Pirates shipwreck #4AAA Columbia Heights

Another trip to Columbia Heights, this time to see one of the season's pleasant early season surprises Park Center.  The Pirates come in 3-0 with easy wins over Edison and White Bear Lake and a close one over Wayzata.  Columbia Heights coming off a buzzer-beater vs Staples-Motley on Saturday.  Tonight's cuisine: a restaurant quality selection of sausage pizza sans grease with the always underrated 20 oz Mug Root Beer.

Game Time
Justin Casey off to a quick start inside for the Pirates.  He starts with a post 2, a reverse layup, and a putback.  10-9 Columbia Heights at 13:45 before a Jacob Thomas backdoor layup and a Harold Rainey 3 push the lead to 15-9.  Casey still going with a pair of free throws and 2 more buckets.  Terez Van Pelt nails a pull up jumper and converts a turnover into a layup.  12-1 Pirates run over 2:40 and they lead 21-16 at the 10 minute mark.  Coach Braziel not happy with his guys.  Van Pelt with a jumper and 1 and the lead is 6 at the 8:35 mark.  Casey picks up #2 at 6:18 and has to sit with the Pirates up 5.  Jacob Thomas keeping the Hylanders close with a triple on an inbounds and a steal for a dunk to tie the game at 28 at the 2:45 mark.  34-33 Park Center at the half.  Heights had to get out of their zone as Casey was getting great looks at the mid-post.  Despite being lefty, Casey mostly finishing with the right hand inside.  Casey with 12 in the half.  Thomas with 15.

Casey starts the half with a postup dunk but gets called for hanging on the rim.  36-33 Pirates when that happens and wouldn't you know it sparks a Columbia Heights run.  Thomas makes the technicals.  Zach Lofton with a 3 point play, a floater and then converts a turnover for 2.  Timeout Park Center.  Gerard Baptiste with a layup and Lofton with a bomb to conclude a 14-0 run.  47-36 Heights with 12 minutes left.  The Pirates cut the lead to 5 when Casey picks up his 4th foul with 9:21 left.  At this point, Heights has their backup point guard in and being behind I thought the Pirates might try some pressing but they didn't.  Lofton with a 3 and a free throw to push the lead back to 9. But then the Ts come Heights way.  Lofton gets one and PC cuts the lead to 6.  Thomas with a putback for a 3 point play at 7:33 and the Heights lead is 10.  But Harold Rainey gets a personal and a technical and that's his 5th with 7:28 left.  Big loss of the starting point guard for Heights.  Van Pelt back to the line for another set of 4 free throws (shot the previous Ts and the shooting foul).  Between the 2 Ts and shooting fouls he only makes 3-8 FTs and that looks like it will loom large.  He makes a layup on the possession to cut the lead to 6, 57-51. 

Casey returns at 7:26 (clock didn't start so more time really passed).  Brian Asberry with a big dunk at 6:30 but Lofton is hot.  A 3 point play and a high running bank and then an assist to Toby Frisby.  66-56 Heights with 4:55 left.  Park Center doesn't fold and they're right in it.  Frosh Quinton Hooker for 3, Jordan Lynn with a 3 point play and a layin.  Casey with a tip in and then Van Pelt finds the pogo stick Asberry for another 1 handed hammer.  12-0 run by the Pirates and they lead 68-66 with 2:50 left.  Casey fouls out on the ensuing Heights possession for 1 Lofton free throw.  PC turns it over and Gerard Baptiste scores and Jordan Lynn fouls out.  69-68 Heights with 2:18 left.  Bapiste rebounds his own FT miss and makes 1 of 2 at 2:03.  PC turns it over at 1:52 and takes timeout.  70-68 Heights.

Lofton to the basket and misses Brian Blackhawk makes a short jumper to tie the game with 1:20 left.  D'Karlos Craig with an offensive rebound for 2 FTs with 1:07 left.  PC gets caught on the sideline and takes their last timeout with 57.1 left.  Van Pelt turns it over and Lofton converts that into a layup with 36.1 left 74-70 Heights.  Hooker makes the first FT at 32.1 on a bad foul and Asberry tips in the miss.  Heights then turns it over with 23.6 left and a 74-73 lead.  Hooker immedately drives and scores to put the Pirates on top.  No timeout for Heights and Lofton gets called for the charge with 9.9 left.  Hooker makes 2 FTs at 8.1.  Coming back the other way.  Thomas gets mugged on a 3 no call, Lofton finds the loose ball and has a 3 go in and out at the horn.  Park Center pulls the thrilling upset 77-74.

For Columbia Heights, Zach Lofton leads the way with 27 points on 9-20 shooting with 3 triples.  Jacob Thomas with 15 of his 24 in the first half.  He finishes 8-25 shooting, 2-11 in the second half including missing his last 6.  I also had him for 6 steals.  Heights falls to 2-2.  They're off until the Minneapolis North holiday tournament.

For Park Center, Justin Casey leads the way with 21 points as Heights had no good answer for him inside.  How about the frosh Quinton Hooker with 15 points, 12 in the second half and 8 late.  Terez Van Pelt with 12 points but my line had him 4-17 shooting with 12 turnovers.  Let's give credit for a couple of nice passes that resulted in big dunks.  With their star point guard struggling, the Pirates still pulled the upset which makes this more impressive.  Credit to Brian Asberry for doing a nice job defending Jacob Thomas down the stretch. How about that Park Center at Minnesota Transitions game next Tuesday now?  Very very interesting game.  Expect a wild atmosphere at that one.  With some turmoil now at Champlin Park, could Park Center be the best team named Park in the Northwest Suburban???


  1. Was at this game and couldn't believe how poor Heights looked. Their defensive rebounding and free throw shooting were atrocious and will cost them many games this season if they can't improve.

    Coach Braziel, in my opinion, had some real head-scratchers as well. His decision to pull Marckus Shaw after he committed the silly foul with under a minute left (was it his 5th?) being the biggest. Shaw's replacement was clearly overmatched - I felt bad for the kid. He turns it over with Heights holding a one point lead and then (credit to Park for realizing the mismatch) gets overpowered by the freshman Hooker (very impressive) for an easy go-ahead basket.

    I think Heights has talent, but Coach Braziel definitely needs to take some control of this team. Two momentum killing technicals in the second half for useless bickering at the officials? Not the kind of plays a state tournament team makes. Also, with Zach Lofton now eligible, there may be some pecking order issues at Heights. I noticed Thomas getting visibly pouty in the second half when Lofton was getting most of the looks.

    As for Park Center, great rally for the win. They are off to a great start, but not sure they can keep it up. They will be undersized against most teams (excepting last night) and their outside shooting is a bit suspect. If Hooker continues to develop, however, they could surprise.

  2. Lou, the foul was Shaw's 5th. Lofton can shoot you into a game (as he did in this one) or out of one (as I saw with a 1-15 performance in fall league). Thomas was cold in the 2nd half, I can't fault Lofton for getting the looks.

    The technicals were dicey. But up 10 with 5 left after a Lofton spurt and up 4 with 35 seconds left, this is a game Heights really should have won. I didn't have a problem with either call (the TO at :23 or the charge at 9.9 on Lofton)

  3. Hey Czar. Few things. First PC may struggle rebounding some nights against bigger teams but I just don't see that many teams noticeably bigger than PC so I think that issue can be mitigated. PC may not be a consistent shooting team without much inside so that might be an issue nightly.

    Has your opinion of the Northwest Suburban changed with what you've seen so far in the early going?

  4. Justin Casey gives them a presence inside that many teams would like to have and Brian Asberry at 6'7 can defend inside or outside like he did last night against Jacob Thomas.

    Besides Hooker, there's not a consistent shooter. Maybe they make a run at the top half of the league. They're better than I expected.


Have a different take than mine? You can provide your take here.