Championship Day at 2009 Catholic Spirit Tournament

The final day of holiday tournaments takes to the University of St. Thomas for championship day of the 2009 Catholic Spirit Holiday tournament. What a wonderful way to ring in the new year. Here's what caught my eye.

7th Place: Park Center vs St. Thomas (Houston, TX)
Voltaire Nalls comes off the bench in this one. St. Thomas uses a 10-0 run to end the half after an 8-0 PC run. 34 all at the half. The 2nd half has Cody Hill drop bombs for St. Thomas. He makes 3 triples in less than a minute and that gives the Eagles a lead they won't give up. 79-66 St. Thomas wins the 7th place game. Hill finishes with 25, 21 in the 2nd half. St. Thomas has a couple of nice players with him. Sr PG Blake Jolivette will attend D1 American University next season. 6'1, quick, good passer and a solid shooter. 6'3 freshman Trey Guidry got major minutes and he'll be a very nice player for them over the next 3 years. For Park Center, Jordan Lynn with 17 points, Terez Vanpelt with 16 points, most in the lane.

5th Place: Woodbury vs Holy Angels
Woodbury goes on a 9-2 spurt to end the 1st half for a 27-18 halftime lead. Sam Swanson with 11 points, Bo Schiffler with 6 and Nick Quicksell on the bench the last 11 minutes with 2 fouls. Tyler Bredow and Tyler Emanuel with triples and Sahr Ngekia (Bonzi Wells to longtime readers) gets it going for AHA. 35-34 Woodbury on a Bonzi layin and a Andy Jirik putback at 8:30. Bonzi cuts a 6 point lead in half with a 3 point play and then 2 free throws cuts it to 2 at 4:36, 45-43 Woodbury. Tyler Emanuel with a triple to cut it to 49-48 with 1:45 left. AHA has it down 2 with 21 seconds left, but a pass goes off Bonzi's hands for a turnover. Schiffler makes 2 free throws to seal it. 52-50 Woodbury wins. Ngekia with 14 points. Great balance for Woodbury. Schiffler with 12, Nick Quicksell, Sam Swanson and Ernest Dorsett all with 11. Woodbury's 1-3-1 zone didn't have the wings out in the passing lanes. Even the top guy really didn't play that passing lane. Poor Ernest Dorsett had no chance as the baseline runner. 2 guard set and a quick guard to guard to corner pass generated numerous easy looks.

3rd Place: Armstrong vs Cretin-Derham Hall
Caution! Red jersey is flammable. Hide the women and children, bombs falling everywhere. Armstrong used a 17-2 run over the last 7 minutes of the 1st half for a 38-25 lead. 9 3s in the half for the Falcons. They make 6 more triples in the 2nd half and roll easily 77-58. Damarius Cruz with 4 triples on his way to 33 points. Andy Seidlitz with 6 triples and 18 points. Marquel Curtis with 3 triples for 12 points and I had him unofficially for 12 rebounds. Clay Horne with 10 points. Seantrel Henderson with 7 points. The story of this one was Armstrong's D on Henderson. They chose to essentially ignore Marcus Binns and Jonathan Kinsel and throw that defender in Henderson's lap. This held Henderson to 1 1st half point. CDH never get a 4th shooter on the floor to get Armstrong out of it. Great game plan from Coach Miller and making 15 triples doesn't hurt the cause.

Championship: Roseville vs St. Bernard's
10 all on a David Stanley 3 for Roseville at 11:30. Jordair Jett puts back 2 misses in a big story of the 1st half (Roseville's inability to rebound). Roseville goes on a 9-2 spurt to end the 1st half for a 23-21 halftime lead. Jordair Jett with 11. Mike Muscala with 4 points, but 10 rebounds. Jett opens the 2nd half going right over and thru Muscala for 2. St. Bernard's turns up the D in the 2nd half holding Roseville to only 7 2nd half points for a 57-30 win. 36-7 was the 2nd half margin. Jett finishes with 18. Brian Sandifer with 11, 7 of them early in the 2nd half. Mike Muscala finishes with 10 points and I had him for 12 rebounds. He got pushed off the block by Jett or Jordan Gittens. Strange too that it seemed the ball would always be entered to the side away from Muscala too. Whenever he did touch it and brought it down, the Bulldogs guards were there to take it. Sophomore Lucas Brown with 4 points, but he's a sophomore worth following. Another sophomore, David Stanley, solid as the backup point guard. He had a couple of triples.

Championship Day at Edina Tourney

The evening session takes me to Edina for the finals in their tournament. Much of the offense on display rivaled the ineptitude of my playing career (which, like my waistline, is enormous).

Game 1: Kennedy vs Chaska
The first half of this one was all about fouls. Chaska's Jake White out at 11:28 with 2, Bronson Byrne out with 2 at 5:17. Kennedy's 1 star Deron Murphy out with 3 at 4:47. 15 fouls on 7 Kennedy players in the half. Ryan Vikesland with a triple to beat the 1st half buzzer. 35-30 Kennedy at the break. Tyler Goetz with 2 early triples and another later for a total of 11 points. Byrne with 7 and very effective inside. Murphy with 8 when he was in there along with 4 steals all on the ball, not poaching passing lanes.

Murphy with a charge at 15:55 for #4 and he has to sit again. Byrne with the 1st 6 inside for Chaska for the lead. White with a sweet baseline spin on the left block for 2 and Eric Wenz with a layin for a 10-0 Chaska run. 40-35 Chaska at 10:45. Murphy back at 9:24. White commits a foul then picks up a strange T at 9:07. Murphy makes the FTs for the 1st 2 Kennedy points of the half. Josh Nance with 2 FTs at 8:38 for the 1st points generated by the Kennedy offense in the half. He then puts back a miss at 6:48 for the 1st Kennedy FG of the second half. Despite the drought of 11:12 from the field for the Eagles, Chaska only leads 44-41. White makes a jumper and Byrne with a spin of his own pushes the lead to 52-42 at 3:35. Murphy with a tough hoop for the 2nd Kennedy FG of the half 10 seconds later. Vikesland with his 4th triple of the night cuts it to 54-49 at 1:50. Murphy finally fouls out at 1:33. Wenz with 1 of 2 FTs countered by 2 Vikesland FTs, 55-51 Chaska at 1:23 as White fouls out. After 2 Andrew Webber FTs, Tim Brown with a 3 cuts it to 3 with 1 minute left. He makes another 3 with about 20 seconds left to cut it to 61-59. Wenz makes 1 of 2 again but gets a steal and 2 FTs to seal the 64-59 Chaska win.

For Kennedy, Vikesland with 16, Murphy with 15. They fall to 0-7 and things can only get better. But that's not just cliche. The rumor mill has word that Carlos Emory may be available for them next week. I stress the rumor mill portion of that. But if that's true, they're only 0-3 in the Lake (this game was non-conference) so all isn't lost. He was behind the bench and in huddles tonight.

For Chaska, a disappointing tournament with the loss to Waconia and this close win. They have Lakeville North and Apple Valley in conference play next week. Bronson Byrne very nice game inside controlling the paint with 15 points. All of Tyler Goetz's 11 points were in the 1st half.

Game 2: Waconia vs Edina
Jim Hill with 4 quick points and Ben Biewen and Will Deberg with buckets for a 12-5 Edina lead. Waconia star soph Shelby Moats with a bucket and then 1 of 2 FTs. 17-13 Edina at 2:24. Edina gets 7 of the last 9 for a 24-15 halftime lead. Hill with 9, Biewen with 6, Deberg with 5. Moats with 6. Waconia only plays 6 guys and they are VERY deliberate on offense. Nice move to try and trap Deberg late in the half when he was the only real scorer Edina had on the floor.

Waconia then starts to knock down some threes. Tom Kortuem with 2 triples, Danny Fischbach with 1 and Ben Kortuem with 1 (7th guy in) to cut the Edina lead to 31-29 with 12:30 to play. Then Waconia's offense decides the night is too cold and decides to migrate south for the winter. Matos with a layin, Deberg with a bucket, Biewen with 2 free throws and Hill with a jumper. 39-29 Edina with 2:40 left and the lead feels like 25. Tom Korteum finally makes another triple at 2:30 for the 1st Waconia points in 10 minutes. But the lead is only 7 for Edina. 43-34 Edina wins their own tournament.

For Edina, Will Deberg leads with 12 points and was named tourney MVP. Jim Hill 11, Ben Biewen 10. For Waconia, Tom Kortuem's three triples leads the way with 9 points. Shelby Moats with 6 (0 in 2nd half) as Zach Matos did a nice job on him. A very tough game to watch with the slow pace. Waconia is a tough team, they're patient and very scrappy. To stay in a game like this, they played the way they needed to play. They just couldn't get it done in the last 12 minutes.

Day 2 at 2009 Fridley Tournament

Day 3 of my holiday tournament travels takes me to Fridley for the day session for the final day of their tournament.

Game 1: Central vs South
One could call this a makeup game as I had planned on seeing Central and South play (not each other) last Monday in Milwaukee, but this will have to do. Central uses their big front line of Jordan Larson, Martin Smith and LaDarian Horton at the 3 to generate points inside for a 25-10 lead with 7:30 left in the 1st half. The rest of the half is even as its 40-25 Central at the break. Horton with 11 for the Minutemen.

The front line continues to dominate inside for Central as they lead 48-30 3 minutes into the 2nd half. But the South Tigers roar back as Alonzo Traylor goes off inside. He gets 9 points in a 21-7 run and its a 4 point game, 55-51 with 8:20 left. Traylor then with a free throw and a 3rd +1 opportunity for Larson's 4th foul. He makes the FT and its 58-56 Central with 5:51 to go. Victor Easter finds Traylor for 2 with the missed free throw and then Easter gets a steal for a 3 point play. South with their 1st lead, 61-59, since 2-0 and we've got 3:47 left. Larson back in after a 31-11 South run gets the Tigers the lead back. Nathaniel Kado with a 3 for Central with 3 minutes left. Easter finds Traylor again at 2:25 and South leads 63-62. Taylor Smaller misses a 3 but South can't convert 2 offensive rebounds on their end. Kado with 2 FTs countered by 2 from Traylor. 65-64 South with 52.4 left. Larson catches at the high post and converts a runner with 39.8 seconds left. Carnell Sheppard gets a great look at a triple but misses for South. Horton with 2 FTs at 22.9 to push the Central lead to 68-65. Sheppard attempts to get the same look but its covered and South misses a triple late. Larson tacks on a free throw for the 69-65 Central win.

LeDarian Horton with 18 for Central. Smith and Larson with 13 and 11. Taylor Smaller quiet with 7 points. Alonzo Traylor finishes with 23, most of them in the big 2nd half. Victor Easter with only 3 points, but he did a nice job of finding people with interior passes.

Game 2: Fridley vs Henry
Isaiah Thomas with back to back triples to get Fridley off to a nice start in this matchup of section 3AAA foes. After a Louis Cox layin makes it 8-7 Fridley, 4 separate Tigers go bombs away from deep in a 16-2 run and Fridley leads 24-9 at 11:30. But the Henry guards will get theirs against just about anybody. Louis Cox with a couple of triples and Jordan Hughes with 2 of his own and a 3 point play to give Henry a 38-35 lead. Thomas with the last 5 of the half to give Fridley the 40-38 halftime lead. 17 in the half for Thomas, 14 for Hughes.

Fridley extends the lead to 50-42 but they can't hold it. Evan Gray with 9 points in a 17-2 Patriots run. Elijah Anwey with 5 in a row to keep Fridley and the crowd in it. 64-62 Henry with 4 minutes left. But Cox strips Thomas and takes it for 2. Jordan McArthur (Henry) and Evan Sjodin (Fridley) trade triples and its 67-65 Henry with 2:45 left. Fridley using Anway to face guard Hughes now. He steals an inbounds for 2 and its still a 2 point game 70-68 Henry with 57 seconds left. Hughes with a layup with 25 seconds left matched by an Anway J with 10.8 left. 72-70 Henry. McArthur misses the front end of a 1 and 1 with 7 seconds left but Hughes rebounds the miss and makes 2 free throws with 3 seconds left to seal a 74-70 Henry win.

For Henry, Jordan Hughes with 30 points (4 triples, 8 FTs included). Evan Gray with 14 big points. Defensively, they leave much to be desired. Their lightning quick guards gamble a ton and for a large portion of the game they had Romeal Taylor guarding Isaiah Thomas after starting with Jordan Hughes, both of which are major mismatches. But I was surprised in a positive way by seeing them run some Swing Offense.

For Fridley, Isaiah Thomas with all 17 in the 1st half. He couldn't buy a shot in the 2nd half, even when they tried to take advantage of matchups in the post. After getting early 3s to fall, the rest of the team couldn't buy shots in the 2nd half either. But give Fridley credit, they fought hard and had plenty of chances in this one. Evan Sjodin with 22 and Elijah Anwey with 16.

Semifinal day at 2009 Tartan Tournament

Day 2 of the Tartan tournament had semifinals in the consolation and championship brackets. I was in attendance for all4 games. Here's what I saw.

Game 1: Centennial vs Rogers
Anthony Adams of Centennial on fire in the 1st half with 4 triples and 18 points. So much for being listed as a 6'4 center in the program. Centennial led 12-2 after 3 minutes. Burke Lendl (played for Howard Pulley this summer) then comes in off the bench for Rogers. Centennial blows the game open to 28-10 at 10:35. Lendl leads a run of 17-2 over 6:40 and the Centennial lead is only 30-27. But Centennial finishes the half strong with a 12-1 run. At the start of the 2nd half, Lendl goes up for a lob and comes down wrong on his left ankle. He doesn't return and the Royals are done. Zach Peterson (not the one of previous Osseo and Park Center fame) with a monster 2nd half inside. Centennial wins 82-63. Peterson with 22 and Adams with 18. Lendl led Rogers with his 13 1st half points.

Game 2: Elk River vs Harding
Some consolation for Harding, they score 18 points total in their loss to Tartan on Saturday and now they get another defensive minded squad in Elk River. Andre Creighton with 10 early points for Harding as the Knights use a 9-0 run to lead 15-9 at 11:25. Elk River wants to go 1-3-1 after the run but Harding holds the ball for 2 minutes passing back and forth over the top guy (prompting me to celebrate when the ball went inside the 3 point line) and they finally get a baseline jumper 2 and a half minutes later. Needless to say, the Elks came out of the zone. But Elk River goes on a 14-1 run before the half and they have a 5 point halftime lead. Coach Klasen must have talked about defense in the locker room because the Elks only give up 11 points in the 2nd half and cruise 66-34. It appeared that he was playing 2 5-man groups for set intervals and challenging each group to keep up the defense. Will Iverson, a 15U player I liked last summer, saw significant 2nd half minutes for the Elks. Nick Held with 16 points for Elk River. Andre Creighton with 13 for Harding.

Game 3: Prior Lake vs White Bear Lake
A battle of bigs didn't materialize early as PL's Deryck Ludwig got 2 quick fouls and WBL's Spencer Cummings followed suit not long after. Both saw limited 1st half minutes. 23 total fouls in the 1st half gave no flow to the game. WBL goes the last 7:20 without a field goal, but they're only down 28-25 at the break.

The second half of this one was exciting as no team got ahead by more than 4. PL took a 50-46 via a 6-0 run with 8:30 left, but WBL came right back with the next 5 and the game was back and forth. Ludwig commits a turnover and in the process of getting back decides to challenge the Dwayne Nabors layup and that's his 5th foul with 5:44 to play. Cummings with a layin on a nice over the top feed for a 62-59 WBL lead at 2:20. Ben Snyder uses a simple guard to guard ruboff for 2 to cut it to 1 15 seconds later. Nabors with a bank shot and PL's Jake Bolks with 2 FTs and its 64-63 WBL with 1:04 left. After a WBL miss, they get it back only to get called for 5 seconds with 38.4 to go. Bolks gets rejected but gets it right back for 2 and the foul on Matt Stang. Bolks misses the free throw with 25 seconds left, 65-64 PL. Ian Herubin (Ludwig's replacement) blocks Stang, but PL turns over the loose ball and Stang gets another look, this one a clean one from the left corner and its no good. Snyder makes 1 more FT for the final 66-64 Prior Lake win.

For White Bear Lake, Mitch Fiereck was lights out. 24 points a mittful of rebounds and a pocket full of blocks. 4 triples in their too. Very nice player. Spencer Cummings with 14 points. I'll be keeping an eye on 6'3 freshman Erik Gebeke down the road too. Fellow frosh Josh Tismer also saw some meaningful minutes. For Prior Lake, Ben Snyder with 20 points, but he forced a ton of shots. Deryck Ludwig limited to 7 points with the fouls. Jake Bolks with a productive day of 14 points.

Game 4: Tartan vs Spring Lake Park
The highlight matchup of guards didn't disappoint. Manani Beavers got the assignment guarding Shaun Jensen for most of the night. Tartan very effective with their high pick and rolls with Sonnen as he got whatever he wanted out of that look. SLP tried this too initially, then they spent most of the rest of the night posting Jensen up on the right box. They'd have Tyler Ylvisaker bring the ball up the right wing, send everybody else left and just enter the ball. Both Sonnen and Jensen with 11 in the 1st half. After a Trey Scott 3 tied the game at 29 on the 1st possession of the 2nd half, Tartan used a 13-3 run (2 Sonnen triples to start the run) to gain a 42-32 lead. SLP never got closer than 6 as Jensen forced many shots in the 2nd half trying to keep SLP in it. 75-61 Tartan wins. Marc Sonnen with 32 points(21 in the 2nd half as he wasn't going to let SLP back in it) and with 56.4 to play he became the 7th player in Tartan history to score 1000 points. Manani Beavers with 13 points. Max Ryan and Derek Peterson with nice games for Tartan as well. Sean Jensen with 31 and Trey Scott with 16 for SLP. Very strange how the SLP offense was so much about Jensen. This was not at all what I saw vs Mounds View last Monday. SLP is a team that normally moves the ball and gets everybody involved. Not the case tonight. Interesting move to post Jensen, even against the bigger Beavers. Also interesting that SLP had minimal trouble getting it to Jensen on the box.

DeLaSalle def Aberdeen Roncalli article

Aberdeen Roncalli led De La Salle 49-42 with 2 minutes left on Saturday. But DLS stormed back for the 50-49 win in regulation. Sophomore Jonah Travis with the game winner for DLS. From this report and from what I've heard locally, the DLS man-man defense is outstanding (just like at the end of last season). Jalen Jaspers is having a big season for them but this is the type of DLS game that they'll be tough to beat in. You better beat their defense down the floor if you want to score consistently.

Read all about it from the Aberdeen News.

2009 Timberwolves Shootout Preview

January 3rd, 2009 brings us the 2009 Timberwolves shootout. It's that time of year when Minnesota gets a chance to showcase its best. This year the Shootout (unfortunately) changes to a regional flavor with 3 Wisconsin teams and Sioux Falls Roosevelt with everybody else from Minnesota. All records, rankings and stats as of Dec 28th.

10 AM: Pelican Rapids vs Cloquet
Pelican Rapids comes in ranked #2 in class AA. They have a star in point guard Tydan Storrusten along with 6'6 Eric Shulstad. They're currently 5-0 with the closest win by 35 points. Cloquet has one of the top juniors in Minnesota in 6'10 Chad Calcaterra, but the Lumberjacks have struggled. They've won their last 2 after losing their 1st 4.

Prediction: Calcaterra is a one man band as Cloquet doesn't have anything else. Storrusten has a big day and Calcaterra gets his. Pelican Rapids wins 75-55.

12 PM: Osseo vs Sioux Falls Roosevelt
Osseo comes in ranked #7 in AAAA at 2-1 after a season opening loss to the #2 team in AAAA Henry Sibley. 6'9 Gonzaga recruit Sam Dower leads the way averaging almost 25 a game thru the 1st 3 games. Aaron Anderson transfered in from Hopkins. He defends well and can play both guard spots. He's their best outside shooter. Jayvin Reynolds is a rebounder and Kyle Mason is a slasher. DJ Phillips is a defender at the point guard spot.

Sioux Falls Roosevelt brings in 6'9 2010 Iowa recruit Cody Larson. Larson has played locally in the Howard Pulley Sabes Invitational each of the last 2 summers. He's a forward who can play inside or out. Adol Aluong is another player to watch for the Roughriders. They come in 2-1 after losing to rival Sioux Falls O'Gorman on December 20th in a battle of #2 vs #3 in the South Dakota big school class. They gave up 8 offensive rebounds to O'Gorman in 1 quarter despite only having 1 player taller than 6'3. That won't get it done against Osseo.

Prediction: I expect a low scoring game in this one. Osseo is too good defensively. Osseo 55-45.

2 PM: Henry Sibley vs Madison Memorial
Hands down the game of the day. Sibley comes in #2 behind Hopkins in AAAA. Memorial comes in #1 in Wisconsin's Division 1 (AAAA in MN). If you've been following my polls page, you'll see that Memorial is quickly jumping into and up the regional rankings in the midwest (#3, 9 or 12 depending on what poll you want to believe). Marquette recruit Jeronne Maymon has played here since he was a freshman and I said he would be a stud then. Well, he's #46 in the nation according to and #75 according to Rivals said he's the top incoming small forward in the Big East. He had a monster state tournament last season as the Spartans lost in overtime in the Division 1 title game (AAAA to Minnesota folks). The lefty can handle and he's a beast inside. Junior Vander Blue has committed to Wisconsin. He also played here this summer in the Sabes Invitational with the Madison Spartans. He's one of a ton of guards Memorial will bring to the party. Tre Creamer is another one of those to watch. But the most interesting player of the day to watch for me (since I've seen Bruesewitz, Blue and Maymon already) is 6'4 freshman Junior Lomomba. He's averaging 12.6 points per game, 3rd on the team behind Blue and Maymon.

Sibley has UW recruit Mike Bruesewitz. Since Sioux Falls Roosevelt is here, think of another UW guy, Joe Krabbenhoft. Juniors Jake Kreuser and Mike Rostampour also man the inside and they're getting better every day as D1 prospects. Maurice Hernandez is the best shooter and a very solid 2. Valpo recruit Chris Halvorsen is one of the top leapers in the state. #2 in the state for very good reason. They'll come in battle tested from the Bethel tournament and a win over Osseo.

A classic battle of size vs speed. Memorial has a ton of guards and they are terrific defensively. They will apply more and better defensive pressure than anybody Sibley will see all season. Yes that includes Hopkins and Marcus Williams because Memorial will send plenty of traps vs Hopkins who won't trap at all, and it won't be much if I'm wrong (maybe a Thumbs Up scramble off of free throws, but very little else). Look for Bruesewitz to do a ton of ball handling in this one along with help from Hernandez to help out when needed. Who will Jake Kreuser guard? Don't be surprised if we see tons of Mike Rostampour instead since he's better at defending the dribble than Kreuser. How much zone will Sibley use to limit penetration and allow Kreuser to be a shotblocker. Maymon will get his share of rebounds, but will their quickness allow them to steal rebounds or will Memorial be one and done against the big Sibley frontline.

Prediction: Memorial wins a war 65-64 and makes a big leap in the polls.

4 PM: Hopkins vs Lake Geneva Badger
Worst game of the day. #1AAAA Hopkins is loaded with D1 recruits (Royce White-Minnesota, Mike Broghammer-Notre Dame, Trent Lockett-Arizona State, Ray Cowles-Santa Clara). Badger isn't. Hopkins #9, #20 or #21 in the nation (yes nation, that's not a typo) depending on what poll you want to read. Royce White and Hopkins continue to adjust to each other. What will the chemistry be like in this one? Watch the on-ball defense of Marcus Williams as he's one of the best in the state in that department. Braden Tice leads the way for Badger with 13.5 PPG.

Prediction: Hopkins by 30 unless Badger goes stall.

6 PM: Robbinsdale Cooper vs Eden Prairie
A couple of D1 recruits on display here as Eden Prairie's 6'7Ethan Wragge will attend Creighton. Cooper's Rodney Williams Jr will attend Minnesota. He's the best leaper in the state. But Cooper isn't a 1 man band. Freddie Burton and Quincy Bethea are a very good backcourt. Joe Bright and Kenquane Brown give the Hawks a couple of other options up front. Williams often mans the middle despite the fact that he's a wing at the college level. Extremely athletic club.

Eden Prairie on the other hand is very disciplined. Marc and Timmy Miller give the Eagles rock solid guard play. Brett Ervin is a versatile inside player who can step out and score. It will be interesting to see how he's used in this game. The Eagles are very sound in their man to man defense and they don't turn it over or take bad shots on the offensive end. Cooper will want to get up and down and have a helter-skelter game.

Prediction: Cooper's athletes are too much. They win 70-58.

8 PM: St. Cloud Tech vs Manitowoc Roncalli
St. Cloud Tech comes in ranked #4 in AAAA. Roncalli comes in 4-1 and they're usually a Division 3 (AA in MN) power. Tech has one of the top point guards in the entire state in 6'3 Nate Wolters. He's a clutch player who is a very good defender. Junior Alex Hanks teams with him to form a terrific backcourt. Roncalli also backcourt oriented with the #9 sophomore in WI, 6'0 Ben Stelzer. He's averaging 22 a night this season. They run as good a motion offense as you'll see anywhere. I recommend staying for this game for that reason alone.

Prediction: On paper a bit of a mismatch but in the words of ESPN's Lee Corso, not so fast my friends. Roncalli is very disciplined and they're very sound in their man defense. They were undermanned vs St. Bernard's last season and behind most of the game, but then they got some threes to fall and put back an airball at the buzzer to pull the upset. Wolters holds down Stelzer and Roncalli won't have a good answer for Wolters on the offensive end. Tech wins 65-58. Tons of 3s go up in this one.

Minnetonka vs Johnson thoughts

Ah the game of the night (and the end of a long day) is upon us as #1AAA Johnson takes #5AAAA Minnetonka. Minnetonka squeaking by in their 4 wins by an average of 5 points. Johnson playing in a brutal bracket after a brutal schedule in Sioux City and Milwaukee over the last week where they went 1-2.

Michael Talley off to a quick start in this one as he gets 3 And 1 opportunities in the 1st 8 minutes. Kyle Risinger with a couple of early buckets in this one as points are coming easy. Demitri Conwell puts back a rebound and Lamar Anderson gets a dunk and Johnson is out to a 24-13 at the midway point of the 1st half. Nick Latzke knocks down a three and Cole Stefan gets a layin then a steal +1 . Talley again to the rack and its 28-21 Johnson at 7:45. Latzke with 6 more in an 11-0 Minnetonka run and the Skippers lead 32-28 at 4:40. Conwell gets a drive for 2 to break a 4 minute drought for Johnson. 40-38 Johnson in a fun 1st half. Stefan with 16 in the 1st half, but only 1 triple. Michael Talley with 12 for Johnson.

The teams struggle back and forth to start the half. Estan Tyler then makes a 3 and Talley gets a steal that results in a Dion Suggs layin. 51-45 Johnson 3 minutes into the 2nd half. Stefan with 5 in a row to keep the Skippers close. Johnson's Lamar Anderson with a monster throwdown sprinting down the lane on an inbound to tie it at 58 with 12 minutes left. Suggs with another layin and we're tied at 60 with 11 minutes left. The next 3:15 sees a 10-2 Johnson run with Conwell getting 4 of the points. 70-62 Governors with 7:45 left. This was the same time in the 1st half where we saw a Tonka run and it happens again. Nelson with 2 straight hoops and Latzke then with 2 straight triples and Nelson concludes the run with 2 free throws. The 12-0 Skippers run gives them a 74-70 lead with 3:30 left. Talley adds another And 1 opportunity to his tally to cut the lead to 1. Talley then finds Anderson for a jumper and Johnson leads 75-74 with 3 minutes left. Latzke with a circus make but he misses the free throw a 2:46. Stefan gambles for a steal and Suggs makes him pay by knocking down the open shot. Risinger puts back a miss for a 78-77 Tonka lead. Conwell 2 and the foul. The FT is good and Johnson back on top 80-78 with 1:42 left. Suggs baseline for a layup at 1:20 and its 82-78 Governors. Stefan immediately makes 2 FTs and its 82-80 with 1:15 left. Johnson uses 2 time outs to avoid turnovers. After all of this, Max Rosenbloom misses the front end with 37.3 to play. Stefan hangs and banks with 17 seconds left. Johnson goes without a timeout. Suggs can't create anything which forces Estan Tyler to throw up a 30 footer at the horn. No good and we go to OT tied at 82.

In the OT, Tyler starts the scoring with a free throw. Conwell with a tough hoop on the right block with 1:50 left makes it 85-82 Johnson. Conwell with 2 FTs at 1:28 and its 87-82. Risinger with a turnover after Taylor Nelson lost it on the previous possession. Conwell makes a bad play by charging at 1:04 going to the rim and Tonka has it back. But Tonka turns it over again. Suggs makes 2 FTs, Conwell makes 2 and that seals it. Johnson wins 93-88 in overtime.

For Minnetonka, they fall to 4-2. Cole Stefan with 32 in the loss with 3 triples. Nick Latzke huge with 22 points and 5 triples in addition to the circus make he had. Minnetonka will face Mounds View on Monday afternoon in the 2:45 game. With Minnetonka being a team that likes to play dribble drive motion, that's a very bad matchup for Mounds View. I was surprised that Tonka wasn't a deeper team as they only played 7 guys.

Johnson with another big overtime win (see also the Washburn double OT win). Michael Talley with 19, Demetri Conwell with 21. Johnson now has a very interesting matchup against Eden Prairie in the late game on Monday night. Johnson pounded the glass and that was a major factor in getting the win. They run a ton of people at you so you have to beat their pressure D. If they aren't making shots and not turning you over, their best offense is often the offensive glass.

Eden Prairie vs Mounds View Thoughts

Brett Ervin

Now on to the good stuff as we begin the night session with 5-1 Mounds View taking on 5-1 Eden Prairie in a battle of previously ranked teams. Very good crowd on hand for this one.

Dan Carroll and Ethan Wragge get the assignments on each other in this one. The Mounds View offense just can't get going early, but they are being patient (understatement of the night, I've watched paint dry faster). Brett Ervin started the game's scoring with a nice reverse and he gets a post up a 10:40 to give EP a 9-5 lead. Justin Harding counters 20 seconds later for Mounds View and that's the 1st FG for the Mustangs. Yikes. Wragge then gets it going. He makes a triple, then a nice curl for a jumper and then he goes up and over Carroll for an offensive rebound that he puts back with the foul. 17-9 EP at the 8 minute mark. Harding with 5 straight points and the lead is 21-20 EP at 4:30. A couple of bench sophomores contribute late in the half. Jordan Van Eps with a layin and a jumper for Mounds View. Jack Klukas with a bucket and then a nice lefty post move. Marc Miller with a late EP three and the Eagles lead 32-26 at the half. Wragge with 11 points for EP. Harding with 7 for MV.

Eden Prairie gives up the 1st bucket of the half, but Wragge gets 6 points in a 10-0 run and EP leads by 14. 42-28 Eagles at 14:21 after the 2 minute spurt. MV with 6 in a row thanks to 4 inside points from Tyler Perry and the Mustangs only trail by 8 with 11:20 left. Wragge pushes the lead to 12 with 7:15 left on a triple. Wragge then picks up his 4th foul with 6 minutes left and sits. Greg Anderson then nets a deuce and Harding gets a layin and its an 8 point game, 53-45 EP, with 5:30 left. But EP spreads the floor and MV has no answer for this. A 9-2 run seals it and Eden Prairie wins 68-52.

For Mounds View, Justin Harding leads the way with 15 points. Dan Carroll with only 2 FGs and 6 points. Very little for him tonight on the stat sheet and he normally stuffs it. MV finishes 3-17 from behind the line. I'd really like to see more movement and postups in their offense. Harding and Carroll are both tough matchups and Tyler Perry doesn't get much chance to showcase his passing skills.

For Eden Prairie, Ethan Wragge leads the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds on 6-14 shooting with 3-7 from deep and 7-9 FTs. He also added 2 steals. Brett Ervin and Timmy Miller with 10 points each. Very sound defensive play and the Millers (Marc and Timmy) give them very solid guard play. Very disciplined in their offense as you won't see them take many bad shots. The few they do take can often be attributed to Wragge which is understandable with him being the top guy.

Brett Ervin photo courtesy of

Minnehaha vs Sibley Thoughts

Game 2 of the opening day at Bethel gives us #5AA Minnehaha vs #2AAAA Henry Sibley. These teams met in fall league play and Sibley won huge. With no Greg Meyer for Minnehaha (out due to injury), could the Redhawks compete in this one?

Chris Halvorsen with the assignment on David Burnham in this one. Jake Kreuser off to a nice start with a couple of post buckets and an assist to Mike Bruesewitz for a triple. Taylor Hanson off to a nice start with a couple of buckets for Minnehaha. 16-12 Sibley at 11:45. Hanson then goes by Kreuser for 2, Burnham with a jumper and Taylor Sparkman knocks down a couple of 3s and Minnehaha leads 24-16 at 8:20. Its a 12-0 run over 3 minutes. Sibley chips away and gets 7 in a row of their own over 2:15 and its 26-25 Minnehaha with 5 minutes left in the half. But Burnham and Sparkman make triples in an 8-0 run to end the half and the Redhawks have a 38-29 going to halftime. Sparkman with 4 3s and 12 points in the half. Burnham and Hanson with 7 each. Bruesewitz with 13 points. Kreuser with a nice 1st half of 7 points, 6 rebounds and a block. Minnehaha 6-16 from the deep beyond in the half and staying even on the boards.

2nd half is even to start. Taylor Sparkman with a nice curl move to lose Halvorsen which he converts into a layup and Minnehaha leads 44-34 at 14:15. Mike Rostampour in now to deal with the dribble penetration of Hanson (instead of Kreuser). He gets a bucket off a scramble. Bruesewitz with 2 layups and a steal that leads to a Halvorsen dunk and we're tied at 44 with 11:15 left. Can Minnehaha get back ahead? Answer: An emphatic No. Rostampour with a post up, a drive and then a jumper for 6 straight Sibley points. He then got a steal that should have been 2 more, but he got his footwork messed up going in for the dunk. Hanson with 2 FTs and its only 50-48 Sibley with 7:51 to play. But Maurice Hernandez puts this one out of reach with a pair of triples along with a Halvorsen layin and post up for 2. 60-48 Sibley leads with 5:36 to play. All added up its a 26-4 Sibley run over 7:30. Rostampour continues to add on inside late but this one is over. 72-59 Sibley wins.

For Minnehaha, Taylor Sparkman finishes with 17 and 9 and he hit big triples in the 1st half. He was 2-7 shooting in the 2nd half to finish 6-17. Taylor Hanson with 12 points but he was able to get in the lane and was active. But he only shot 1-9 in the 2nd half with some good looks. David Burnham quiet with only 9 points (1-3 FG in the 2nd half). They shot 1-11 from 3 (7-26 overall in the half) and got outrebounded 15-7 in the 2nd half.

For Sibley, Mike Bruesewitz solid with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks. Mike Rostampour with a monster 2nd half of 14 points and 7 rebounds in 9 minutes. His ability to slow Hanson down off the dribble without Kreuser in there was big. Nice adjustment by coach Dasovich. Maurice Hernandez with 13 of his 16 points in the 2nd half including 3 of 5 shooting from deep. Sibley shot an astronomical 18-27 (66.7%) from the floor in the 2nd half to outscore Minnehaha 43-21. Overall, they shot 28-51 for the game.

St. Anthony vs Maple Grove Thoughts

Well, since I couldn't make my travel plans for the holidays work worth a hoot, I'm at least going to watch some games. What better way to start than with the Bethel Holiday Tournament which is always one of the best around. We start with St. Anthony vs Maple Grove.

A nice matchup inside with Derek Jahner of St. Anthony vs Josh Pedretti of Maple Grove. This one never becomes a game. Alex Geisenhoff of Maple Grove is all over the ball coming up court. Maple Grove as a whole, but Travis Enger in particular, all over the offensive glass. Geisenhoff hot on the offensive end too as he knocks down a couple of triples and its 28-6 Crimson at 8:27. St. Anthony can't buy a bucket. Tyler Catania with a nice throwdown for MG vs the St. Anthony 2-2-1 press and its 38-13 MG at 5:35. You get the idea. This one was never close. Maple Grove wins 70-45 and we never got to mercy rule thankfully.

St. Anthony shot 16-53 and 2-12 from 3. Josh Pratt with a tough shooting day at 2-16 and 1-9 from the deep beyond. His shot selection wasn't the greatest but he did have some good looks. Derek Jahner was a bright spot for the Huskies. He finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds.

Maple Grove won the battle of the boards 44-25. The Crimson shot 19-33 in the 1st half as Geisenhoff had 16 points. That's what gave the Crimson the 47-21 halftime lead. Josh Pedretti finishes with 12 and 11 for MG with 3 steals and 2 blocks. Nobody really sticks out as an athlete, but they play hard and they really make you pay for mistakes. This was shown in the fall too when they took apart a more talented TNL Express squad in Minnehaha fall league play.

St. Anthony at Fridley Thoughts

The night session of this day before the real holidays takes me to friendly Fridley as they get together with old Metro Alliance foe (and fellow member of section 3AAA) St. Anthony. For St. Anthony, Derek Jahner came in averaging 21.5 PPG and Josh Pratt with 20 PPG. Isaiah Thomas for Fridley came in averaging 22.6 PPG. How would these players do tonight?

St. Anthony off to a really sloppy start with 3 consecutive turnovers and coach Bratland is not all pleased. Thomas off to a sizzling start as he knocks down 4 3s in the 1st 5 and a half and its 12-3 Fridley. Thomas then loses his defender on the block for an easy layin and he's got 14 of the 1st 16 for Fridley as they lead 16-4 at the 11 minute mark. Evan Sjodin with a 3 and its 19-4 at 10:30. Jahner finally puts somebody else in the Huskies book with 2 FTs at 9:37. Fridley gets a layin and then a couple of free throws to extend the lead to 25-8 at 7:49. Pratt still scoring as he gets a nice high/low feed for a layup and then knocks down a 3. After some nice passing, Fridley gets a layup. Stephen Couillard makes a baseline jumper at 4:45 and somebody else besides Pratt finally has a field goal for St. Anthony and its 27-15 Fridley. The Huskies then go box and 1 on Thomas for the duration of the game. Elijah Anwey drives for 2 and then gets a layin and the lead is 33-15 at 3:15. But the junk defense is bothering Fridley and St. Anthony gets the last 7 of the half including another high/low for Pratt. 33-22 Fridley leads at the break and the general consensus is that the Huskies have no business being that close after a very sloppy 1st half. Thomas with 14 quick ones for Fridley. Pratt with 12 for the Huskies.

Fridley with a couple of triples against the box and 1 and that extends the lead to 41-26 with 16:10 to play. Tyler Hagen with a couple of hoops to cut it to 41-31 as St. Anthony tries to chip away at the lead. 10:40 to play. Devin Hemmerich finally puts back an offensive rebound for the 1st Fridley field goal in 7 minutes, all against the box and 1. Philip Wolney with a free throw and then a big 3 to extend the lead to 48-33 with 8 to play. St. Anthony gets 7 of the next 8 to cut it to 49-40 with 6:10 to play. Stephen Couillard with a jumper to finish that run and the St. Anthony fans are making some noise. But Fridley goes to a 2-3 zone that eats the clock away and they make their free throws. Fridley wins 58-46.

For St. Anthony, they started 3 juniors. Derek Jahner is a nice lefty post. He finished with 10 points. Josh Pratt is a big 2 guard who can rebound. With St. Anthony's small lineup, they actually use him some at the power forward spot which creates some interesting matchup issues for opponents. He finished with 14 points, but only 2 in the 2nd half. Nice job by Coach Bratland to go to the box and 1 as Fridley never figured it out. Nice job by Stephen and Joe Couillard playing the 1 in the defense. But 17 points down in the 1st 10 minutes was just too much to overcome. I will not be surprised if that box and 1 makes another appearance against DeLaSalle's Jalen Jaspers (a game that is on my schedule on January 29th in my 1st look at DLS this season).

For Fridley, Isaiah Thomas with 16 points but only 2 after the box and 1 was applied. You could tell he was visibly frustrated by it. He had a couple of rare touches in the 2nd half that you could tell were going up no matter what since he wasn't touching it. Fridley tried posting him against the smaller Couillard, but with the zone there, nothing came of it and there wasn't much movement from anybody else. It'll be interesting to see if anybody else goes box and 1 against them as the season progresses. Elijah Anwey displaying quickness and stepping up with 14 points. Nice move by coach MacDonald to go to the zone for about the last 5 minutes to really force St. Anthony to use the clock when behind.

Mpls North at Richfield Thoughts

A special mid-week day game in the Kingdom thanks to the holidays as Minneapolis North makes the trip to Richfield. St. Thomas Academy on hand to watch as well as Rene Pulley (insert cash register sound here). Pulley has North coach Bo Powell on his staff in addition to a couple of players who played on the 15s team for them this summer.

Spencer Puckett off to a hot start for North as he knocks down a triple and gets a layup in the 1st 4 minutes for a 14-6 North lead. Richfield with their small lineup not able to make a shot. Kevin Thompson with a baseline J and then a post 2 and him and Puckett are doing all the scoring for North. 20-12 Polars lead at 10:20. Renard Robinson with a steal for 2 as Richfield turns up the D. Robinson with 2 more layups during the 12-3 Richfield run over 3:20. 24-23 Richfield now on top at the 7 minute mark. After a couple of offensive rebound scores for North, Robinson hangs and takes the contact before going glass for an And 1. Puckett then picks up his 2nd foul and has to sit at the 5:08 mark. 3 more for Robinson makes it 32-30 Richfield at 3:15. Thompson with another post up for 2 and then a putback. He then puts back a miss at the 1st half buzzer to tie it at 36 all as Richfield tried for 1 shot and didn't execute. Robinson with 16 and Philip Freeman with 8 for Richfield. Kevin Thompson with 15 for North

Freeman comes out en fuego in the 2nd half. Jay Sewer finds him for 3 on a pretty 2nd pass, they go inside out and find him for a step in 3. Robinson gets a block and then the 2nd pass on the ensuing Spartans possession finds Freeman again. 3 triples for Freeman in the 1st 1:40 and bang bang bang Richfield is up 45-36. North not going away. Puckett on the block, Malik El-Amin with 2 FTs and then big Mark Devine swats a shot on 1 end and gets a putback on the other for 6 straight Polars points. North coach Bo Powell then gets T'd up. Freeman makes the 2 FTs and then knocks down a jumper via an offensive rebound on the possession to put Richfield back to a 7 point lead, 49-42, at 14:10. Puckett and Freeman trade 3s and Freeman has 16 points in 4:50 of the half. 53-45 Richfield at 13:10. North again gets a run. Devine with a post 2, Thompson on the offensive glass for 2 more. Thompson then gets a defensive rebound and throws the touchdown to Ariel Deloney for a layup. Deloney then follows with another layup. Thompson drives for 2 and Pengi Mboma lays one in. Malik El-Amin then drives and forces one up that goes down to conclude a 15-1 Polars run over 5 minutes and its 60-54 North with 8:15 left. Robinson and Thompson take us down the stretch. Robinson with 4 FTs, then a steal for 2. Then a putback and a swat that eventually turns into a Freeman jumper that concludes an 8-0 run (Thompson had a jumper before the run). 64-62 Richfield at 5:50. Thompson with a free throw to cut it to 1. After a Richfield putback, Thompson finds Devine for a layup (we'll draw this play up in the X and O segment) and its 66-65 Richfield at 4:10. Chris Williams gets a layin from Jay Sewer and then is fouled by Puckett on a 3. He calmly makes all 3 of the foul shots and the Richfield lead is 71-65 with 3 minutes to go. Puckett makes a couple of triples late and its 74-71 Richfield at 43.3. Williams makes 2 more free throws and Freeman makes 1 0f 2 with 14.6 left to seal a 77-73 Richfield win.

For North, Kevin Thompson is a scary player. 6'3 and athletic and willing to play in or out. A pleasure to watch this summer with 94 Ft of Game. I just wish North would have run more postups for him as Richfield had no answer for him on the box. He finished with 23 points. Spencer Puckett with 4 triples from the PF spot. 21 points for him and a very nice day. Mark Devine with 4-6 swats. Not much of an offensive player, but he can be a real presence for teams coming into the lane. Charles Smith is a freshman that might turn into a player to keep an eye as time progresses.

For Richfield, Philip Freeman out of his mind in the 2nd half with 20 points and 28 total. Renard Robinson with 25 and he was clutch in leading the Spartans back from the 6 point deficit with 8 to play. Jay Sewer goes scoreless but his initial penetration was the initiation of the sequences that got Freeman off to start the 2nd half. Richfield just has no size and I was surprised they didn't extend the court more with all of the quick guards they have. Then again they only play 7 so that could be part of it.

X and O of the Day
In the X and O segment, a backdoor lob that we talked about above. 1-4 high set. Malik El-Amin enters to Thompson on the right wing (important as Thompson is a lefty). El-Amin then goes and sets a ball screen for Thompson. Devine is on the ball side high-post and he also screens. As Thompson comes off the screens (where he should look to score 1st and didn't), El-Amin doubles back and sets a backscreen for Devine for the lob.

Mounds View at Spring Lake Park Thoughts

Shaun Jensen

An interesting battle of an undefeated AAA team (4-0 Spring Lake Park) vs 5-0 #10AAAA Mounds View. A couple of fun players to watch in this one as Shaun Jensen leads SLP and Dan Carroll leads Mounds View. A couple of interesting MV facts coming into this one. They held their opponents to 16-90 from 3, while shooting 44-95 themselves. But their opponents have made more FTs (72-85) than they've attempted (48-71) which is not a good sign. Coaches from Tartan, Elk River and Armstrong on hand to watch.

Elijah Sabah gets the initial assignment on Carroll as both teams go man to start. Jensen finds Tyler Ylvisaker (henceforth called Y) for 3, Sabah puts back a miss and Jensen makes a tough bank and its 7-0 SLP 2 and a half minutes in. MV with 4 early turnovers. Then Jensen's defender strangely leaves him to double the ball and Jensen makes them pay with a wide open right wing triple and its 12-4 SLP at 12:46 and coach Ziggy Kauls needs time. Mounds View comes out in a 2-3 zone with the guards very wide. SLP counters with a very high 1-3-1 set with Jensen almost at center court. Carroll with a drive for 2 and then a lefty finish off the bounce. Justin Harding finds Tyler Perry (Perry's a great passer BTW) for 2 and its 15-10 SLP at 5:30. SLP after starting with Sabah in the middle of the zone offense moved Jensen to that spot. Y with 2 triples and a Jensen with a bucket and its 23-12 SLP at 3:50. MV out of the zone. Derek Dahl counters a Carroll triple with one of his own from Jensen. Y finishes the SLP scoring for the half with another 3. 29-18 Panthers at the half. 7 triples in the half for SLP, Y with 4 of them for 12 points. Jensen with 10 and he's getting to the lane at will. Carroll with 7 for MV. The Mustangs with a very sloppy half with double-digit turnovers.

Sabah with a nice up and under pushes the lead to 33-20 at 16:50. But Mounds View doesn't go away. Greg Anderson with a triple on a nice inside out play, then he puts back his own missed 3 and makes another 3. Carroll then goes up and under on Sabah in the middle of the lane for 2. 10-0 Mounds View run over 2 minutes and its 33-30 SLP. Trey Scott and Anderson trade triples. Jensen playing a sloppy half of his own so far in the 2nd as he's not taking good care of the ball. Sabah drives and gets 2, Travis Johnson puts back 2 misses and Dahl puts back a miss for a 9-2 SLP run. 45-35 SLP inside 11 minutes left. Jordan Van Eps with a 3 point play then 6 more in a row for SLP and its 51-38 at 7:50. MV now applying full court pressure. Carroll with 2 triples and Harding gets a rebound over Jensen for 2 in an 8-0 MV run and its back to a 5 point game wiht 5 and half left. Jensen drives for 2 and Scott gets a layup and its 55-46 with 3:30 left. Carroll with another triple cuts it to 4 with 1:45 left. SLP goes spread. Travis Johnson misses the front end of the bonus after previously making 2. 59-53 SLP with 44.7 to play. Cole Christenson hits a 3 for MV with 7.1 left and its only a 3 point game. Jensen makes 1 of 2 to put the game away. 60-56 Spring Lake Park wins.

For Mounds View, Dan Carroll is all everything for them. 20 points tonight. He came in leading them in the big 3 categories with 16.4 pts, 6.4 rebs and 3.8 ast per game. Greg Anderson finishes with 12 after the big 2nd half. Justin Harding with 8. I was disappointed that the Mustangs didn't attack the matchup inside with Jensen guarding him. Harding got a couple of buckets inside over Jensen, but MV never really made an effort to exploit it. They really had no answer for containing dribble penetration and that would be a good explanation for their season FT totals by opponents. This was also a problem last season as MV has versatile size, but not really athletic size.

For Spring Lake Park, they stay undefeated as Shaun Jensen finishes with 17. He made plays down the stretch when he had to after struggling early in the 2nd half. His activity in the lane was a major reason for the 1st half rain down of triples. Y with nothing in the 2nd half after 4 big triples in the 1st half. Elijah Sabah was a guy I pointed out in my North Suburban Conference preview so his play was something I was watching. He finished with 10 points and was active inside.

Shaun Jensen photo courtesy of

Net Games: Edina at Park Center

Continuing the theme of addressing holiday basketball withdrawal, we once again rewind the clock. This time to the the adventure that was December 16th at Park Center with Edina visiting. With the Hornets off to a 5-0 start after I picked them last in the Classic Lake, I thought they'd be worth a look before a matchup of undefeateds vs Chaska in their holiday tournament on December 30th. On tape the building appears pretty empty and the Park Center band (always worth the listen) might be close to being a majority of the crowd.

Zach Matos with a nice foul line jumper and Edina is out to an early 8-3 lead. PC's 1 returning starter from last season, Voltaire Nalls, with a tough bucket and 1 and we're tied at 8. Matos picks up his 2nd foul and he's gone for the rest of the half. Justin Casey playing well inside for the Pirates. He makes 2 free throws to tie at 13 and he has 7 quick points. Ben Biewen with a triple from Will Deberg and then a bank but misses the free throw to reclaim a 18-17 lead for the Hornets. Deberg cold to start but he gets it going for the rest of the half. He knocks down a corner 3 off a skip pass, then a give and go cut for a layin. He finds Jim Hill for a jumper and then goes to the left hand for a layin. After Jim Hill knocks down a triple, Deberg finishes the half with 3 in a row from the great beyond. 39-26 Edina at halftime after a 12-2 run to end the half (all triples). Deberg was part of 21 of the last 26 Edina points of the half. Nothing forced either. Nalls with 12 for Park Center. Casey with 11 and he's on the glass too. Only 3 other points in the half for PC.

Deberg finding people early in the 2nd half too. Give and go on the semi-break with Biewen leads to 2 FTs. Deberg then finds Hill on an inbounds for a layup. Biewen then with 4 more points. Matos finishes the spurt with 2 FTs. 51-30 Hornets lead after a 12-4 run to start the half, 24-6 across halftime. PC gets the next 8 points to cut it to 51-38, but Matos and Hill with 4 more in a 11-2 Edina run to push the lead back to 21, 61-40. Nalls with 2 straight steals, 1 of which gave him a dunk and then a block late for PC highlights but the game is long over. 83-52 Edina wins.

For Park Center, Voltaire Nalls leads the way with 18 points. Justin Casey with 13, but a quiet 2nd half. Other than that, they have a hard time generating offense and they're not deep. They were able to get drives to the rim early, but Edina stopped that. Defensively they struggled against simple give and go or UCLA high post screen action. They open with St. Bernard's in the Catholic Spirit tournament Dec 29th.

For Edina, the concern with them coming into the season was the loss of inside players. Deberg and Biewen have been terrific this season. But Matos gives them a nice threat and 6'9 backup big Taylor Pagitt gave them nice bench minutes. They'll play plenty of people. Sophomore Brendan Canova looks like the point guard who will take over for Deberg next season with Stephen Asp and David Gschneider up front. They're very solid in their motion offense but due to a lack of athletes, you can beat them off the bounce.

Net Games: Cooper at Armstrong

So with the weather elements putting a huge dent in my holiday hoops plans, no better place to see a game then in the comfort of The Czar's castle. We rewind the hands of time to December 12th for one of the best rivalries in all of the metro as Cooper made the trip down Hwy 169 to visit district rival Armstrong. If these teams don't end up in the same league after all of the Classic Lake realignment is done, its criminal.

Cooper gives Quincy Bethea the assignment on Damarius Cruz. After Armstrong makes the opening 3, Cooper gets the next 15 points. Rodney Williams with 3 straight dunks including a breakaway 360 dunk during the run and a layup. Ryan Virnig breaks the run with a nice head fake on Williams. Rodney loves to block shots so this works almost everytime. Andy Seidlitz with 9 straight Armstrong points over a 7:30 stretch as Cruz can't buy a bucket. Armstrong tries some zone, but Rodney makes 2 hard basket cuts and goes up and over the Armstrong 2-3 zone from Bethea for a dunk and a layin. On the layin, Virnig gets under Williams and injures his right knee and leaves the game. Rodney makes the foul shot and the lead is 39-19 with 3 left in the half. Armstrong gets a 3 from Curtis and then Cruz finally makes a shot, another triple. 40-27 Cooper at the half. Armstrong with 7 3s, 4-9 FTs and the 1 Virnig 2 point bucket. Seidlitz 9, Curtis 6 and Cruz 5 points on 1-8 shooting. Williams with 15 points, 6 rebounds and a block. He had 4 dunks and 2 layins in the half.

Rodney with an offensive rebound that he dunks with 1 hand and its 46-29. Armstrong with 10 of the next 12 points and its 48-39 at 12:30. Cruz heating up with a triple at 10:40 and its 54-44 Cooper. Rodney counters with a post up deuce. Curtis with a nice up fake for 2 and then Weber with a floater and its 58-50 with 7 minutes to play. But Armstrong doesn't get any closer than that. Rodney goes up and over the zone again for a dunk and then puts back his own post up miss. He swats Seidlitz and Cruz and rebounds another Cruz miss over the next 2 minutes. Williams adds on a nasty 1 hand lefty followup dunk of a missed FT and another dunk to put the icing on the cake. Cooper wins 76-59.

For Cooper, Rodney with 29 points. I also had him unofficially for 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. 8 dunks and 2 layups. No makes outside of 8 feet. Bethea with nice assists to Rodney but he had all 13 of his points in the 1st half. Jamal Roberts really gives them good energy off the bench. He had 11 points tonight and he had the 1st 6 Cooper points of the 2nd half in the Columbia Heights game.

For Armstrong, Damarius Cruz with a hot 2nd half after a very cold 1st half. I had him 7 of 20 from the field after missing his 1st 7 shots of the night. Andy Seidlitz with 5 more 3s in this game after knocking down 6 in their opener vs Buffalo. One of the premier shooters in the metro. He finished with 17. Marquel Curtis did plenty of ballhandling tonight as he finished with 12. With Virnig out via injury, no Joe Lewis and Ted Vogt not on the team this season, the Falcons have nobody inside. They tried to spread the floor in a very dribble drive motion way to give their guards room to operate.

08-09 Week 3 Rewind

  • Kennedy loses by 20 at Shakopee and then by 23 at home to Jefferson on Friday in their rivalry game. The Eagles fall to 0-5 and their last 4 losses are by an average of 24 and change.
  • Josh Figini with 25, 18 and 8 but Chisago Lakes falls on the road to Spring Lake Park by 10. Sean Jensen with 22 for SLP in the win. He then had 27 in a Saturday win over Fridley to up his season average to 25+ PPG. The Panthers improve to 4-0 and host #10AAAA Mounds View on Monday.
  • BSM goes to St. Francis and loses a 1 point lead at halftime as they fall by 5. Peter Crawford with 18 in the loss for the Red Knights.
  • Roseville gets their first win with a victory over Park. Mike Muscala averaging 24.3 for the Raiders.
  • Apple Valley blows out Eagan in the 2nd half for a 20 point win. No Jameson Parsons for Eagan. Charlie Baker held to 9 points for the Wildcats.
  • CHOF loses by 8 at home to #4AA Braham. Nate Fiscus with 24 in the loss for the Lions.
  • David Nash with 28 but Blake gets their 1st loss of the season as they lose their rivalry game with Breck at home by 1.
  • Alex Richter explodes for 36 for Lakeville South, but Burnsville outscores the Cougars by 14 in the 2nd half for the 15 point win. Devon Knopke with 22 for the Blaze.
  • Jacob Thomas with 37 and no one else in double figures for Columbia Heights as they win by 6 at St. Louis Park.
  • No Clay Horne or Marcus Binns for CDH but they win handly at White Bear Lake. Raijon Kelly with 19 for CDH as he continues to be a sophomore that is really starting to come on the scene.
  • Heritage goes to New Life and gets the win despite 26 from Robbie Anderstrom.That one surprises me considering how NLA was playing. I expect that loss to haunt NLA in the race for the MCAA title.
  • Speaking of the MCAA, Concordia-Bloomington won at Providence 38-37. That may have been the best chance all season for Providence to get a win. They go to Bethany on January 30th for another shot at a win
  • SW Christian wins at Meadow Creek by 20. Caleb Palkert with 23 and 11 for SWC.
  • Woodbury with their 1st win as they win at Stillwater. Nick Quicksell with 18. Stillwater falls to 1-2 and they host Sibley on Tuesday before going to the Rochester tournament and then playing #1AAA Johnson after the break.
  • No Jordan Hughes for Henry but they handle SW easily.
  • Taylor Sparkman returns but no Greg Meyer for Minnehaha. But the #5AA Redhawks still handle Concordia with a 17 point win. Zach Towle with 22 for the Beacons in the loss. David Burham with 29 for Minnehaha.
  • DLS loses 50-25 to Pierz. Wow. That’s a shocker
  • STA in the win column with a 75-64 win over #3AAA Henry. A 14-2 run over about 3 minutes in the 1st half gave STA a 12 pt 1st half lead after being tied. Henry cuts it to 6 late, but the outcome was really never in doubt. Mike Fitzgerald with 35 for the Cadets as Henry continued to leave him open. Something tells me that Henry will defend like they did last year. Which means they'll just try to outscore people. Jordan Hughes with 20 after not playing vs SW on Friday. For those of you who listened to the game online like I did, a correction to the broadcast. Henry next plays on the 29th vs Central at Fridley (night game) before their 2 PM game on the 30th at Fridley vs the Tigers. St. Thomas goes to the Hastings tournament.
  • Braden Johnson with 36 for Cambridge-Isanti but they lose at home in double OT to Princeton. The Bluejackets fall to 1-4 and have brutal Mississippi 8 schedule coming up as I detailed yesterday in the Champlin Park at Buffalo scroll (see below).
Did you miss any of the games I covered during week 3? The entire list is below.
Due to the weather my holiday schedule is still up in the air. I hope to be in Milwaukee on Monday to follow Central, Johnson, South and MTS in the Milwaukee Lutheran Showcase. 3 other teams in that event will be playing here in the East Metro Showcase January 23rd and 24th at Johnson. My Minnesota Preps column this week talks about some of the top things to watch across the state during the holiday tournaments. Look for that this week over on Preps. A schedule of local holiday tournaments can be found in the 2008-2009 Season menu on the left.

The Kevin Noreen tracker is going and I'm keeping the Current Polls and The Czar's Season Totals pages in the 08-09 Season up to date. I'll have my schedule in The Czar's Schedule section once I figure out what the weather is going to do to my travel plans.

Champlin Park at Buffalo Thoughts

The Czar goes east metro to a special west of the metro trip with the Caveman to Buffalo for their tilt with Champlin Park. Hard to figure what league Buffalo is in as this is their 4th straight game vs the NW Suburban. They beat Coon Rapids and are coming off back to back losses to Elk River and Maple Grove. Buffalo has a very nice building too. Good place to watch a game despite the fact that the friendly concession stand person gave me Diet Pepsi instead of regular Pepsi. How am I going to maintain my girlish figure on 0 calories?

I was psyched for the Jasper Duberry (CP) vs Eric Olson (Buffalo) matchup but Olson isn't in the starting lineup and the 1st 3 Buffalo subs don't include him. But Olson finally makes his entrance at 12:32. Lefty Brock Korbel enters as well and sparks an 8-0 run in just over a minute with back to back triples on his 1st 2 touches. 13-6 Bison at 13:26. Buffalo very deliberate with their 5 man open post motion. Korbel with another triple and Olson on the board with a layup to make it 20-14 Buffalo at the 10 minute mark. Korbel not bashful about shooting it when he's got any daylight. Scott Theisen with a triple and a Josh Pella layup brings Champlin Park within 22-19 at 8:48. Thiesen picks up his 2nd foul at 6:04 and he has to sit out the rest of the half. The Rebels now going 1-3-1 trapping the corners. Olson with a free throw, a triple and then he finds Brooks Beilke for a layup. That's 6 in a row for Buffalo and they're up 30-24 with 2:50 left in the half. CP not rebounding in the zone so they're back man. Pella and Zimmerman trade assists to each other and get the rest of the 1st half points for CP. 33-31 Champlin Park at halftime after a 8-1 run over the last 2 minutes. Theisen with 10 points before the 2 fouls. Pella with 8 and Zimmerman with 6. Korbel with 9 for Buffalo on his 3 triples. Olson and Beilke with 6 each.

Champlin Park determined to play inside in the 2nd half. Kyle Zimmerman with the scoring there. Korbel with a couple of buckets for the Bison to keep it close. 41-39 CP at 12:45 and Zimmerman has 6 in the half and all the points for CP are inside. Zimmerman then with 2 FTs and a layup that bookend a 7-0 CP run that makes it 48-39 CP with 10:40 left. Eric Olson back in after a rest as Buffalo needs him on the floor to stop the bleeding. He finds Chase Liska to break the run but picks up his 4th foul at 10:15. Will Buffalo survive? Beilke with a 3 point play cuts it to 4. DeAndre Williamson with another inside hoop for CP. Brandon Stevens with a 3 to cut the CP lead to 50-47 at 8:50. Zimmerman with another post hoop but then he leaves after appearing to tweak his back (an injury that kept him out most of the fall) at 8:17. Beilke makes 2 bonus FTs and another FT to cut the lead to 53-50 at 7:45 and Olson is back in the game. Zimmerman returns and finds Tyler Munneke for a triple on the inside out look. Beilke hot with a triple and then a J cuts it to 56-55 CP at 6:25. Zimmerman with a free throw and then a nice pass ahead to Pella that yields another free throw. Pella gets a steal and finds Duberry for a layup 60-55 CP at 5:15.

Bielke with another triple and then he steals the inbounds for 2 and the foul. He makes the foul shot and in the blink of an eye, Buffalo is back on top 61-60 with 4:30 to play. Duberry drives and banks one home at 4:10, CP by 1. Olson gets a steal at the 3 minute mark and in the process of driving to the basket on Duberry, he pushes off on him and gets called for the offensive foul. (good call) That's the 5th foul on #3 Olson and he's gone. But wait, the zebras and the scorer's table (and frankly the CP bench too) mess this up horribly and the foul is credited to #33 Beilke and Olson by some miracle is still in the game. I'm speechless. Duberry makes 2 FTs off the resulting possession and CP leads 64-61 with 2:38 left. Olson then makes 1 of 2 after a phantom holding call on Duberry. The ref right on the play sees nothing and then out of nowhere the official on the other side of the court calls the hold. Wow. 1:45 to go CP by 2. They take time and kill almost a minute of clock with a dribble weave type delay but Theisen on the bounce pushes a guy over (good call) at 49.9. CP stays with the 1-3-1. Beilke makes a hard cut down the left side of the lane gets the ball on a nice feed and goes up. Pella appears to block the shot cleanly but there's the whistle and that's Pella's 5th foul. Beilke makes both with 37.7 left and we're tied at 64. Out of a timeout, CP looking to quickly run a screen the screener play for Theisen rather than playing for 1 shot. Zimmerman gets fouled off the ball as that's happening. He makes 1 of 2 with 21.7 left, 65-64 CP. Out of a Buffalo timeout, CP stays 1-3-1. Olson gets in the top gap and in the lane. He finds Beilke underneath but he can't convert. Theisen rebounds and gets fouled with 4.3 left. He makes 1 but misses the 2nd. Buffalo rebounds and calls their last timeout at 3.6. They show the play and then CP calls timeout before the inbound. Buffalo tries to find Olson curling near midcourt but he is forced into the backcourt. He never touches it and Buffalo doesn't get a look at the final shot. 66-64 Champlin Park in a fun game with some strange officiating late.

For Buffalo, they fall to 2-3. 1-3 vs the NW Suburban. They finish their tour of the league when they host Osseo on Tuesday. Eric Olson with 6 points but he was the guy who got them into their sets and found open people. This was especially true of his penetration for good looks vs the 1-3-1. Brock Korbel is instant offense off the bench. he got his 11 points in 2 quick bunches. Brooks Beilke was coming off 2 quiet games, but he went off for 25 tonight. He had 19 of Buffalo's 33 in the 2nd half despite that last tough miss inside. 2 triples and 7 of 8 from the stripe. Monticello appears to be the favorite in the Mississippi8. STMA just moved into the rankings so they'll be there. I look for Buffalo and Cambridge-Isanti, despite their current struggles to be next in line. CI has a brutal 3 game stretch after the holidays where they host STMA and Buffalo followed by a trip to Monticello in a 6 day span.

For Champlin Park, they get their 1st win of the year after tough losses to Minnetonka and Wayzata (no shame there). Kyle Zimmerman with 15 in the 2nd half and a total of 21 for the game. CP was able to throw the ball down to the block to him to get points whenever they wanted in that 2nd half. With the assists added in, he had a part of at least 19 of the 33 CP 2nd half points. This may be the only time all season where you see CP as the dominant team inside scoring post up buckets. Scott Theisen with only 4 2nd half points after 10 in the 1st half. They're not deep as they really only play 7, and you could say 6 as DeAndre Williamson may or may not be part of the critical rotation. Size obviously an issue and in their 1-3-1 they didn't rebound well in it and they weren't active in it. But if they played man, Buffalo's execution would have gotten to them. Tough spot to be in. They'll also need to address the backup point spot and they really don't have a good way to get Jasper Duberry a rest.

X and O of the Day
The final play for Buffalo was something like this (at least the apparent intent, not the result). Ball on the end line on the right side of the basket for the offense. 1 guy around the top of the key in the backcourt. 1 guy at center court. 1 guy at center court on the left side line. Olson was on the left side near the far hash mark. The idea here is to have Olson curl around the screens of all 3 guys or any set of them and catch the ball on the move going toward the basket (or at least not backwards) and in the natural direction of his dominant hand (an under estimated part of this) up near center court or at least above the top of the key. You tell a player how many dribbles he has by calculating 1 dribble per second. So he'd have 3 dribbles with 3.6 left. They'd be clear because no one wants to foul him in a 2 point game. That would put him at the foul line extended area on the right wing with a chance to knock down the winning 3 at the horn.

St. Bernard's pushes Hopkins to the end

Royce White

A big one in the Kingdom tonight as #1AAAA Hopkins makes the crosstown trip to St. Paul to face #1AA St. Bernard's. The place is filled with people standing on the ends and on the stage in addition to the full bleachers. Tri-Metro coaches out in force as coaches from Minnehaha, the not dapper tonight Eric Schutte of Concordia and a DLS assistant in the building. AAU represented with Willie Vang of the MN Heat, Tom Krosschell of the MN Pump N Run and of course, Rene Pulley.

No Trent Lockett tonight as he's serving back end of getting 2 techs in the Washburn game. DJ Peterson starts in his place and Moses Sundufu is in the rotation tonight. Ray Cowles gets the assignment guarding Jordair Jett. With the stands coming right down to the sidelines and all of the people, the sidelines are really treacherous tonight. Coach Novak even asked for play to be stopped to clean the sideline by the Hopkins bench and he was exactly right. This was after a stoppage for the other sideline. Jett with a quick 2 fouls in the 1st 4:15 and that hangs like a dark cloud. But he hits a hanging banker from the right side to give the Bulldogs 6 straight points and we're tied at 11 at the halfway point of the 1st stanza. Jordan Gittens with a layin at 7:40 to tie it at 15 and the crowd is really into it. Jett with a brief rest and Royce White gets a hoop at 5:45, but Jett comes back and gets 2 of his own and its 23-20 Bulldogs at 4:50. Royce scores 2 more, Brian Sandifer knocks down a 3 and Jett hits a pullup and we're at 28-24 with 3 minutes left in the half. Jett picks up #3 8 seconds later and has to sit. Averey Duncan with 2 buckets and Hopkins misses late free throws. 32-30 St. Bernard's at the break in an outstanding half. They really held their own on the boards, but suffered some late fouls due to their lack of size. Duncan 10 points, Jett 9. Hopkins not doing a good job of looking for their post people. Marcus Williams 7, Royce with 6.

In a major shock, Jett comes out guarding Royce to start the 2nd half. Mike Broghammer starts hot in the 2nd half. He gets a bucket, a block and then a high/low assist to Royce to break a 34 all tie. He then gets an offensive rebound on a free throw and puts it back. Cowles with a nice curl for a foul line jumper and DJ Peterson with a free throw. 7 straight for Hopkins, 41-34 they lead with 14 minutes left. Duncan with 5 in a row to bring SB back within 2. After Marvin Singleton scores on the block its 43-39 with 12:20 left. Jett then misses 2 FTs, but gets a layin via a great pass from Sandifer and then a sweet floater from left baseline. He then rebounds a Hopkins miss and returns the dime to Sandifer for a layin and SB leads 45-43 at 9:10. But once again, just as he gets hot and the Bulldogs are making a run, he picks up a foul. This one is his 4th (on a maybe questionable call on a blocked shot) and we still have 8:58 to play. How long will he sit? Singleton's free throws on the foul tie it at 45. Marcus Williams then gets called for a reach in foul and after OK initial displeasure, has a wrong word for the official and gets T'd up (correctly so for showing up the zebra). Trent Davis makes the free throws. But Bernard's turns it over on the possession and Royce has an And 1 on the other end. He finally makes a FT (1-6) and Hopkins leads 48-47 with 8:20 left. Coach Cassidy rolls the dice and goes all in as Jett returns at 7:52. Out of a time out at 7, Royce takes a turn guarding Jett. Jett promptly puts on the afterburners and gets a layup at 6:50 and we're tied at 49. But SB can't throw it in the ocean the rest of the way. Royce with an OReb 2 before trying to take Jett 1 on 1 in retaliation for the previous bucket. He puts up a bad jumper after pounding the ball for a while. Coach Novak immediately finds a sub. Marcus Williams also sits for an unknown reason (not playing reason, as he left the bench for something) and we have 5:30 left. Sundufu goes right by Jett, who doesn't want his 5th foul, for a inside bucket. 53-49 with 5 to play. Cowles knocks down a wide open triple with 4 to play and the lead is 7. Hopkins makes their free throws and SB only gets 1 field goal after that Jett blow by of Royce. 63-55 Hopkins wins a terrific game.

For St. Bernard's, Jordair Jett leads the way with 19 points. If he could have gotten a shot to fall in the last 5 minutes, this game would have gotten really interesting. Hopkins tried a bunch of different people on him and really didn't have a good answer. Ken Novak looking for a carry call on him all night. Averey Duncan kept SB afloat too as he had 17 points on the night. Nobody else with more than 4. Give Bernard's credit for a great battle as they did a pretty good job inside considering their lack of size against a couple of very good bigs.

For Hopkins, 4 players in double figures. Royce with 13, Broghammer with 12, Cowels 11 and Williams 10. Moses Sundufu gave them nice minutes off the bench as he saw signficant minutes guarding Jett. Marcus Williams is the glue that holds them together and he's guy who sees the least amount of rest. Royce is still struggling to find his role in the offense.

X and O of the Day
New set tonight from Hopkins on the baseline out of bounds. They went box set with Royce on weakside high post and then ran him to the weakside corner for a 3.

Royce White photo courtesy of

Park at Roosevelt Thoughts

A rare Wednesday night game in the Kingdom as I make the trip to the Jack Wells Gymnasium at Roosevelt for their game vs Park. A couple of MIAC schools in attendance along with Tartan's Mark Klingsporn and MN Select's Sean Kruger to watch Cody Hofmann who played for the Select this summer.

First half is back and forth. Roosevelt switched between man and zone D in the half. No team with more than a 3 point lead in the half. Roosevelt spreads the floor with 2 minutes left in the half. Roosevelt's Eddie White gets fouled on a J with 1:10 left, but coach Dennis Stockmo is not at all pleased. "Are you kidding me?!" is the earful that White gets and the sub is already at the table. Unfortunately for White, he makes the 2nd free throw which means he's headed to the bench. Hofmann with a late bucket and Park goes to halftime up 30-29. Cody Hofmann leading the way for the Wolfpack. Edward Boler with 13 (or maybe 16) in the half for Roosevelt. He can really fill it up from inside the 3 point line.

The second half brings us a major offensive drought. Boler with another bucket early in the half and Roosevelt leads 36-33 at the 11 minute mark. 8 combined points in 7 minutes. As I said during the game, to quote Bill Walton "Would somebody please make a shot!". Park then goes on a 16-4 run over the next 6:30 before a Boler bucket cuts the Park lead to 49-42 with 3:20 left. Craig Brown with a pretty backdoor layup early in the run. Park takes the air out of the ball with 3 minutes left up 51-45 and Hoffman makes 6 of 6 from the line in the last 2 minutes (11 of 12 FTs for him total on my sheet). Park wins 58-49. Blah. Not much to see here. Though Boler did fill it up for Roosevelt with 25-30 points, he couldn't find the range from 3. Both teams aren't a threat in their respective leagues. Neither team really has much in terms of star power.

X and O of the Day
Nice 5 out motion concept from Roosevelt. Similar to (or at least reminded me of) something Ziggy Kauls ran with Mike Schramm a couple of years ago at Mounds View. 2-3 high set to start. Take a skilled player and put him in the foul line position. Now its 4 out motion with the 1 being at the foul line area. Roosevelt gave their player (Jason Jung) the freedom to set a screen then pop to get the ball. On a pass to the wing that player could then set a ball screen.

08-09 Week 3 Tuesday Night Scoreboard club

Since I've been out and about at games, I haven't done the Tuesday Night Scoreboard club yet, so without further delay, here's what caught my eye from the Monday/Tuesday games.

  • St. Anthony pounds Trinity by 24. Juniors Josh Pratt and Derek Jahner continue to produce for the Huskies as they're averaging 22 and 20 PPG respectively. First Baptist then beat Trinity by 1 on Tuesday, yikes. Trinity falls to 0-4.
  • SW Christian takes a 10 point lead to the break and gets a home win over CHOF. Another tough west metro loss for the Lions as they also lost at Orono on opening night. Integrating some new parts may hurt them early but with Nate Fiscus in the middle and Cole Piepkorn's experience at the point, they won't be an easy out come tourney time. The tough schedule continues with Braham on Friday night. Caleb Palkert with 20 and 18 for SWC. He's averaging 21.5 pts and 14.5 rebounds. The Stars have an interesting MCAA opener at Meadow Creek on Friday night. Based on the Meadow Creek start, I may have over estimated them.

  • How about the Washburn at Johnson classic. 89-86 in double OT at Johnson. Dylan Hale 24 for the Millers. Dion Suggs 19 and a gimpy ankle to boot. Write down March 7th at Arlington for the Twin Cities Game as that should be huge.
  • Apple Valley falls to 1-3 as they lose a rivalry game at home last night to Eastview. Vinard Birch with 23 in the win for the Lightning.
  • Edina continues to roll with big win over Park Center. Will Deberg with his average of 23 (actually 22.5 but rounding is easier) in the win.
  • Sibley beating Minnetonka isn't a huge surprise. Maurice Hernandez with 30 in the win and now averaging 21.3 isn't getting noticed. Coach Dasovich wrote about this last week on his blog.
  • Hill-Murray now 4-0 with a win over Arlington. Granted the schedule has been favorable (opponents are 2-14 with both wins over Southwest). They've got Humboldt on Friday before a test against New Life in the St. Croix Lutheran tournament. Rob Daul averaging 15.8 PPG for the Pioneers.
  • One of those teams beaten by Hill-Murray was Holy Angels. The Stars fall to 0-3 for new coach Larry McKenzie with a loss to Minnehaha last night. Greg Meyer with 30 for the Redhawks.
  • Holy Family over Concordia. The Beacons fall to 1-3 despite 26.8 PPG from Zach Towle. He had another 30 pt game (32) in the loss.
  • Lakeville North back on track in the Lake with a home win over Eagan. Charlie Baker with 25 for Eagan in the loss. No David Berthene in the box and only 2 points from Dajon Newell but Tyler Swanson leads the way with 23.
  • I wrote about Lakeville South's improvement in my MN Preps column this week. Then they lose by 19 at home (down 22 at the half) to a Rosemount team that I picked for dead last in the Lake, wow. Looking ahead to Burnsville on Friday? Zach Vraa with 16 and 11 for Rosemount in the win. Blake Shay with 20 and Alex Richter held to 10 for the Cougars.
  • Cambridge-Isanti loses another close one this season to Anoka. Last season they had a very close regular season game and then a 2 vs 7 game that Anoka should have won in the tournament.
  • Humboldt def S. St. Paul 35-32. Game was tied at 11 at halftime. Imagine going thru the snow to that one. I'd rather have teeth pulled. But the ending likely had some suspense so that couldn't be all bad. (Czar's Note: 12/18/08, The StarTrib posted that score wrong. SSP actually won 35-32. They were up 12 with 4 min left before missing some late free throws. I'm told Humboldt went delay game for a large chunk of the 1st half too.)

Cooper at Columbia Heights Thoughts

A snowy night in the Kingdom takes The Czar on a miserable trip to Columbia Heights. But I'm not the only one who had a bad trip. Cooper must have had one too because I arrived at 6:40 and the JV game had barely started. Varsity tip scheduled for 7:15, didn't happen until 8:15. Tubby Smith on hand along with Rene Pulley (+1 for the counter) and Louie Mitteco the long time Totino-Grace football coach (Czar's note: 12/17/08, Mitteco was the longtime Basketball coach, not football coach). A nice matchup of a top senior (Rodney Williams) who will be a Gopher and a top junior (Jacob Thomas) who may become a Gopher.

Only 2 refs for this one is a surprise, but if it keeps another car off the road tonight, that might not be a bad thing. Heights goes 1-2-2 out of the gate. Cooper hard man and a 2-2-1 press with Rodney Williams in the back. Joe Bright with a 3 and its 10-4 Cooper at 14:30. Heights with a couple of tip ins for half of their offense and Quincy Bethea with a triple to make it 13-8 Cooper at 12:53. Heights star junior guard Jacob Thomas picks up his 2nd foul on a charge and he sits with 9:42 left in the half. Heights turns it over for a Freddie Burton layin and Bethea scores and its 25-14 Cooper at 7:40. Thomas back in. Rodney with his 1st dunk of the night extends the lead to 28-16 at 6:40. He fouls Thomas on a jumper (always a mental lapse, NEVER foul a jump shooter) for his 2nd foul at 5:25. In a funny moment, he motions to the bench not to worry about the foul. Thomas makes the free throws and that cuts the lead to 28-20.

Heights scores again to cut the lead to 6. Then they can't hang to the ball. Williams with a triple, Kenquane Brown drives baseline for a layup (where's the help in a zone?). Thomas with a nice crossover for 2 free throws, but the Hylanders still can't take care of the ball. Bright with a triple and then 2 layups off of turnovers. When it rains it pours (no that's not a Harold Rainey of CH and Handful Pour of Cooper joke) as Brown beats the halftime buzzer for 3. 45-24 Cooper at the half. The Cooper run is 17-2 over the last 4:38. Bright with 12, Brown with 9, Bethea 8, Rodney with 7 on 3-4 FG, 2 rebs and 2 blocks for Cooper. 6 treys in the half for the Hawks. Jacob Thomas 8 points but only 2-9 from the floor. Kendrick Mills cleaning up junk inside for 8 points.

In the 2nd half, Cooper extends the lead to 53-28 at 15:12. Thomas gets his 1st triple of the night at 14:45. Heights coach Willie Braziel gets T'd up at 13:29 and he's really hot about it. The official had given him a motion during free throws that he had heard enough. Coach Braziel got in 1 more line and it appeared nothing would happen, but after the 2nd free throw, the official gave him the T. He probably earned the T, but the timing of it was really awkward. Credit the official for not adding on a 2nd T for the reaction. I can see where the official didn't want to disadvantage the Cooper FT shooter. He's a young official who I actually think does a pretty good job. (Did I just complement an official???). The officials ended up joking with coach Braziel just a couple of minutes later and I think he got a more complete explanation then.

Cooper gets the lead to 66-38 with 11:15 left and it looks like we may see the dreaded mercy rule tonight. But Cooper gets sloppy and Thomas finds his stroke. The Hylanders go on a 20-5 run over the next 4:15 and its only 71-58 and there's still 7 minutes left. But Brown knocks down a jumper and Rodney gets the 1st of a couple of follow up dunks and Heights is done. 86-62 Cooper leads when they empty their bench. Final 93-65 Hawks win

For Columbia Heights, I had Jacob Thomas with 22 points (14 in the 2nd half) on 7 of 22 shooting with 4 3s and 4-4 FTs and 4 rebounds. Kendrick Mills hung around the basket for 16 points. Akuro Imbu with only 8 points. Heights falls to 1-2 in the North Suburban but they have 3 winnable league games coming up against St. Louis Park, Totino-Grace and St. Francis before a trip to Spring Lake Park January 16th and a home game vs Minnetonka January 17th. They'll be one of the favorites in the Hastings tournament over the holidays.

For Cooper, Rodney Williams 15 points on 7-9 FGs (basically everything was a layup or dunk except 1-2 from 3), 5 rebounds and 4 blocks. Beyond that, he really did very little. Jump and dunk and showed that his ballhandling is still suspect. In one strange moment late in the game, he gave a guy a blatant forearm shiver and correctly got called for it and then questioned the official as to why it was a foul. That rebound number might be low, but a couple of those are offensive rebounds for dunks. He also missed a couple of other tip dunk attempts so he was looking for the highlight reel tonight. Joe Bright big in this one with 25 points. Kenquane Brown with 13 points, Quincy Bethea with 11 and 3 triples. Just way too many weapons and athletes. Still my #2 until beaten. That Eden Prairie game at the TWolves shootout looks very interesting despite Eden Prairie's shocking upset loss at home tonight to Chaska. Cooper now 3-0.

West Lutheran at Mpls Southwest Thoughts

Michael Lindberg

A frigid night in the Kingdom takes me on my annual Christmas Lights Trip to Minneapolis Southwest for their game against West Lutheran. Tubby Smith on hand to watch his son Brian coach the JV squad. SW girls coach Rob Grace handling the public address and friend of blog Steve Froemming "performing" for the 2nd edition of Steve's dance off at halftime. Steve we love ya, but keep the day job. I should have waited to eat the pizza. Now if they would have played Souja Boy (sp?), that may have been different.

Southwest starts the game with a triple immediately countered by a Michael Lindberg 3 of his own. He adds 5 more while SW gets 3 straight layups and its 9-8 SW at 14:45. Lindberg again from the deep beyond and we're tied at 12 2 minutes later. SW runs off the next 7 before guess who, Lindberg, scores. 6'7 Dominique Dawson with a nice bucket and 1 and the lead is 22-14 at 9:33. Nate Dwyer gets a hoop at the 9 minute mark for the 1st Warriors basket by someone other than Lindberg. 8 more in a row for SW before Dawson picks up his 2nd foul at 5:31 and sits. Jack Schneider with a steal for a bucket for SW and its 39-23 Lakers at 3:30. 47-29 Southwest going to the break. Lindberg with 18 on 7-9 shooting (and one of those was down and came out). The Warriors 9-21 FTs with 2 missed 1 and 1 opportunities in the 1st half as SW had 15 or 16 fouls. Only 2 other field goals in the half for West Lutheran. Elliot Matheiu with 12 points off the bench in the half for SW. Dawson with 5 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks in the half.

Lindberg stays hot to start the 2nd half. Back to back triples and a jumper make it 52-37 SW at 15:30. That's 10 of the 1st 12 Warrior field goals for Lindberg. He then finds Riley Gehl for a bucket and West Lutheran has the gap down to 54-43 with 14 minutes left. But SW slams the door shut. Schneider with a 3, Aytron Scott finds Dawson for 2 and then converts a steal into a layin. Timeout Warriors but that doesn't stop the bleeding. Scott gets another steal for 2 out of the timeout. Matheiu with 2 FTs and an assist to Scott for 3 and another assist to Dawson. He gets a layin of his own and its an 18-0 SW run over 5:15. 72-43 with 8:45 to play and this one is over. Lindberg leaves with 2:32 remaining to finish a very nice night for him. Final score 99-64 Southwest wins.

For West Lutheran, Lindberg went cold after the 1st 2:30 of the 2nd half (partially thanks to SW clamping down on him after too many easy 1st half looks) and that didn't help the Warriors cause. I had him for 28 points on 11-19 shooting with 4 triples. Lindberg is only a junior and played with the Minnesota Fury North squad this summer. Nice player who plays both guard spots for them, but there's very little else there. I would expect teams to go after him with a box and 1 as the season progresses. Teams will also start to force him right. Everything tonight was left and the 1 move to the right resulted in a very poor look. Southwest's athletes really bothered them. 6th in the MCAA is about right for them but the more I see of the MCAA (except New Life who is good), the more I cringe at the bottom teams.

For Southwest, Dominique Dawson with 11 points and I had him for 16 rebounds and 2 blocks. Not a guy who you can throw it down to for a post bucket but he does a nice job on the glass and can get up and down the floor a bit. Sophomore Ayrton Scott with 15 points. Elliot Matteiu with 22 of the bench. They're still in a rebuilding phase but they are improved from last year. But I said that last year and it didn't turn out to be true. The difference this season is a new coaching staff with former Mounds View girls coach Tom Weko, George Hemmingson from 43 Hoops (he had the 2nd 17U team this summer) and Tubby Smith's son Brian. Offensively they want to run. Defensively when West Lutheran was able to get into a set, they got whatever they wanted too easily. The Warriors ran a 2-3 high set with an X cut off the high post and got 3 easy looks off the 1st pass. That needs to be cleaned up.

X and O of the Day
In our X and O segment today, we look at how West Lutheran got Lindberg some looks. They'd start 1-4 high with Lindberg on a wing. They'd enter the ball to the other wing. Point guard stay, ball side high post goes out to the ball side corner. Now you've got what is essentially a flex screen by the backside high post, but only its at the foul line extended. If you trail, the curl gives you a layup. Go under and you've got an easy foul line J. You could also use this as an entry to open post motion. Have the point guard give and go on that entry instead of staying home and then fill the weak side wing. Lindberg's spot curls and the screener steps back to the top of the key and you're right into it.

Michael Lindberg photo courtesy of

08-09 Week 2 Rewind

Here's what caught my eye from the 2nd week of the 08-09 Season.

  • Hastings goes to Cambridge-Isanti and gets a win. CI played without Zak Mathson but this was still a surprise as CI is a team that can win section 7AAAA.
  • Mounds View goes on the road to Staples-Motley and gets 26 from Dan Carroll to win by 10 at #7AA Staples-Motley. Jordan Riewer huge with 34 for Staples-Motley in that one.
  • I saw Robbie Anderstrom of New Life on Thursday and he did it again on Saturday with 26 points. NLA gets another road win in the East subsection of 4A as they win at CHOF.
  • Prior Lake still undefeated without Tor Anderson and Deryck Ludwig still getting back into shape after breaking a hand this fall. They go to 3-0 with a nice win at Waconia.
  • West Lutheran returns home after going 3-0 in California. They're supposed to play Minneapolis SW on Monday. We'll see if the weather cooperates.
  • Benilde-St. Margaret's holds Jacob Thomas to 13 and gets 18 from Peter Crawford for a home win over Columbia Heights. I'm at Heights on Tuesday for the big game against Cooper.
  • Speaking of Cooper, they blow out Armstrong by 17 as Rodney Williams goes off for 29.
  • Dajon Newell 13 points still playing well but Lakeville North gets upset at Jefferson. Jefferson got the win last year at home too. That's 0-2 in the Lake for the Panthers which is a real surprise. Burnsville beat them on Tuesday. The one good bit of news is that both games were on the road and in the Lake, any road win is a good one.
  • Woodbury falls to 0-3 (all at home) with a loss to Edina. In a battle of guards, Woodbury should win but Will Deberg goes off for 34 for the Hornets. Granted the schedule has been brutal (Lakeville North, Johnson and now Edina)
  • Henry gets 25 from Jordan Hughes to hold off Arlington 79-76.
  • Champlin Park gets 31 from Scott Theisen and holds Cole Stefan to 22 but Minnetonka gets the road win in the opener 80-72. I'll see Champlin Park at Buffalo on Friday.
  • Four Directions only gets 16 points from Cory Oquist but they still blow out a very young Bethany team. Another long year for the proud Bethany program.
  • Edison was up one and then got blown out by Park Center in the 2nd half. Edison 0-4 now. Looks like a long year for them as I think they'll battle SW to stay out of the Mpls City cellar.
  • Blaine wins an important 7AAAA matchup as they def Cambridge-Isanti. Zak Mathson with 16 and 14 for CI. Billy Giddings 17 and 9 for Blaine.
  • Maranatha held Evan MacMillan to 7 but needed a late Darian Pittman bucket to beat SPA 48-47.
  • Shakopee takes a 1 pt halftime lead to a 52-18 2nd half and they blow out Concordia 88-53. Ethan Petrill holds Zach Towle to 15 points.
  • Tough week for #5AAA St. Thomas Academy as they lose a close one to #2AAA Mankato West and then lose by 3 at Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday. It doesn't get any easier for the Cadets as they host Northfield and Emmanuel Addo on Tuesday and then Jordan Hughes and Henry on Saturday night.
Games of note this week
Monday: CHOF at SW Christian
Tuesday: Washburn at Johnson (#1 vs #3 in AAA), #2 Sibley at #5 Minnetonka, #3 Cooper at Columbia Heights, Chaska at #7 Eden Prairie, Shakopee at Mounds View, Northfield at St. Thomas Academy
Thursday: #1 Hopkins at #1 AA St. Bernard's, Prior Lake at Lakeville North
Friday: Concordia at #5 AA Minnehaha, Blaine at Minnetonka
Saturday: Henry at St. Thomas Academy

Tons of rivalry games Fri/Sat too. Rogers at Elk River, Holy Family at Chaska, Jefferson at Kennedy, White Bear Lake at Mahtomedi, Richfield at Holy Angels, Breck at Blake are part of that list.

Did you miss any of the games I covered during week 2? The entire list is below.
My schedule for week 3 can be found on the right side in "The Czar's Schedule" section. My MN Preps column this week takes a closer look at 3 teams that had rough seasons last year but are off to nice starts this season. Remember to check out the 08-09 Season section on the left for schedules and results, current polls, my season previews and much more. "The Czar's Season Totals" page in that section is up to date with all of the teams and buildings I see and a few quirky tidbits from my season. Looking for info on some of the top local players? Scroll down and on the left side you'll find my 08-09 Featured Players section which has links to my scrolls on those top players