Another top seed misses out on a state trip

Billy Giddings

Game #138, a personal record, as I make the trip to Elk River for the 7AAAA final between Blaine and Forest Lake. Forest Lake with the big regular season win but Blaine is hot right now. Big Forest Lake student section (and a disappointing Blaine one). Gotta love the spelling of "Go Rangers" on the front row of students (1 letter per shirt). We even have the band directors having a discussion as both bands are playing at the same time. No police required for that one though. All of the likely 4 seeds at state in the building taking this one in as they have the chance to draw the winner of this game.

Chippy from the start as Billy Giddings of Blaine and Forest Lake's Zach Riedeman exchange words. 3-2 Rangers after a Riedeman FT at 15:25. Dylan Rodriguez on fire for Blaine as he scores 11 straight Bengals points via 3 triples and a putback. Its a 13-4 Blaine run over 4:35 for a 15-7 Bengals lead. Rodriguez adds a pair of FTs for 13 straight for Blaine. Riedeman gets going for the Rangers. He drives for 2 FTs, knocks down a triple. 19-14 Blaine with 7:20 left in the half. The offenses go cold as each team only gets 1 bucket over the next 4 minutes. Rodriguez inside for 2 at 3:15 to push the lead to 7. But Riedeman with a bucket and then a steal for a dunk in the last minute make it 23-20 Blaine at the half. Rodriguez with 15 points, Riedeman 13 points. Forest Lake cold from the field.

Doug Sewall with a jumper at 14:30 to cut the Blaine lead to 27-25. But Forest Lake can't get over the hump. Giddings (who sat 10 minutes in the 1st half with 2 fouls) with a double clutch for 2 and the foul. Then Rodriguez with a block that leads to a Giddings layup on the other end. 34-26 Bengals and Forest Lakes needs a timeout with 11:15 to play. Riedeman and Rodriguez trade points, but trading buckets isn't getting Forest Lake anywhere. Rodriguez with a catch at the FT line vs the Rangers 1-3-1 and he takes it strong for a nice lefty finish with 7:15 left. 41-33 Blaine leads. A Jeff Harstad putback at 4:55 extends the lead to 45-34. Ty Cremisino with 2 and the foul at 4:45. While standing on the line to take the free throw, Billy Giddings picks up a T. Cremisino misses the FT, Riedeman makes 1 of the 2 technical FTs and then a fadeaway with 4 minutes left. 45-39 Blaine leads. Jesse Briggity with a bad miss with 2:50 left but Riedeman drives and misses. Rodriguez with a hoop at 2:15 and the lead is back to 8. Griffin Lentsch with a 3 for Forest Lake with 1:18 left to cut the lead to 5. Giddings misses a front end, but Riedeman misses a long 3 and Forest Lake won't get any closer. Blaine moves on to state with a 55-46 win. Of course, I picked Blaine and they lost year. I pick against them this year and they win. I get served with poetic justice.

For Forest Lake, Zach Riedeman leads the way with 21 points on 6-16 shooting and 5 rebounds on my sheet. Griffin Lentsch with 11 points. All night no real good answer for the Blaine 2-3 zone. No attempts to get anything from the short corner which was strange. Interesting how many words exchanged between a couple of different players from each team in this one.

For Blaine, if they draw Osseo in the state tournament, that would be interesting. UMD recruit Dylan Rodriguez huge early to give Blaine the lead that they ultimately would never relinquish. He finishes with 24 points and 5 rebounds on my sheet via 9-16 shooting and 3 blocks. Jesse Briggity with 11 points and 10 rebounds from the guard spot. Nice to see sophomore Dan Robel back running the point some tonight after missing some time late in the season due to injury. SW MN State recruit Billy Giddings with 7 points and only 4 shots on my sheet. Some of that due to fouls but a quiet night for him. Blaine's shot selection can be questionable but they have the ability to put up points.

Billy Giddings photo courtesy of

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