Forest Lake vs Cambridge-Isanti Observations (7AAAA final)

Tonight takes the Czar and his good friend the Caveman (yes there are peasants in the Czar's kingdom) to Elk River for the 7AAAA championship. CI with a couple of guys who have hit a bunch of 3s this year against Forest Lake's methodical style.

Forest Lake comes out 1-3-1 and CI goes 0-5 against it for a 7-0 Rangers lead with 14:15 to go in the half. The Bluejackets get 8 of the next 10 to close to 9-8 via a Christian Metz steal and 2 with 11 minutes to go in the half. Ryan Brown then hits 2 3s around a steal that leads to a Griffin Lentsch layup and 1. That 9-0 FL run makes it 18-8 @ 8:30. Rest of the half is back and forth. Zak Mathson misses a layup at the 1st half buzzer for CI and that is fitting considering they couldn't get anything going or to go in against the FL 1-3-1. 26-16 Rangers at the break. Ryan Brown with 8 and Griffin Lentsch with 7 to lead Forest Lake. Braden Johnson with 7 for Cambridge-Isanti. Only 1 FT attempt between the 2 teams in a very quick and cleanly played 1st half.

FL leading scorer Brad Kopp has been quiet tonight but he opens the 2nd half with a bucket to give FL their biggest lead of the night, 28-16 with 17:10 left. Braden Johnson with a 3 in a 9-2 CI run to make it 30-25 with 11:30 to play. Sophomore Zach Riedeman of FL gets a steal for a Kopp layup and then makes a bucket after another Johnson 3. Add on a Lentsch bucket for FL and its 36-28 FL with 9:05 to play. Johnson hits back to back 3s and Mathson gets his 2nd hoop of the night to finish an 8-0 CI run. We're tied at 36 with 5:35 to play. Riedeman and Mathson trade pairs of FTs to tie it at 38 with 4:21 left. After a Forest Lake turnover, CI makes a great save on the end line off a FL player to keep possession. The CI player was probably out of bounds, but give them the ball just for the terrific effort. And wouldn't you know it, bombs away again for Johnson as he hits his 5th triple of the half and CI has their 1st lead of the night 41-38 with 3:40 to go and the roof is going to come off this place. Riedeman misses and Johnson knocks down 2 FTs and Sam Soderman gets a layup to make it 45-38 CI with 1:20 to go. Brandon Phelps finally breaks an 8 minute drought from the field for FL with 1:05 to go to pull FL within 5. CI hits their FTs down the stretch and they move on to state with a 52-43 win.

For Forest Lake, Griffin Lentsch and Ryan Brown both with 11 points. I've talked about their offense here, but I must admit that the more I saw it, the more it grew on me. I'm beginning to take a liking to it. You can see the attention to detail in it. FL finishes 19-10. With 2 starters and Zach Riedeman back for next season, they'll be solid next season.

For Cambridge-Isanti, Braden Johnson with 19 of his 26 in the 2nd half. 5 3s and 4 FTs in the 2nd half, en fuego. Zak Mathson with 8 inside for the Bluejackets. 3 starters return for next year including Johnson, Metz and Mathson. Leading scorer Chadd Mathson with only 3 points. They win with a 17-2 run during the 8 minute FL drought from the field in the last 9 minutes. Great fans, great environment, definitely section final basketball.

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