Weekend at the 2009 AAU District Qualifier

16 sessions of games this weekend at the AAU qualifier. Let's look at results and highlights of the weekend.

17U (top 2 play D1 next weekend)
Pool A: Comets-Hanson, Triple Threat, MSB, Magic Blue (No surprises). Triple Threat won a pair of close games over MSB and Magic Blue to claim the 2 spot in that pool

Pool B: Fury Elite, Comets-Seevers, Magic Black, River City Cougars (Comets were the 3rd team in the pool, but all 3 of the top teams were worthy, not a major surprise there). On Saturday, Comets-Seevers got 12 points in the last 5 minutes from Scott Nystrom to defeat Magic Black 62-60. Those 12 points included a steal and coast to coast layup in the last 5 seconds in an amazing finish. Magic Black had a chance to potentially eliminate the Comets from the 2 spot, but lost 80-60 on Sunday to MN Fury Elite. Nice performance from Jake Wensmann in that one for the Fury Elites. I did an audio interview on the Fury Elite vs Comets Seevers game for MN Preps yesterday. Read the article and access my interview here.

Pool C: As expected, TNL, TC Elite, MN Fury Gold and Old Skool. TC Elite now without Alex Koch who has moved on to MN Select. Huge loss for them. TNL had to fight to sweep the pool. On Sunday, they went down to the wire with TC Elite. Tied at 41 with 5 minutes left, TNL goes on a 10-0 run over the next 2 minutes. But a dicey 3 by Sewer results in 2 David Rademacher FTs for TC Elite and they're within 54-52 with 40 seconds left. TC Elite doesn't foul and Devon Knopke gets called for a carry with 18 seconds left. Aaron McCrossan's attempt at the horn is no good and TNL survives that game 54-52. In Sunday's late game, TNL got another big game from Jay Sewer (big in the TC Elite game too, I had him for 24 in this game vs Fury Gold). 79-67 TNL sweeps the pool. TC Elite earned the 2 slot in the pool with a 67-62 win over Fury Gold on Friday night.

Pool D: #4 overall and top seed in the pool MN Glory go 0-3 and were blown out by 22+ in their 2 Sunday games. Pump N Run 16s win the pool with MN Heat Select finishing 2nd and Comets Blue 3rd. Pump N Run defeated Glory 67-44 in Sunday morning's opener. PNR 35-44 FTs to Glory's 16-21. Alex Richter 16 points for PNR. They opened Saturday morning with 21 points from Richter in a 62-37 win over Heat Select. Heat Select routed Glory 89-67 on Sunday afternoon (14-1 start) to take the 2nd spot in the pool.

Pool E: Redhawks def Heat Elite in the 6 vs 5 game at the top of pool E for the 1 and 2 spots. Comets North and Wear Out The Net finish 3 and 4. On Sunday, the Redhawks had a 2 point lead on the MN Heat Elite at halftime. Taylor Hanson ignited a big 3 quarter run as the Redhawks won the 3rd quarter 26-12. 71-53 Redhawks win the pool and Heat Elite finish 2nd with the loss.

16U (top 2 play D1 next weekend)
Pool A: MN Glory, Team Minnesota Elite, 43 Hoops II, WI Terror, Comets White. Glory came from 19 down to 43 Hoops to win 83-77 late Saturday afternoon. Ben Figini with a layup with 1:30 left to put Glory over the top and they make their free throws (along with a clutch 3 from Justin Pahl who had 6 in the TNL Super Regional Championship). Glory got a putback from Ben Figini with 3 seconds left to beat Team Minnesota for the pool title and keep their #1 overall seed in 16U. Team Minnesota 53-46 over 43 Hoops II on Sunday morning for the #2 spot in the pool.

Pool B: No surprises. Comets Elite, MN Heat Black, SW MN Heat and Mpls Gators. Comets shorthanded for Sunday's late game vs Heat Black for the pool title, but they still won by 15.

Pool C: MN Heat Elite defeated MSB late Sunday for the pool title. MSB moves up to take the 2 seed in the pool.

Pool D: MN Wrath defeated Magic Elite to swap the top 2 spots in the pool on Sunday. 50-41 Wrath with 1:10 to go before Trevor Morlock gets a 4 point play and after a Daron Garvis steal, he quickly nails another triple. 50-48 Wrath with 43 seconds left, game on. The Wrath miss 2 front ends and a 2nd of 2 FTs and get all of them back in the next 17 seconds. The 2 front ends were offensive rebounds and the 3rd slipped away from a Magic player. 53-48 Wrath wins. Magic Elite over TC Elite 72-63 Saturday morning to avoid a slip to #3 in the pool.

Pool E: Wear Out The Net, MN Fury Gold, Old Skool, Magic Blue (no surprises). The pool title game with WOTN and Fury Gold was a fun finish. Fury's Terez Van Pelt with a steal for 2. 58-56 Fury with 1:15 left. Anthony Lee misses 2 front ends for Fury in the last 35 seconds. After 1 miss, Max Watts makes up for it with a left corner 3 with 9 seconds left for a 1 point lead. Fury with a couple of late chances but they can't convert and WOTN wins 59-58.

15U (all 13 teams play D1 next weekend)
Pool A: MN Suns, MN Heat Elite, TC Elite Green, MN Fury. MN Suns with no big wins but they go 3-0 to keep the #1 overall seed. That included a 79-74 win over MN Heat Elite.

Pool B: MN Magic, Howard Pulley White, 43 Hoops Daniels, TC Elite Black. Howard Pulley came from behind (10 down I heard) to defeat 43 Hoops 64-58 on Sunday to take the #2 spot in the pool.

Pool C: MN Southside, MN Pump N Run, 43 Hoops Gameli, Comets Blue, TC Elite White. The Comets got Joey King in foul trouble in their Saturday morning game vs MN Southside. King had 9 in the 3rd quarter and the game was tied at 39 heading to the 4th quarter. King fouled out with 4 minutes left and Southside down 4. Comets paraded to the foul line all day for a 65-56 win. MN Southside defated Pump N Run 49-38 Saturday afternoon. Pump N Run was on all cylinders on Sunday morning vs 43 Hoops Gameli. Will Dunn with 13 points in the 1st quarter. A 19-2 across the quarter break blows the game open with Cortez Tillman being a huge factor in the run. PNR 50-21 at the half and they win 83-51. Dunn's 19 lead 5 PNR players in double figures. Shot selection for 43 Hoops was a major issue in this one.

A great sight seeing Luke Preiner of the MN Heat Elite 16s having a bandaid on his right temple that was held on with duct tape. Yes, duct tape. Note to self, The Czar needs a cell phone with a camera on it, especially all the razzing I took for it this weekend. :) Also have to give props to the pork sandwich meal deal. Hmmm good. Had to make sure to get that in on both days of the weekend.

To the bad, the scorekeeping/timing had the same issues as last season's tournament. Also, the officiating across the board was horrific in my opinion. Not just in 1 game, just about everywhere from what I saw. I only wish I could say more, but I feel the circumstances and today's lawyer happy society don't allow me to.

Day 1 at the 2009 AAU District Qualifier

A very quiet day 1 at this year's qualifier. The top seeds went 10-2 with the MN Magic taking out Howard Pulley White for 1 of the 2 upsets The other "upset" and a significant near miss in 17U below. Here are my thoughts from the 2 sessions.

Session 1:
The top 2 MSB teams in action. In 17U they took on Magic Blue. Magic Blue off to a 7-0 start in the 1st 2 minutes. Then Elvis left the building. A 27-5 run over the next 10 minutes settles this one. MSB wins easily 79-46.

In the 16U game, MSB vs MN Fury Blue in an important pool C game for the #2 spot. Ladario Sorrell with 8 quick points and Fury is up 15-7 at the 2:50 mark of the 1st quarter. MSB fights back to even the score at 17 just after the start of the 2nd quarter. The rest of the quarter is back and forth with Fury taking a 35-34 lead to the break. Sorrell goes bagel in the quarter but still leads the way for Fury with 8. Brett Rasmussen and Alec Jensen with 10 points each in the half for MSB to keep them in it.

40 all with 4:15 left in the 3rd when MSB goes on a 12-3 run over the next 3+ minutes. 54-46 MSB going to the 4th. Sorrell gets his 1st points since the 1st quarter with a 3 at 2:35 and TJ Gist makes 1 of 2 FTs to cut the lead to 64-60 with 1:37 left. But MSB makes 7 of 8 FTs down the stretch for a 74-65 win. Fury beat themselves with too much dribbling and 1 on 1 offense during that 12-3 run. Sorrell finishes with at least 17 points for Fury. Brett Rasmussen with 18 interior points (8 in the 4th) for MSB.

Session 2:
43 Hoops Gameli vs TC Elite White in a 15U game. This Gameli squad plays up from 14U and they start 7th grader Ian Theisen in the middle. Add in Xavier Hall as a very good wing and Mack Johnson's In the Building range. Not to mention their athletes that 43 Hoops always has and 6'10 Carson Shanks who's legs are ridiculously long. He's an interesting project.

43 holds TC Elite to 1 FG in the 1st quarter for a 11-4 lead. TC Elite White makes a late 1st half comeback and stays within 27-18. Meanwhile the MN Heat Elite 15s hold off MN Fury 57-48, but the story brewing is MN Fury Gold leading TC Elite in 17U. (BTW, 43 Hoops Gameli won, score below). Nice to take the 4th quarter of this one in with a couple of Mounds Park Academy kids who were rooting on their Tri-Metro comrades from St. Anthony.

2nd spot out of 17U Pool C on the line in the game. Fury Gold 30-21 with 3:41 left in the half but TC Elite closes to 33-32 at half. 50-46 Fury going to the 4th and they get the 1st 2 buckets of the 4th. The 2nd is a putback for a 54-46 lead with 6:45 left. Josh Pratt concludes a 9-1 run over 3:30 with a triple and 2 FTs. Tied at 55 with 3:15 left. Derek Wolhowe for 3 and TC Elite is finally back on top, 62-59 with 1:15 left. The teams trade possessions and Joe Conley misses a 3 with 35 seconds left. On the other end, Pratt looks and then goes left baseline. He hangs and gets banged for a huge 3 point play with 17.7 left, dagger! Conley for 3 at the other end and after some clock confusion, we have 7 seconds left. David Rademacher knocks down 2 FTs for the 67-62 TC Elite come from behind win. TC Elite not moving on would have been a noteworthy upset.

Friday Scores
15U: Heat over Fury 57-48, Magic over Howard Pulley White 69-53, 43 Hoops over TC Elite White 55-37.

16U: Heat Black over Mpls Gators 75-37, MSB over Fury Blue 74-65, MN Wrath 70-58 over TC Elite, Fury Gold 68-51 over Magic Blue

17U: 79-46 MSB over Magic Blue, Fury Elite 76-32 over River City, TC Elite 67-62 over Fury Gold, 77-46 Heat Elite over Wear Out The Net.

Session by Session at the Qualifier

3 days, 18 sessions of hoops at this weekend's AAU district qualifer. Of note, at the 14U and 15U level everybody moves on to next weekend. At the 16U and 17U levels, only the top 2 teams from each of the 5 pools move on to the D1 championship. The remaining teams still play next weekend but for the D2 championship. With that in mind, here are my picks for the games to watch in each of the 18 sessions.

Friday (2 Sessions)
6 PM: Fury Blue gets MSB in a 16U game that will likely determine the 2nd team out of pool C.
7:15 PM: A pretty weak session here of 15s and 17s with a 14U game sprinkled in. Howard Pulley White vs MN Magic is an interesting game in pool B of 15U or take in the 43 Hoops Gameli team. If 17U is your fancy, TC Elite vs Fury Gold would be the game to watch.

Saturday (9 Sessions)
9 AM: Only 1 17U game and that's the PNR 16s vs MN Heat Select. Another interesting game here if you have flashlights or a coal miner's hat is the 15U game of 43 Hoops-Daniels vs TC Elite Black on court 6.
10:15 AM: Keep the flashlights handy as Southside takes on Comets Elite in 15U action on Court 5.
11:30 AM: Magic Black vs Comets Seevers in 17U. Loser faces a must win game against Fury for any chance to move on to D1 next weekend.
12:45 PM: Not a bad time for a lunch break here as the 2 17U games aren't compelling. MN Magic vs 43 Hoops-Daniels 15U might be the game to watch.
2 PM: 43 Hoops Gameli vs Comets Elite tops this session.
3:15 PM: Fury Elite vs Comets Seevers in a big pool B game in 17U. A Fury Elite loss puts them behind the 8 ball and Comets Seevers could basically clinch the pool with a win (if they win at 11:30 AM). Southside vs PNR in a good 15U game as well during this session.
4:30 PM: MN Glory vs 43 Hoops II in 16U may be a 1 vs 11 game on paper but I won't be shocked to see 43 Hoops win this one. Loser will have to beat Team Minnesota Elite to stay in the race for D1.
5:45 PM: Triple Threat vs MSB in 17U should decide the 2nd rep from Pool A. But I'll probably be skipping this session and the last session for the MYAS 17U games at 6:20 and 8:40.
7 PM: Only 4 games in the final session of the day. MN Heat Black vs SW MN Heat in 16U Pool B to decide the 2nd rep from that pool. MN Southside vs 43 Hoops Gameli and Comets Elite vs Pump N Run in good 15U Pool C games.

Sunday (7 Sessions)
9 AM: Glory vs Pump N Run 16s to decide Pool D in 17U. Team MN Elite vs 43 Hoops II to decide 1 of the teams from 16U pool A.
10:15 AM: Nothing of note in this session.
11:30 AM: Pump N Run vs 43 Hoops Gameli in 15U
12:45 PM: Heat Elite vs Redhawks and TNL vs TC Elite in a nice pair of 17U games.
2 PM: Fury Elite vs Magic Black to decide the pool or a D1 spot.
3:15 PM: Things quiet down as we drop to 4 games for the final 2 sessions. Magic Elite vs MN Wrath in 16U or MN Suns vs MN Heat Elite in 15U are both worth watching.
4:30 PM: Final session of the weekend. Comets Elite vs MN Heat Black. Could decide the pool or knock the Heat out of the D1 tourney.

2009 AAU District Qualifier 17U Preview

Part 3 in my preview series for this weekend's AAU district qualifier. In this final preview, a look at the 17U division. Read all the previews here.

Pool A
This pool has the top Comets team and then everyone else. Too many guys to mention for the Comets, but I'll be interested to see if they still use the platoon system with Taylor Filipek and Alex Hanks playing with the 2nd unit. Triple Threat comes in off their win at the super regional 2 weeks ago despite a quiet weekend from Michael Lindsay. Aaron Duske and Brandon Schaust give them quality play up front. Brent Kettenacker had 19 points in the 2nd half of the super regional championship game. MSB won't wow you, but Zach Vraa, Andy Jirik, Troy Klingsporn, David Stanley and soph Lucas Brown make up a solid group. Never count out a Mitch Ohnstad group. Magic Blue is the 4th team in the pool. David Michaelson leads them along with Eric Schmechel. I'll also be keeping an eye on senior point guard Jacob Schwartz and Michael Tyler.

Pool B
A tough pool here with the Fury Elite, a hot Comets Seevers team and solid Magic Black. Dajon Newell, Danny Geiger and Yuriy Maleshenko are notables for the Fury. Scott Nystrom played well in the absence of Martin Wind and Nolan Toft for the Comets. Deron Murphy leads the way for Magic Black from a guard spot. Walter Franklin gives the Magic a defensive stopper at the point guard spot which will come in handy against Wind and Newell.

Pool C
TNL is the class of Pool C behind Devon Knopke, Jay Sewer and Jasper Duberry at the guard spots. Milos Ristanovic has joined TNL as a shooter from the small forward slot. TC Elite gets to see TNL yet again. Alex Koch has been on fire for TC Elite. His 6'5 height makes him a tough matchup at the 2. No real size in this pool so the lack of a real inside presence won't hurt TC Elite this weekend. If they control tempo against TNL, they have a great chance to win that game.

Pool D
MN Glory and Pump N Run 16s headline this pool. Can somebody besides Connor Gunderson score for the Glory? With Trey Scott not eligible for the Heat Select squad and the Comets-Blue team in the pool, you have to like the PNR 16s chances in this pool. Who for Glory gets the assignment guarding Alex Richter of PNR?

Pool E
Heat Elite and the Mpls Redhawks headline the pool. Parker Hines and Taylor Hanson have been outstanding for the Redhawks and you have to find John Rowland outside the arc. Look for them to seek redemption after a disappointing upset loss in the super regional 2 weeks ago. Heat Elite aren't spectacular, but they are solid and have many ways to beat you. Run with Nick Quicksell, pound it in to Ryan Duxbury or they can make 3s. Erik Stark was a star for the Comets North squad 2 weeks ago and they also have 6'8 Kevin Rabbers inside so don't count them out.

Pool Games to Watch
Magic Black vs Comets Seevers - Saturday 11:30
Fury Elite vs Comets Seevers - Saturday 3:15
MN Glory vs MN Pump N Run 16s Sunday 9:00
TNL vs TC Elite - Sunday 12:45
MN Heat Elite vs Mpls Redhawks - Sunday 12:45
Fury Elite vs Magic Black - Sunday 2:00

My Picks
Pool A: Comets Hanson, MSB, MN Triple Threat, Magic Blue
Pool B: Comets Seevers, Fury Elite, Magic Black, RiverCity Cougars
Pool C: TNL, TC Elite, Fury Gold, Old Skool
Pool D: PNR 16s, MN Glory, Comets Blue, MN Heat Select
Pool E: Redhawks, Heat Elite, Comets North, WOTN

2009 AAU District Qualifier 16U Preview

Part 2 in the preview series for this weekend's AAU district qualifier. In this scroll, a look at the 16U division. Read all the previews here.

Pool A
A tough pool here with the MN Glory who's win at the TNL Super Regional "earned" them the 1 seed and talented 43 Hoops II and Team Minnesota Elite squads. WI Terror and Comets II round out the pool. 43 Hoops II is a major threat here out of the low seed. Ben Figini for Glory is the player to watch in this pool. I'll also be interested to see Joe Zangel returns for Glory after having a bad back 2 weeks ago. Jared Bervin can go off at any time for 43 Hoops II.

Pool B
Comets Elite is the easy pick in this pool. Gotta love Jayme Moten at the point along with Bryan Reeves and Simon Krych up front. Seth Hinrichs gives them a player who poses matchup problems with his size and shooting. The 2nd spot out of the pool is a tougher choice. After their performance with guys playing unnatural positions at the Select tourney, give me the SW MN Heat to be the #2 team here. Caleb Johnson is a point guard playing the post for them and Zak Pendleton gives them a dangerous shooter. Pendleton's Cedar Mountain-Comfrey teammate Dalton Kleinschmidt is another player of note for them. Their game with MN Heat Black at 7 PM on Saturday should be the determining factor. MN Heat Black's Bryan Sprang will be a tough matchup to deal with in this pool.

Pool C
MN Heat Elite's got their revenge on Wear Out the Net in Iowa 2 weeks ago. Easy pick to win this pool. MSB is dangerous (as demonstrated by them taking Pump N Run's 16s to the wire earlier this spring) and their game vs Fury Blue should determine the #2 team out of this pool. TJ Gist is the player I'm watching for Fury.

Pool D
For me, a somewhat unknown pool. MN Wrath is the squad that Shelby Moats played for, but he's now up with the PNR 16s. That said, they blew out Fury Blue and Team MN Elite down in Iowa for a 4-1 record. The only loss was in the bracket opener vs eventual champ Speice MoKan. Magic Elites have a couple of holdovers from last season's Magic Elites in Vaughn Thada and Daron Garvis. Add in talents like Joe Carpenter and BP Pajibo and there's talent here. They had a controversial 59-58 win over Wear Out The Net in Iowa to win their pool before they too lost to Speice MoKan in bracket play. TC Elite and Central Flyers round out the pool.

Pool E
Wear Out the Net leads this pool. Max Watts has been outstanding for them after coming over from 43 Hoops this year. Brandon Siefert is another perimeter player to watch for them. Spencer Pankonin gives them size and scoring inside. Fury Gold is interesting to watch with the pickups of Anthony Lee and Chris Smith-Bond from St. Paul Johnson. Lee saw varsity minutes in the deep rotation this season. Old Skool and P-Town are 2 non factors in the pool.

I think the top 2 from each pool advance to the District Championships so here are my picks
Pool A: MN Glory and 43 Hoops II
Pool B: Comets Elite and SW MN Heat
Pool C: MN Heat Elite and Fury Blue
Pool D: Magic Elite and MN Wrath
Pool E: WOTN and Fury Gold

2009 AAU District Qualifier 15U Preview

We start the previews of this weekend's AAU district qualifer with a look at the 15U pools. For all scrolls from the qualifier, click here.

Pool A
Gotta like the MN Suns in this pool with Richfield's Darrien Johnson and MCA's Darrien Pittman. They were impressive at the Midwest Festival of Teams 2 weeks ago in a run to the semis before losing to eventual champ Spiece MoKan. That run included a 24 point thrashing of the MN Static. I'll take Trent Pollard and Eric Gebeke to lead the MN Heat Elites to the 2nd spot. Those 2 teams play at 3:15 on Sunday. Easiest pool.

Pool B
A surprise appearance by the 2nd Howard Pulley squad and there's some talent there to note. Chad Potas and Damien Reinke give them an inside presence with Will Iverson and Dwight Anderson as solid perimeter players. They'll be a tough out. Nate Daniels' 43 Hoops squad is loaded with athletes and size. Will Johnson, Josh Turnquist and Cutler Finneman give them quality size up front with Marcus Marshall and Tommy McDermott forming a quality backcourt. Those are my top 2 picks in the pool despite 43 Hoops struggles in Iowa 2 weeks ago (see below), but TC Elite Black could make some noise here as they've had a nice season and MN Magic was solid in Iowa. 43 Hoops takes on Howard Pulley White at 2 PM on Sunday. Difficult pool.

(Czar's Note 5/28/09: The 43 Hoops team mentioned was not the 43 Hoops team that played in Iowa, that was the 15U Robinson squad.)

Pool C
WOW! What a loaded pool. Comets Elite, Pump N Run and a top notch Southside team are all here and then add in the top 43 Hoops 14U squad. Yikes. Joey King of Southside will be the player to watch here. Don't know if Pump N Run has found more than 7 kids, but the 7 they do have are a nice cohesive group. Waterbug point guard Cortez Tillman and forward Taylor Montero from CDH lead the way. Then an athletic 43 Hoops squad with a 6'10 center and you have a really deep pool. Hard not to pick Southside to win it. But this pool could be a major mess with everybody beating each other up. Southside vs PNR 3:15 on Saturday. PNR vs 43 Hoops Sunday at 11:30. Southside vs 43 Hoops Saturday at 7 PM.

2009 MYAS Spring Championships preview

MYAS loads up their Spring Championships this weekend at the Colin Powell Center in Minneapolis with this list of teams.
  • MN Pump N Run (why here instead of the AAU state tourney as originally planned?)
  • 43 Hoops II (George Hemmingsen's team)
  • Big Game Sports
  • 94 Ft of Game
  • MN Sharks
  • Team Cannon
  • EOTO
  • MN Mavericks
Quarterfinals at 6:20 on all 4 courts look like this.

94 Ft vs MN Sharks
BGS vs Team Cannon
43 Hoops II vs MN Mavericks

Semifinals and consolation games are at 8:40 PM with the championship and 3rd place at 3 PM on Sunday.

On paper Pump N Run is an easy pick over EOTO but with Howard Pulley having the weekend off, how many of their Benilde St Margaret's kids (Darren Glover, Peter Crawford, Myles Barnes etc) will join EOTO. Glover has been hampered by injury so he may not be healthy. If those kids starting showing up for EOTO, then there's some more to this game.

Team Cannon's tandem of Ashton and Blayne Eric (Goodhue) has me pick them over a more athletic Big Game Sports squad. 43 Hoops II big in their game. 94 Ft will be too big and athletic for the MN Sharks.

43 Hoops II over Team Cannon in 1 semifinal. Pump N Run over 94 Ft in the other semi. But PNR was taken to the wire 45-44 by 94 Ft 2 weeks ago at the Midwest Festival of Teams. Pump N Run over 43 Hoops II in the championship game. Dominique Dawson gets held down by the PNR size and 43 Hoops will have trouble generating consistent offense. While that's a nice win, I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing that PNR would have another go around with the Comets Elites, Redhawks, Fury Elite etc in the state AAU series.

Jacob Thomas named to ESPN top 100

ESPN.com came out with their 2010 rankings last week and for the 1st time, we see a Minnesota player in the rankings. Thanks to a big spring for Howard Pulley, Jacob Thomas of Columbia Heights comes in at #75 on the list. No Minnesota players in the Scout.com or Rivals.com rankings currently but it will be interesting to see if that changes by the end of the summer.

Read the entire ESPN.com top 100 here.

2009 Festival of Teams Results

Some thoughts on the results from the 2009 Festival of Teams. Full results can be found here.

No major pool shockers here for the Minnesota teams. Heat Elite took out Magic Black 56-54 on Saturday afternoon in a good matchup of local teams.

Biggest shocker had to be All Iowa Red going 1-1 in pool play. The Iowa State boards are going nuts about Harrison Barnes leaving that program to join Howard Pulley full time. I still don't think Minnesota has any shot at Barnes and with Vander Blue decommitting from Wisconsin (suppossedly), I'd love to see them jump in the race.

The loaded Spiece MoKan club took out Pump N Run 50-44 in the semis and then the Fury Elite in the finals. Pump N Run took out Magic Black in round 1 by 11 and only beat 94 Ft by 1 in the quarters in a surprise.

Tough break for MN Heat Elite getting Speice in the 1st game, but they rolled thru the rest of the weekend including a 20 point thrashing of Wear Out The Net in a revenge game before taking out Magic Culp 64-42 for the Silver Title. Speice MoKan won the Gold bracket by taking out Pump N Run 70-61.

Speice Mo Kan goes clean sweep with this title as well. They took out MN Southside by 1 in the quarters and MN Suns by 15 in the semis. Pump N Run took out the MN Static 67-33 in pool play in a real eye opener. Static also fell big to the MN Suns in the bracket opener. Pump N Run won their bracket opener before a bye to the semis and lost to All Iowa Attack Red. I'm surprised that 43 Hoops went 0-2 in their pool but they've had injuries all season.

43 Hoops leaves undefeated in Bloomington

More updates on the 43 Hoops 16U Carr squad in Bloomington, IN this past weekend

Game two in Pool play vs. Michigan Mustangs. Mustangs 34-32 at the half. Second half was a totally different story. 43 Hoops holds the Mustangs to 20 second half points and wins going away 78-54. Jordan Smith 15pts, Marquel Curtis and Ross Travis 13 points and Jameson Parsons scoring 12 pts. Ross Travis had a game changing dunk in the second half that "posterized" the Mustangs 6' 9" post player.

Opening round of bracket play on Saturday was against SYF (who many of us saw in the Pulley tournament). 41-28 lead at the half, 73-56 43 Hoops wins. Jordan Smith 14 points, Jake White 11, Tom Schalk 10 and 6 offensive boards. Estan Tyler 8 assists.

To Assembly Hall for the quarters vs Queen City. 43 Hoops holds off a late rally for a 76-69 win (up 15 at the half). Tom Schalk leads the way with 16 points. Jordan Smith and Marquel Curtis with 15 each. Estan Tyler 9 points and 8 assists.

In the semis a rematch with D1E. 26-25 D1E at the break. Ross Travis had his 2nd monster dunk of the weekend, this one over 2 defenders to change the course of the game. 68-44 43 Hoops wins. Only 18 2nd half points for D1E in a stepped up defensive effort from 43. Estan Tyler and Marquel Curtis with 13 points each. Freddie Young 6 assists and 4 steals.

Unfortunately, the reality of these long trips is the flight home. Championship game at 5:30 with a 7:10 flight out of Indianapolis forces 43 Hoops to miss the championship game. Last year this same group won the 15s.

2009 TNL Super Regional Championships

We start championship day at the 2009 TNL Super Regional with a pair of 16U quarterfinals. La Crosse YMCA vs Old Skool is my featured game. Evan Pederson draws 3 fouls on RJ Dean (Rogers) in the 1st quarter while putting up 9 points, 3 rebounds and 4 steals to dominate the point guard matchup. 20-7 La Crosse after 1 quarter. 32-20 La Crosse at the half as Pederson ends the half with 16 and 4 with the 4 steals. In the 3rd quarter, he has a string of an assist, a 3 and then a steal for 2 to put the game away. 44-25 La Crosse with 5:51 left in the 3rd. The rest is cruise control for a 63-46 victory. Pederson finishes with 23 points , 4 boards and 5 steals. TNL blows out P-Town 70-45 in the other quarterfinal.

All 4 17U quarterfinals in the 2nd session of the day. To the easy stuff 1st. The Redhawks had only 5 guys and were only up 53-48 midway thru the 3rd vs the MN Sizzle before the sizzle fizzled. Redhawks 92-62 to the semis. TC Elite hammered MN Sharks. To the best pair of games of the day. Comets North vs Triple Threat in my featured game. Eric Stark hot early with 8 points to lead the Comets on a 10-0 run. That start pushes the Comets a 21-14 lead after 1 quarter. Stark finishes the 1st half with 16 points for a 38-32 Comets lead.

49-44 Comets as we go to the 4th quarter with the TNL game being a major distraction (more on that game below). Triple Threat lights up the 4th quarter with an 8-0 run to start. With 3:50 left they nail a 3 for a 61-55 lead. Stark with a tough putback at 2:15 to cut the Triple Threat lead to 2 and 2 free throws with 25 seconds left cut the lead to 64-63. Michael Lindsay with 1 of 2 and the Comets have a chance to tie. They get fouled with 11 seconds left but the 2nd free throw is no good. Triple Threat hangs on for a 67-64 win.

Triple Threat gets the winner of TNL vs Team Cannon in the top seed vs 0-3 bottom seed matchup. Interesting group of Cannon Falls, Goodhue and Lake City kids for Team Cannon. Goodhue's Blayne and Ashton Eric (2011) look like Taylor Filipek clones and have similar games. Add in the big body of Lake City's 6'7 Joe Beck and there are some interesting players. They go 2-3 zone for the entire game and TNL is a team that loves to shoot the 3. A Jasper Duberry 3 gives TNL a 24-16 lead to end the 1st quarter. But Team Cannon hangs around and they're only down 43-38 at the half. Team Cannon out to a 55-49 lead with 2:40 left in the 3rd and we have an upset brewing. Duberry with a layup and a triple and TNL is right back on top 56-55. Team Cannon gets the last hoop of the quarter for a 57-56 lead going to the 4th.

Ashton Eric with back to back bombs and holy cow its 69-61 Team Cannon with 4:30 to play. Jay Sewer with a steal for a Devon Knopke layup with 2:07 left and a bucket at 1:40 for a 72-71 TNL lead with 1:40 left. Team Cannon misses with 1:15 left and now they have to come out of the zone. That has trouble written all over it. Knopke 1 of 2 FTs with 49.2 left. Michael Bannitt with 2 FT with 31.6 left to tie the game at 73 and back to the zone for Team Cannon. After a timeout with 8.3 left, TNL turns it over and Team Cannon gets tripped right before the horn but no call and we have overtime.

Ashton Eric and Jasper Duberry trade triples in the OT. 78-76 TNL with 2:07 left. Ashton Eric with 2 FTs with 1:03 left for a 82-80 Team Cannon lead. Duberry misses a long 3 and Spencer Cummings can't convert a follow. TNL is done scoring and Team Cannon converts their FTs for the major 87-80 upset. Great 3 point shooting by Team Cannon and poor zone offense by TNL give you the reasons for the upset.

After a lunch break, we get the 17U Semifinal between TC Elite and the Redhawks. A 12-2 Redhawks run gives them a 17-7 lead late in the 1st quarter. Redhawks finish the quarter up 19-8. TC Elite claw back and are within 31-27 at the half. Alex Koch with 8 points for TC Elite. Taylor Hanson with 7 and 5 rebounds for the Redhawks. Late third quarter the game turns. Jack Ghizoni gets out in front of the pack. A TC Elite player appears to run him down and get a nice block with the lead official right there. Redhawks ball. But wait, the trail official, from the opposite foul line no less, says Ghizoni got hacked. An absolutely brutal call. Coach Schnettler proceeds to argue and get a technical and who can blame him. Ghizoni makes 1 of 2 for the foul and then both technicals. Taylor Hanson converts on the possession for a 5 point swing in a tight game. That's unfortunate. 51-41 Redhawks lead going to the 4th quarter.

Derek Wolhowe for 3 and TC Elite is within 5 in the 1st minute. Coach Schnettler then gets another T. This time for getting in the last word after arguing with the other official about why he wasn't implementing a 5 second closely guarded count (legit question) and getting what seemed to be a strange response. David Gschneider says something after a foul moments later and he gets a T. In fairness, the ref in question is well known to have one of the quickest triggers around so you have to be aware of that. But after all of this, its still only a 9 point deficit for TC Elite with 5 minutes left. But they don't challenge after that. 74-64 Redhawks win. Jack Ghizoni with 18 points to lead the Redhawks. Taylor Hanson with 17 points and 7 rebounds. Stephen Asp with 13 points. Soph Jordan Gieske with a nice performance of 8 points and 9 rebounds off the bench.

Team Cannon giving Triple Threat heartburn in the other semi as they pull to within 2 with 5 minutes left. But Triple Threat goes on a mini run in the next 90 seconds to put the game away. They advance to the championship game with a 65-55 win. TC Elite went on to defeat Team Cannon 84-59 in the 17U 3rd place game.

In a 16U semifinal, MN Select took on MN Glory. Glory out to a 20-5 lead after 1 quarter with 1 of Select's baskets coming from a kid's knees. Select fights back to a 32-26 halftime deficit and they tie the game at 36 but can't get the lead. Glory leads 44-42 going to the 4th quarter. Brandon Canova keeping Select close. Joe Zangel played well for Glory before injuring his back early in the 2nd half and not returning. A 4 point game late when Ben Figini converts 2 3 point plays and a pair of FTs to put the game out of reach. Glory moves on to the semis with a 60-53 win. TNL took out a depleted La Crosse YMCA team in the other semi. Ben Ancius, Hans Erickson and Evan Pederson were all unavailable for the 3rd place game (and I'm assuming some or all of them missed semifinal time). La Crosse scored the 1st 18 points of the 4th quarter to blow open a close game vs Select for a 72-49 victory. That captured 3rd place in the 16U bracket.

In a 15U semifinal, MN Select took on Triple Threat. Select took a 35-32 lead to the 4th quarter. Kebu Johnson with 2 clutch FTs with 28.4 left to tie the game at 44. With no room between the end line and the barrier separating courts, the Triple Threat inbounder takes a quarter step forward and steps on the end line and its a turnover. That's a tough call. MN Select takes the ball down to the wire and when Derek Schofield turns and draws a foul from the far official with 0.1 left on the clock, its not your day. Schofield makes both for a 46-44 win. Matt Dysthe nailed a triple at the buzzer to give the MN Fury 15s 3rd place over Triple Threat.

The 15U and 16U title games were enough to make me want to sleep. TC Elite Black with a 2-3 zone vs MN Select who had no answer for it. 42-37 TC Elite Black wins the 15U title. Brandon Fourcier with 11 points to lead all scorers. MN Glory 73-51 over TNL in the 16U title game. Justin Pahl with 6 of Glory's 11 triples for 23 points. Connor Morton with 4 of the other triples. Mark Blacklock with 10 points and 18 rebounds.

In the 17U title game, Triple Threat jumped on a lethargic Redhawks team. Taylor Hanson hot but Triple Threat leads 13-10 after 1 quarter and coach Birdsong is not at all happy. Triple Threat wins the 2nd quarter 16-6 as the Redhawks get absolutely nothing going. 29-16 Triple Threat at half. Jack Mooney leads Triple Threat with 9 1st half points. Brett Kettenacker then goes off for Triple Threat. Back to back 3s push the lead to 40-24 with 4:10 left in the 3rd quarter. Late 3rd, a great sideline exchange after a ball went out of bounds on the baseline away from the Redhawks bench. This is coach Birdsong talking to the trail official.

Coach: Sir, did you see that?
Ref (deadpan serious): No, did you?
Coach: I thought I did

That conversation caused the entire scorer's table to bust out laughing for the funniest moment of the weekend. 43-33 Triple Threat going to the 4th quarter. Taylor Hanson with 2 and then a steal for an And 1. That cuts the lead down to 47-44 and there's still 5:20 to go. Hanson with a pair of tough misses around another Kettanacker triple. John Rowland (back from prom), nails a 3 with 2:30 to go and its 52-47 Triple Threat. Kettenacker slams the door shut with another triple and 4-4 FTs down the stretch. Coach Birdsong with another classic line before we're done. Redhawks playing D when they need a foul and can't find anyone. "You are trying to foul!" Triple Threat wins 62-49. Kettenacker with all 19 of his points in the 2nd half. Aaron Duske with a quietly productive day or 11 points and 7 rebounds. Taylor Hanson picked up in the 2nd half to finish with 18 and 6 for the Redhawks but no one in double figures. Redhawks played without Cory Booker all day due to the ankle injury suffered yesterday.

Other mid-may 2009 weekend results

43 Hoops Carr at the Adidas May Classic. They advanced to tournament play and took on D1E (Derrick Rose Elite). 37-21 43 Hoops at the half. 67-43 they advance. 5 guys in double figures. Jordan Smith 13 points, Jameson Parsons 12, Estan Tyler, Marquel Curtis and Jake White all with 11. That's the same D1E team that defeated the Pump N Run 16s in Denver last month 43-40 in the semifinals of that tournament.

In Iowa on Friday, MN Heat Elite 16s lose to Speice Mo-Kan and therefore won't make the championship bracket. Magic Elite 16s took out Wear Out The Net 16s 59-58 in a nailbiter.

Day 1 of 2009 TNL Super Regional

Thoughts from pool play at the 2009 TNL AAU Super Regional. Is there a darker gym around than Champlin Park's? Love the Papa John's pizza but Sammy Perellas just down the street was something I wish would have had a chance at. Gotta love AAU rules so that means we get to watch this concept of 8 minute quarters.

Session 1:
We open with a pair of pool B games. The Mpls Redhawks vs Team Cannon (Cannon Falls/Hiawatha Valley League kids) in my featured game. A nice 1st quarter by Team Cannon gives them a 20-17 lead at the 1st break. Parker Hines hot in the 2nd quarter as he starts with 5 straight and then back to back triples around a tough Cory Booker 3 point play. Hines with 14 points in the half for a 38-29 Redhawks lead at the half. The lead goes to 14 in the 2nd half before a Team Cannon comeback vs a Redhawks 1-3-1. 9 in a row for Team Cannon. Interesting that a bigger guard was running the back line with small guard Austin Brown on a wing. 50-40 Redhawks after 3 quarters and a 7-0 run early in the 4th puts the game on ice and they win 73-51. No Taylor Hanson in that game for the Redhawks. John Rowland playing his last game of the day before prom.

Triple Threat-Rhodes blows out the MN Sharks 76-49. The Sharks without Peter Sorenson in that game. TC Elite White 15s defeated TNL's 15s 58-39. Triple Threat's 15s in a nailbiter defeat TC Elite Green 56-55 in overtime. The teams traded 3s late in regulation and then traded baskets in the last minute of overtime before a late Triple Threat FT won it.

Session 2
To pool A of the 17s. TC Elite against the large unknown that is the MN Sizzle (where's my steak?, I'm thinking ribeye, when's lunch around here?). Forever in Czar history, Adrian Wackett makes his season debut coming out of a bad wheel. 18-12 Sizzle after 1 quarter. But Alex Koch goes off in the 2nd quarter with at least 4 triples. TC Elite gets 32 of the first 39 in the 2nd quarter before a Sizzle 3 scorches the net right before the half. 44-28 TC Elite at the half. They go on to a 96-58 win.

TNL gets out to a 13-2 start vs MN Comets-North but sleepwalk most of the rest of the way. The lead is 7 at the half, 14 after 3 and TNL wins 81-71. MN Glory 16s def TNL 16s 81-75. MN Select 16s held on vs Old Skool 62-61

Session 3
Kingdom Law applies here as the La Crosse YMCA 16s are in town. A great chance for The Czar to see the future of the Old Kingdom. They're taking on the Central Flyers. LAX ends the 1st quarter with a big run for a 20-6 lead and this one looks like a total blowout. Central comes out with a 1-2-2 zone in the 2nd quarter and LAX has no good answer for it. 31-27 LAX at the half and that's thanks to 3 of 4 technical free throws. Central stays around but can't get the lead in the 3rd. A banked 3 in a 1 on 4 situation for the Flyers cuts the La Crosse lead to 41-40 as we go to the 4th quarter. A pair of turnover lead to layups and the Central Flyers are back on top 46-44 with 5:20 left. Evan Pederson puts La Crosse back on top and they won't relinquish the lead. Central down 5 with 1:20 left and they miss a front end of the bonus. 2 more technical mean 3 more Pederson free throws. 61-49 La Crosse wins. Pederson with 19 points and a mitt full of steals with quick hands.

Triple Threat cut a 3rd quarter Redhawks lead to 5 before a late 12 point run pushed the lead back to double digits. Redhawks win 74-60. Peter Sorenson back for the Sharks who defeated Team Cannon 94-81. TC Elite Black 15s defeat MN Fury 15s 66-57.

Session 4
TNL taking on the MN Sizzle over my lunch break. This one went to the broiler quickly. 33-10 TNL after 1 quarter. TNL wins 103-45. David Rademacher with 7 in a row for TC Elite in their game vs Comets-North, downstairs I go to see the score. Comets North leads 49-42 with 3:14 left in the 3rd when I officially pick this game up. TC Elite goes 11-2 to end the quarter for a 2 point lead and they extends that into the 4th. Derek Jahner's 2 FTs conclude a 16-2 TC Elite run over 4:42 (across the 3rd and 4th quarter break). 58-51 TC Elite leads. The Comets then go on a 9-0 run of their own in the next 1:25 to regain the lead. 60-58 with 4:40 to play. Alex Koch with a triple at the 4 minute mark to break the run. Aaron McCrossan nails a dagger triple with 1:26 left. That gives TC Elite a 5 point lead and they win 74-65.

Session 5
Redhawks vs Sharks in this session with the Redhawks able to clinch with a win. But they have only 6 guys. That quickly goes to 5 as Cory Booker swats a shot about 5 rows up and then proceeds to roll his ankle on the landing and he won't return. 40-34 Redhawks at the break. Sharks come out with 5 in a row to start the half to cut the lead to 1. But Taylor Hanson is in the building and the Sharks have no answer for him inside. An 11-0 run goes thru him and he caps it off with a triple. The Sharks chip away at the lead as the Redhawks look gassed and go zone. A pair of layups against porous defense cut the lead to 7 with 5:10 left. A pair of Sharks triples in the last minute make it interesting, but Parker Hines makes 5 of 6 FTs to seal the deal. 80-74 Redhawks win thanks to Hanson's big performance.

Session 6
To the game of the day with TC Elite taking on TNL for the pool A title in 17U. Alex Koch gone for prom unfortunately. Derek Wolhowe, caution flammable. He gets the 1st 10 points for TC Elite. That gets them a 23-17 lead after the 1st quarter. TNL right back as a pair of Devon Knopke layups put them on top 32-31 with 3:25 left in the 1st half. TC Elite up 37-35 at the half. Jay Sewer with 13 points as he had the range from outside (3 triples).

TNL wins the 3rd quarter 20-9 and they take a 55-46 lead to the stretch run. Kyle Zimmerman with a pair of hoops inside for a 61-56 TNL lead with 2:45 left. Undersized vertically and strength wise, the left is still tough and productive inside. Josh Pratt for 3 with 56.4 left to cut the TNL lead to 62-59. Knopke then misses a pair of FTs and TC Elite converts with 38.9 left. 62-61 TNL. TNL inbounds and moves the ball and moves the ball and the clock never moves. Zimmerman with 1 of 2 FTs and Stephen Asp continues his big 2nd half with a bucket to tie the game with 30 seconds left. TNL has 2 chances late and we'll go to OT tied at 63.

Zimmerman with a nice spin and difficult finish for 2 inside and then a Knopke 3. TC Elite gets 2 stops but they miss 2 front ends. Zimmerman makes them pay with a hoop at 1:40 and TNL goes on to win 78-71. For TNL, Jay Sewer with 23 points and Kyle Zimmerman with 15 on my unofficial sheet. Stephen Asp with 22 for TC Elite. I don't remember if it was this game or another TC Elite game but they had Adrian Wackett on the wing of a 1-3-1 zone D instead of on top or in the back. Strange to see that twice in the same day.

Session 7
17s done for the day but we still have a pair of session left with 16s. MN Glory blow out MN Select 69-32. Some interesting pieces for the Glory 16s with Ben Figini (Josh's younger brother) and 8th grader Brody Egeberg (5'6 lefty guard who can shoot it). TNL 16s defeat Old Skool 74-60.

Session 8
MN Select 15s def MN Fury 15s 62-59 in a close game throughout. Central Flyers defeat P-Town 70-48 in a game where there were a handful of technicals.

Sunday Games
17U Quarters
TNL vs Team Cannon
Triple Threat vs Comets North
TC Elite vs MN Sharks
Mpls Redhawks vs MN Sizzle

16U Quarters
La Crosse YMCA vs Old Skool
TNL vs P-Town
Central Flyers vs MN Select (winner to play MN Glory in semis)

15U Quarters
TC Elite Black vs TNL
TC Elite Green vs MN Fury
MN Select vs TC Elite White (winner to play Triple Threat in semis)

43 Hoops Carr at Adidas May Classic

43 Hoops Carr travels to Bloomington, IN for the Adidas May Classic. They've been placed in 1 of 2 "super" pools which moves them onto bracket play. Out of 60 16U teams, only 6 were placed in a super pool. A nice honor for a Minnesota team. Their pool includes the Michigan Mustangs and Ohio Basketball Club. They'll open pool play at Indiana University's Assembly Hall on Saturday Morning. SYF is also in the tournament after making an appearance here last weekend. The D1E (Derrick Rose Elite) team that knocked out Pump N Run in Denver semifinals last month is also in the tournament.

2009 Festival of Teams Preview

12 of the 18 17U teams in this week's Festival of Teams are making the trip to Iowa from Minnesota. Here's a look at what I expect from the weekend in Iowa. Schedules for the weekend can be found here.

Pool A: This Speice Mo-Kan Elite team may have one of the top 2012 players in the country in Perry Elllis. 94 Ft of Game and EOTO are the competition here so I'll take Mo-Kan.

Pool B: Magic Black and the MN Heat Elite should be a good matchup for the pool title in this one. I think the Heat's size will be too much. Paul Franklin (Heat) and Deron Murphy (Black) is a good matchup of guards, but expect Franklin to guard Franklin (Walter to guard Paul that is)

Pool C: Weak pool with Comets-Blue and the 2nd All Iowa Attack Team.

Pool D: Minnesota Pump N Run is the clear favorite here with MSB also in the pool.

Pool E: Harrison Barnes' All Iowa Attack Red team is here. MN Fury Gold is also in the pool.

Pool F: The MN Fury Elite squad is my pick here. MN Heat Select team is here also. With Trey Scott, their game vs Fury might be interesting.

Bracket matchups. The winners of pools E and F get 1 less game to move to the championship. Possible Semifinal matchup of Speice Mo-Kan vs MN Pump N Run sticks out with Fury Elite vs Barnes in the other semi. That makes for all kinds of good finals possibilities. And if you're into summer politics, how about a possible quarterfinal matchup of Magic Black vs MN Pump N Run. The kids probably won't make an issue of it, but for those of us who write it gives us material.

Good Minnesota teams spread all around the bracket here. MN Heat Elite are in pool A but with Speice Mo-Kan. Pool C has Wear Out The Net vs Magic Elite-Garvis in an interesting matchup. TC Elite will have their hands full with All Iowa Attack Black in Pool D. MN Heat Black and MSB are in Pool E with All Iowa Attack Red in a nice pool. EOTO and Magic Elite-Culp are in Pool F. Magic Culp looking to rebound from a rough weekend at the Sabes last week. Pool G has the 2nd Comets 16U team and Wizard's Den vs MN Pump N Run in an all Minnesota pool. Fury Gold is in Pool H.

The brackets are a straight 8 team bracket. All the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers get their own bracket. Interesting semifinal possibility of MN Pump N Run vs All Iowa Attack Red. The MN Heat Elite could get another shot at Wear Out The Net in the semis. WOTN blew out the Heat in the Pump N Run semis at the end of April with the Heat down to 3 guys at the end. I'm rooting for a Pump N Run vs Heat Elite matchup in the finals and not just because of the Alex Richter connection.

The top MN Suns team is in pool A. Heat Select look to have a decent shot to come out of Pool B. MN Southside resides in Pool C with MN Heat Elite in Pool D. Net Gain's 15U team is in Pool E. 43 Hoops in Pool F. Pool G has a great pool matchup of MN Static vs MN Pump N Run. Winning the pool means 1 less game to the championship. MN Heat Elite vs 43 Hoops is a good potential quarterfinal game with the winner possibly having a shot at Pump N Run or the Static.

2009 Howard Pulley Sabes Invitational Championship Day

A nice setup with the bracket games alternating between the 16s and 17s.

16U Quarterfinals
KC Truth took on All Iowa Attack Black and jumped out to a 16 point halftime lead, 49-33. Attack Black cuts the lead to 4 with 8:15 left before the Truth hurts. 79-64 KC Truth wins. KC Pump N Run up 38-22 on the Playground Elite at the half and they hang on 65-59. SYF against All Iowa Attack Red. SYF up 3 at the half after Attack Red jumped out to a quick 7 point lead. 39 all with 14 minutes left before an 8-0 run gives them a lead they won't give up. SYF turns it over for a layup with 1 minute left and they only lead by 1. Attack Red has a couple of late chances but SYF makes 2 FTs with 9.6 left for a 77-72 win.

Finally, Howard Pulley Black against Illinois Warriors. Howard Pulley out 14-5 early as they knock down 4 quick triples. The Warriors fight back and lead 31-27 at the half. They extend that lead to 38-28 right away in the 2nd half. HP fights back to tie the game at 45 with 2:45 left. Zach Lofton then converts an offensive rebound to tie the game at 48 with 1:20 left. The Warriors miss the front end of the bonus but after a timeout, Lofton can't get off a shot and we'll play overtime.

The Warriors tie the game with a layup with 16 seconds remaining in OT. Evan Battle misses a layup late that would have won it. We'll play double OT. The Warriors have a chance at the end of the 2nd OT but can't convert. To triple OT and we can't solve the issue there. To a 4th overtime we go. Nick Latzke with a 3 point play and 2 FTs for a 4 point lead. Lofton 1 of 2 with 4.9 left after a Warriors putback. The Warriors can't get a good 3 and Howard Pulley Black advances with a 66-63 win in 4 OT.

17U Quarterfinals
SYF against the Illinois Warriors. A very back and forth game throughout. The Warriors tie the game with 40 seconds left but SYF gets a jumper from the right elbow with 4 seconds left for a 57-55 win. The St. Louis Eagles take a 3 point lead to the half and eventually beat the Playground Elite 90-77.

Grassroots down 25-9 to Houston Hoops 7 minutes into the game. Grassroots claws back and they're down 57-50 with 9 minutes left in the game. But they're down 10 with 4:30 to play. 68-64 Houston with 1:45 left when Joe Bright misses. A Jordair Jett bucket cuts the lead to 3 with 1:22 left but Tobi Oyedeji seals the deal with a dunk. Houston Hoops moves on with a 73-68 win.

Howard Pulley Black gets another morning matchup against the Chicago Demons. This one is just as ugly as yesterday. 20-19 HP at the half. HP up 36-35 with 3:30 left and holding the ball against the Demons zone. HP misses with 1:45 left but the Demons return the favor with 1:16 left. Cedric Martin with a bank with 55 seconds left for a 3 point lead. The Demons miss a tough shot with 30 seconds left. They have a ton of fouls to give and that allows HP to run the clock out for an ugly 38-35 win.

16U Semifinals
KC Truth vs Howard Pulley Black in 1 semifinal. KC Truth by 3 at the half. They extend the lead to 53-40 with 9 minutes left. A couple of Nick Latzke 3 make the final score interesting as KC Truth wins 71-68. In the other semifinal, KC Pump N Run opens up a 45-25 halftime lead on SYF. They win easily 80-55.

17U Semifinals
Houston Hoops vs SYF in the 1 semifinal no one is watching. Houston jumps out to a 28-12 lead with 6:30 left in the 1st half thanks to an Alex Kirk dunk. SYF cuts the defecit to 38-32 at the break. Tobi Oyedeji with 2 FTs with 10 seconds left for a 78-74 Houston win.

Howard Pulley Black vs St. Louis Eagles in the game people are watching. 42-30 Eagles at the half. The Eagles maintain that lead 55-44 with 10:48 left and 61-50 with 6 minutes remaining. Brad Beal faceguarding Jacob Thomas who got hot from 3. 63-58 with 3 minutes to go before Beal becomes a huge factor. He has a steal for a dunk and then a triple. Beal with a layin and a block of a Thomas jumper. The Eagles win 76-69. Beal and Thomas finish with 21 points.

16U Championship
A battle of Kanasas City has the KC Truth take on KC Pump N Run. The Truth do indeed have a bunch of little quick guards. They made it to the semifinals before losing to MN Pump N Run last week at the Jayhawk Invitational. Christian Kirk of KC PNR off to a quick start that included a nice backdoor set for him to start the game. KC PNR looks like they have the game in reasonable control before they give up a late 8-2 run. PNR leads Truth 62-60 with 2 minutes left. KC PNR goes on to win their 2nd straight 16U title 67-63. Christan Kirk with 20 points for KC Pump N Run.

17U Championship
With no Howard Pulley or other local teams in the finals that takes some drama out of it. However, St. Louis Eagles vs Houston Hoops is a very nice matchup. Brad Beal hot in the 1st half prompting this line from his coach to another Eagles player, "Next time throw it to the guy who hit the shot", which prompted a big laugh from the crowd. 42-36 Houston Hoops at the half as Beal has 16 points on 7-10 shooting. Houston big Alex Kirk with 8 points, 7 boards and 2 blocks. Darius Gardner with 4 triples for 12 1st half points.

Kirk back to back buckets for a 10 point Houston lead. Frosh star J-Mychal Reese with a 3 point play with 11:05 left and Hoops leads 55-40. Beal finally gets something in the half at the 8 minute mark. Beal then has a 3 point play with 5:18 left to cut the deficit to 65-60. Then a raindown of triples. The 2nd gives the Eagles a 73-69 lead with 2 minutes left. Beal then for 3 and the lead is 7. Reese counters with a 3 to cut the Eagles lead to 76-74 with 35.4 remaining. Brandon Peters makes 1 of 2 free throws with 12.5 left. Beal misses a 1 and 1 with 6.1 left and Houston has life but Gardner misses at the buzzer. The St. Louis Eagles defeat Houston Hoops 76-75 for the 17U 2009 Howard Pulley Sabes Invitational Championship.

Brad Beal with 24 points. Alex Kirk with 20 points, 8 rebound and 2 blocks on my unofficial stat sheet. I like how Tobi Oyedeji was able to recognize a double team and make an effective pass out of it or use a jump hook when he was able to go 1 on 1.

For another perspective on the tournament, you can read Steven Froemming's thoughts here

Saturday at the 2009 Sabes Invitational

To the longest day in the history of basketball. A 9 AM start with a 2 games in a 10:40 PM session. Oof!

Session 1
Howard Pulley Black 17s taking on the Chicago Demons with a late arriving roster. 6 guys to start but we eventually get a more complete supporting cast. The rest of the roster was asleep too. 31-25 Demons with 9:23 to play when HP goes to a press to try and wake up. The Demons get the next bucket but that's basically their day. Chad Calcaterra with a couple of post hoops and Jordan Hughes with a triple to put HP on top for good. Cedric Martin finishes a 13-0 run with a 3 point play. 38-33 HP with 2:24 to go and they win 42-35 as the Demons get 2 points in the last 9+ minutes.

The St. Louis Eagles blew out All Iowa Attack Black 97-52 as that game was over almost immediately after starting.

Session 2
A single game session for me as I take in Harrison Barnes and All Iowa Attack Red vs Houston Hoops. Hoops leads 22-15 before Attack has a string of triples to tie the game at 25 with 5:30 left in the 1st half. They keep it going for a 39-33 halftime lead. Harrison Barnes with 7 points in the half. Trayvonn Wright with 11. Brandon Peters 11 and Tobi Oyedeji with 8.

Barnes with 6 in a row early in the half for a 45-38 lead and then he gets doubled in the post and the kickout leads to a Wright dunk. Barnes and Zach McCabe nail triples around a Wright block and the Attack lead is 57-44 with 10:50 to play. Peters with a 360 dunk to cut the lead to 7 with 8:10 left. Frosh J-Mychal Reese quiet but he nails a jumper with 4:44 left and Houston is back on top 67-65. Time out Attack and coach Sullivan is not at all pleased with his team as the entire gym finds out.

Barnes with a dunk and 2 free throws for the lead. After a LJ Rose 3, Reese is huge down the stretch. He nails a 2 and then a 3 for a 75-72 lead with 2:10 remaining. Then he finds Peters on a lob to keep the Houston lead at 5 with 1:06 left. He then has a layin and another assist to Peters for a 83-79 lead with 19 seconds left. Barnes with 2 of 3 FTs with 11.8 left but Peters seals the deal with 2 freebies with 7.7 to play. Houston Hoops wins 85-81.

Harrison Barnes 8-13 shooting for 28 points (11-13 FTs). Trayvonn Wright with 18 points as he continues to play well for the Attack. Brandon Peters big with 23 points and he spent time doing a respectable job on Barnes. J-Mychal Reese big late to finish with 16 points. Fellow frosh LF Rose with 13, Tobi Oyedeji with 12.

Session 3
I take in a little bit of 16U action (nothing exciting) and catch the end of the Playground Elite struggling to beat RBS 79-71. And of course, my waistline demands I have some lunch.

Session 4
Another look at Houston Hoops as they play for the Pool D title against the Illinois Warriors. 31-27 Warriors at half. The lead extends to 11 with 6:30 to go and the Warriors are never really challenged. Houston so disgusted with their play that the bench got major minutes. Oyedeji sat probably the last 11 minutes for Knene Anyigbo who was a beast inside in this one. Warriors win Pool D 64-53.

HP Black 17s beat St. Louis Eagles 83-73 for the Pool A crown. Another game of a 10 point lead and no real contest down the stretch. Howard Pulley 17 White nailed a halfcourt 3 to send their game with Grassroots to OT before losing.

Session 5
Dakota Schoolers vs SYF Players for 2nd in Pool C. Lots of coaches on the rail for this one. Tie game with 9 minutes left but the Schoolers only get 1 hoop the rest of the way but it was still interesting down the stretch as SYF was only up 4 with 2 minutes left. 56-48 they move on in an ugly display. No Cody Larson for the Schoolers due to injury.

Session 6
Finally the end of pool play. Team Nebraska vs RBS for 2nd place in Pool B. 77-70 RBS inside a minute to play but they give up 9 quick ones in a row after not making FTs. 79-77 Team Nebraska with 20 seconds left and then RBS turns it over. But Team Nebraska misses a front end with 10.1 to play. Ryan Walker to the rim for 2 and the foul with 3.1 left to give RBS a crazy 80-79 .


Session 7
A light session 7 with only 2 playin games for the 17s due to forfeits. Interesting bracket with Pool E playing all the playin games vs the last place teams from the other 4 pools. That means MSB gets All Iowa Attack Black. Black wins that one 51-44.

We get the very interesting Comets vs Grassroots matchup in the other game. Grassroots out quickly 14-5 at the 12:20 mark. Then the Comets start raining in triples. Jordan Riewer with 2 and an assist to Erik Tengwall for another. Zach Noreen with another to end a 16-0 Comets run for a 21-14 lead with 7:30 left in the half. The Comets playing 3-2 and 2-3 zone during the run. Grassroots not patient vs the zone and jacking up 3s left and right. Taylor Filipek for 3 and Riewer with a layup. 38-22 Comets with 4:10 left in the half and Grassroots has to use their 3rd timeout of the half. 33-8 run over 8:10. Great shooting by the Comets but the looks are great looks too.

The Comets decide to go back man and Grassroots responds with 8 in a row over the next 90 seconds prompting a Comets timeout. Kevin Thompson going off for Grassroots as he had the last bucket before the timeout, 2 more hoops and a steal to cut the lead to 38-36 (14-0 Grassroots run). Back to the zone for the Comets as they go to the half up 44-38.

The Comets keep the lead as the game stays close. Jordair Jett with a 3 and an assist to Thompson. 54-53 Comets at 9:10. Shaun Condon providing all the offense for the Comets as we go forward. That keeps the Comets close. Finally a nice catch of a lob and reverse layup by Carlos Emory puts Grassroots back on top 63-61 with 6:40 left. Condon still scoring for the Comets. Quincey Bethea with a big triple with 90 seconds left for a 69-67 Grassroots lead. 70-67 with 1 minute left. Comets run a play and get nothing out of it. Finally with 5.8 left a tieup goes their way. Out of a timeout, Riewer throws up an early halfcourt prayer and Grassroots hangs on 70-67. Zach Noreen's performance for the Comets also worth noting in this one.

Session 8
16U Playin games here. KC Pump Run 15s jump on the MN Magic 8-0 early but the Magic lead 34-28 at the half. 53-50 KC with 5:47 to go but out of a timeout it changes. KC moves on 71-56. ECI 16s vs Playground Elite 15s in another playin game. 47-38 ECI with 6 minutes left before star Otis Pirtle goes off. He has a pair of 3 point plays and a hoop to tie the game at 48 with 3:38 left. ECI nails a 3 with 52 seconds left to tie the game at 51. Playground turns it over with 35 seconds left but they turn it over with 16 seconds left. Playground fouled with 13 seconds left but they miss both. Pirtle grabs the offensive board of the 2nd miss and puts it back with 8 seconds left for the 53-51 Playground Elite win.

Session 9
17U Round of 16 game: Grassroots vs KC Pump N Run. 8-3 KC early before Quincy Bethea lights up. He 3rd triple of the half gives Grassroots a 21-18 lead at the 11 minute mark. Jordair Jett picks up 2 quick fouls for a total of 3 with 8:12 left in the half and he'll have to sit. KC goes zone with 5:30 left in the half but Grassroots not phased by it in this one. Bethea nails another triple late in his huge 1st half (14+ pts) for a 45-43 Grassroots halftime lead. Trevor Releford with a monster half as well for KC.

45 all in the second half before a Grassroots spurt. Carlos Emory with a big alley-oop dunk, Jett with a hoop and Emory with a tip in and Jett with a jumper. Grassroots gets the lead to 56-47. But Releford has a big sequence. A layup, then a block on Jett that Releford gets back and scores on the other end. Worse yet Jett hacks him in the act for the And 1 which is his 4th foul. 8:53 left and KC has cut the lead to 59-58. Much to the amazement of many, Jett stays in the game.

6 in a row for Grassroots push the lead to 7 and Jett surely will sit now won't he? I think not. Ricky Kreklow for 3 with 5:30 left and then another KC hoop cut the lead back to 1, 69-68 Grassroots with 5:07 left and now Jett will sit. Wow. You need him against this run. He's back at 3:29. Bethea with a pair of clutch jumpers around Jett's re-entry. 74-68 Grassroots leads with 3:10 left. Bethea with an assist to Noreen at 2:15. Releford with a layup at 1:45 and the lead is 76-75 Grassroots. Bethea with another clutch J at 1:30. KC scores and Jett counters with a tough layup on the other end with 40 seconds left. 80-77 Grassroots leads. KC scores and Grassroots turns it over on the inbounds as Jett went long and the pass went short with 19.9 left.

KC underneath inbounds to Kreklow who's standing in front of an official and is on the sideline. Ref makes the call but Al Sharpton rules a push on the play from his halfcourt position. Amazing. In a moment of poetic justice, Kreklow misses the front of the bonus. KC has to give a bunch of fouls (3 or 4) before Bethea misses a front end with 6.6 to go. Releford comes flying back the other way and he bowls over Emory with 1.5 left for a charge. Grassroots wins 80-79 in a fantastic game. Trevor Releford and Quincy Bethea were outstanding in this one and Releford outplayed Jett.

17U Round of 16 Results (Bracket Order)
Howard Pulley Black over ECI 89-64 with a big end to the game.
Chicago Demons over RBS 56-46
Playground Elite over All Iowa Attack Black 76-49 (Session 10)
St. Louis Eagles over Team Nebraska 105-75
Grassroots over KC Pump N Run 80-79
Houston Hoops over Dakota Schoolers 64-54
Illinois Warriors over Howard Pulley White 57-43
SYF over All Iowa Attack Red 77-73 in an upset.

That means that last week's Jayhawk finalist are both out (Attack Red and KC PNR).

Session 10
6 16U Round of 16 Games. Dakota Schoolers with a triple to cut SYF's lead to 68-66 with 1:05 left but a 3 point play puts the game away for an SYF win. MN Comets down 43-10 early before losing big to KC Pump N Run in a result that really surprised me. HP Black 15s hung around with the All Iowa Attack Red squad until an 11-2 run at the 10 minute mark of the 2nd half put the game away. Final Results below.

Session 11
Final 2 16U Round of 16U games. Playground Elite 16s give up the 1st basket of the 2nd half to have their lead vs Howard Pulley 17 White cut to 5, but a 7-0 run pushes the lead to 12. HP goes 1-3-1 on defense and can't hit a shot on the other end. The game sits on 44-30 for almost 7 minutes. Ugly. Playground Elite moves on 56-38. All Iowa Attack Red up 18-2 on Team Missouri to start the game. That extends to 34-14 at the half as they move on. Chris Monter wins his shooting game series 5-3 on the day. We all need something to keep awake.

16U Round of 16 Results (Bracket Order)
Illinois Warriors over All Iowa Attack 15U 60-49
Howard Pulley Black 16U over KC PNR 15U 62-51
All Iowa Attack Black over Team Missouri (after press time)
KC Truth over Playground Elite 15U 61-45
KC Pump N Run over MN Comets 82-42
Playground Elite 16U over Howard Pulley White 16U 56-38
SYF over Dakota Schoolers 75-68
All Iowa Attack Red over Howard Pulley Black 15U 85-66

You can see what just 1 level can do to a team as all 4 15U teams playing went out early.

Friday at the 2009 Sabes Invitational

3 sessions on a light day 1 of the 2009 Howard Pulley Sabes Invitational.

Session 1
Grassroots featuring Kevin Noreen and Carlos Emory from MN Pump N Run. They're playing ECI with Joe Terfehr but no contest in the first few minutes that I watch as Grassroots jumps out to a 12-1 lead. Howard Pulley White leading early after MSB got out to a quick 7-2 start. Playground Elite 16s vs Comets 16s. Much to my horror, Jayme Moten has taken Minnesota's greatest hair and turned it into cornrows. I couldn't find Kevin Mays or Darrell Longstreet for Playground Elite, 22-21 late in the 1st half. Ah, Longstreet is playing up with the Playground Elite 17s as they lead Team Nebraska 40-31 at the half. But their 2nd half defense of pick and roll is porous at best. Up 3 late, Playground turns it over for a layup. Cinmeon Bowers (big body, that surprised me as I thought he was Jon Macklin) with 1 of 2 with 30 seconds left for a 2 point game. A Team NE miss, 1 of 2 and the miss putback by Playground and they win 72-69. Howard Pulley Black all over All Iowa Attack Black 47-27 when I first look in. AIA cuts it to 14 with 7:30 to go but HP rolls from there 74-50. Chad Calcaterra with 3 blocks that I saw.

Session 2
I stay in the main gym for KC Pump N Run vs SYF in the only 17U game of the session (schedule changes), but anybody worth noting for SYF wasn't there (i.e top 10 stud Dominique Ferguson). 18-13 SYF with 8:15 left in the 1st half when KC PNR goes 2-3 zone and SYF has no answer. The zone works for a 20-5 run to end the half, 33-23 KC. The lead gets cut to 6 and then 5 late but Trevor Releford won't let KC lose. They win 70-65. U of M visitor Ricky Kreklow with a nice performance in this one and there was no good answer for Releford. Moral of the story, watch SYF again tomorrow.

Session 3
The main event of the night and we event have the Star Tribune on hand watching Harrison Barnes and All Iowa Attack Red against the Illinois Warriors. We get underway late thanks to the Warriors late arrival, but after a quick warmup, its only 5 minutes late. After a 6-0 Warriors start, Attack responds with a 12-2 run of their own for a 12-8 lead at 11:45. Oregon State signee Ahmad Starks then goes nuts for the Warriors once, twice and give me all 3 of these sick step back triples. Add in a layup for 11 straight Warriors points. 24-21 Warriors with 7 minutes left in the half. Brandon Spearman then with a triple and coast to coast to beat the halftime buzzer and that cuts the Attack lead to 39-35 at the break. Spearman 11 and 5, Starks 3 triples for 13 points for the Warriors. Harrison Barnes 12 and 8 with a block but only 4-12 shooting and Zach McCabe with 8 points for All Iowa Attack.

Barnes keeping it going in the 2nd half. 52-45 Attack leads with 11:21 left and Barnes has 20. 57-56 Attack with 7:30 to play but Barnes starts a run with a layup and a dunk. Add on an Attack triple and the lead is out to 8 with 5 minutes to play. Then Antonio Jones explodes. He has a sweet putback dunk and on the next possession he goes up with 1 hand grabs a rebound and cocks it back and almost rips the rim off while getting fouled to send the crowd into a frenzy. He also had an earlier putback dunk that got caught on front iron that would have been huge too. That dunk was even better than Carlos Emory posterizing Marquis Mason 2 weeks ago. But he misses the FT and the Attack still lead by 1, 68-67, with 2:15 left. Spearman getting the assigment guarding Barnes down the stretch but after the teams trade buckets he fouls out on a cheap foul with 1:32 left. Dwayne Evans goes back to guarding Barnes and Barnes immediately takes him for a lefty layup with 1:20 left. Attack by 3 at that point and Barnes with a block on the other end. Starks with a bucket with 1 minute left as the Warriors got the loose ball and then Starks with the steal with 30 seconds left. He throws the lob to Jones who almost gets undercut. He makes the 1st and misses the 2nd but the misses is tipped out of bounds to the Warriors with 21.6 left. We're tied at 72. The Attack give 3 fouls on Starks, the last with 4.6 left and then put Barnes on Starks for the final play from around halfcourt. Starks gets the ball in the backcourt, goes by Barnes and has a clean look at an NBA 3 that's no good and we'll play OT.

A quick trade of buckets to start the OT. Barnes cuts the Warriors lead to 2 with 1:03 left before Jones gets another dunk, this time on a alley-oop. The Warriors then try to give the game away. They miss a front end of the bonus, then leave Zach McCabe for 3 and miss another 1 and 1 with 20.9 left. The entire building knows where this ball is going. Barnes gets the inbounds, brings it across the timeline and uses a high-screen to his left. 8.2 left when the whistle blows. Its one of our favorite officials Al Sharpton and he's got a 5 second call on Barnes. WOW! Barnes had the ball the entire time (12.7), but with the high screen you usually get separation. Can't say if the call was good or bad, but it was gutsy. After 1 Warriors FT, the Attack have 1 more chance with the ball being inbounded from halfcourt. Barnes gets the ball 15 FT away right baseline and tries to go up over a double team. No chance and the Warriors win 82-80 in a classic.

For All Iowa Attack Red, Harrison Barnes finishes with 31, 11 and 3 blocks on my stat sheet. I had him 10-25 from the field and 10-12 from the line. Zach McCabe with 19 points. Lefty Brandon Stubbs did a nice job on both ends against the quicker Warriors guards. Trayvonn Wright continued to build on his nice performance at the Jayhawk Invitational last week. He's a thin 6'8 but he's a nice presence on the defensive end for them.

For the Illinois Warriors. Ahmad Starks finishes with 20 points. Definitely the leader of the team, quick and a streaky shooter. Brandon Spearman with 15 points. Both him and Dwayne Jones were very physical when guarding Barnes which I think contributed to the poor shooting performance.

2009 Howard Pulley Sabes Invitational Preview

Here are my thoughts going into the 2009 Howard Pulley Sabes Invitational. View the tournament schedules here

Pool A
Teams: Howard Pulley Black, St. Louis Eagles, Chicago Demons, All IA Attack

This is Howard Pulley's top team with Chad Calcaterra and Jacob Thomas being the noteworthy players to watch. I love the irony of seeing the Demons in the same pool after HP beat the Demons by 40 in pool play only to lose to them in the quarters last season. All Iowa Attack has their 2nd team in this bracket. The Demons come in with 6'7 forward Floyd Campbell who was an honorable mention all-city pick in Chicago. The St. Louis Eagles bring point guard Karl Madison and stud sophomore Brad Beal to the party. Beal fantastic last weekend in St. Louis in the 16U division losing to MN Pump N Run in the final after a big win over PNR in pool play. Beal's a 6'3 smooth shooting guard with a versatile game. Kansas, Missouri, Purdue, Florida and Illinois are listed as offering him.

Predicted Order of Finish: HP Black, STL Eagles, Demons, All Iowa Attack
Pool Game of Note: 1:15 Saturday STL Eagles vs HP Black

Pool B
Teams: Metro Hawks, Playground Elite, Team Nebraska, RBS All-Stars

I've got no idea on the Metro Hawks or Team Nebraska. I can only hope Nebraska big Elliot Eliason is with them, but I highly doubt it. I'll be watching 5'11 guard Ryan Walker for RBS. But being a Wisconsin guy only the Playground Elite matter to me here. 6'4 wing Chim Kadima leads the way. He's #7 in the wishoops.net rankings and had previously committed to Iowa State. He had a decent showing at the East Metro Showcase in January. #9 sophomore 6'6 F Cinmeon Bowers is also featured on this team. Also ranked from the team are #48 6'5 wing Troy Hoff , #49 5'10 PG Terry Taylor, and #29 6'7 shot-blocker and banger Jon Macklin. He was a monster when I saw him at the start of last season.

Predicted Order of Finish: Playground Elite, Metro Hawks, RBS, Team Nebraska

Pool C
Teams: Mac Irvin Fire, KC Pump N Run, SYF Players, Dakota Schoolers

This is one of the 2 pools that is absolutely stacked. Trevor Releford was the 16U MVP last year for KC PNR with his Willis Reed performance and the 6'0 PG is back this year. He had 30 points in the loss to Harrison Barnes and All Iowa Attack in the Jayhawk final. Kansas State has offered and his stock is quickly rising. 6'6 wing Ricky Kreklow holds a handful of mid-major offers and has some interest from Minnesota. 6'4 guard Marc Braden was also named to the Jayhawk all-tourney team.

The Dakota Schoolers bring in a few familiar faces. Iowa recruit 6'9 F Cody Larson along with Ellsworth star Trevor Gruis return. 6'0 PG Derek Brown played in some summer events with the MN Magic 16 Elites last year and is now with the Schoolers.

The SYF Players bring in the #6 (Rivals), #9 (Scout) player in the 2010 class 6'9 Dominique Ferguson. He had previously committed to Kentucky before John Calipari took that job. PF Brandon Dawson and SF Markus Crider (Dayton, Akron, Wright State offers with Ohio State and Minnesota watching) are also SYF players to watch in the tourney from the 2011 class.

The Mac Irvin Fire are absolutely loaded with talent. Rivals rankings for their roster. 6'8 F Jereme Richmond is #19 and was a monster last weekend at the Spiece Run and Slam tournament. He's committed to Illinois. #23 6'5 guard Crandall Head will also attend Illinois. The Illini also get a big guy from the roster in #69 ranked 6'11 center Meyers Leonard. Scout has those players ranked #6, #37 and #29 respectively. And that's just the 2010 class. The Fire also feature 2 of the top 2011 prospects in the nation. 6'8 F Mike Shaw is ranked #7 by Rivals and #10 by Scout with his versatile game. He has an Illinois offer. 6'5 Wing Wayne Blackshear is ranked #8 by Scout. He's been offered by Texas and Illinois. And you can't forget about Reggie Smith or Tim Hardaway's son, Tim Hardaway Jr.

Predicted Order of Finish: Mac Irvin Fire, SYF Players, KC Pump N Run, Dakota Schoolers
Games to See: 11:50 AM Saturday Mac Irvin Fire vs SYF or KC PNR vs Mac Irvin Fire at 4 PM.

Pool D
Teams: Houston Hoops, Illinois Warriors, All Iowa Attack Red, Minnesota Comets

The other pool that is totally stacked. All Iowa Attack brings in Scout.com's top 2010 player Harrison Barnes (#4 Rivals). But don't overlook 6'5 wing Zach McCabe. He received an Iowa offer after all of the defections from that program.

The Illinois Warriors bring in the #82 player in 2010 (per Rivals), 6'3 Brandon Spearman. A glue player with great effort. No Vander Blue for them this weekend which is a shame for a Badger fan like me.

The MN Comets Elites will have their deep roster on hand with guys like wing Taylor Filipek but they will throw 10 guys at you in waves.

Houston Hoops is also stacked. Their backcourt of 6'1 LJ Rose and 6'0 J-Mychal Reese are only freshman but they can play. Reese especially is a star in the making. But its not just guards. 6'8 Tobi Oyedeji is the #60 player in the country according to Rivals. 6'11 Alex Kirk is from New Mexico but plays with this squad and has interest from Minnesota amongst others high majors.

Predicted Order of Finish: All Iowa Attack, Houston Hoops, Illinois Warriors, MN Comets
Games to See: 10:25 AM Saturday All Iowa Attack vs Houston Hoops

Pool E
Teams: Howard Pulley White, Grassroots, ECI, MSB

The weakest of the pools, but you've got to have some love for the local teams. Home cooking, mmm, mmm. For HP White, I look for Jalen Jaspers to lead them. ECI will bring in Breckenridge's 6'7 Joe Terfehr. He missed the Comets tournament so I'm looking forward to seeing him. MSB not spectacular but always solid and ready to pounce on the team that doesn't take them seriously. 6'3 soph Lucas Brown is one to watch along with Rosemounts Zach Vraa. Grassroots with Jordair Jett will always be entertaining and I'm hearing they may get Steve Tecker and Dyami Starks for the weekend with Pump N Run taking the week off. I'm hearing they may have 1 other noteworthy addition too.

Predicted Order of Finish: Grassroots, HP White, MSB, ECI
Games to See: 1:15 Saturday Grassroots vs HP White

Everybody makes the championship bracket which means we have 10:40 PM games for the 16s with the winners coming back for 8 AM games on Sunday morning. Ouch. The 17s except for 1 game are done with the 8 PM game and don't play until 9:25 Sunday morning

I see the early playoff rounds as a formality. In the semis, I'll take All Iowa Attack Red over the Playground Elite, Mac Irvin Fire over HP Black. Mac Irvin Fire over All Iowa Attack Red in the final.

16U division players of note: 6'7 F Christan Kirk from KC Pump N Run 16U, #2 ranked in WI 6'3 Darrell Longstreet and 6'3 Kevin Mays from Playground Elite 16U (#12 in WI), #6 ranked freshman 6'3 Otis Pirtle of the Playground Elite 15U team. Siyani Chambers and Isaiah Zierden from the Howard Pulley Black 15s. They both made the Jayhawk all-tourney team last weekend. Marcus Alipate and Nick Latzke from the Howard Pulley Black 16U squad.

Pump N Run 16s take the 2009 Jayhawk Invitational

What a weekend down in Kansas for a bunch of Minnesota teams. The MN Pump N Run 16U team came home with the gold. Here's how PNR might tell you their weekend unfolded.

Game 1: KC Legacy White
That 1st game on Friday is always difficult. Team left at 5:45 AM, was setup at a hotel 30 minutes away from the games (big convention in KC this week). Pump N Run plays sluggish but gets 20 points from Jason Perkins. He looks like a post, but don't discount his ability to handle like a guard. He was used against a big 6'7 280 pound behemoth 1 on 1 and in clear outs against the press. PNR wins by 20. But an early Friday game means a long Saturday day awaits as Game 2 is at 8 AM.

Game 2: Hammond Hurricanes
Leave the hotel at 6:30 AM. 28-17 at the half but the defense wasn't inspriring. A bit of halftime encouragement leads to a 41-14 2nd half as PNR wins 69-31. Aaron Ziman 7-9 for 16 points. Jonah Travis and Alex Richter in double figures and Kyle Noreen with 3 triples for 9 points. Shelby Moats with 7 points. Due to illness he missed the last 2 games of the tournament.

Game 3: St Louis Eagles
This one is for the pool title and features star Brad Beal for the Eagles. A very smooth 6'3 wing who can finish and shoot it while creating for others. Don't be surprised to see him very high in the next round of 2011 rankings that come out. He'll be here with the St. Louis Eagles 17s in the Sabes Invite this weekend.

Beal is being looked at by Kansas amongst other high majors so its a very partisan crowd. PNR gives up some transition hoops during the 1st half but still leads 34-32 at the break. In the 2nd half, the Eagles dominate the offensive glass and their point guard Shaq Noga controls the game. Beal with 17 points but most of them came when Kyle Noreen wasn't guarding him. Alex Richter was a bright spot with 23 points. Eagles win 71-54 with the big 2nd half. Eagles win the pool so that means PNR gets the extra bracket game.

Game 4: Howard Pulley Black
If this matchup were next year, it'd be big news. The matchup of the top 17U programs didn't materialize but we do get this and the kids were fired up for it. PNR dominates the 1st half with a 32-18 lead via outstanding defense. HP upped the intensity in the 2nd half and came all the way back to make it interesting. Its's a 4 point game late when Jonah Travis gets loose vs the press for a dunk and that's a dagger. The lead gets back to double digits. 54-42 PNR wins. Aaron Ziman 8 pts, 8 rebs and a handful of assists. Jonah Travis and Alex Richter with 12 each. Evan Battle impressive inside against the slew of PNR bigs.

Here's the Howard Pulley point of view from their website.
"Our 16 Black team lost in the quarterfinals to the Minnesota Pump N Run 54-42. After trailing most of the game the Panters cut the lead to 4 points with under 2-minutes remaining but couldn't sustain the comeback and lost their first game of the tournament. Evan Battle really played hard in this game and showed a great deal of heart grabbing 10 rebounds, scoring 4 points and playing great defense. Other contributions: Melvin Collins 7 points and 2 rebounds; Marcus Alipate 7 points and 4 assists; Nick Latzke 7 points and 2 rebounds; Myles Barnes 4 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots; Ariel Deloney 4 points and 2 rebouds and 2 points each from Andrew Hansen, Bretson McNeal and Zachary Lofton"

Game 5: Nebraska Bison
This Nebraska Bison team may be the top team in Nebraska and they beat a good All Iowa Attack team to get to this game. 4th game of the day on a short turnaround from an absolutely draining game both mentally and physically. Nothing like starting a game like this at 10 PM. PNR 24-18 at the half but they are absolutely dead. Second half goes back and forth with neither team able to pull away. The Bison putback a miss with 5 seconds left for a 2 point lead. Travis catches the inbound, takes 3 dribbles and lays the ball in the hoop and we'll go to OT tied at 49. Travis makes 1 of 2 to start the OT, after a long Bison possession, he gets a great block on the other end. That earns Travis 2 more free throws with 25 seconds left. The Bison run a play looking to tie it but Travis jumps in the passing lane and steals it to steal the game. 51-49 PNR wins. Travis with the last 8 PNR points of the game. He finishes with 13. Great resolve by the kids to get through a very difficult game where there was nothing in the tank. Team doesn't arrive back to the hotel until 12:45 AM, bed time at 1:45 AM. Up at 7:30 for the 9:10 AM game.

Quarterfinals: Ramey Basketball
Ramey very athletic at the guard spot and PNR is still beat from the rough night not very far in the past. Alex Richter with 23 points in the easy win. He's been so good getting to the basket that he hasn't needed to make outside shots. That's a silent part of his game that continues to show up more in the summer.

Semifinals: KC Truth
The Truth are here this weekend in the Sabes. Best offensive game of the year for PNR. Alex Kreuser 4-5 from 3 in the 1st half. Total of 18 points. Jonah Travis 7-7 FGs for 14 points. 43-25 PNR at the half. 70-49 PNR wins by shooting the lights out. Nice job by Aaron Ziman to handle the slew of small quick guards (like himself) that the Truth sent at him. Jonah Travis gets the opportunity to sign a poster in this one.

Championship: St. Louis Eagles
PNR gets another shot at the Eagles. PNR trying a little box and 1 on Beal 28-24 PNR at the half as Jason Perkins beats the buzzer. Close game late when Beal goes nuts. He hits a 3 on Ethan Petrill. Kyle Noreen comes back to guard Beal and Beal makes a sick 3. PNR down 5 late but Beal can't guard Richter on the other end as Richter has 6 late points. PNR up 1 with about 40 seconds left when Travis goes up for a dunk and runs into a brick wall of denial. The Eagles hold and get a turnaround out of the post with 5 second or so left for a 1 point Eagles lead. Long pass to Travis and Beal runs him over. Travis to the line for 2 freebies. Timeout Eagles. 1st FT is good. Timeout Eagles. 2nd freebie is good. A 3 quarter court shot is right on line but bounces off the backboard long and PNR takes the Jayhawk championship.

Jonah Travis with 16 and 6 and 7 blocks. Those blocks were influences on Beal's drives into the lane. Alex Richter 16. Ethan Petrill 4 of 7 from deep. PNR kept the Eagles off the offensive glass and continued the sound defense (see the 3 charges taken by Jason Perkins). Mike Yahnke with a couple of blocks in the game as well. Kyle Noreen may not be the quickest player, but he uses his length effectively to defend smaller/quicker players. Aaron Ziman named to the all-tourney team for his team management. Alex Richter was a star all tournament and Jonah Travis very easily could have made it for his clutch performances to win 2 games. PNR with a much needed week off this week before trying to defend their title at the Festival of Teams (6 of those kids were on the MN Magic Elite 15s that won it last year). 6'7 wing Eric Robertson was just cleared to play after recovering from a foot injury from the HS season.

Followup to April period being closed

In April, I posted a FoxSports.com article on the impacts of the April period being closed. Andy Katz of ESPN has a different take on it by pointing out that the coaches wanted to see the players but stood up for the principle of closing the period. Are they trying to have it both ways? Here's the link to the ESPN article.

But that doesn't mean its all quiet on the recruiting trail. How about speaking at a clinic? What does that have to do with recruiting you ask. Well, the director of a certain clinic just so happens to be an AAU coach with one of the top 10 kids in 2010 class (Joe Jackson of Memphis White Station, made an appearance at the 2008 TWolves shootout). John Calipari, Bruce Pearl etc, you'd be well advised to speak if you want any chance to get Jackson. Here's the article from Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com.

2009 MN Magic Invitational reports

While I didn't get the chance to attend the Magic Invite, here's some info that was passed along to me about the weekend.

A pair of 17U games, Magic Black was down 16 in the 1st half to EOTO but cut the lead to 4 by half. They survived foul trouble from Deron Murphy in the 2nd half and survived with a 5 point win. Magic Blue blew out Magic Red 64-35. Only a 10 point margin at the break and that was after a 13-3 run to end the half. The margin exploded to 25 in the 1st 5 minutes of the 2nd half as Blue kept up defensive pressure. David Michaelson struggled for Blue, but Michael Tyler (Paladin Academy, Blaine I think, so you'll never see him) chipped in with 15 points. Tyler is an athletic wing who might be a major secret out there.

MN Heat Elite won the 15U bracket and it sounds like there was a dynamite showdown between the Heat Elite and Magic Elite in the 14U bracket. MN Heat Black 16s were 2nd place in the 2nd 16U bracket losing to Grassroots II.

19U Championships, listen to this group. Ethan Wragge, Mike Bruesewitz, Chris Halvorsen, Will Deberg, Deryck Ludwig, Josh Pedretti. Yikes, wouldn't we all like to have a roster like that. I think they were with the 09ers. Magic Black defeated that group 73-68 in the semis. Magic Gold over Grassroots 74-73 in the other semifinal. Black over Gold 68-56 in the title game. Kevin Thompson lighting it up with 27 in the semis and 34 in the championship game. Why JUCOs aren't all over this kid escapes me. Performances like this make me hate having to pick and choose between events.

2009 MN Select Classic Championships

Ah the joy that is bracket play at the MN Select Classic

Session 1
17U Playin game in the main gym with the SW MN Heat taking on the MN Heat Elite. The Heat can't hit a shot in the 1st half and SW leads 34-27 at the break in a major shocker. Zach Riedeman goes off in the 2nd half for the Heat, SW can't hit a shot and the 2nd half is a another world as the Heat beat SW 73-48. Riedeman finishes with at least 20 points.

Session 2
MN Southside against the Heat Select team in a 15U quarterfinal. Southside 9-2 before a brief Heat comeback. Southside moves on 57-32. In the 3 remaining 17U playin games, Comets Blue defeats Select Kruger and Triple Threat-Weber defeats Prior Lake. Finally a great finish between MN Select James and Comets North. Jeremiah Tolbert with a 3 point play in the last minute for Select to send the game to OT. Then he makes a layup with 45 seconds left in OT for a 64-61 lead. Select James hangs on 64-63.

Session 3
Heat Elite 17s with a quick turnaround as they get 43 Hoops-Hemmingsen in the 1st 17U quarterfinal. Vinard Birch from the top 17U team for 43 Hoops making an appearance in the stands in this one. Nick Quicksell with a hot start in the 2nd half to keep the game close. 43 Hoops stretches a close game to an 8 point lead with 7:42 remaining before Zach Riedeman makes 3 of 4 from the stripe and then a triple to tie the game at 53 with 4:45 left. 43 Hoops counters with a 10-0 run to seal the game. Chris McMorris (Osseo) with the big dagger triple to end the run with 2:24 left. 43 Hoops Hemmingsen moves to the semis with the 72-65 win. The anticipated matchup of Dominique Dawson (43 Hoops) vs Ryan Duxbury (MN Heat) inside never really materialized which was disappointing to me as a fan as it would have been fun to see them get a big number touches against each other.

Session 4
The other 3 17U quarters are here. 94 Ft of Game against MN Select-James. Select with a 1st half lead of 6 that gets cut to 1 at the break. 94 Ft pulls away in the last 11 minutes but gives up 7 in a row late to make it interesting. 94 Ft moves on 48-43.

43 Hoops-Carr big over Comets Blue 79-49, Redhawks blow out Triple Threat. In 16U, 43 Hoops II struggled early with Wizard's Den but got thru that for a 15 point halftime lead and a 56-37 victory.

Session 5
20-11 MN Southside over Comets Elite in the 1st 15U semifinal before I hustle back to the activity center for 3 16U quarterfinals (Southside moves on to the 15U final). Heat Elite 16s continue to crush opponents as they had a 49-18 halftime lead on Comets White, 77-30 final there. TNL up 7 on MSB with 5 minutes left, but MSB right back with 7 in a row to tie it 1 minute later. TNL wins 66-61.

MN Select with another team in a struggle as their 16s took on TC Elite. Select up 50-47 with 1:45 left but TC Elite puts back a missed FT for a 52-51 lead with 1:15 left. Chris Thompson (Edina) with a layup with 24 seconds left and TC Elite leads 54-53. They get a strip with 5 seconds left and make 2 FTs for a 56-53 victory.

Session 6
To the semifinals for the 17U bracket. 43 Hoops Carr vs 94 Ft of Game. A triple at the halftime horn gives 43 Hoops Carr a 36-24 halftime lead. Still an 11 point game with 10 minutes left but a 9-1 run over 2 minutes takes care of that and 43 Hoops Carr moves on to the the title game with a 73-56 win.

43 Hoops Hemmingsen vs Mpls Redhawks in the other 17U semi. A 7-2 43 Hoops run to end the half gives them a 37-28 halftime lead. Second half is a different story as the Redhawks win the 1st 7 minutes of the half 19-4 for a 47-41 lead. The lead is cut to 4 before a big John Rowland 3 with 6 minutes left pushes the margin back to 7 and the Redhawks move on 71-61.

In a major 15U semifinal shock, the Dakota Schoolers (a for real team) took out 43 Hoops 63-40. I don't think the Schoolers are that dominant and I don't think 43 Hoops is that bad, but a very impressive win (more on this later)

Session 7
Now the 16U semifinals get the stage all alone and what a letdown or should I say beatdown. Heat Elite blasts TNL 76-43 and 43 Hoops blasts TC Elite 83-45.

Session 8 (Championship Games)
To the 2 games I didn't see, the Dakota Schoolers win by 3 in double OT over Mpls Southside. Those 2 played to a terrific 7 point Southside win in pool play (a game that the Schoolers were up by 13 in the 1st half). MN Heat Elite won 57-42 in the 16U title game. It would have been very interesting to see them in the SW MN Heat spot in the 17U bracket.

To the 17U final between 43 Hoops Carr and the Redhawks. Close early before a 9-2 43 Hoops run forces a Redhawks timeout. 19-9 with 9:30 left in the 1st half. Redhawks out of the timeout with a 7-0 run and then Cory Booker with a 3 point play to cut the lead to 2. But the lead is back to 7 at the break, 36-29 43 Hoops. Estan Tyler 7 for 43 Hoops. Cory Booker 8, Parker Hines 7 for the Redhawks.

Booker with a jumper to tie the game at 38 with 12:40 left. 6 of the next 8 to 43 Hoops. Then a 10-0 Redhawks run as Sam Gullickson tops it off with back to back 3s. 50-44 Redhawks with 8 minutes left. 54-49 Redhawks with 3:20 left and then a big sequence. Jameson Parsons with a steal for 43 Hoops, John Rowland with a great block for the Redhawks but Thomas Schalk puts back the miss and is fouled for the point play. Schalk then puts back another miss and 43 Hoops is back on top 55-54 with 2:20 left as they effectively used their run and jump pressure. That ignited their crowd and bench and it fed off of itself. Booker misses at 1:40 and 43 Hoops holds. Parsons with 2 FTs at 41.4 for a 3 point lead. The Redhawks don't score but Parsons misses the front end of the 1 and 1. Marquel Curtis taps out the miss to Parsons and he makes 1 of 2 with 18.5 left. Hines scores and the Redhawks interestingly don't use their last timeout. Estan Tyler fouled with 6.7 left and makes 1 of 2. The Redhawks want to hustle the ball the halfcourt, but can't get it in. So they have to burn the timeout on the inbounds. 6.7 left to go full court down 3. Coach Birdsong draws up an a great play that gets Billy Chapman the ball ahead of his defender at halfcourt. He pulls up at the 3 point line since the wide open layup does no good and misses a great look at a 3 and 43 Hoops Carr wins the 2009 MN Select Classic 17U Championship 59-56.

Cory Booker was outstanding for the Redhawks with 20 points and 9 rebounds on my unofficial sheet. Parker Hines and John Rowland with 9 points each. Thomas Schalk with 11 points to lead the 43 Hoops balanced attack. Estan Tyler 8, Marquel Curtis and Jameson Parsons 7