Mpls North vs Tonka (6AAAA Quarterfinal)

To Hopkins on this slippery and blustery night for the start of real playoff action in the 08-09 season. I skip the last matchup of the night with Hopkins and St. Louis Park, but the 4 vs 5 game with North taking on Minnetonka has promise. Willie Braziel, Al Harris and John Sherman (working) all on hand for this one.

Kyle Risinger gets the Tonka assignment on Kevin Thompson of North. The 1st 4 minutes of this one are ugly with turnovers and no flow whatsoever. Cole Stefan off to a quick 3-4 start from deep and Tonka leads 11-7 at 12:35. The last one was from NBA distance. Thompson forcing shots early (1-5 to start) but he finally gets it started with a triple, a steal for 2 free points, and a jumper to end a 13-2 run for North. Frosh guard Charles Smith with back to back triples to start the run. 23-15 North at the 6:08 mark. Thompson sits with foul #2 later and North will have to play the rest of the half without him. By this point the fouls have mounted and Tonka starts a parade to the foul line. Chad Howard (a newbie to the Tonka rotation) with 2 freebies and a scoop for 2. Taylor Nelson with 2 FTs and a putback. Cole Stefan with 6 free throws on cheap fouls including 1 right at the 1st half buzzer. North takes quick shots to end the half instead of running clock and Minnetonka closes the gap to 33-32 at the break. Stefan with 17 points but only 1 of his last 7 shooting in the half. Thompson 9 points and 4 boards on 4-10 shooting. Charles Smith off the bench with 8 big points for North.

Ariel Deloney and Spencer Puckett start the 2nd half for North in a lineup change by coach Bo Powell. Deloney comes out and gets right on the glass for 2 putbacks. Stefan counters that with another triple for a 38-37 Tonka lead with 15:50 to play. Deloney inside for a layup, Thompson with a 3, Malik El-Amin with 6 points and a 3 point play from Mark Devine inside compose a 14-3 North run over 2:45. 51-41 Polars lead with 12:27 left and the Skippers call timeout. Blake Nelson with 2 FTs and Stefan with a tough fade from the right baseline cut the lead to 6 and Tonka is in their 1-1-3 defense. North counters with 5 straight points over the next 2 minutes for an 11 point cushion, 56-45. Thompson sits at the 7:57 mark and you wonder if Tonka will make a run here. But that doesn't happen as North has an answer for each Tonka bucket. North goes on to a 64-55 win.

For Minnetonka, they finish a disappointing 12-14 season. Cole Stefan with 28 points on 8-20 shooting on my sheet along with 6 rebounds. That was after a 3-4 start, so he finished 5-16 over the last 30 minutes. Nick Latzke with only 6 points in my surprise of the night. I thought he'd get more looks from 3. Tonka did run some dribble handoffs with high screens for Stefan along with a couple of sets for 3s and a little 4 out 1 in motion. It will be interesting to see what they do next year to replace Taylor Nelson inside.

For North, Kevin Thompson with 14 points and I had 5 turnovers for him on my sheet. I had him 6-13 shooting overall. That was after a 1-5 start. Great production from the North bench. Ariel Deloney 8 points and 6 rebounds, Spencer Puckett 13 rebounds. Charles Smith 11 points. Malik El-Amin with 6 of his 12 points in the run that put the game out of reach. They move on to play Hopkins Friday night at Osseo.

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