Stillwater puts the lid on Mahtomedi's basket

So after the Central/Roseville game I made my way to the Target Center for the evening session. I arrive at the Stillwater/Mahtomedi game with 4 minutes left in the 1st half. Jon Krebs for Mahtomedi and Ryan Duxbury of Stillwater get it done in the 1st half with 11 and 8 points respectively in the 1st half. Miles Heller and Adam Habisch with 8 points each for Stillwater as well. Back and forth in those last 4 minutes as Mahtomedi leads 38-34 at the break. To the 2nd half we go.

Matt David with a 3 and then Krebs with a nice cut behind the zone to get himself a layup at 15:40. Mahtomedi up 45-38. Then the Mahtomedi basket disappears as they get 1 offensive rebound basket and that's all for a 9 minute 40 second stretch. Paul Franklin with a crossover for 2 and a triple. Alex Oman makes a living at the free throw line as Stillwater in the bonus at the 9 minute mark. Krebs makes a jumper with 6 minutes left to break the run but the damage is done as Stillwater leads 61-49. Its a 23-2 Stillwater run with a scoreless stretch for Mahtomedi of 8:50. Stillwater only gets 1 FG in the last 6:45 but they live at the line for a 74-59 win.

For Mahtomedi, Jon Krebs with a nice game of 18 points. The Zephyrs were 2-4 in the 2nd half from the foul line. They had couldn't buy a hoop against the 1-2-2 zone that Stillwater played but they did have some good looks. Stillwater was 22-26 from the line in the 2nd half alone. All 5 starters in double figures for the Ponies with Alex Oman going 10-10 from the charity stripe in the 2nd half and finishing with 19 points to lead the way. Ryan Duxbury with 8 points and 7 rebounds in the 2nd half alone. He finished with 16 points. One of the more amazing facts of the year for me as Stillwater did not make a single substitution in the 2nd half.

Muscala's big day not enough for Roseville

Game 1 of this Saturday takes me to a non-conference showdown at St. Paul Central as the Minutemen host Roseville and Mike Muscala. Mark Klingsporn of Tartan looking at potential section foe Central. Former Como Park coach Dan Brink also looking on.

Early story is Muscala as this game goes back and forth. He gets the 1st 17 Roseville points with lefty and righty buckets. 17-16 Roseville at the 8 minute mark. Ryan Yungers knocks down a couple of triples off the bench for the Raiders (1 on an assist from Muscala) 23-21 Roseville at 6:10. The teams trade before Muscala makes a lefty banker and then a follow up dunk. 30-28 Roseville at 3:20. 33-30 Roseville at the half. Muscala with 21 points and 7 rebounds along with a block. No points in the half from any other Roseville starter. LeDarian Horton with 8 points and 5 boards for Central. Roseville effective with a 3-2 zone the last half of the half.

David Stanley knocks down a triple from Muscala and then a layup for a 9-0 Roseville run out of halftime (12-0 total). 42-30 Raiders 3 minutes into the 2nd half. Horton then gest hot for Central as he gets the 1st 8 Central points of the half with a triple over Muscala, then another triple via The Flex and then a runner. Roseville leads 45-38 with 12 minutes left. Then a 9-3 Central spurt with a couple of 3s and a Taylor Smaller steal for a layup. 48-47 Roseville with 8:40 left. Austin Hultmann on the bench for Roseville with 4 fouls and Horton takes advantage with 3 of 4 FTs. 54-50 Roseville with 5:18 left and Hultmann returns. Cameron Smith with a 3 ball and a Smaller hoop tie it at 56 with 4:07 left. Muscala then with 4 in a row. Eric Grice with 2 and the foul but he misses the free throw. DJ Johnson rebounds the miss and Smaller buries a triple with 2:10 left and Central has the lead at 61-60. Horton rebounds a wild miss by Roseville PG Kenny Farmer but Smaller misses and a tie up goes to Central at 1:27. Jordan Larson misses for Central and Muscala blocks a DJ Johnson layup with 1:10 left. But Roseville can't convert with 1 minute left. Central spreads the floor with Rosevile refusing to foul. Larson makes them pay with a layup with 26 seconds left. 63-60 Central. Roseville doesn't take a timeout and Rylee Hernandez airballs a triple with 9 seconds left. Roseville almost steals a long inbounds pass but Central does make the catch and hit 4 FTs late for a 67-60 win.

For Roseville, Mike Muscala with 30 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks by my count. No one else in double figures but Rylee Hernandez and Ryan Yungers gave them nice bench minutes. Another tough loss for Roseville as they lost a tough one last night to Hastings as well (a foul on their own FT with 1 second left allowed Hastings to pull off an upset Friday night).

For Central, LeDarian Horton with 17, most of the them in the 2nd half. A talented player who can play some inside or out. Jordan Larson and Taylor Smaller with 12 each for the Minutemen.

Maranatha outduels SW Christian

Tonight takes The Czar to Maranatha for a boys/girls homecoming double-dip with Southwest Christian. All 4 teams in the thick of the conference races. One of the best environments of the season with a full house that had a buzz at the end of the 3 PM girls JV game. Great music, great fans and you had to love the Chicago Bulls intros with the spotlight and darkness included. Outside of the top 2 Hopkins games of the season, I haven't seen a better group of fans all season. The Noreen clan all on hand watching. A nice performance of "A High School Musical" at halftime of the girls varsity game.

The Girls Varsity game gets a nice double-double performance from MCA's 8th grade post Onye Osemenam but SW Christian wins easily after a 28-10 start. 54-37 SW Christian wins the girls game to stay in the race with New Life in the MCAA. Boys JV goes double OT with MCA missing a couple of chances to win it. On to the boys varsity game as we're way late getting started. Game didn't end until 10:30.

SW Christian decides to come out 2-3 zone with star Caleb Palkert in the middle. Josh Hanson gets the initial 1 on 1 assignment on Palkert on the other end with Jay Higgins seeing the major minutes in that role. After a couple of Palkert buckets, MCA gets 7 in a row for a 15-6 lead with 6:20 in the half. SW Christian goes on a 10-2 run late in the half thanks to 6 free throws from Palkert. Both teams fail to take the last shot so SW Christian comes back and gets blocked by Hanson who turns it into a free throw for Darian Pittman. 20 all at the half. Palkert with 10 points (2-6 FGs), 6 rebounds and 5 blocks as he's controlling the paint in the zone defense ala Chad Calcaterra. Most of his offense came off of inbounds plays when he wasn't at the foul line (6-6 in the half). Josh Hanson 1 point, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks but 0-5 FGs

Hanson starts the 2nd half with a nice dive to the hoop against the zone for 2. Palkert puts back his own miss before trading triples with Jay Higgins. 28-25 Stars at 15:05. Jamie Hammond with a triple for MCA to tie it at 30 at 13:03. SW Christian now out of the zone going man. Palkert with a post 2 at 11 and Jordan Dye with a putback for a 34-30 SWC lead. But SaVaughn Jordan counters with a layup and then Pittman goes over Palkert for 2 and the foul. 35-34 MCA at 8:18. SWC back to the 2-3 zone. Pittman then gets a steal and finds Hanson for a layup. 37-34 MCA at 6:55. Peter Sorenson with a tip in and Dye with a layup and SWC has the lead back at 5:45. Then a fast sequence with Jordan getting a layup and Pittman scoring around a Sorenson 2 all within 15 seconds. Dye then with a steal for 2 free throws 44-41 SW Christian with 4:19 left.

Then the officiating gets interesting. Pittman gets a layup and finds Jordan on a runout. Palkert goes for the block and gets a technical for slapping the backboard. Terrible call gives him his 4th foul. Josh Hanson hits the 2 technical free throws and Jay Higgins buries a left wing three on the ensuing possession. MCA back on top 46-44 with 3 minutes to play as we continue to go back and forth in the half. Collin Kruse misses a front end for SWC with 2:51 left. Higgins misses a front end at 2:10 for MCA. Palkert gets the ball on the left block and its in and out. Tie up of the rebound goes to MCA at 1:41. MCA over the top of the press. Palkert tries to take a charge on Jordan but the official doesn't think he got there and he's gone with foul #5 at 1:40. Jordan gets the crowd going. But somehow its not a shooting foul and Jordan misses the front end. SWC with a sloppy turnover at 1:24. Higgins misses the front end again at 1:10 but Jordan grabs the offensive rebound. Pittman fouled and finally somebody makes a free throw. The 2 FTs at 1:04 make it 48-44 MCA. Jordan then commits his 5th 2 seconds later on a silly reachin but Dye misses both free throws. After a Higgins FTs, Kruse is wide open and buries a 3 with 48.3 seconds left and SWC still has life. 49-47 MCA. Dye absolutely hacks someone for a steal (no call) and then gets mugged going to the basket (no call). Tie up to SWC. Sorenson with a good post up look from the right box but its no good with 30 seconds left. Pittman on an inbounds tries to throw it off someone's back and fortunately its a tie up that goes to MCA with 23.6 left. Hanson with a bucket on the inbounds but Sorenson comes right back with a strong 3 point play at 15.1. Matt Eickman makes 2 FTs including a rattle around of the 1st one with 14.1 left, SWC down 3 but I think they're out of time outs. They travel with 3.6 left and never get a look. 53-50 Maranatha in a very entertaining class A game.

Southwest Christian falls to 10-5 and they're now 2 back in the MCAA race. Caleb Palkert still not getting enough touches as I've complained about in the past. 1 FG and no FTs in the last 15 minutes. He ends up with 17, 13 and 7 blocks. Just basic post ups for him tonight. Jordan Dye with a nice night of 13 and 6. Peter Sorenson with 11. Everyone except Palkert returns next season.

MCA gets a signature win as they improve to 15-2 and stay 1 game back of Lester Praire (they beat Heritage tonight so no help for the Mustangs). Granted they really struggled against the 2-3 zone and they don't really have a dynamic shooter to bust zones. Darian Pittman leads with way with 14 points. Josh Hanson with 9 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Nice team, but not the MCA teams of years past. MCA also very young as they only have Matt Eickman leaving the rotation.

ESPN releases in-season class of 2009 Rankings

On January 13th, ESPN released their in-season rankings for the class of 2009 . Read the entire rankings here. Here are the changes to Minnesota players (and others of note) from the last period (August 19, 2008). Read analysis of the new rankings, including an explanation of the drop of Rodney Williams in the ESPN article here. You'll find it to be consistent with what Rivals said last August. I made some comments last August similar to these as well.

Minnesota Players
  • Royce White #25, Minnesota (previous #23)
  • Rodney Williams Jr #40 (previous #29)
Wisconsin Players
  • Jeronne Maymon #55, Marquette (previous #76)
  • Jamil Wilson #62 (previous #60)
Other players who have appeared locally
  • DeMarcus Cousins #4, UAB (no change)
  • DJ Richardson #51, Illinois (previous #56)
  • Naji Hibbert #61, Texas A&M (previous #59)

CHOF at Brooklyn Center Thoughts

Nate Fiscus

CHOF making the trip to Brooklyn Center as I go to the NW metro for 2 (possibly 3) consecutive nights. Chris Carr on hand watching one of his stars, Freddie Young. Some nice folks from BC giving The Czar a warm welcome tonight. Thanks to them for stopping by and saying hello.

CHOF star Nate Fiscus tweaked his back earlier in the week and started the game in the locker room. With point guard Cole Piepkorn already out for the season with an ankle injury, the Lions can't afford an injury to Fiscus. Demarius Overton with 5 in a row as BC jumps out to quick a 7-0 lead 1:40 into the game. BC up 12-7 when Fiscus comes into the game at 10:43. CHOF with 9 turnovers already. Fiscus gets a couple of buckets to cut the BC lead to 16-15 at 7:20. After a Demetrius Anthony 3, Cody Sarbacker (Piepkorn's replacement) knocks down a pair of triples around a bucket for a personal 8-0 run that puts CHOF up 23-19 at 5:45. Freddie Young picks up his 2nd foul 17 seconds later and he sits for most of the rest of the half. CHOF taking care of the ball for now but the turnovers start up again. 31-27 before the end of the half. Fiscus puts back a miss and then freshman Mahari Wilson puts up a bad shot near the end of the half instead of playing for 1 shot. Sarbacker knocks down a 3 at the 1st half buzzer and that gives CHOF a 32-31 halftime lead. Sarbacker with 4 triples and 16 points in the half. Fiscus 8 pts and 6 rebounds. Overton with 7 for BC. CHOF with 14 turnovers on my sheet.

Freddie Young off to a quick 2nd half start. He finds Overton for a bucket, makes a free throw and then a 3 point play. BC by 7, 43-36 with 14:19 left. Donovan Schoenrock with back to back buckets to cut the BC lead to 3, but Young counters with a steal for 2. Frosh Tyler Strandlund (one of the best freshman I've seen all year) misses 2 free throws for CHOF. On the play Schoenrock picks up his 4th on a technical. Freddie Young makes the Ts for BC and then finds Antone Darrington for 3 on the possession and then drives and goes left handed for 2. 52-40 Centaurs at 11:20. After a trading of buckets, Fiscus returns after a long absence. Darrington with a 3 point play for Strandlund's 4th foul to keep the lead at 10, 59-49, with 7:39 to play. BC cuts it to 6 on a Schoenrock post up with 6:40 left and then gets a turnover but misses 2 chances to cut it to 4. Young with a free throw, Darrington with a 3 point play, Young finds Darrington for 2 more and Young makes another free throw. 66-53 Brooklyn Center with 5:15 left and CHOF never gets closer than 9 the rest of the way. BC wins 77-66.

For CHOF, they fall to 7-7. 4 games in 8 days for them coming up with 3 of those at home. Nate Fiscus not close to 100% with the bad back but he fought thru it for 21 points and 12 rebs on my sheet. Frosh Tyler Strandlund with 8 points and I had 7 rebounds and 6 blocks for him. Cody Sarbacker with 16 of his 20 in the 1st half. Donovan Schoenrock with 12 and 12. CHOF still fighting for the #2 seed in 4A East Subsection. Their problem is a head-head home loss to New Life.

For Brooklyn Center, Freddie Young with 19 points, most of them in the 2nd half. Antone Darrington with 16 clutch points, also most of them in the 2nd half. At 7-8, they still have a fair shot at the #2 seed behind Jordan in the west subsection of 4AA along with Breck and Holy Family. Nice job by the Centaurs of forcing turnovers with a halfcourt trap to get some easy points.

Nate Fiscus picture courtesy of

More updates on formation of Dakota County Conference

In addition to his previous article earlier today on Hutchinson being admitted to the Wright County Conference, John Millea added this article on the discussions around the formation of a Dakota County Conference. It has all 7 of the South division of the Lake Conference members I mentioned in the previous article. Farmington would be an 8th team. Interestingly enough, Hastings is in the discussions. They're used to going that way in section play, but a move away from the Suburban East and rival Stillwater would be a bit of a surprise.

If that league happens, then the Missota is down to 6 teams split evenly between AAAA schools and AAA schools. The Lake Conference would be down to the 7 north division schools. Shakopee and Prior Lake are natural rivals and would make sense to be Lake replacements. Northfield being 4A might be an option too, but what would happen with the AAA schools. Especially Red Wing and Holy Angels. Would Holy Angels end up in the North Suburban then as a 12th team?

Western domino falls in metro realignment saga

John Millea reporting on the Star Trib preps blog that Hutchinson has been accepted into the Wright County Conference. With Hutchinson being one of the 3 smallest schools, this leaves 7 teams in the Missota. 7 of course is not an ideal number. Where would an 8th member come from? The obvious answer is the Lake which could end up with 14 teams. Having the Lakeville schools defect to the Missota to balance out the numbers (if Edina and Hopkins get sent south to the Lake) would make 9 and 12 and make some geographical sense. Of course, this makes little sense competitively for either Lakeville school. Would Faribault leave the Big 9 (10) to go north? They'd still be stuck as a AAA school in a AAAA league but the travel might be better. Would Owatonna leave to play a bigger school schedule?

If the Lake ends up at 14 with Edina and Hopkins added (why not Hopkins to the NW Suburban and Tonka to the Lake BTW?), how about these for a couple of nice divisions divided by the river.

South: Burnsville, Eagan, Rosemount, Apple Valley, Eastview, Lakeville N, Lakeville S
North: Kennedy, Jefferson, Edina, Hopkins, Chaska, Chanhassen, Eden Prairie

Have Richfield leave the Classic Suburban and you'd have 8 in the Classic Suburban and 8 in the North division for its own league. The South becomes its own thing (called the Dakota County Conference by Millea, unfortunately MN River is already taken) and could do a non-conference football series with the Missota.

And just for humor value, here are links to the full realignment plans that I first posted in August 2007.

St. Thomas Academy at Richfield Thoughts

Mike Fitzgerald

Winona State and Concordia-St. Paul in the building tonight for the St. Thomas vs Richfield game. Not much of a crowd though. Nice to see John Sherman making an appearance as part of his newspaper work.

Phillip Freeman out quick with a couple of triples. St. Thomas turning it over against the halfcourt man D of Richfield. Richfield 6-4 at 15:30. But then STA settles down. After a couple of layups makes it 10-7 Richfield, STA goes on a 13-0 run over 4 and a half thanks to a pair of triples from Mike Fitzgerald. 20-10 Cadets at 8:40. Renard Robinson with 5 in a row to end an 8-0 run to get Richfield back to 20-18 at 7:05. Then STA goes bombs away from 3. Fitzgerald with 2 more triples, Billy Chapman with 2 of his own and Charlie Aslesen with 1. Jim Dimick not happy with his rotation so he puts 5 JV guys in for the end of the half. STA outscores Richfield 21-7 over the last 7 minutes for a 41-20 lead at halftime. Mike Fitzgerald with 17 points and 4 triples for STA. 8 total triples for STA in the half. Phillip Freeman and Renard Robinson with 8 each for Richfield.

Freeman smoking to start the 2nd half with another pair of triples in a 10-2 Richfield run and they're within 8. He then trades triples with Fitzgerald and makes 2 FTs as he scores 11 straight for Richfield. 48-40 STA at 12:48. Jay Sewer with a circus 2 and its 53-44 with 10:28 left. Then STA goes on a 11-4 run. That gives STA a 64-48 lead with 7 minutes left. The Cadets keep the lead there until the final 2 minutes when Richfield knocks down a handful of 3s to make the score more respectable. 84-75 when I leave with 40 seconds left.

For Richfield, 6 triples and 22 points for Phillip Freeman. Renard Robinson adds 18 and 8 rebounds. Very small lineups for both teams in this one with basically all guards. STA gets 27 from Mike Fitzgerald on 7-16 shooting with 5-9 from 3. I also had him for 11 rebounds. Lefty Billy Chapman with 18 on 4 triples. Charlie Aslesen with 14 points off the bench in a productive night. STA with a nice job in their motion offense.

Mike Fitzgerald picture courtesy of

Scapegoats in the Conference Realignment?

More from John Millea on the conference realignment as the leagues got together again today. Read it here.

My thoughts
  • Nobody can agree. HA! Should that really be a surprise.
  • No surprise that no one wants to really take a hard look at this and realign everything. That'd be much too difficult and people don't like change. Its a shame the MSHSL couldn't step in and take care of that instead of forcing square pegs into the current round holes.
  • The NW Suburban should take Wayzata for 12, but Minnetonka makes no sense for a whole bunch of reasons.
  • Very disappointing that the Lake appears to be really stubborn here. They'd be doing their members a service by working to reach an agreement instead of sitting back and laying blame and having a bad situation for all the schools. Minnetonka and Edina and Hopkins need to go south and the Lake/Missota schools need to make something intelligent happen. Well said by Millea that the Lake needs to step up and make something good happen instead of waiting for something (almost certainly bad) to happen.

New Life at MN Transitions Thoughts

A chance to finally see a full game at the deaf dome (the new MTS gym). Yes the drum line was out in full force again tonight. Unique entertainment, but after a couple of these games and an AC/DC concert I've lost 95% of my hearing. Caleb Palkert and Peter Sorenson of SW Christian took in some of the action as they have to play both of these teams coming up.

NLA point guard Ryan Furlong with 3 offensive rebounds that result in buckets. 15-6 New Life at 12:50. A Robbie Anderstrom jumper at 11:15 keeps the NLA lead at 9, 19-10 with 11:15 left in the first half. But the turnovers and rebounding problems set in for NLA. MTS goes on a 24-2 run over the next 8 minutes. Kevin Noreen knocks down back to back triples to push MTS over the top once they got back to even. Anderstrom put back a miss to keep it respectable at the half. 40-26 MTS at the break. NLA went 8 minutes without a field goal and I had them for at least 12 turnovers. MTS effective with their 1-2-2 half court pressure. Not doing anything in the full court.

Joe Mann knocks down 1 of his 6 triples, MTS turns it over for a Kory Kiekhofer layup. NLA back within 8, 43-35 MTS, with 15 minutes left. Mann with another triple at 9:11 to keep it at 10 points, 59-49. But NLA can't get any closer. MTS goes on a 21-6 run with a couple of big dunks and a layup from Jerrel Washington to put it away. Kevin Noreen with a steal and dunk sandwiched by a couple of Washingtion jumpers at the end of the run. Minnesota Transitions wins 84-67.

For NLA, Joe Mann with 6 triples for 20 points. Robbie Anderstrom with 10 points and I had him for 16 rebounds. There were plenty of openings to find him at the high post against the zone that NLA didn't take advantage of. They still have trips to Maranatha and Bethlehem Academy on the schedule as well as a home game with SW Christian on the schedule.

For MTS, Kevin Noreen with 24 points, 8 of them during the 1st half run that ultimately put MTS ahead for good. Jerrell Washington got it going in the 2nd half for 27 points. The MTS trapping defense really keeps a team from getting into any kind of sets. I liked how Kyle Noreen showed some aggressiveness taking the ball baseline for a couple of layups. Andre Ingram was a real force inside too. 8 points and I had 6 rebounds and 6 blocks for him. I'll see them again in an interesting battle vs Arlington next Wednesday night (and I'm bringing my earplugs).

Day 2 at the 08-09 East Metro Showcase

6 games with The Emperor on day 2 of the 3rd Annual East Metro Showcase. Here's what caught our attention.

Game 4: Barron vs Richfield
Phillip Freeman continues to have a big year for Richfield. They use a 13-0 1st half run to take a 15 point lead. Barron gets no closer than 12 the rest of the way. Kyle Rose with 22 inside for Barron against the small Richfield lineup. Richfield wins 73-55. Barron now 0-5 against their non-conference schedule.

Game 5: Milwaukee Northwest vs St. Paul Central
Central outscores Northwest 13-3 over the last 5 minutes for a 13 point halftime lead. NW closes to 11 in the 2nd half before Central blows it open with a 13-0 run in the 2nd half. The Minutemen roll 91-67. Jordan Larson with 15, LeDarian Horton with 14. Keith Townsend playing all 5 spots for NW with 23 points. Soph Eric Allen showed his potential with 21 points. Northwest will be very happy with the lanky 6'6 forward the next 2 seasons.

Game 6: Milwaukee Marshall vs Minneapolis Washburn
Marshall gets a bucket from Eric Allison and then a Chauncey Williams 3 for a 12-8 lead at 14:15 before the cold sets in. A 26-0 run over the next 8 minutes for Washburn. Allison hits a 3 at 5:15 for the 1st Marshall FG in 9 minutes. 47-27 Washburn at the half. Alfreeman Flowers puts back a miss with 12 minutes left to cut it to 11, but Marshall gets no closer. 92-77 Washburn wins. Chauncey Williams with a big 2nd half for a total of 20 points. Dylan Hale with 22. But Jordan Osberg was the Washburn story as he was huge off the bench with 25 for the Millers. Biggest story for Marshall was the red warmup suits with baby blue warmup hoodies underneath and they all come out with the hoods up and tied as tight as possible. Hilarious.

Game 7: La Crosse Aquinas vs Hopkins
Let's just say this was ugly. Aquinas doesn't get on the board until 11:20 left in the 1st half. The Hopkins size and pressure D lead to easy shots as the lead gets out to 31-4. Royce White with all 12 of his points in the 1st half with a couple of nice dunks. Minimal time for him in the 2nd half. The entire starting group is out before the mercy rule sets in. 66-27 Hopkins wins. Jimmy Whitehead with all 10 of the 1st half points for Aquinas.

Game 8: Milwaukee Vincent vs Eastview
Star frosh big Phillip Nolan gets the start for Vincent in this one in a surprise. Eastview out to an early 8-3 lead before they can't buy a hoop. Vincent goes on a 26-4 run over 11 minutes for a 29-12 lead inside of 4 minutes. Jordan Kuhn with a couple of triples and a bucket late in the half for Eastview to cut the lead to 32-22 at the half. Michael Weems with 10 for Vincent. Eastview comes out Diamond and 1 on Weems in the 2nd half. Drew Johnson with a couple of hoops to cut it to 6. Then Johnson and soph Frank Veldman (watch him) hit back-back triples to cut it to 5 with 11:12 left. But Vincent figures out the junk defense by finding Steve Stovall and Steve Durham inside for 10 of their next 12 points. That pushes the Vincent lead back to 11, 55-44 with 4:25 left. Vincent goes on to a 61-47 win. 4 guys in double figures for a balanced Vincent lineup. Weems with 12 points but only 1 bucket against the diamond and 1 in the 2nd half. Drew Bjordal cold on this night for Eastview. Rough 0-3 week for them as they also lost to Jefferson by 7 and at Eagan by 4 on Friday. Tim Massie with a nice night of 12 points inside.

Game 9: Milwaukee Lutheran vs Wayzata
Lutheran out quickly to an 8-2 lead before Wayzata counters with a 10-0 run of their own. The lead grows to 7 before Lutheran closes within 31-28 at the half. Great 1st half line for Wayzata. Jarrod Peterson, Kellen Taylor, Nolan Odland all with 8 points, Jamar Franks 7 points. Iowa State recruit Chim Kadima 9 points on 3-5 shooting and all 3 were tough in your face fading jumpers for Milwaukee Lutheran. After the 1st bucket of the half by Lutheran, Wayzata goes on a 21-7 run over the next 10 minutes. 52-37 Trojans with 7:12 left. Lutheran point guard Mike Jones on the bench for most of that time forcing Kadima to handle the ball more. They really missed him. Odland with a deep 3 to push the lead to 17 with 5:40 to go. That lead is too much as Wayzata wins 67-55. Kadima finishes with 14 points and a cold 2nd half shooting. Tough to defend on the bounce, but he still needs work on his handle. Nolan Odland with 22 for Wayzata. He was fearless going to the rim. Free throws a huge story in this one. Wayzata 23-31 including 12-12 from Kellen Taylor. 9-14 FTs for Lutheran. Taylor really physical inside getting his hands up prompting more than 1 discussion with the refs.

Overall, a surprise that most of the games weren't competitive. But a nice group of teams and players to watch in this year's event.

Day 1 at the 08-09 East Metro Showcase

The Czar welcomes The Emperor to The Kingdom for a special visit to see the 3rd annual East Metro Showcase at St. Paul Johnson. A nice job by Johnson coach Vern Simmons in putting this event together. From our perch high above the action, here's what I saw.

Game 1: St Paul Johnson vs Milwaukee Northwest.
Northwest out to a 6-4 lead thanks to a putback and 2 free throws from 6'6 soph Eric Allen. Johnson's own star soph Estan Tyler then gets it going. He knocks down a jumper and 4 free throws in a 13-0 Johnson run. 17-6 Johnson at 12:38. The lead seesaws around this the rest of the half. 40-29 at the break. Tyler with 18 and Northwest not taking care of the ball with turnovers. Johnson then uses a 2nd half 15-4 run over 3 minutes of the 2nd half to blow the game open. The Governors win easily 93-69. Estan Tyler with 21 and Lamar Anderson with 15 points for Johnson. Keith Townsend with 24 for Northwest.

Game 2: St. Paul Arlington vs Milwaukee Marshall
Best game of the day was this one. Marshall gets out to a 15-10 lead 4 and a half in to the game, but Arlington comes back to lead 31-30 at the break in a very back and forth game. Very fast pace the 1st 10 minutes that slowed down the rest of the half. Arlington gives up the 1st 5 of the half but then goes on a 9-0 run to take a 40-35 lead with 14:37 left. London Love with a couple of buckets for Marshall to break a 47 all tie, 51-47 Marshall with 9:40 left. Arlington uses an 11-2 run thanks to turnovers from Marshall for a 58-53 lead with 7:20 left. Charles Langhorne with a tip in at 5:30 to keep the lead at 5, 64-59. Marshall star Chauncey Williams gets a 4 point play at 5:20 and that's the beginning of the end. Arlington turns it over for a Love bucket, Williams then grabs an offensive rebound and finds Reggie Hearn for 2. That's the start of a 13-2 run for Marshall. Joseph Brooks cuts lead Marshall lead to 72-68 with a bucket at 1:55. Hearn them misses a dunk but grabs the miss and is fouled for 2 free throws at 1:32. Deondre White has 2 triples go in and out and Marshall goes on to win 77-68. They out score the Phoenix 18-4 over the last 5:30. DeMarcko Jones with 19, Deondre White with 15 for Arlington. Alfreeman Flowers with 22, Reggie Hearn with 11 and I had 19 rebounds on my sheet. Chauncey Williams with 12 points on cold shooting and a very quiet 2nd half (only the 4 point play).

Game 3: Hopkins vs Milwaukee Vincent
Vincent gets 1 field goal in the 1st 7 minutes as they can't get into any offense thanks to the Hopkins man-man D. By that time its 23-5 Hopkins. Royce White with a dunk but out of sync on the offense end. Trent Lockett with a couple of nice dunks. White and Lockett with 13 in the half. 51-26 Hopkins at the break and The Emperor and I call it a day since we'll see enough of Hopkins in the La Crosse Aquinas game.

Fans be warned that some of the Wisconsin rosters are from last year and not totally accurate. Check for current accurate rosters for the Wisconsin teams.

Towle leads Concordia to Roseville bragging rights

Zach Towle

The battle for bragging rights in Roseville tonight as Concordia made the hop, skip and jump across town. Soph guard David Stanley getting the start tonight for Roseville to defend Zach Towle. Concordia comes out 1-2-2 and we get to see if their zone offense is any better tonight than it was against Cretin-Derham Hall 9 days ago. Muscala at the foul line and it looks like the top guy (Jordan Schneidermann) in the zone is playing man-man due to the lack of movement.

Back and forth early as soph Lucas Brown with a couple of layins early. 7-6 Roseville at 12:55. Towle then starts to heat up. A triple at 12:40, a pullup for 3 at 10:05, an assist to Lorenzo Davis who beat the Roseville D back and then another bomb at 8:50 to make it 17-9 Concordia. After a Austin Hultman layup for Roseville, Towle finds Chad Koepke for 2 and then makes another three. 22-11 Beacons. 16-4 is the run over 6 minutes with Towle involved in all 16. Roseville claws back. Ken Farmer with a jumper (the only Roseville outside shot of the half not by Muscala), Hultman with 2 free throws and Farmer with a steal for 2. That cuts it to 23-18 Concordia with 4 minutes left in the half. But Muscala picked up his 2nd foul going over the back at 4:21 and he's done for the half. Towle has another bucket and another triple in the half. 28-20 Concordia at halftime. Towle with 19 on 7-14 shooting and 5 treys. Muscala with 5 and 3 and 3 blocks.

Lucas Brown banks home a triple to start the half. Oh my. Towle still going with a runner and 2 free throws. 32-23 Concordia at 15:59. Brown with a free throw and a tap in before a Towle hoop makes it 35-28. Muscala with back to back blocks, a free throw and a putback. Ryan Yungers also puts one back to cut the Beacons lead to 37-33 with 11:15 left. David Michaelson off the bench for Roseville and he provides a spark. He bookends a 9-1 Roseville run over 2:20 with triples. That gives Roseville a 42-40 lead with 8:40 left. Schneidermann and Stanley trade triples. Towle then with another triple and then a short floater on the left baseline. 48-45 Concordia back on top with 6:10 left. Muscala with 2 free throws after grabbing his own miss. 49-48 Concordia at 5:02. Schneidermann a big 3 on a pick and pop from Towle. Muscala counters with a nice drive from the foul line and lefty finish. 52-50 Concordia with 3:30 remaining. Towle with 2 FTs. Muscala with a pretty feed to Hultman for a layup at 2:15. 54-52 Concordia. Schneidermann with 4 FTs sandwiched around a Muscala missed putback. 58-52 Concordia with 1:08 left. Michaelson has a 3 go in and out with 52 seconds left. Towle tacks on 4 more free throws before David Stanley makes a 3 at the buzzer that doesn't matter. 64-62 Concordia wins the battle of Roseville.

For Roseville, Mike Muscala with 20 points. I also had him unofficially with 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 9 blocks as he controlled the inside defensively in the 2nd half. 6-15 shooting is what I had for him. I like that Roseville had him running the baseline a bit tonight in their zone offense. But Concordia didn't do much in the 2nd half to keep him from touching it at the high post or on the dive from the high post like he did in the CDH game. Tough spot for Roseville tonight with needing Stanley for defense on Towle but also need the shooting of Rylee Hernandez at that spot. No real outside game again tonight. David Michaelson with 3 triples in limited minutes (also played extensive JV minutes) with a nice night.

For Concordia, Zach Towle with 36 including 6 treys. I had him with 11-23 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists 5 turnovers. Roseville didn't get out on him enough but hard to get out on a guy that quick and he had it going tonight. Jordan Schneidermann with 15 and 7. Nice job by Concordia of backing off the non-shooters (Stanley, Farmer) and of finding Muscala at the high post or in the corner in the 1st half. They showed man with Muscala out, but were exclusively in that 1-2-2 with Muscala in. With the way that Roseville runs their zone offense, you could have the top guy be the post cover and it would almost look like a box and 1 or like a flat 3-2.

Zach Towle picture courtesy of

08-09 Week 8 Tuesday Night Scoreboard Club

Here's a look at what caught my eye from Tuesday's games (1/20/09).
  • No real surprises in the Classic Suburban. Mike Bruesewitz dominant in a big win to put Sibley alone on top of the Classic Suburban.
  • Jefferson over Eastview in the Lake. The Jaguars get 23 from Moses Alipate in the win. They stay 1 game behind Eden Prairie.
  • Burnsville easily defeats Eagan. They too are 1 game back of EP and host EP on Friday night.
  • Henry lost 2 in Chicago over the weekend and then got drilled by Hopkins 101-28. No Jordan Hughes for the Patriots in that one though. I didn't see anything from Marcus Williams for Hopkins in the box either. If Williams doesn't go on Saturday and Broghammer is visiting Notre Dame, maybe my hometown Aquinas Blugolds have a glimmer of hope.
  • How about Matt Zager of Shakopee putting up 50 on Farmington last night. Against guys like Josh Zitzmann and Jake Lippert that's a big time performance.
  • Nathan Johnson with 35 for Heritage, but SPA gets 24 and 11 from Evan McMillan to hang on for the 4 point road win. (Czar's Note 1/21/09, Heritage won that game by 4)
  • 29 from Trey Scott as Spring Lake Park goes to Cooper and gives all they want in a 4 point loss. Rodney Williams Jr with 22 in the win that gives Cooper sole possession of 1st.
  • Irondale loses by 8 at BSM and they've lost 10 of 11, but there's hope. 6'3 Soph Bryan Sprang put up 31 on Rodney Williams last Friday and had 21 last night. But they gave up 25 to Darren Glover while holding Peter Crawford to 12. Irondale with 13 triples in that game.
  • Jacob Thomas with only 14 but Columbia Heights still manages to survive 46 from Fridley's Isaiah Thomas. Back-to-Back 46 point games for the 6'6 wing. Monster season for him and the reason they're 9-4. This loss puts them 3 back of Cooper and 2 back of Spring Lake Park.
  • What a night in the NW Suburban. Park Center gets a buzzer beater to win in OT at Blaine. Elk River gets clobbered at Centennial and they're now 0-4 in the league. Ho hum, Sam Dower with 33 as Osseo wins again. Centennial goes to Maple Grove on Friday as both teams only have 1 league loss. Look for the size of MG to be a factor in that one as I think they win easily.
  • Hastings gives up 41 to Woodbury's Nick Quicksell, but they get the OT win at Woodbury.
  • Mike Muscala with 35 as Roseville defeats Forest Lake. Roseville staying right in the thick of the Suburban East race.
  • St. Paul Harding gets their 1st win of the year with a 2 pt home OT win over Southwest. Dominique Dawson with 30 for the Lakers and they give up 34 to Ernest Mang.
  • Spectrum goes on the road and upsets New Life Academy with Grant Spark only getting 8 points and allowing Robbie Anderstrom to get his 22. NLA now 6-7. Spectrum has now defeated NLA and they won at MCAA leader Lester Prairie at Christmas. They're now 6-4. Could they be making a run at a high seed in the west subsection of 4A. They'll have their chance with games against West Lutheran, Heritage, PACT and Meadow Creek.
  • Some outstate flavor too. Triple OT as Bethlehem Academy hangs on for a 76-73 road win over the Awesome Blossoms of Blooming Prairie. That wins puts the #4A Cardinals in control of the Gopher Conference (head-head wins over the 2 teams they're tied with).

Minnehaha grinds out win against De La Salle

Game 2 of the rare Tuesday night double-dip takes just down Lake Street to Minnehaha Academy for their Tri-Metro West game against De La Salle. This was the 2nd half of a boys/girls doubleheader with the Minnehaha girls (also very good) winning 49-37. Minnehaha trying to stay undefeated in league play and push DLS 2 games back.

No Greg Meyer in the starting lineup for Minnehaha but he's on the exercise bike just to my left. Minnehaha with the 1st 4 and then another 2 before DLS finally gets a FG, a Jalen Jaspers triple, 4 minutes in. 6-4 Minnehaha. Meyer makes his 1st appearance at 13:04. Back and forth til the 10 minute mark and we're tied at 10. 5 in a row for Minnehaha culminated with a nice backcut by Taylor Sparkman for 2 at 8:30 and its 15-10 Minnehaha. Timeout De La Salle. Minnehaha only gets 2 more FGs the rest of the half as the DLS D cranks up. But their offense continues to be methodical to say the least. They only get 5 points the rest of the half. 19-15 Minnehaha at halftime. Oof! Jaspers with 8 and 5. Sparkman with 7. Taylor Hanson 6 points and 5 boards.

AJ Barker finally starts to get it going for DLS after a very cold (with some forces) 1st half. He nails a 3 with 15 minutes left. He counters a David Burnham spin for 2 with a layup off poor defense and its 23-22 Minnehaha with 14:25 left. DLS gets the ball back down 1 and Jaspers makes 1 of 2 to tie at 23 with 13:30 left. They get it back tied and Barker misses a quick 3. Minnehaha gets the next 9 thanks to 2 Austin Brown buckets and a nice kickout to Parker Hines for a triple. 32-23 Minnehaha at 9:40. Barker with 2 free throws after being fouled on a inbounds jumpshot (never foul a jump shooter!). 32-27 Minnehaha. Taylor Sparkman taking advantage of a matchup with John Hertle. He gets a layup on a high/low look then 4 bonus free throws after 2 questionable holding calls on Hertle. He adds on a drive at 5:25 and then counters a Barker jumper with a big 3 at 4:25. 43-33 Minnehaha. DLS won't go away as Jaspers makes 2 FTs, Meyer misses the front end of the bonus, Barker nails a J and its 43-37 Minnehaha with 3:35 left. Sparkman has a triple go in and out but Walter Franklin turns it over. DLS has it back with under 2 to play and Barker gets called for the charge at 1:47. Brown then misses a pair of bonus free throws. Jaspers then with 2 and a tick-tack touch for the and 1. 43-40 Minnehaha with 90 seconds left. Brown with 1 of 2 with 1:04 left. Interesting to me that DLS didn't go with a set play for Jaspers or Barker here. Just base offense. Walter Franklin with a hesitant miss, but Jonah Travis grabs it. He makes 1 of 2 FTs with 48.7 left, 44-41 Minnehaha. Meyer gets the bomb on the inbounds and lays it in to ultimately seal it. Minnehaha wins a war 48-42.

For DLS, Jalen Jaspers with 18 and 9. AJ Barker with 16 and 6 despite a cold 1st half. Barker is their only real shooter and he was cold in the 1st half. Their other guys to their credit understand this so they're VERY patient in their motion offense. I'd like to see more post ups out of Jaspers and Jonah Travis. Not enough touches on the box for these guys. Most of their stuff tonight was 4 out motion with the 1 playing the foul line area. Defensively, they are as good as anybody in their man defense. Extremely sound, they don't foul, they help.

For Minnehaha, Taylor Sparkman was a matchup problem for DLS. I had him for 18 and 11 tonight. Only 8 points combined from Greg Meyer and David Burnham, but Austin Brown gave them that great stretch midway through the 2nd half. I was surprised that after seeing what DLS did against zone D (Redhawks go zone on underneath out of bounds plays), they didn't play more of it.

MN Transitions breaks the Roosevelt curse

So MN Transitions had lost 4 straight to Roosevelt. That included a bitter loss last year where Roosevelt came from behind to win. Would Kevin Noreen finally get a win against the Teddies?

MTS comes out in their standard 1-2-1-1 press. They make 5 of 6 free throws and get a Jerrell Washington layup for the 1st 7 of the game in 1:04. Roosevelt gives up the 1st 10 before James Smith makes a couple free throws at 14:53. Gobana Sameru with the 1st Roosevelt FG, a three, at 14:05 and its 10-5 MTS. Daniel Bolden with 3 at 11:41 to keep the margin at 5, 20-15 Wolves. Roosevelt doing a good enough job against the press to get MTS out of it and using a 2-3 zone to slow pace. But MTS won't be denied. They get a big dunk from Washington for a 32-17 lead. Kevin Noreen picks up his 3rd foul on a reach in at 5:15 and he's gone to the bench for the rest of the half but the margin is 38-20. Washington goes off in his absence converting half court Roosevelt turnovers into 2 big dunks and another layin. 44-20 Wolves. He then knocks down back to back triples late in the half for a 54-23 MTS halftime lead. Washington with 21 on 4 dunks. Kevin Noreen with 14 quick ones and finishes the half with 18.

Kevin Noreen comes out en fuego in the 2nd half. 9 of the 1st 11 points and he assisted on the other 2. No defense at all early in the half as both teams go up and down and get whatever they want. Noreen gets his 4th at 13:28 on a charge but he'll stay in with a 74-33 lead. He then gets a couple of buckets, 2 and the foul and makes a 3. 88-43 at the 11 minute mark and Kevin has 24 in the half. He adds 1 more triple before the mercy rule sets in and the stars sit out all of the mercy rule time. 112-61 Minnesota Transitions wins.

For Roosevelt, Calvin Jenkins with 17 as he was left open for 3 triples. They have South and Armstrong this week. Funny that South coach Joe Hyser showed up for the 2nd half of this one to scout. I can't imagine he got much out of that.

For MTS, Kevin Noreen finishes with 42 points, but because he was out high in the MTS halfcourt trap, only 2 rebounds. But big brother giveth as I had Kyle Noreen for 13 rebounds. Jerrell Washington with 30 and he had a couple of monster dunks where he really got up. When he stayed straight up and down on his shot from deep he was effective, but he had at least 3 misses where he was fading away unnecessarily. Interesting that Washington and especially Noreen played out high in the MTS trap with Kyle Noreen and Mac Ingram on the 2nd line. Kevin Noreen may be long at 6'8, but he's not quick. MTS gave up a ton of dribble penetration in the zone trap which is never good. They also didn't shoot it well tonight. Kyle Noreen was especially cold. MTS gets to face a couple of interesting players coming up as they host Cotton on Saturday and then I'll see them again next Monday against Robbie Anderstrom and New Life Academy. That dribble drive motion that NLA runs would be nice against the MTS zones.

I won't embarrass the person who mentioned this to me, but this was an interesting point and is the subject of the poll that went up tonight. With St. Bernard's and Minnehaha losing very good groups of seniors and Zach Towle graduating for Concordia, should MTS move to AA. This year ends the current 2 year classification period and MTS could opt up for 2 years starting next year. Vote now.

Washburn at Henry rescheduled

Last Friday's big Washburn at Henry game in the Mpls City was postponed due to a water pipe breaking in the lobby just before the games (what a lake and mess that was). That game has rescheduled for Saturday February 7th at 4 PM at Henry. They'll play again at Washburn on Thursday February 19th.

Next happenings in the conference realignment saga

John Millea gave some updates on the next steps in the process of the conference realignment. Some of the highlights.
  • Wright County votes on Hutchinson, how it might impact the Missota.
  • All 4 Classic Lake schools will have met the criteria for being placed in a new league with 2 league applications denied.
  • Conference placement in October.
Read the entire entry from the Star Tribune Preps Blog here.

The Czar talks Sam Dower with Gonzaga blog

For those of you who have kept up on Sam Dower here, you'll know that I've often referenced the Gonzaga blog, The Kennel Report. The good folks there have had their site rolled into one of the better named sites on the net, The Slipper Still Fits. Its a terrific source for anything with Gonzaga sports and they do a terrific job following the Zags recruiting scene. They were kind enough to ask me to give them some thoughts on their 2009 recruit Sam Dower. I had tons of fun doing this (and how nice after I just saw Dower play 3 times in the last 2 weeks). I only wish I could ask questions like they do.

Read my interview with The Slipper Still Fits here.

08-09 Week 7 Rewind

Thoughts from the Friday and Saturday games of Week 7.

  • Alex Richter with 38 on 13-15 FGs and Blake Shay with 33 for Lakeville South as they put up 98 on Apple Valey. Varmah Sonie with 19, Thomas Shalk with 12 in the loss for AV.
  • SPA over DLS 51-43. What is up with the De La Salle offense? I'll find out as I'll see them a handful of times in the last month of the season.
  • Park over Stillwater 48-48. The Ponies fall to 4-8 and that includes a win over Northfield. Hard to figure them out.
  • Jefferson knocks off Chaska 59-55. Marcus Alipate with 20. Combine that with the Eastview win at Burnsville and Eden Prairie sits alone on top of the Lake at 6-1. Jefferson, Chaska and Burnsville all 1 game back. Lakeville North and Eastview 2 back in the loss column. Eden Prairie goes to Burnsville on Friday.
  • CDH gets down 18 at half to Eastview and loses on the road. Drew Bjordal with 26 for Eastview.
  • Northfield gets it done in section 1AAAA with a home win over Owatonna. The bigs cancel each other out, but Christian Shepley with 16 in the win.
  • Bo Shiffler with 21 and Nick Quicksell with 20 for Woodbury and Matt Zager with only 8 for Shakopee but the Sabers still manage an 11 point win. Sophomore Jason Perkins with 15 to lead Shakopee.
Be sure to check out my MN Preps column this week. I take a look at MN Transitions and the big games of the week including the 2 big Min

If you missed any of the games I saw this week (shame on you if you did), here's the complete list.
My schedule for the week can be found on the right side in "The Czar's Schedule" section. A fun week with a rare in-week multi-location doubleheader and The Emperor will join me all weekend for the East Metro Showcase.

Duluth East at Maple Grove Thoughts

Big Osseo vs Maple Grove hockey game going on tonight so a smallish crowd on hand. But I had a chance to have a nice visit with some of the young Maple Grove players tonight. Always fun to chat with the kids. A couple of interesting X and O notes from the JV game. Nice 2-3 press break (I think this was MG's break) and Duluth East placing 2 players on the other end of the court in the corners when the opponent was shooting free throws. Duluth East (V or JV I don't remember) also ran a nice set where they had 2 guys going off back screens for layups on an underneath out of bounds. A nice way to end the night as after the game was over the PA played "Closing Time" by Semisonic. How appropriate.

Josh Pedretti starts the scoring (3 minutes in) with 2 and the foul for Maple Grove. He then catches a ball going out of bounds and drills East's Matt Florestano with it (maybe a little low if you know what I mean). A discussion ensues and we have double Ts. Alex Geisenhoff with a couple of buckets before 2010 East star guard Dyami Starks gets a 3 point play at 10:19 for a 11-3 Maple Grove lead. Tyler Catania then knocks down a 3 and gets a steal for 2 and Marcus Murtha and Brett Torance add buckets for a 20-3 Crimson lead at 7:55. Funny that the MG kids said they start slow. Starks then sits (2-3 turnovers) and you wonder where the offense is going to come from for Duluth East The answer is Johnny Woodard. He knocks down a couple of triples and makes a nice backcut for a layup and its 24-14 Crimson at 3:35. Ian Nelson with a couple of buckets for East to cut the lead to 7. Woodard then banks home an NBA 3 and banks a foul line jumper at the end of the half. Maple Grove leads 29-25 at the break. Woodard with 13 points in the last 5:35 of the half. Josh Pedretti with 8 points for Maple Grove. Duluth East was a -17 with Starks and +13 without him. 3 points, 2-3 turnovers on 1-2 shooting.

Duluth East comes out for the 2nd half and Starks is on the bench. Geisenhoff with a layin, Pedretti with a dunk, Geisenhoff with a triple and then 2 and the foul (missed the FT) all off of 5 straight Greyhounds turnovers. 38-26 Crimson at 15:11. 40-29 Maple Grove at 14:32 when Starks enters for the half and has a couple of quick misses. Woodard with a couple of more 3s. 45-35 Maple Grove at 11:20. Maple Grove then goes on a 20-6 run over the next 5:20 before Starks leaves for the night. 71-47 Maple Grove wins.

For Duluth East, Dyami Starks with 6 points on 1-6 shooting, 3-5 turnovers. Nice job by the Maple Grove guards on him. The +- stat isn't totally relevant here but the Greyhounds by my math were -30 with Starks, +6 without him. Their offense had a different feel to it when he was in vs when he wasn't. Johnny Woodard with 22 on 5 triples. Duluth East is now 8-7 with a Grand Rapids on Friday.

For Maple Grove, Josh Pedretti with 20 and 8. Alex Geisenhoff with 16 and nice defense. They're 7-4 with 3 losses to Wayzata, Sibley and Johnson by 24 points. Nobody spectacular but they're solid across the board.

Top guards in 2010 battle at Columbia Heights

Game 2 of this Saturday takes me to Columbia Heights for their battle with Minnetonka. 2010 star guards Cole Stefan and Jacob Thomas on display in this one. The MN Glory on hand to watch along with, that's right, Rene Pulley.

Stefan starts the day with a 3 (surprise, surprise). 2 Thomas FTs make it 8-6 Tonka at 13:25. The Skippers counter with 8 of the next 9 thanks to a pair of triples from Nick Latzke. 16-7 Tonka at 10:50. Thomas nails a triple and Stefan counters with a deep 3 of his own. 19-10 Tonka. Akuro Imbu with 4 of the next 5, 19-15 Skippers at 6:50. Stefan then with a drive for 2, he finds Taylor Nelson for 2 more and then nails another triple for 7 in a row over 95 seconds. 26-15 Tonka at 5:15. 8 in a row from Columbia Heights to close the gap to 3 at 2:20. 32-28 Minnetonka at half. Thomas and Stefan cancel each other out with 13 each. I had Thomas 3-9 and Stefan 5-10 from the floor.

Taylor Nelson with a putback and a layup from Stefan push the lead to 8 quickly in the 2nd half. Latzke later gets a layin and then a nails triple on a pass from Stefan for a 49-37 Skippers lead at 12:35. Latzke gets fouled and makes a circus layup at 9:18 for a 55-43 Tonka lead. Minnetonka in their Amoeba defense and not rebounding well out of it and not finding Thomas. He nails a triple at 7:30 to cut it to 58-50. Kyle Risinger with 2 FTs at 5:53 to push the lead back to 13, 66-53. Imbu with a steal for 2 followed by Thomas 3 FTs make it 67-58 with 4:39 left. Risinger fouls out at 3:21. Kendrick Mills with a putback at 2:50 to cut it to 69-62. Tonka goes stall and promptly turns the ball over (drives coaches nuts). Harold Rainey with the layin that cuts it to 5 at 2:20. They force the held ball and have the arrow but Imbu throws it away at 1:32. After 1 Stefan FT, D'Karlos Craig gets called for an illegal screen at 1:21. Stefan turns it over (playing point with Risinger gone) but Thomas misses a 3. He turns it over again which Mills converts into a 3 with 23.4 left. 70-67 Minnetonka. Taylor Nelson makes 1 of 2 FTs. Heights turns it over for a Leonard Glass dunk to end it . 73-67 Minnetonka wins.

For Columbia Heights, they fall to 5-6 and had some chances late. Jacob Thomas finishes with 30 points via 11-13 FTs and 5 triples. But I had him for 7-25 shooting (and that doesn't count 6 misses on shooting fouls) for him. No makes in the last 6:30 though and only the 1 set of 3 FTs that he took after being fouled on a 3. Very aggressive getting to the basket in the 1st half. In fairness some of those misses were late looking for 3s to get back in it. Kendrick Mills gave them very nice minutes off the bench with 11 and 10 on my sheet. Harold Rainey and Akuro Imbu had their trouble running the point and getting Heights into sets.

For Minnetonka, they improve to 8-5. They host a couple of Lake Conference teams this week, Rosemount and Lakeville North. Cole Stefan with 20 and I had 7-17 from the floor. He also took major turns playing the point guard role. But his 5 assists were mainly out of their dribble drive offense. Nick Latzke with 18 and Taylor Nelson with 18 and 10. Their bench gives them very little forcing coach Hedstrom to play his starters despite any foul trouble they may be in. Latzke is quickly developing into one of the best shooters in the metro. He's a guy you just can't leave.

Dower powers Osseo over Wayzata

A big matchup of #5 Osseo hosting #6 Wayzata. Both teams came in at 10-1. Osseo's only loss to Sibley and Wayzata's only loss to Cooper. Trent Lockett on hand to watch as well as the Hopkins coaches. An interesting side note to this one. Sam Dower and Kyle Mason of Osseo played with Wayzata's Kellen Taylor and Jarrod Peterson played together for Net Gain Sports last summer. And I did make sure I didn't miss out on the pizza.

Eren Cur with the assignment on Dower. But Dower is guarding Taylor on the other end. Taylor starts the day with 2 free throws and a steal for a dunk with Jamar Franks adding an offensive rebound 2 and finishing up the 9-2 Wayzata start with a triple 4 minutes in. 3 straight Osseo turnovers in this span. Taylor then puts a nice spin move on Dower for an 11-4 Wayzata lead at 12:45. Jayvin Reynolds once again gone to the bench with 2 very quick fouls. Osseo with 8 in a row to get the lead back at 12-11 with 10:35 left in the half as Dower finishes the run with a dunk. 10 of the 1st 12 for Osseo go to Dower. Taylor gets his 3rd at 8:36 diving for a loose ball on a questionable call and Wayzata coach Mike Anderson is not happy with the zebras on this day. DJ Phillips with a pullup jumper at 5:45 puts Osseo out to a 20-13 lead. 16-2 Osseo over 7 minutes. Peterson with a jumper and then Cur gets a steal for 2 plus the foul at 5:09. Jamar Franks for some reason gets a T on the play and Dower makes the FTs. 22-18 Osseo. The end of the half sees a parade to the foul line. 35-27 Osseo at the break. Dower with 22 and 7 in the half and totally unstoppable. Jamar Franks and Jarrod Peterson with 7 each for Wayzata.

Bobby Fischer (does he play chess?) with a triple and fouled for the rare 4 point play to start the half. He got the start today and fills an important shooting role for them. Don't know how much that had to do with Aaron Anderson taking a practice ACT exam (Anderson did play today). Dower adds 2 more buckets as Osseo gets the 1st 10 of the 2nd half for a 45-27 lead at 14:35. Wayzata never gets closer than 12 after that. Jayvin Reynolds with a big 2nd half getting inside hoops and cleaning the glass (did that part vs Champlin Park too in the 2nd half). Dower adds a huge dunk off a couple of back screens late for some tasty icing on the cake. Osseo wins 81-59.

For Wayzata, they again struggle with post people after giving up 32 to Ra'Shede Hageman last Saturday. Disappointed they didn't seem to have anything special in for defending Dower. 4 guys in double figures with Kellen Taylor having 15 on my sheet. They fall to 10-2 with a couple of interesting games next weekend. St. Paul Central on Friday and then Milwaukee Lutheran in the East Metro Showcase next Saturday night.

For Osseo, they're on an 11 game win streak. Sam Dower was a monster with 37 points and 9 rebs on my sheet and I had something like 14-19 shooting. Jayvin Reynolds is an animal on the glass. 17 points and 7 boards basically in the 2nd half due to his 1st half fouls. They held Nolan Odland in check and didn't give Wayzata many good looks from outside the arc.

Johnson at Como Park Thoughts

The Czar going hockey style today and changing on the fly (that'd be an interesting basketball concept). My plan was to do the Washburn at Henry game but when I showed up for the freshman game, the street was full of water and the lobby was a lake. Turns out a pipe busted in the lobby and forced all activities at Henry for today and tomorrow to be called off. So I decided to proceed over to Como Park and take a look at their club and friend of blog John Carrier's freshman squad. A fun matchup as Al Harris coaches the Johnson freshmen. This one was ugly and John stays winless against Al.

The varsity wasn't a pretty game either, but wasn't nearly as 1 sided. Very sloppy with turnovers and really ugly offense on both sides. Jordan Jackson with a layup to tie it at 28 before the half. Johnson with 7 of the last 8 of the half for a 35-29 lead at the break. Lamar Anderson 11 for the Governors. Jackson with 10 for Como Park. Johnson did generate some offense late in the half using point guard Estan Tyler in a high/screen roll set. Johnson gave up a couple of real cheap home runs off the press that help Como Park stay in it.

The 1st 4 points of the half by Dion Suggs of Johnson give them an 11-1 run across haltime for a 39-29 lead at the 16 minute mark. A nice double clutch banker in there. Como Park gets 6 in a row with a Jackson steal for a layup and a floater by Joe Conley to cut it to 39-35 with 14:30 left. Tyler with a triple at 10:55 to push the Johnson lead to 51-43. Reggie Ray gets undercut on a lob with 6 minutes left and comes down hard. He's OK and makes both free throws for the Cougars to cut the lead to 57-50. Johnson runs away and hides the rest of the way as they score 10 of the next 11 for a blowout win. 78-63 Johnson wins.

Johnson will drive you nuts with their defense. On offense they have a finisher (of plays and of games) in Dion Suggs (witness his Willis Reed type performance vs Washburn in the double OT thriller back in December). Suggs with 16 tonight. Lamar Anderson with 15. Force them to play in the halfcourt and don't turn the ball over. Easier said than done with the waves of pressure they throw at you. They're 9-3 now and 2-0 in the St. Paul City.

For Como Park, they fall to 2-10. Run and gun offense, they're small so they don't rebound well and defensively the points allowed numbers speak clearly. Jordan Jackson can really score, Joe Conley and Reggie Ray are nice players. Adrian Wackett plays the point and flops more than any player I've seen ever. But to his credit, he drew a handful of charges tonight. 4 of the 5 starters return next season. Talent wise they're far and away better than their record indicates.

Impact of the HS Shot Clock

While Minnesota has not yet fully adopted the 35-second shot clock, South Dakota has implemented it fully this season for their 17 biggest schools (Class AA). The Sioux Falls Argus Leader had an article yesterday on how its gone so far. Some interesting number crunching there.

While many teams can't (and don't) hold the ball for 35 seconds, I've never been a shot clock fan. I've never liked the idea of having it for just certain levels as that creates a separation of classes. And what would a team like De La Salle do if we implemented the shot clock for just AAA and AAAA. They're a AAA team in a AA league and would play without it for most of the 2nd half of the season and then have to use it in tournaments. A shot clock for small schools who don't have the talent would be really ugly to watch.

Armstrong moves to NW Suburban

As reported by John Millea on the Star Trib Preps Blog, Armstrong has been admitted to the NW Suburban for the 2010-2011 season. I'm surprised that came down so quickly. No surprise though as I had previously written that the NW Suburban liked Armstrong. The folks at Armstrong are really excited for the move from what I'm told.

Now that the league has 11 teams, I expect something else to happen there. 11 is a really strange number (granted the N Suburban has made it work). 12 is a nice number (add Cooper or Wayzata for instance) and would allow a nice north and south of the river split like this.

Coon Rapids
Elk River

Park Center
Maple Grove
Champlin Park

Champlin Park at Osseo Thoughts

As Ernie Banks once said, "Let's Play Two" as I'm in Osseo for a girls and boys doubleheader. Girls JV goes way over and we don't get started with girls game until almost 6:30. Osseo girls hang on 57-52. CP had an early 15-4 lead in that one. Once again I miss out on pizza, but the hot dog was worthwhile. Now to the important action.

CP goes with an interesting defensive choice in the boys game. Kyle Zimmerman (CP best big) guarding DJ Phillips (Osseo's PG). Sam Dower doubled on every touch but usually not by Zimmerman in a surprise. CP catches a break when Jayvin Reynolds picks up his 2nd foul 2 minutes in and he's gone for the rest of the half. The 1st 10 minutes are back and forth before Josh Pella breaks the press with a dunk and then off a Jasper Duberry steal he makes 1 of 2 FTs for a 17-14 Champlin Park lead at 6:53 of the 1st half. Nick Djerf with 4 of Osseo's 6 in a row as he finishes that spurt with a steal for 2 to put Osseo on top 20-17 at 5:40. Zimmerman makes 2 free throws after an offensive rebound and its 20-19 Osseo at 5:31. Osseo then goes on a 12-2 run capped by a nice set to get Dower a alley-oop dunk (we'll describe this later). Bobby Fischer off the bench with 2 triples in the run. 32-23 Osseo at the half. Dower with 12 and 5 in the half. Zimmerman 8 and 5.

Bobby Fischer with 2 more 3s for Osseo early in the half to offset a couple of CP triples. Osseo leads 38-29 3 minutes into the half. Zimmerman and Scott Theisen get buckets and the margin is only 5. The Orioles counter with a 12-2 run of their own over the next 5 minutes as Djerf gets 4 in the run. 50-35 Osseo with 9:10 to play. Theisen with 2 layups on nice feeds from Pella before a Dower bucket. Then Dower picks up his 4th foul (all in 2nd half) at 7:21 and it looks like CP has some life. That foul sends Zimmerman to the line down 52-39. He misses the front end. Osseo then gets 9 of the next 11 with Dower out (Djerf 5) and they have a commanding 61-41 lead when Dower returns at 4:47 (did he really need to come back in?). He gets a nice assist to Djerf and a couple of free throws and a bucket in that time. Osseo wins 75-54.

For Champlin Park, Scott Theisen leads the way with 20 points and I had 7 rebounds for him. 13 of those points in the 2nd half. They're now 7-5 and 3-1 in the NW Suburban. 3 league road games await them. Overall I thought they did an alright job on Dower, but did a poor job rotating to shooters. DJ Phillips is the guy you want to force to beat you. CP didn't take care of the ball when they had their chance with Dower out.

For Osseo, they are now 4-0 and stand alone on top of the NW Suburban. 10-1 overall with 10 wins in a row after that opening loss at Sibley. Great job by the Osseo bench. Nick Djerf with 15 points and Bobby Fischer (he plays basketball and chess too?) with 14 (4 triples) off the bench. John Rowland with 10 off the bench. They needed it with no one besides Sam Dower over 4 points from the starting lineup. Dower finishes with 20 and 10 on my sheet and had a couple of monster blocks in the 2nd half. Everything inside tonight, no settling for FT line jumpers which is nice. I'd like to see him show a counter or something else besides that lefty jump hook. They've got a good one vs Wayzata on Saturday and I'll be in attendance.

Play of the Day
In our play of the day, a look at the lob dunk for Dower at the end of the 1st half. Standard 1-4 high set with Dower on left elbow. Point guard takes the ball 1 or 2 dribbles 1 way and then comes back to the other side (we'll say right to left in this case). Left wing clears out. Right wing comes over the top of a Dower screen to the left box. Dower pops back to the top of the key for the pass from the PG who's on the left side now. The wing that cleared comes off a down screen from the other post and gets the ball at the right wing. Dower then gets a back screen from the guard that previously curled to the left box and they throw it up to him.

Big matchup of 2009 stars on TV.

If you're a hoops fan but don't want to brave the bitter cold, ESPN2 has a real good one for you tonight at 8 PM in a battle of 2009 stars. #2 DeMarcus Cousins of Mobile LeFlore vs #4 Derrick Favors (committed to Georgia Tech last night) of South Atlanta, GA tonight (rankings from Game is being played at Alabama-Birmingham's gym. That's where Cousins wants to go (him and coach Mike Davis are tight), but they wouldn't give him language to get out of his letter of intent if Davis left. LeFlore and Cousins played here in the 2008 Timberwolves Shootout in a tight game against Jared Berggren and Princeton.

Read this "What to Watch For" including matchups and other players of note in the game from ESPNRise.

More dominoes fall in conference realignment

To maintain the timeline of events, a note on the 2010-2001 conference realignment. As expected, the Lake Conference officially denied all of the Classic Lake members (sans Armstrong) admission. 3 of the 5 schools have now met the MSHSL criteria for the not pleasant process of the MSHSL determining where they end up. (Note I'm using 3, but the 2 links below have conflicting numbers. 1 says 2 teams, the other says 3)

Here are the bits from the Star Tribune.

08-09 Week 7 Tuesday Night Scoreboard Club

Here's a stream of insanity look at what caught my eye from the Tuesday games 1/13/09.
  • How about 49 for Jordan Smith of Orono on the road at Annandale in a 78-75 win. He can really shoot it.
  • Edina suffers their 1st loss as they lost 64-58 at Shakopee. Matt Zager with 19 in the win. The Sabers are now 6-4 and have won 3 in a row. They'll be very tough in the Missota.
  • Richfield stays undefeated in the Classic Suburban with a 55-52 home win over Tartan. Phillip Freeman with a late triple in that one. They go to Hopkins on Friday and then Sibley next Tuesday. OUCH!
  • Thomas Schalk goes nuts for 34 as Apple Valley blows out Minnetonka by 23. Only 3 for Cole Stefan?
  • Dajon Newell with 20 for Lakeville N, but not enough as Ethan Wragge gets 21 for a Eden Prairie win. That snaps the 8 game winning streak for the Panthers.
  • Jefferson continues to win as they hold off Eagan in OT. They're 5-3 but their 3 losses are by a total of 8 points. Eagan has lost 6 games by 6 points or less.
  • One more from the Lake at Chaska holds off Lakeville S in OT. Sophomores big in this one. Alex Richter of LS with 22, Jake White with 21 for Chaska. Burnsville, Chaska and EP all 5-1 on top of the Lake with Jefferson 1 game back. Chaska is at Jefferson Friday night.
  • Jasper Duberry beats the buzzer as Champlin Park wins at Blaine 75-73. Kyle Zimmerman continues to play big with 25 points. Dylan Rodriguez with 34 in the loss for Blaine (25 2nd half). The Rebels have now won 5 in a row and go to Osseo tomorrow while Blaine has now lost 7 straight. Read the thoughts from the Champlin Park blog here.
  • Speaking of Osseo, Sam Dower with 38 and 18 in a big win over Coon Rapids.
  • Johnson gets a buzzer beating layup from Lamar Anderson to beat Central. Central having a very nice year despite the losses of Dylan Hale and Larry Brown from last year's team. Jordan Larson with 22 in the loss.
  • Spring Lake Park gets past Benilde-St. Margaret's in OT in the North Suburban. Peter Crawford with 32 for BSM. Trey Scott with 32 for SLP. Spring Lake Park was up 10 at half in that one.
  • Henry gets a late 3 from Evan Gray for a 67-64 win at South. Gray leads the way for Henry with 23, 20 for Jordan Hughes. Can you say trap game for Henry with Washburn coming up on Friday? Alonzo Traylor huge again inside for South with 27 and 17.
  • PACT goes to Maranatha and wins 54-52. Wonder what the Basketblogger thinks of that one (he'll probably know when the last MCA home loss was, it's been a while). PACT is 7-5 and they've won 4 in a row. MCA got 18 from Darian Pittman in the loss. They're now 10-2 but they don't have a real standout win. Next major test is Jan 30th at home against Caleb Palkert and SW Christian. Both of those teams need help to catch Lester Prairie.
  • Meadow Creek goes to New Life and wins for the 2nd league loss for NLA. MCCA got the game winner with 2.5 to go. Robbie Anderstrom with 16 in the loss.
  • Como Park comes from 16-14 down at half to put up 49 in the 2nd half in a 63-31 win over Harding. The reverse has happened to the Cougars in the last 2 games.

CDH hands Roseville 1st 08-09 Suburban East loss

A not quite as frigid as expected adventure to Cretin-Derham Hall tonight (one of my favorite buildings) as they look for revenge against Roseville. At least we know the Raiders will win. Roseville won the prior meeting in the Catholic Spirit semifinals 60-57. Mike Muscala and Seantrel Henderson both had 21 in that game. Hopkins looking on for their Jan 30th game at CDH. Dan Brink in the building as well. He may have a relative that plays for Roseville's JV after checking the program. Former CDH stars John Nance and Broderick Binns also in the house tonight. While Binns does have the Hawkeyes cover for his phone (Go Hawks!), he was munching on Cheetos and a cookie while wearing a green Miami Hurricanes jersey. Boo! Props to CDH coach Jerry Kline Jr for pulling out the coat and tie tonight. The coaching staff almost always has the CDH pullovers on.

Roseville goes on a 8-3 run after the 1st CDH bucket for a 8-5 lead at 13:35. Mike Muscala with 4 quick points and he's got the duty defending Seantrel Henderson. Henderson with a nice drive on him from the foul line for 2 at 7:25 and we're all tied at 13. The CDH 2-3 zone is really slowing the pace of this game down. Muscala hits a jumper for the last points of the half. 23-22 CDH at halftime. Muscala with 11 and 6 on 5-9 shooting. Henderson with 2 points and 4 boards on 1-5.

Roseville with the 1st 8 of the 2nd half thanks to 2 FTs and a bucket from lefty Austin Hultman. 30-23 Roseville with 15:47 to play. Roseville turns it over allowing Elliot Owusu to break the run with a dunk. Muscala getting mugged at the high post in the Roseville zone offense with no calls. He gets a really tough lefty shot to go for a 34-31 Roseville lead with 9:05 left. Raijon Kelly knocks down a triple to tie it at 34 with 7:42 remaining. David Bettenburg with a triple and then Henderson puts back a miss for a 41-38 CDH lead with 5 to play. A pair of Muscala FTs at 3:34 makes it 41-40 CDH. Rylee Hernandez then with a tough bucket to put Roseville back on tiop 42-41 with 3 minutes left. Bettenburg clutch with a triple at 2:25. The teams can't score on their next possessions. Roseville ball with 1:18 left, timeout CDH with a 44-42 lead. CDH comes out of the timeout in a 1-3-1 but with Marcus Binns on top and Clay Horne in the back. The opposite seems more natural to me. But maybe its just me talking about my hatred of odd-man front zones with little guys on top. Full Disclosure: I've been one of those guys. A pass goes off Lucas Brown's hands for a Roseville turnover with 54.6 left. Kelly knocks down a clutch 1 and 1 with 29 seconds left and Henderson adds the final point for a 47-42 Cretin-Derham Hall win.

For Roseville, they fall to 3-1 in the Suburban East and 5-5 overall. 4 of those wins are by a total of 12 points. Mike Muscala got it done with 17 and 14 rebounds on 7-16 shooting and 3 blocks (on my sheet anyway). I like how he's able and willing to use both hands around the basket. The Raiders travel to White Bear Lake on Friday. I'll see them in their rivalry game (Floyd of Rosedale, I mean the pride of Roseville at stake) against Concordia Academy next Thursday night. They were running a 1-3-1 clock offense against the CDH 2-3 with Muscala at the foul line. They had success sending the ball to the corner, having the wing cut thru and then Muscala fill in behind that. He was open on that all night. In the 2nd half, they got away from that and Rylee Hernandez seemed to sit out a ton and he's the best shooter they have.

For CDH, they're now 6-4 and 3-1 in the league. Woodbury sits on top of the league as they go to Forest Lake on Friday. Woodbury has won 4 in a row now after starting 1-4. But I digress. Raijon Kelly leads the way with 9 points and 5 rebounds. Seantrel Henderson with 7 points and 8 rebounds on 3-8 shooting (1-6 FTs) and 3 blocks (again unofficially). David Bettenburg's 2 triples for 6 in the 2nd half were huge. Tough grind it out win (read UGLY win). They go to Hastings Thursday and an interesting non-conference tilt at Eastview on Saturday night.

Pioneer Press finally weighs in on Conference Realignment

Tim Leighton of the Pioneer Press did their 1st article on the whole conference realignment saga (John Millea of the Star Trib is far more on top of this). Leighton does give a quick bit of insight into what Millea previously mentioned was going on in the east metro. Lots of schools are happy where they are so this will be a long drawn out process.

I've added a label for this topic since its been ongoing since May. You can find that in the MN Basketball Resources section on the left hand side.

Read the Pioneer Press article here.

Here are links to the realignment plans that I first posted in August 2007.

CHOF at Bethany Thoughts

Back to back adventures with CHOF as I see them on the road tonight after Saturday's game vs St. Croix Lutheran. Always nice to a game at an MCAA gym with classy fans. I missed out on the pizza though, shameful.

After Bethany gets the 1st triple of the game, CHOF goes on a 16-2 run over 7:30 for a 16-5 lead. Bethany goes scoreless for 7 minutes before they break the run. The lead stays at 10 before Cody Sarbacker nails back to back triples for CHOF against a Bethany 2-3 zone and adds 4 more points in an 11-1 run over the last 2:30 of the half. 36-17 Lions at the break. Nate Fiscus with 12 points and 5 rebounds in the half. Sarbacker also with 12 for CHOF.

CHOF opens the 2nd half with 12 of the 1st 14 in the 1st 3 minutes of the half to extend the lead to 48-19. The only remaining drama of the night is when will the mercy rule take over. Bethany holds off the mercy rule until 54 seconds remain. CHOF was up 34 with 8 minutes left. CHOF wins in a rout, 76-39.

Ben Peters with 10 points for Bethany. Another long season for the Eagles, but they'll return all 5 starters next season. They fall to 2-7. Their schedule now moves to mostly MCAA games. A trip to Trinity and a home game with Heritage await in the next 3 days.

CHOF improves to 5-5 with the win. Nate Fiscus with 23 points and 9 rebounds for CHOF. He now has 994 career points. He looks to pass the 1000 point mark at home vs a very good Park Christian team on Saturday afternoon. Park Christian's only loss is to North Dakota recruit Brandon Brekke and East Grand Forks by 2 points. They're arguably the #1 seed in section 6A as they won at Norman County East after that loss to EGF. Read the list of all Minnesota D1 and D2 recruits in the 2009 class here.

Steve Froemming from Steven's Sports Report also did the game. Read his thoughts here.

Jan 2009 updates on Jett, Calcaterra, Bjorklund

Last Friday NY2LA Sports released comments on Marshall Bjorklund, Chad Calcaterra and Jordair Jett (I'm cheating calling him a 2010 kid since he'll do prep school for a year). They list a handful of offers for Jett and see Bjorklund getting high major offers this year (not sure if I personally agree with that due to Bjorklund's height, but you have to like his game.) They also project where a couple of these kids will play this summer. No huge surprises there but worth noting anyway.

They also reference Minnetonka sophomore Nick Latzke who I talked about when I saw Minnetonka take on Hopkins last week.

I saw Terry Taylor play at the start of the season. Nice player as a point guard. #4 Frosh in Wisconsin Tony Mayfield was also in that game and he'll be a nice player too.

It'll be interesting to see what role (if any) Phillip Nolan plays for Milwaukee Vincent in the East Metro Showcase (he's also mentioned in the piece). He was #5 in the class of 2012 rankings released by Wishoops last week.

Read the full NY2LA Sports article here.

08-09 Week 6 Rewind

Random thoughts from the Friday and Saturday games of week 6 of the 08-09 season (1/9 and 1/10/09)

(Czar's note: 1/12/09) I forgot to add to my Prior Lake game article that the fire alarm went off just after the lineups were announced and before the tip. Nice job by the Prior Lake students to get in the "We're on Fire!" chant while we were waiting for the system to reset. Culprit? The popcorn machine to which the PA told everyone not to buy popcorn. Bad news for the concession stand.)

  • Tartan wins by 11 at St. Thomas Academy. Luke Preiner with 11 for Tartan in that one. He wasn't in the rotation when I saw Tartan in their holiday tournament. STA short-handed with no Mike Ratelle. Mike Fitzgerald with 22 in the loss. Marc Sonnen with 18 in the win.
  • Apple Valley loses a close one at Chaska. They've lost 3 tough ones in a row now to Plainview-Elgin-Millville, Eden Praire and now Chaska. AV 22-37 from the line this week with the 2 losses by a total of 10 points. Jake White with 23 and 12 in the Chaska win. Thomas Schalk with 15 and 7 in the loss.
  • Cretin-Derham Hall handles Forest Lake with a big 2nd half. Seantrel Henderson with 22 and Raijon Kelly with 14 in the Raiders win. Zach Riedeman held to a season low of 11 in the loss, but he's still averaging 19.6 a night for the Rangers.
  • Roseville gets it done again with another 2 point home conference win. This one over Stillwater after beating Mounds View at home by 2 earlier in the week. Mike Muscala with 22 for Roseville. Ryan Duxbury with 8 for Stillwater. Don't look now but Roseville sits atop the Suburban East at 3-0 with Woodbury. Who would have guessed that. They go to CDH on Tuesday in a grudge match. Roseville beat CDH by 3 in the Catholic Spirit tournament.
  • Shelby Moats with 21 as Waconia wins at Holy Angels. The Stars loss makes them 1-9 with 4 games coming up that they probably won't be favored in.
  • Holy Family takes Waukesha, WI Catholic Memorial to OT before falling by 5. Nice performance by the Fire. TJ Bray and Derek Schnell make up a very nice backcourt for Catholic Memorial. Bray had 18 in the game.
  • Edina still rolling as they stay undefeated with a 3 point win over Jefferson.
  • Surprised Eagan took Northfield to OT. Charley Baker with 21 for Eagan as Jameson Parsons has been out of the box scores for a while now. Christian Shepley with 23 and Emmanuel Addo with 17 for Northfield.
  • Como Park blows a 19 point halftime lead against White Bear Lake at home for a 2 point loss. They give up 47 in the 2nd half after allowing 21 in the 1st half. Spencer Cummings with 28 for White Bear Lake. Reggie Ray with 17 for Como Park. Jordan Jackson, Joe Conley and Adrian Wackett all with 12 for the Cougars.
Be sure to check out my MN Preps column this week. I take a look at the Minneapolis City and St. Paul City conferences and some of the top games of the week around the state and metro.

If you missed any of the games I saw this week, here's the complete list.
My schedule for the week can be found on the right side in "The Czar's Schedule" section.

Eastview at Prior Lake Thoughts

Vinard Birch

We end this Saturday of week 6 of the 08-09 season with the night session in Prior Lake for their non-conference tilt against Eastview. Chaska and Holy Angels amongst the teams looking on tonight. Nice job by the Prior Lake pep band (my band of the year so far). Gotta like the sail with the compass for the on-court logo. And the high quality (dare I say restaurant quality) choice of Davanni's for the pizza. mmm, mmm.

Vinard Birch with the assignment on Ben Snyder tonight. Prior Lake with the 1st 8 points of the night as Snyder has a layin and then finds Jake Bolks for 2 at 13:30. Eastview gets Drew Bjordal going as they get 8 points from him in a 27-6 run over the next 8:30. 27-14 Eastview with 5 minutes left in the half. But Tim Massie (only big and was guarding Deryck Ludwig), Birch and Drew Johnson all pick up their 2nd fouls in the next 2 minutes and sit. Prior Lake cuts it to 34-24 Eastview at halftime. Snyder 12, Ludwig 4. Bjordal 13, Birch 6. Prior Lake 2-12 at the foul line (that counts a missed bonus front end) and not taking care of the ball.

The Lightning extend the lead to 48-30 on a Karl Otto J with 12:45 remaining. Interesting sequence during this time where Eastview posted Birch via a UCLA cut and had him looking to create from there. 8:19 to go when it gets a little interesting. Jake Bolks misses 2 FTs, but Ludwig rebounds the 2nd miss and Bolks turns that into a bucket and 1. Another Eastview player gets a T in the process. TJ Larson makes the 2 Ts and Bolks scores on the possession and its 55-44 with 8 minutes left. But Prior Lake gets no closer. Eastview makes late free throws for a 72-57 win.

For Prior Lake, Ben Snyder with 26. Surprising since Birch was on him much of the night. But nobody else with more than 7. 9-27 from the foul line for the Lakers and that counts 4-4 by TJ Larson. YIKES.

For Eastview, Drew Bjordal with 26 and 6 triples. He's filling the Spencer Pratt role very nicely for them. He's come out of nowhere from my point of view as I don't remember him at all from last season. Vinard Birch did his usual job of being a major pest for anyone bringing the ball up. He had 17 points tonight. 11-14 FTs which you need out of a good point guard. Eastview just sucks the life out of you. You come down, can't get a shot, take a tough shot, they rebound. They walk it up, be patient and then get a hoop. Weak inside as Tim Massie is their only size as he's more of a banger than anything. But with their defense and guard trio of Drew Johnson, Birch and Bjordal with Andrew McLean playing the Johnie Sanders role, they'll be tough in the Lake.

Vinard Birch picture courtesy of

Steve Froemming from Steven's Sports Report also attended the game. You can read his thoughts here.

St. Croix Lutheran at CHOF Thoughts

Cole Piepkorn

Always nice to see a game at the SAL in St. Paul. Vocal and loyal fans. This was also a chance to see St. Croix Lutheran and Chris Breuer after missing out on them vs Minnesota Valley Lutheran last month. Biggest news of the day is that CHOF senior point guard Cole Piepkorn is gone for the year with an injured ankle. He's been a 4 year starter for them and a real leader. A major blow for the Lions.

Nate Fiscus vs Breuer in a nice matchup of post players. St. Croix Lutheran gets the 1st 7 of the night. The post you'll see plenty more of for CHOF over the next 3+ seasons is frosh Tyler Strandlund. He breaks the spurt with a bucket at 13:50 but picks up his 2nd foul moments later. Aaron Hulsebus with 6 points including a jumper and a steal to conclude a spurt that puts St. Croix Lutheran up 18-4 at the 10:30 mark. CHOF fights back as Fiscus gets it going. He gets 12 points in the last 10 minutes of the half. Breuer is cold from the field and the Crusaders can't keep the momentum vs the CHOF 2-3 zone. 31-26 St. Croix Lutheran at the half. Fiscus with 14 and 10. Breuer 5 but 2-8 shooting.

CHOF with the 1st 6 of the second half to take their 1st (and only) lead of the game. Fiscus getting mugged on a defensive rebound swings the arms and gets foul #4 at the 11:55 mark. Strandlund with a jumper for CHOF at 10:05 and CHOF is only down 4, 42-38. Ben Gavin with a triple at 7:45 for SCL and the lead is 9. 51-44 with 6:27 left after 2 Fiscus FTs. CHOF has to press and they have Fiscus back protecting the basket with 4 fouls. He's also playing the middle of the zone and guarding Breuer at the high post. Hulsebus gets 2 and Breuer with back to back hoops. Gavin with 2 more on the press and Fiscus has to let him go. 59-46 Crusaders with 4:45 left and that run puts it away. 67-52 St. Croix Lutheran wins.

For CHOF, Nate Fiscus was a monster with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Tyler Strandlund with 12 and 8. Only 16 points from the rest of the team. They have the bigs to compete in section 4A, but they'll need to figure out the point guard situation with Piepkorn out. Turnovers were a problem today.

For St. Croix Lutheran, Chris Breuer leads the way with 12 of his 17 in the 2nd half. The starting backcourt of Ben Gavin and Aaron Hulsebus with 14 each. With those 2 on the wings and Breuer at the foul line against a zone, that's a zone offense that can cause teams problems. Breuer drove Fiscus nuts all night with ball fakes on the perimeter. Very well executed and made me think of TWolves star Al Jefferson the way he shows the ball. Then at the high post and Fiscus with 4 fouls, he could do whatever he wanted. Poor job of adjusting by CHOF.

Cole Piepkorn picture courtesy of