Conference clinchers and city battles to end the regular season

So with the end of the regular season comes joy that the playoffs are here but sadness that the end of the 08-09 season is only 3 weeks away. So why stop with 1 game when you can do 2.

Game 1: North at Edison
I saw half of this one as it was an early game and I still had to hustle to game 2. Did I mention Kevin Thompson of North is a beast? 12 points in the minutes I saw and he should have had at least another couple of trips to the foul line. 11 all early when Thompson scores a layup on a pretty screen/roll and then a steal for 2 more. Edison counters to tie it at 15 with 9:30 left in the 1st half before North goes on a 11-0 run with a pair of Mark Devine post ups included. 19-4 North over that last 9:30 for a 34-19 halftime lead. Thompson with at least 12 in the half.

Edison cuts it to 34-23 1 minute in to the 2nd half, but Edison probably won't get closer. I leave with 11+ to go and North up 43-27. North ends up winning 71-50. Thompson with 20 points and Pengi Mboma with 20. I'm surprised they don't give Spencer Puckett more time. Devine, Puckett and Mboma with Thompson and Malik El-Amin is a nice lineup. North likely has a 4 vs 5 game against Minnetonka (at Hopkins) on Tuesday. Edison travels to Brooklyn Center in 4AA west on Thursday.

Game 2: Farmington at Holy Angels
Farmington needs a win to win the Missota outright over Northfield and Shakopee who are 1 game behind. Very good Farmington crowd in terms of size and vocals and the students standing all night. But the Tigers can't get it going. An early Bonzi Wells reference (Sahr Ngekia, I miss the headband) tonight as he swipes the ball away and Tyler Bredow for a layup. Bredow with a steal to Cole Frechette for a layup and then Bredow with a jumper off a nice high screen from Bonzi. RD Brown with a steal and Bredow converts that and the foul (but misses the FT). Sam Gullickson with his 2nd triple of the night. 18-5 Holy Angels at the 10 minute mark. AHA has outscored the Tigers on turnovers alone. Jake Lippert leads the Tigers back with a layin and then spins for 2 more. After 2 Gullickson FTs, 20-9 Stars at 7:54. 11-2 Farmington over the next 3:50 to cut the lead to 2. Jake Lippert ends the half with 2 FTs to send the game to halftime tied at 26. Lippert with 12, 10 and 2 blocks in the half. Josh Ziztmann with 4 points and the other player with more than 1 item in the scoring column for Farmington. Defensively he was able to alter shots on Bonzi or Christian Larson post ups. Gullickson and Bredow with 9 each for AHA.

Christian Larson comes out possessed inside as converts 2 offensive boards into 3 of 4 FTs. After a Zitzman 3, Gullickson with a steal and finds Larson for 2 more. Zitzmann with 2 buckets for Farmington for their 1st 7 of the half. But Frechette has a pair of FTs in there so AHA leads 35-33 with 12:48 to play. After Larson grabs another board but misses 2 FTs, Conner Duffy shakes loose on an inbounds play for an open 3 and Farmington has their first lead of the game 36-35. Holy Angels responds with a Gullickson 3, Andy Jirik with layup on a textbook screen/roll and then he runs out after a rebound and Bredow finds him for an easy layup to end a 7-0 AHA run. Timeout Farmington as the Stars lead 42-36 with 9:33 to play. Zitzmann has a 3 go in and out and Jirik with great position on a stepover, but he misses the 2 free throws with 8:52 left.

David Steege scores inside for Farmington to cut the lead to 4. Jirik then commits an intentional foul after a turnover but Zitzmann misses both free throws and Steege misses a bunny inside on the possession. Things going the Stars way on this night but now they can't score. Steege scores again to cut the lead to 42-40 with 6:55 left. Lippert with a 3 point play after a bad Bonzi shot and Farmington is back on top 43-42 with a 7-0 run of their own. Justin Lavey with a steal that would make a professional pickpocket proud and Zitzmann with a layin at 4:10 to give Farmington a 47-44 lead with 4:10 to play and the momentum. Timeout Holy Angels after an 11-2 Farmington run over 5:23.

The pace slows and Holy Angels uses alternating free throws to close within 47-46 with 2:52 left. Lippert takes a really tough shot at 1:55 that misses. 5'11 Bredow with a charge on 6'10 Steege at the other end and Steege hardly even budged at the contact. Zitzmann with a tough shot that goes in at 1:10 for a 49-46 lead, wow. That shot really took the air out of the Holy Angels fans. Bonzi goes at Lippert inside and somehow Lippert gets it clean with :45 seconds left. Tough no call there. Ziztmann with 2 FTs at 33.8, 51-46 Tigers. Tyler Emanuel in the game as a shooter and the entire building knows he's getting a touch. He catches and steps inside a defender and nails a left corner 3 with 22.7 left. Both teams out of timeouts. On the dead ball after the basket, Farmington throws a long bomb for Lippert but its too far. Lippert runs the ball down and throws it off Bonzi in a great mental moment. But wait the zebras are conferencing. They agree its AHA ball but they bring it all the way back to the other end under the AHA basket. I thought Lippert got it without stepping out and even if he did, it seems like the ball should still have been at the other end. AHA on the inbounds has Bredow inbound to the wing and follow it to the corner for a surprisingly good look at a 3 but that's no good. Lippert rebounds and is fouled but misses the front end with 15.7 to play. Emanuel off baseline screens no good from the left corner. Jirik called for a strange intentional foul with 3 seconds left. Senior Brent Beenken steps up and makes both free throws to clinch the Missota outright for Farmington as they win 55-49.

For AHA, watch out for them in the tournament (more on this in my previews on Sunday, cheap promotional moment). They open Wednesday at Waconia in a rematch of a January game at AHA. Sam Gullickson with 14 points to lead the Stars. Once again they give a good opponent a great game. Interesting moment after the game as Farmington celebrated on the court and brought out a championship banner. Coach McKenzie of AHA (who it was known was going to make a post game address to the crowd) makes a guarantee of a conference title next year for AHA. I would have rather seen him say that privately to his team than to the crowd.

For Farmington, Josh Zitzmann clutch with 13 of his 17 points in the 2nd half. Jake Lippert with a quiet 2nd half but made 2 clutch free throws and had the clutch strip/block of Bonzi in the last minute. He finishes with 17 points and I had him for 15 rebounds unofficially. It looks like Farmington will be the #1 seed in section 1AAAA and host Rochester Century on Wednesday.

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