My thoughts on vomit, horse racing hats, officiating, defensive struggles and whatever else of note from this weekend's AAU District Championships.
I start the weekend by seeing Tommy McDermott take the tip for 43 Hoops Daniels in the 8-9 game. vs 43 Hoops Gameli My kind of tip with a guard taking it. A pair of Kevin Jensen layups start a run that puts Daniels over the top 53-44. No real surprises in any of the bracket games. Suns came from 10 down vs Daniels in the quarters and won by 19 with a big 3rd quarter (21-2 run). Howard Pulley White took out Daniels last week and took out Pump N Run this week for bragging rights. Comets Elite took out Magic Elite and Southside defeated Heat Elite. Darian Pittman with 24 points (18 FTs) for the Suns as they defeated Pulley in the semis 72-61. Pulley with a pair of runs in that one but couldn't get over the top. That game took forever with all the whistle. Interesting that after a comment of mine to the assigning official about 1 of the refs, he jumped in at half and made it a 3 man crew. Joey King with 23 for Southside as they defeated a very game Comets team 68-60 in the other semi. That game was tied inside of 3 minutes to play. Southside defeated the Suns 49-46 in a war for the 15U title. Nice double teams from the Suns to try and keep King in check. We even had a fan (youngster I believe) leave some of the their lunch in the stands the hard way during the title game. What is that smell? Ewwwwwww, that's vomit. That set of bleachers is toast.
Pump N Run did get their shot at 43 Hoops (finally these teams play again at some level) in the consolation bracket instead of the winners bracket. PNR up 13 late in the 3rd quarter but 43 Hoops doesn't go away. Cortez Tillman goes up and comes down awkwardly on his left wrist late and has to leave. Kevin Jensen makes a pair of FTs to cut the lead to 3 with 1:34 left. But PNR gets 8 in a row thanks to a pair of 3 point plays and PNR wins 60-49.
The biggest shocker of the weekend for me had to be the Comets Elites (yes I picked them to win it) losing not once but twice on Saturday. Going out 61-53 to the Magic Elites isn't that big a deal, but the upstart MSB squad also beat the Comets Elites on Saturday. Remember that MSB gave Pump N Run all they wanted during bracket play at the Pump N Run tournament. I get Team Minnesota losing to the Wrath in the semifinals correct for a clean upper half of the draw. Wrath really handled Wear Out The Net from start to finish and I didn't expect that. Heat Elite took it to Magic Elite in the other semi 42-26. Heat Elite defeat the Wrath 44-39 in another major defensive struggle for the 16U D1 title. The Wrath are like a python in that they just squeeze the life out of you. Jack Klukas is known, but also keep the name Conner Nord in mind from Eden Prairie. Nice presence inside for The Wrath. Heat's end game execution wasn't ideal, but they managed to survive. MSB also took out WOTN on Sunday. SW MN Heat did make the 16U-D2 title game.
MSB wins the D2 bracket 40-36 over Fury Gold in another defensive struggle. Jalen Jaspers with Magic Black again this weekeend but I was surprised Fury Gold took them out by 24 in the semis. Now to the real fun, 17U-D1
Triple Threat took out TC Elite 65-43 in a major suprise in margin in the 8-9 game. 17-10 TC Elite after 1 quarter but they gave up a 26-3 run over about 1 quarter of play and were down 18 after 3. In the quarters, TNL needed OT vs Heat Elite before winning 79-74. Comets Seevers after beating Heat Select got down 30 to Fury Elite. But they cut the lead to 12 before bowing out 68-54. Comets Hanson defeated Triple Threat. Pump N Run 16s took out the Redhawks 58-56 in the last quarterfinal. PNR wins the 1st 2 quarters 13-12 for a 2 point halftime lead. Taylor Hanson 2 fouls in the 1st quarter cut his minutes and nothing from Parker Hines. The Redhawks go small and use a 2-3 zone nicely to end the 3rd quarter and a Taylor Hanson 3 gives them a 1 point lead going to the final stanza. Tied with 2:14 left and then Hanson fouls out. Jonah Travis with 3 of 4 FTs and a pair of dunks after that. Hines keeping the Redhawks close but his 3 at the horn only cuts the margin. PNR wins 58-56. Travis leads the way with 13 points. Parker Hines held to 9.
Fury and TNL close at the half of their semifinal, but Fury opens it up in the 2nd half and wins 68-55. Comets Hanson vs Pump N Run in the other semifinal. 1st 5 points of the game to PNR but a 9-2 Hanson run looks like it has them going. Jonah Travis with a reverse layin and PNR using some 2-3 which is contrary to the 1-2-2 they show. 15-14 PNR after 1. To the 2nd quarter and Travis has a monster 2 handed follow dunk, Jason Perkins with a straight away triple and Eric Robertson with a big triple. PNR 29-18 at the 1:40 mark for a 14-4 run in the quarter. The PNR lead is 7 at the half. The Comets make a run in the 3rd with a Taylor Filipek 3 point and a pair of triples from sniper Scott Willenbring. That cuts the PNR lead to 38-34 going to the 4th and it almost feels like PNR is just hanging on. But Alex Richter is back in to start the final quarter after his usual end of quarter bench rotation and he gets 5 in a row to push the lead right back to 8. Dan Kornbaum keeps the Comets close with a 3 point play at 4:13. 45-42 PNR leads. Perkins with another huge bomb inside of 3 minutes and the lead is 8. Kyle Noreen with a breakaway dunk and Richter with a layup to cap. PNR wins 58-49. Richter with 16 and Travis with 12.
PNR vs Fury Elite in the championship game. Yuriy Maleshenko with a pair of quick triples for the Fury, but PNR wins the rest of the quarter 13-6. Jack Wittenborg concludes a 6-0 Fury run with his 2nd post up against Aaron Ziman for a 16-13 Fury lead early in the 2nd quarter. 26-24 PNR at the half. LeDarian Horton with a nice 3rd quarter but neither team can gain a major advantage on the scoreboard. 36-34 PNR going to the final quarter. Aaron Ziman picks up his 4th foul seconds into the quarter and the problem that is Dajon Newell just became more so. Then again maybe not as nobody can seem to score. Jonah Travis with a great skip pass out of a post double team and Alex Kreuser nails a triple with 3:45 left for a 41-38 lead. Newell slips a screen and finishes. Richter counters on the other end. A missed 1 and 1 by Fury with 1:31 left is painful but PNR doesn't convert and Fury has the ball with 58 seconds left down 43-40. Newell with a jumper to cut the lead to 1 with 45 seconds left. After a Perkins FT, Wittenborg misses a good look at a 3. Ziman makes 2 FTs to clinch the win. PNR 16s win the 17U state title 47-42. Congrats to coach Miller on his 1st state title. Jonah Travis with 12 in the win for the only player in double figures.
Biggest story of the weekend is PNR's physical play. Normally its the older team having the advantage in pushing the younger team around. Not so in this instance. PNR was too physical for the Redhawks and beat up the Comets. And they were plenty tough in the war against a very rough and tough Fury team. The Comets had no answer for Alex Richter on the wing in the semifinal game and Jonah Travis was a beast in the championship game. In the 3 games against very solid MN 17s, PNR gave up 56, 49 and 42 points. Then they made big shots on the offensive end with the Perkins/Robertson/Kreuser triples in addition to plays from Richter or Travis.
A couple of nice posters handed out by the Comets Seevers squad during the weekend. Andrew Good handed out one with a 2 handed mash in the game vs Heat Select. Luke Januschka with a 1 handed breakout poster in the consolation game against Triple Threat.
And finally, long time readers may remember that Friday night at this event last year we had a lady decked out in full Kentucky Derby regalia (fantastic hat included). Well, this year didn't disappoint. We had both days of a lady wearing a nice purple fedora like hat with a "flower" on it (lack of better term) and matching outfit. It didn't meet last year's standard, but still high quality fashion that my simple mind found amusing in this setting.