Shakopee at Burnsville Thoughts

Devon Knopke

We end the opening Saturday tour of The Kingdom with a trip to Burnsville for their game against Shakopee. Burnsville also redid their bleachers this season. The color scheme showing BLAZE on 1 side and BHS on the other side. And you can never go wrong as Burnsville has Pizza. Shakopee's Matt Zager injured a knee in their Tuesday opener vs Concordia Academy and didn't play tonight. So Sabers fielded a very young lineup (3 sophs and 2 juniors in the rotation) that featured no starters from last year and no one taller than 6'2.

Shakopee playing 2-3 zone all game. Burnsville has plenty of shooters so would this work? The major inside threat for Burnsville, Alex Wheeler with 24 and 21 points in their last 2 games, picks up his 2nd foul 2 minutes in and has to sit. The Blaze are rightly trying to use their athletic advantage to press the Sabers but while Shako did have turnovers, that press was the best offense Shakopee had as they got points when the broke it. 10 all at 13:30. Shako's Jason Perkins (Magic 15U Elites this summer) over the Blaze's Jeff Fallat (Magic 16 Black this summer) for a 3 pt play at 12:30. A Devon Knopke triple ties it at 13 all with 11:30 left in the half. Shako senior Matt Korthour heats up with a jumper and Ethan Petrill (another Magic 15U Elite player) with a steal for a layup and its 23-15 Sabers at the 8 minute mark. Wheeler back into the game and he scores to make it 25-17 at 6:30. Perkins with a kick out of the post and he gets it back reposting (something teams don't do enough of) and converts to make it 27-19 with 4:15 left in the half. Shakopee then starts giving the ball away like its a Christmas present. That lets Burnsville get on a run to end the half. Knopke with a floater, Landon Berge with a triple, Jack Ghizoni with a putback and 2 FTs from Berge give the Blaze the last 10 of the half over 4 minutes and its 29-27 Burnsville at halftime. Shakopee getting very little movement in their 4 out-1 in offense and doing a poor job of finding Perkins in the post. Korthour with 10 points for Shakopee. Knopke with 6 for the Blaze.

Korthour with the 1st 7 of the 2nd half for Shakopee and they lead 35-32 90 seconds into the 2nd half. Perkins in a couple of minutes later to try and guard Wheeler and he gets a bucket. Wheeler gets one of his own from Ghizoni after Perkins had to help and its 39 all at 13:30. Wheeler then gets his 4th foul against Perkins and back to the bench he goes. Perkins makes the free throws and then finds fellow sophomore Dylan Ulferts and Shako leads 43-41 with 12:40 left. Jeff Fallat gets the next 6 Burnsville points working around the rim and behind the zone via the short corner and with a foul line J (the other weakspot you want to find vs a zone). 47-43 Burnsville with 9:50 left. Nice adjustment by Shakopee get go to their power motion offense to get more movement instead of their 4 out. Korthour gets 2 jumpers out of it and Petrill chips in one of his own and Shakopee leads 49-47 with 6:50 left. Knopke with a jumper, Wheeler inside and a nice cut against the zone gets Ghizoni and easy bucket. Knopke then makes 2 FTs via an offensive rebound and Wheeler finishes a 9-1 run with a free throw. 56-50 Burnsville with 3:09 left. Shakopee strangely goes back to their 4 out offense. Korthour drives for 2 and then makes a jumper and the Sabers are within 56-54 at 2:20. Patrick Rogers makes a 3 right after that to extend the lead back to 5. Perkins kicks out against a Burnsville 2-3 zone (1 possession out of a Shako timeout) and Petrill knocks down the a triple to cut it to 59-57 Burnsville at 1:20.

1:20 left Shako down 2 and we have very interesting strategy at this point. Shakopee has only 3 teams fouls so they elect to give the fouls and start putting Burnsville on the line. I've seen teams run out of time because they waited too long to be in the bonus so this isn't crazy. On the 7th foul, the Sabers actually had a chance for a good trap. Jeff Plummer makes 1 of the 2 FTs 60-57 with 54.5 left. For the record it took 20-25 seconds off the clock to give the 4 fouls. You'd be surprised how long it takes when you need to foul. Knopke with a clutch make of 2 FTs on the 1 and 1 and its 62-58 with 34 seconds left. Perkins out of the game and out of a time out Shako runs a post up for Joel Hergott. Strange to me because Perkins was extremely effective inside tonight. I thought they would have run that for him. Scramble ensues and a tieup takes to the possession arrow which goes to Shakopee with 13.5 left. Timeout Burnsville. Knopke gives Shakopee life by fouling Korthour on a 3 with 8.4 left. Korthour makes the first but misses the last 2. Ghizoni misses the front end of the bonus with 7.3 and Shakopee rebounds. But they throw it away coming up court and they don't get a chance at a 3 to tie it. Knopke makes 2 FTs with 2.3 to ice it. 64-59 Burnsville wins.

For Shakopee, Matt Korthour finishes with 25 but those last 2 free throws were big misses. Jason Perkins with 9 and I thought Shakopee's best offense in their 4 out was when they went thru him in the post. Good passer and was looking for people cutting before looking for his move. That kick out and repost in the 1st half demonstrates a high basketball IQ. Matt Zager should be back Tuesday as a very tough schedule continues for the Sabers. They're at Mounds View on Tuesday. They play Blaine and one of the Lakeville schools in the Lakeville tournament and then January opens with games against Henry, Waconia, Armstrong and Edina. Yikes! Give the Sabers credit for their effort tonight as without Zager they were shorthanded.

For Burnsville, they're already 4-0 with home wins over good Lakeville North and Shakopee teams and a nice road win at Apple Valley. Devon Knopke with 17 points to lead the Blaze but the Shakopee zone did a nice job of keeping him out of the lane and creating for others. He was 7-7 from the line but 4 of those were late when Shakopee was playing the catchup game. Patrick Rogers with 3 more triples for 11 points. The Blaze really never got comfortable vs the zone and never got into their running game. Despite the loss of Tarell Clark, the Blaze still look like a force to be reckoned with in the Lake and section 3AAA. The Blaze have a couple of interesting games coming up as they host Lakeville South on Friday and then travel to Owatonna on Dec 22.

X and O of the Day
A very critical element to a press break, you MUST look to score. Otherwise, why would I not continue to press as the points against the press are the 1 thing that will make me get out of it. That's not me talking, that comes from Hubie Brown. Shakopee with a nice job of hitting middle and then passing the ball ahead out of the middle to get layups against the pressure during the first half.

Devon Knopke photo courtesy of

Steven Froemming from Steven's Sports Report was also at the game. Click here to read his account of the game.

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