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.


  1. Kevin,

    Thanks for coming to the game. This was very well written. Yes, I deserved the T, I think. But he admitted he missed the call.


  2. I was at the game as well. Any thoughts as to why D'Karlos Craig didn't get off the bench in the second half after playing almost all of the first? Harold Rainey didn't start the second half either and didn't enter until about 9 minutes remained.

    I see Coach Braziel has posted...were you upset by their turnovers?

  3. Both players have played significant varsity minutes, it was in the coaches opinion that neither player played well. So, we played other players we are only about 8 players deep. Truthfully COOPER is GOOD!!!

  4. Thanks for the reply, coach. I couldn't agree more on how impressed I was with Cooper. Williams is great, but that squad goes WAY deeper than just him.

    I would love to see Heights make a run this year - good luck to you. Maybe Santa will bring you a 6'8" banger!


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