is a local rage right now.  Thank you MN Heat guys for going to this after using THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE for ages.  A fundamental concept is cuts to the corners to create the idea of "double gaps" for driving.  What you end up with is a player passing and cutting to a corner.  Then the pass receiver immediately drives thru the area where the passer was.  The passer's cut creates extra space for the driver to attack.  Shooters then spot up in the corners for 3s or cut to the rim if their defender turns their head.

There were 3 permutations of this that Centennial showed tonight out of a 4 out dribble drive look.

1) Guard to guard pass, passer follows to the same side corner but also tries to cut off of the receivers defender.  Receiver has a ton of room as the spot where the passer is vacated and the other player on that side is a shooter spaced to the corner.

2) As a counter to the 1st, after the guard to guard pass the passer cuts to the corner on his side.  The corner player then clears under the rim to the opposite side of the floor.  This creates the same exact look as the 1st.  But it puts more stress on the passers defender and helps eliminate a double team option.

3) Centennial also used the post player to come set a ball screen. Then the other guard could fill behind the drive or to the basket while the post player would pop.  Only saw it once but it was a nice look.

A pressure packed opening night

Prologue
Its official Minnesota kickoff for the 2017-18 season.  Great to be back at it for an 11th season.  Since I didn't see a Wisconsin game during my Thanksgiving visit to The Old Kingdom, its only fitting that I still get in a Wisconsin team for my official opener.  That's River Falls visiting St. Paul Johnson.  Johnson a very fitting place to start the season with the walking taco on the menu.   No salsa or sour cream makes for a dry version, but the basic lettuce and cheese with the standard Doritos makes it a solid B.  But I only wish people would realize how valuable it is to crush the bag of Doritos first.  7-Up gets the beverage counter rolling for another season.

Song of the Day: Break on Through (To The Other Side) - The Doors

Number of Teams I've Seen: 2

Beverage Ticker: 12 ounces (140 Calories)
1 day, 1 game
  • 7 Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
Walking Taco Ticker:1

Game Time:
River Falls features Big Rivers Player of the Year and North Dakota State signee Jaxon Knotek on the wing.  He has an assist for 3 and a 3 of his own early.  Add in a pair of hoops from Ryan Spafford and River Falls jumps out to a 10-4 lead, time debatable due to it not running for a long period right after the 1st possession.  Knotek scores in the post but is countered by a pair of Terrel Turner triples for Johnson.   But its Knotek trailing the break for another great look at 3 and its good for a 22-14 Wildcats lead at the 8:52 mark.

After a 3 extends the lead to 10, Johnson rallies.  Kyle Lee with a fadeaway, Nueadean Adam for 3, Keylon Jackson with 3 the old fashioned way and Jordan Mobley scores after an offensive board of a free throw (biggest crime in the game).  Johnson within 27-26 at the 4:30 mark.  Knotek carrying the Wildcat offense with another bucket and Spafford adds 2 free throws.  Lee another bucket and Turner another bomb.  A late turnover gives the Govs a chance to regain the lead but a late jumper by Lee is no good.  32-31 River Falls up at the half.

2 wide open layups with solid passes being made give River Falls a 5 point edge to start the 2nd half.  After trading buckets, Johnson's full court pressure finally starts to take its toll.  4 River Falls turnovers lead directly to buckets.  Knotek tries to get a breather but the turnovers only allow him a 23 second bench rest.  The Johnson run is 15-4 in about 3 minutes.  That puts the Govs up 48-40 with 12:42 left.

River Falls replies with a 11-3 run of their own.  Knotek wasn't getting any touches as Johnson decided to practically face guard him.  But he took matters into his own hands but putting back his own miss for a 3 point play, 2 free throws out of a post up and another putback.  51 all with 7:20 left.  Then the pace slows but Johnson able to get to the lane and get the next 3 buckets.  After a Mobley FT they have the ball up 5 but turn it over with 2:05 left.  River Falls misses a front but Knotek with a steal for a dunk with 1:12 left and the Wildcats still have a chance down 3.  But that's the last gasp.  Mobley makes both ends of the bonus while River Falls turns it over twice and misses a FT block out to cost them 2 free throws.  Johnson misses 5 FTs in the last 35 seconds but that only keeps it close.  Johnson wins 63-59

Post Game
For River Falls, NDSU signee Jaxon Knotek finishes with 24 points and 16 rebounds on my sheet.  I had him 9-21 from the field but that was with his 1st 4 as misses.  He showed a very versatile game handling the ball, trailing the break for 3s or playing in the post.  Outside of 1 3 minute flurry in the 2nd half, the defense keying on him after the big 1st half (15 pts, 9 rbs) took him out of the game.  Forward Ryan Spafford did a bunch of dirty work inside on his way to 16 points.  Nobody else with more than 5 points for the Wildcats.

For Johnson, they end up with 3 players in double figures.  Terrel Turner and Jordan Mobley with 13 each and Kyle Lee with 11.  Johnson's pressure did exactly what its intended to do by just continuing to wear on the opponent.  The Govs guard play will be very good to them in league play.  The quartet of Kyle Lee, Shemar Tucker-Adams, Jordan Mobley and Terrel Turner had 45 of the 63 points.  Expect that trend to continue.  They aren't great shooters but they get into the lane and will share the ball.  St. Paul Johnson opens 1-0 and they visit Brooklyn Center for the Centaurs opener on Friday.

Strategy Session
Johnson has long been known for their full court scrambling pressure.  While that is a calling card for the Govs, I want to talk offense.  There were a couple of things that the Govs did that I liked and really fit their lineup well.  First was a simple 3 out 2 in dribble weave with a random big stepping up for the high ball screen in it from time to time.  That was effective in getting the guards going down hill and good discipline not to settle for bad 3s.

The other very effective set that the Govs used was a horns look with the point guard (mostly Lee) coming off both elbow screeners to his right hand and being able to turn the corner or kick to Turner for 3 on the ball side.  That was largely how Turner got his 3 point looks.  They'll also use a baseline runner look but that didn't net them anything.