Duluth East at Park Center Observations

1st look tonight at Dyami Starks, super soph for Duluth East as I make the trip to Park Center for the game. East came in 10-14 and off a 2 pt win over Cloquet with their super soph Chad Calcaterra. Which forces me to mention that the 3rd big soph on that list, Kevin Noreen was in the building tonight with Kyle and their Dad. Kevin sporting a splint or major tape job (or both?) on his right ring finger (shooting hand). Hopefully that's a non-factor for the playoffs. Unfortunately we have a less than all-star officiating crew, including the main culprit of questionable calls at the North/DeLaSalle game last Saturday.

Duluth East starts 3 sophs, 1 Jr and a Senior. They're young and have some athletes, but a Freshman is their best post player. Starks reminds me of a cross between Kwamain Mitchell of Whitefish Bay Dominican and Jordan Hughes (4th super soph from Henry). Starks hits a 3 to make it 5-4 East at 13:30 and another one at 12:15 to make it 9-8 PC. Starks misses a bunny and Mark Cooper takes it the other way for PC to give them a 13-8 lead. Starks hits another 3 before going to the bench for a 3 minute rest. PC is up 21-20 when he returns inside of 5 minutes. Frosh Ian Nelson with 5 of the 7 Greyhound points while Starks was out. Starks comes back with a deep 3 inside 4 minutes to give East a 23-21 lead and then a layup off a blocked shot for a 25-21 lead. East gets 2 more 3s in the half from Dorian Cross and Keaton Hasan (only senior) and its 31-25 East at halftime. Starks with 16 points and 5 Rebs, 5-11 FGs, 4 3s but no assists. Cooper leads PC with 7 at the break. PC tried face guarding Starks once he gave the ball up so he wouldn't get it back, no avail. Starks just too quick and was able to go both ways. East just getting hammered on the offensive glass.

Starks hits a jumper right out of halftime and then Hasan knocks down 2 3s to end a 8-2 East run that makes it 39-27 with 15:43 to go. But Cooper gets 7 in a row to force a timeout and its 39-34 with 14:45 to go. Voltaire Nalls gets a steal and layin (he had the task of guarding Starks much of the night) to cut it to 3. After another East timeout, PC goes to their dribble motion spread and Nalls puts on a sick Allen Iverson right to left ankle breaker crossover on the left wing for a layup to give PC the lead 42-41 with 12 minutes left. Rhys Morris hits 2 more FTs in the run and Bryce Wagner does a nice job slipping a screen to get a bunny and Nalls hits a FT after another East turnover. 47-41 PC with 10:16 left, 20-2 run for PC over 5:27. Dorian Cross finally breaks the run with a 3 at 9:15. Nalls with another layup, Cooper gets a layup after 2 Starks FTs, Christian Taber in the act with a layup on a runout and its 55-46 PC with 7:10 to play. Taber with another layup at 5:55 before another Cross 3 makes it 57-51 PC with 5:30 to play. Starks misses a 3 at 4:30 and is 0-8 so far in the half. He finally gets a layin with 3:30 left and then a tough pull up 3 with 2:50 left and its 59-57 PC. Cooper gets a layup and then inbounds the ball off of Starks back and takes it full court which leads to a Michael Carey layin with 2:30 to go 63-57 PC. Starks makes 1 of 2 FTs, a Ermias Assefa layin for PC and then another tough pull up 3 for Starks makes it 65-61 PC with 1:18 to go. But Starks misses a 3 on the next East possession and PC runs out the clock (East waited to foul and then couldn't foul) to win 66-61.

Park Center led by Mark Cooper with 20. Voltaire Nalls with 14. My scoresheet got out of whack for them, so give or take a couple. They're probably looking at the 6 seed and a matchup with Cooper in round 1 of 5AAAA. Fun neighborhood rivalry kind of game and 1 that should be played every year to open the season just like the girls do. I wish they'd run more of their dribble motion. They get good movement, good spacing and good looks from it.

Duluth East falls to 10-15 with the loss and they have the bottom QRF (coming in to game) of any of the teams in 7AAAA. I said earlier in the year that their defense was a major problem and in the 2nd half alone I count 9 layups against them. And the good teams they've played have picked them apart, the worst example being the 105 that St. Thomas Academy put up on them in December. Not to mention the 84 that offensively challenged Forest Lake put up on them less than 3 weeks ago. The Greyhounds have to play them again in the 1 vs 8 game next Tuesday. Dyami Starks finishes with 29 (averaging 30) including 7 3s, but 9-23 FGs (4-12 2nd half). He has a green light but beyond Keaton Hasan (13 pts) they really don't have another scorer. Freshman Ian Nelson had 5, but those were all with Starks on the bench in the 1st half. But they have only 1 senior on the roster with a truckload of sophomores. With their history and 2 years of continued improvement from Starks, don't be surprised if they're very good 2 seasons from now.

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