2009 Best Buy Holiday Classic Title Day

We love the Davanni's pizza but 2 bucks for a 12 oz can of soda.  That'll break me of my drinking habit in a hurry.  Nice setup at Augsburg but the introduction takes forever to say (Ernie Anderson court at Si Melby Hall).  1st 2 games minimal attendance, but a nice crowd for the championship game.

Game 1: St. Louis Park (2-6) vs Minneapolis Roosevelt (1-5)
St. Louis Park looks like they're going to run away with this one early.  Alex Koch for 3.  Joe Zangel with a 3 point play and a putback for an 11-4 start.  Then Koch for 3 again for an 18-8 lead.  Calvin Jenkins with a pair of baskets and a James Smith hoop at 9:35 cuts the Park lead to 18-14.  Koch with a putback and a pair of bombs and another hoop to blow this one open.  38-20 St. Louis Park at the break and Koch has 22.  Its a 22 point game with 8:30 left before Roosevelt applies the press to the reserves and makes this one close.  65-56 St. Louis Park wins.  Alex Koch with 28 in the win on 11-20 shooting on my sheet. 5 triples in that.  Calvin Jenkins leads Roosevelt with 15 points.

Game 2: Chicago Julian vs Milwaukee Marshall (5th place game)
Gotta love the blue hoodies on the Marshall warmups.  Even the Chicago kids appeared to have a laugh at that.  Worth noting that these teams were staying at the same hotel and got to know each other a bit.  Julian with a late first half run to take a 37-26 halftime lead.  They close it out 72-21.  Julian star Walter Lemon with 22 points.  Aristede Brattchet with 17 for Marshall.  Fun contest of athletic teams that was a lot like an AAU game.

Game 3: Henry Sibley (4-3) vs Christian Faith Academy, NC (3rd Place Game)
4 all early after a Jordan Jackson follow dunk.  CFA applying pressure to get out to a 22-13 lead at the 8:46 mark with superstar 8th grader Andrew Wiggins scoring 7 in a row.  But Sibley withstands the early heat.  Jake Kreuser gets it going inside with a postup and a putback.  Jordan Jackson with 6 free throws thanks to the bonus.  Kreuser again inside for 2 postups to put Sibley on top.  They take a 32-30 lead to the half.  19-8 run over the last 8:45.

Sibley tries to pull away but can't.  43 all at the 13:53 mark.  Then 6 straight Sibley points push the lead to 7 with 8:17 left.  Chris Bultena with a big 3 at the 6 minute mark for a 55-49 Sibley lead.  CFA cuts into the lead but Sibley hanging on up 59-56 with 2:54 left when Kreuser fouls out.  Big play when Sibley runs a postup for Rostampour that gets smashed down and converted to a pair of CFA free throws.  59 all with 1:24 left.  Sibley holds for 1 shot and gets 2 looks including a decent look from Jimmy Ryan at the horn that's no good and we'll play OT.

Wiggins quiet but opens the OT with a triple for the first CFA lead since late in the first half.  Then Rostampour fouls out at 3:13 of the OT.  Too much to ask with both bigs gone.  CFA makes enough free throws to withstand 9 late Jordan Jackson points.  78-74 CFA wins.  Jordan Jackson with 30 points.  Mike Rostampour with a tough night against the long and athletic CFA bigs.  I had him 1-15 on my sheet with a 10 and 10 double-double.  Jake Kreuser 13 points and 9 rebounds.  Andrew Wiggins with 22 for CFA.

Game 4: #1AAAA Hopkins (7-0) vs #1AAA St. Paul Johnson (8-0) (Championship)
The crowd finally files in for this battle of titans.  A 13-4 Johnson run over 3:20 forces a Hopkins timeout with 10:15 left in the half.  19-12 Govs lead.  Marvin Singleton strong inside for 2 at 9:23 with the foul that puts Hopkins in the bonus.  Zach Stahl with a nice lefty bank, a Riley Dearring layup at 8:15 and 2 Singleton freebies cut the lead to 26-24.  29 all after a Siyani Chambers nails triple at 5:57 for Hopkins.  Back and forth action.  42-39 Johnson at the half.

Jeremiah Tolbert for 3 and a nice catch of a lob and reverse layup by Joe Coleman put Hopkins on top quickly in the 2nd half.  Johnson counters with 2 pairs of freebies.  Anthony Lee with a steal for 2, Roosevelt Scott with a big 3 and a Hopkins turnover for a Estan Tyler layup conclude another Johnson spurt.  58-49 Johnson with 12:03 left and Hopkins needs a timeout after the 8-2 run.  Hopkins has to have a run in them don't they?  DJ Peterson and Riley Dearring score to cut the margin to 64-63 with 8:15 left. After a pair of Siyani Chambers free throws, Hopkins is down 66-65 with 7:33 left.

Johnson has all the answers.  Jordan Pluff a pair of free throws.  Zach Stahl misses a front end and Donte Warlick converts a layup on the other end.  Pluff with a floater countered by 2 Stahl free throws.  Then a huge Marcus Marshall triple at the 5 minute mark to push the Johnson lead to 75-67.  Anthony Lee drives for 2.  77-69 Govs with 3:55 left.  Hopkins can't convert a pair of Tyler turnovers in the next minute.  Johnson misses free throws late to keep Hopkins in it.  82-78 with 15.3 left and Hopkins forces a jump ball but it goes to Johnson.  Estan Tyler seals the deal with 4 freebies.  Johnson wins 86-78 to cement their status as the top team in the metro.

Estan Tyler leads all scorers with 20 points.  He didn't shoot it particularly well (6-15) and did have turnovers but he did out play Siyani Chambers at the point.  Another struggle for DJ Peterson as well for Hopkins.  Jordan Pluff absolutely fearless tonight with 16 points.  Roosevelt Scott with 12 points in limited minutes.  Marvin Singleton was a beast inside with 18 points and 9 rebounds for Hopkins.  Joe Coleman with 18 points and hit a jump shot tonight which was nice to see. Zach Stahl with nice bench minutes for the Royals.  The Govs depth was a factor in this one as Hopkins did appear to wear down in the second half.

Day 2 of the 2009 Tartan Tournament

A cameo in the far east metro as I venture out to Tartan for day 2 of their holiday tournament.  Another quality night at the concession stand with The Czar's Trifecta (that's Popcorn, Pizza and Pepsi).  But this year they didn't have the outstanding chocolate chip cookies.  Those were always a highlight.  But the Pizza definitely made up for it.

Game 1: Park (1-6) vs Eau Claire Regis (4-2)
After a tough blowout to Fall Creek last week in a huge AA game in Wisconsin, Regis had a 1 point loss to Spring Lake Park yesterday where their head coach got 3 technicals.  He was in the stands for this one.  14-2 Regis before the 2nd Park FG comes at the 6:20 mark of the first half.  In the Murphy's Law moment of the day, right at the end of the half Park rebounds a miss, coach says to hold it and it gets stripped and Regis puts home at the horn.  28-11 Regis at the half.  Second half isn't relevant.  54-27 Ramblers win.  Adam Ganske all 12 of his points in the first half.  Connor Miller with 10 and playing the point so his standout shooting that you see with the Wisconsin Playmakers during the summer didn't get to come out.  Craig Brown 6 points for Park.

Game 2: Rogers (3-5) vs St. Croix Lutheran (0-4)
A pair of SCL free throws cut the Rogers lead to 15-11 with 9:11 left in the first half.  Then an 18-0 run over the next 5 minutes puts this one away.  Lefty guard Trevor Morlock with 12 of the 1st 14 points of that run.  Lead is 24 at the half as the Crusaders only make 1 field goal in the last 9:40 of the half.  Second half is a wash.  Rogers wins 73-43.  Funny moment late in this one as a player retrieved a ball that had rolled off the court and threw it to the wrong official who wasn't paying attention.  Fortunately the player had bad aim and the official didn't get hit.  Nice of the refs to have a good laugh at that.  Morlock leads the way with 20 points and I had 10 rebounds on my sheet for him.  Rogers has a pair of young bigs who played on the circuit last summer (Turnquist and Schreiber), but I like what 6'6 junior post Rory Donavon gave the Royals inside.  Cameron Cummings 17 points in the loss for St Croix Lutheran. 14 of those in the 2nd half.

Game 3: Elk River (5-0) vs Spring Lake Park (4-3)
Spring Lake Park ahead early in this one but Elijah Sabah picks up a 2nd foul at the 13:41 mark.  Add in the spark from the 2nd 5 of Elk River.  20-14 Spring Lake Park when Sabah returns at the 8:26 mark.  Then a 9-2 Elk River run culminated by Sabah's 3rd foul at the 6:15 mark.  Forward Ben Erickson with the last 5 points in that run for 23-22 Elks lead.  Trading baskets the rest of the half for a 30-29 Elk River lead at halftime.

Second half is all Elk River.  A Derek Dahl triple for SLP makes the score 34-32 Elk River at the 16:20.  After a Elks hoop, SLP coach Guzy gets a cheap technical and it ends up with Elk River having the momentum.  Erickson with bookend 3s for a 44-34 Elk River lead at 13:30 with Sabah on the bench thanks to his 4th foul via a charge.  Will Iverson with a layup that concludes a 19-5 Elks run over 5 minutes.  53-37 Elk River with 11:11 to play.  Kwamaine Fitzpatrick tries to keep the Panthers close as he scores 5 in a row.  Maybe this is SLP's run.  Then again, no.  Taylor Berger for 3 and then a 3 point play to push the lead to 17 and this one is over.  76-57 Elk River wins.  Ben Erickson with 18 points to lead Elk River.  Travis Johnson with 15 for Spring Lake Park.  Elijah Sabah fouls out with 2 points on 1-8 shooting.   Elk River plays 10 guys, 5 in and 5 out.  They've got length, depth and size.  Don't let the schedule fool you, the Elks are a team that can play.

Game 4: Prior Lake (1-7) at Tartan (4-1)
A mismatch on paper but Prior Lake only lost at Eden Prairie by 1 point a week ago.  It looks like it right away as Tartan scores the 1st 8 points in 3 minutes and Prior Lake center Jake Bolks has 2 fouls. Then Prior Lake goes 2-3 zone and we all get transported to Mars.  The Lakers go on an 11-0 run over the next 3:30 to force a Tartan timeout.  Then a Kyle Repinski putback 30 seconds later and coach Klingsporn takes another timeout and he is hot.  Travis Diedrich backdoor for 2, then another bucket at 4:20 and Prior Lake is up 21-14 (21-6 run over 11 minutes).  Finally Tim Lubke makes a 3 and that's the last points of the half.  21-17 Lakers at the break in a shocker.  Tartan can't buy a shot vs the zone.

Jack Harrison goes glass, Bolks from the post and 2 free throws, Replinski high off glass and Diedrich with 2 more in a 10-3 Prior Lake start to the half.  31-20 Prior Lake with 14:45 left.  WOW!  Tartan right back with 7 in a row thanks to cranked up man defense that Prior Lake couldn't handle.  Prior Lake not laying down as Bolks scores back to back hoops to push the lead back to 8, 35-27, with 11:25 left.  Then a Tartan goes on a 10-0 run to take the lead 37-35 with 8:35 left.  Bolks with 2 free throws with 7:41 left, 37 all.  43-39 Tartan with 4 minutes left.  Then Drew Preiner with an offensive board and nice spin for 2 at 3:05.  Luke Preiner adds a pair of free throws at 2:36 as Bolks fouls out.  47-39 Tartan.  Mitch Hopkins with a 3 point play at 2:23 for the 1st Prior Lake field goal by anyone besides Bolks in over 12 minutes.  That cuts the lead to 5 but its out of reach.  Tartan comes from behind for the 53-47 win.  Drew Preiner leads the way with 13 points and 9 rebounds.  Tim Lubke 2-11 shooting but 4 late free throws put the game away.  He finishes with 10 points.  Jake Bolks leads Prior Lake with 13 points.

The Elk River vs Tartan championship game should be outstanding

Day 1 of the 2009 Holiday Tournaments

So after a return from The Old Kingdom where the Crown Prince and I saw one of the top sophs in the country and gambled away the kingdom's wealth (legally, not on the games boys and girls), a 4 AM wakeup call returned me to The Kingdom for day 1 of this year's Minnesota holiday tournaments (for me)

Game 1: St. Anthony vs Champlin Park (Olive Garden Holiday Classic at Bethel)
Story of this one was shooting.  St. Anthony 2-24 FGs in the first half, star Josh Pratt finishes 1-12 after making his last attempt with 12 minutes left.  By that time this one is way out of hand.  Champlin Park rolls in surprisingly big fashion 82-34 after leading by 45-10 at the half.  Aaron McCrossan with 11 points to lead St. Anthony.  Brandon Davis and DeAndre Williamson lead the Rebels with 16 and 14 points respectively.
Catholic Spirit Tournament at Concordia-St. Paul
Game 2: Roseville vs St. Bernard's

Close game for the first 11 minutes before Roseville goes to a 1-3-1 zone that turns the tables.  That gives them a 9 point lead going to halftime.  Roseville tries to blow the game open but 3 straight triples from the left corner by Jake Demarius keep the Bulldogs close.  The lead is 7 with 10 minutes left before Roseville blows this one open for a 80-54 win.  Biggest surprise in this blowout was that the 2nd half result was without Roseville star Lucas Brown.  He was benched with 16:48 left and never returned.  Roseville has 4 starters who are non-seniors.  2 of them gave the Raiders great production.  David Stanley at the point is vastly improved from a year ago.  Despite being listed at 5'11, he challenges shots at the rim, can beat you off the bounce, knock down a triple and get teammates involved.  Soph Emeche Wells with 4 second half steals with a total of 8 points and 7 boards on my sheet in a very productive day.  Ricky Suggs leads the Bulldogs with a double-double of 15 and 10.

Game 3: Minnetonka vs Holy Angels
South Dakota State in the building watching this one.  Tonka out of the gates quickly thanks to junior Andy Jones.  11-0 Skippers 3:15 into the game.  Holy Angels cuts the lead to 19-16 at 9:40 thanks to a pair of Sam Gullickson triples.  Then Cole Stefan backdoor from Tor Anderson for a 3 point play.  Then another 3 point play on a turnover.  Andy Jones and Leonard Glass make 4 free throws conclude the 11-0 run over 2 minutes.  The lead is 14 at halftime.  Holy Angels gets no closer than 10 in the second half.  Minnetonka wins
 78-63.  Nick Latzke and Andy Jones both with 16 points.  Cole Stefan with 15 on 6-16 shooting.  Tor Anderson with a very productive game of 9 points with 6 assists. 

Game 4:Cretin-Derham Hall vs St Agnes

1st St. Agnes FG was at 7:42 of the first half.  By that time CDH had 28 points on the board.  A complete mismatch from the start.  CDH continued their 11 man rotation which I'd like to see them shorten.  Raiders roll 80-30.  Seantrel Henderson leads the way with 17 points.

Game 5: Hill-Murray vs Totino-Grace
A rematch of 10 days ago where Totino-Grace won 64-55 on the road.  TG up 18-13 at the 10:31 mark before Rob Daul goes absolutely nuts for Hill-Murray.  He goes 11-12 in the half for 28 points and adds an assist to push Hill-Murray to a 41-30 lead.  Totino cuts the lead to 43-39 at the break.  In the 2nd half, John Crockett gets the task of guarding Daul.  Kreuser for 3 and Totino leads 52-47 at 13:35.  The lead wavers and then Daul with back to back triples.  70-69 Hill-Murray with 4 minutes left.  Ben Hickman then puts Totino over the top.  He makes 4 free throws and then a nice lefty finish on a drive.  75-70 Totino with 2:45 left.  They go on to win 82-75.  Rob Daul leads all scorers with 37 points after the huge first half.  Alex Kreuser with 16 points.  Tyler Fleming lived on the foul line for 17 points.

Coleman receives Minnesota offer

As reported by GopherHole.com's Nadine Babu, Joe Coleman received an offer from Minnesota (merry christmas Joe here's an offer from the U).  That's the highest profile offer so far for anyone in the 2011 class.  He's currently averaging 28.4 points per game through the 1st 5 games of the season as Hopkins goes into the Best Buy Holiday Classic at Augsburg.

Click here to read Nadine's interview with Coleman about the offer.

Fridley at St. Anthony Thriller

A fun evening tonight with the big (and outstanding) St. Anthony band. Band of the year to this point (3 seen so that's cheating). We have the St. Anthony girls team all decked out in santa hats in the very vocal and supportive St. Anthony student section.  Can't leave out the concessions either.  Hot chocolate, cider, and The Czar's trifecta of Pizza, Popcorn and Pepsi.  High quality operation by the St. Anthony boosters.  Thanks to all of them and the rest of the St. Anthony crew for all of their hospitality tonight.

Game Time
The first half was a struggle to find offense.  9-8 St. Anthony at the 9:55 mark before St. Anthony star guard  Josh Pratt gets on the board from the post via a nice high/low feed.  Ericson Saye banks in a triple at 4:20 to tie the game at 15.  Pratt with a baseline jumper, a drive for 2 and then a rebound and long outlet for a Karuza Cooke layup for.  21-19 St. Anthony.  Jimmy Mireri with a bucket and a buzzer beater around another Pratt hoop.  24-23 Fridley at the half.

The offenses pick up in the 2nd half.  After Fridley gets the first basket of the half, St. Anthony counters with 7 in a row for a 30-26 lead at 16:25.  Fridley's leading scorer Jordan Halvorson held to 5 points in the first half, but he has a free throw and a pair of drives to the rack.  Then Saye with the standard 3 point play off a turnover.  36-34 Fridley at 13:41.  Then St. Anthony gets the high pick and roll going.  Pratt finds Derek Jahner on the roll with a bullet pass for a 3 point play.  Jahner on the post for 2 and 2-4 free throws.  Pratt then nails an NBA 3 to conclude a 10-0 Huskies run.  Halvorson breaks the run with free throws and Mireri nails a 3 at 10:20.  44-41 St. Anthony.  Graig Weber for 3 to tie the game at 48 with 7 minutes left.  Halvorson for 2 at 5:20  Then lefty athlete Devin Hemmerich nails a pair of jumpers.  Jahner sandwiches those jumpers with a pair of free throws and a putback.  56-54 Fridley with 1:53 left.  Mireri with a dangerous drive for 1 free throw with 1:15 left.  Pratt counters with 3 from the top to tie the game at 57 with 55 seconds left.  Fridley goes quick and misses a tough shot with 35 seconds left.  St. Anthony takes time and Fridley attempts to trap out of the timeout.  St. Anthony solves it and Pratt has the ball all alone on top with 20 seconds left.  But the call is to give it up for him to get a pair of screens.  He never gets it back and Aaron McCrossan has to take a tough shot at the buzzer.  We'll go to overtime.  Interesting that the Huskies took the timeout and that they had the chance to go 1-4 low with Pratt and chose not to.

In the OT, Ryan Jenkins nails a 3 and Hemmerich finds a loose under the rim and turns it into a 3 point play.  63-57 Fridley with 2:27 to go in OT.  St. Anthony not going away.  Pratt floats for 2, Halvorson travels and Pratt spins and banks one home with 1:35 left.  63-61 Fridley.  Jenkins makes 1 of 2.  Pratt finds Jahner for 2 with 1 minute left.  Fridley holds and Halvorson takes a tough baseline shot with 35 seconds left that's no good.  On the other end, a loose ball finds Jahner and he's fouled with 19.5 to go.  After a Fridley timeout, he calmly makes 2 FTs to give St. Anthony a 65-64 lead.  Fridley misses but Mireri gets bumped on the loose ball and he'll shoot 2 with 5.4 to play.  Tough call as it wasn't much of a bump but probably the right call.  Mireri makes both and back comes Pratt on the inbounds.  He dribbles up the left sideline, gets to the top of the key area and can't get planted.  His shot falls short enough that it looks like a last second pass.  Fridley wins an overtime thriller 66-65.

For St. Anthony, Pratt finishes with 23 and 13 rebounds on my sheet with 10-20 shooting, 3 triples.  Derek Jahner with a big 2nd half inside.  He finishes with 21 points and 9 boards on my sheet.  Aaron McCrossan now plays off the ball after playing point guard before this season.  With the transfer of Marcus Nolen to Washburn, that takes another ball handler out of the equation.  The Huskies had success with Pratt and Jahner on the high screen/roll midway through the 2nd half, but never came back to that pair despite running the set later in the game.  Huskies 11-26 from the foul line counting the missed front ends of the bonus.  Ouch.  St. Anthony moves on to the Bethel tournament where they open with Champlin Park.

For Fridley, Jordan Halvorsen finishes with 16 pts and 7 boards on my sheet.  Devin Hemmerich clutch in the last 5 minutes of regulation.  He finishes with 11 points.  2 other Tigers also make double-figures. Coach McDonald will want to work on end game execution with his kids.  Fridley host their holiday tournament next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Josh Pratt photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

Northfield at Eagan thoughts

6-0 Eagan hosting Northfield in a boys/girls doubleheader.  Eagan girls win handly in a game that I was glad to see end.  Not fun.  But Northfield with an interesting mix of the 5 out Forest Lake style motion and the shuffle offense.  Instead of having the point down screen the post as in the shuffle, the point makes the triangle offense cut to the strong corner and the post steps up and sets the screen that the point normally sets in the 5-out and then pops out.  Interesting continuity.

Game Time
Eagan out quickly.  Matt Hentges with a putback and a bank for a 6-0 lead 1:50 in and Northfield calls a quick timeout.  Bad to worse for the Raiders.  Jameson Parsons double clutches for 2 and then nails a 3.  Adam Carl for 3 and the lead is 18-6 at the 12:40 mark.  Northfield tries to stay close but they get no closer than 6.  Parsons goes for 16 in the half on 6-9 shooting.  41-30 Eagan at half.

Tanner Kimber with a pair of free throws to cut the Eagan lead to 46-40 with 13:43 left.  Timeout Eagan.  Out of that, they run a set for Parsons who nails a three, then 2 more to push the Eagan lead to 59-45 with 10 minutes left.  A Parsons free throw with 5:12 left extends the lead to 67-49 and this one is over.  Eagan gets sloppy late with their bench.  74-65 Eagan wins.

For Northfield, guard Adam Hadro again leads the way as he finishes with 23 points (3 triples).  Center Otto Pfefferle with a nice first half of 8 pts, 4 board and 2 blocks but nothing in the second half.  He finishes with 11, 7 and 3 blocks.  The Raiders fall to 0-5 and open the Edina tournament with Eden Prairie to start a difficult schedule stretch.

For Eagan, Jameson Parsons with 30 points on 9-14 shooting with 5 triples.  3 of those in a row in the 2nd half to break it open.  The Wildcats played 11 kids with the only 3 seniors on the roster included.  Look for this club to be very dangerous in the Lake next year (if not this year where they currently lead the league).  Point guard Ben Sicoli in foul trouble all night but he's a productive player along with Matt Hentges.  Both are juniors as is Parsons.

White Board
A couple of plays to draw up that I saw tonight that were really effective.  1 from each side.  First for Eagan, in a 1-4 high set, the ball was entered to the high post opposite Parsons.  He'd then dive to the low block weakside and get a down screen from the other high post.  This generated great looks all night.  Really tough to defend as you could run Parsons all the way to the box for a post up which would be really hard to defend.  The defense gets forced low and its tough to get over that down screen.

For Northfield, a triangle set with Pfefferle in the middle of the lane, both blocks filled and a guard at the top of the key.  You can throw it up to Pfefferle at 6'7 in the middle of the lane.  If not, he has a 2 way go to either baseline depending on how he's played.  The inbounder then comes high and on ball reversal away from Pfefferle, he gets a baseline flex screen for a post up.  They never got the post, mainly because he got 2-3 makes and great looks on the baseline jumper (and he can shoot it).  Normally you'll see this type of set run for a guard.  I remember Braham running something like it for Isaiah Dahlman.

Jameson Parsons photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

Early season review

With a handful of games in the books for most teams in the metro, let's take a quick trip around the metro leagues.

Classic Lake
Minnetonka survives their 5 game stretch without stars Tor Anderson, Cole Stefan and Leonard Glass at 2-3 with all games within 10 points.  The Skippers travel to Benilde-St. Margaret's on Tuesday.  Hopkins an impressive 5-0 with big leads in all games.  While they almost gave a lead back vs Columbia Heights and Henry Sibley, the Royals are once again the clear favorite at this point in the season.  Edina 3-3 with 4 games decided by 3 points or less.  With all of their losses, credit to the Hornets for giving Benilde-St. Margaret's and Orono all they wanted and beating a much improved Park Center team.

Classic Suburban
Sibley with a shocking 31 point loss to Robbinsdale Cooper, but they made a big comeback at Hopkins.  With their size, the Warriors are still a force to be reckoned with.  Mahtomedi and Simley are both 4-1 but against soft schedules.  The conference slate starts right after the holidays and these teams will need to make a step up to maintain those records.

How about Eagan at 6-0 and 4-0 in the league?  Nice wins for the Wildcats at Jefferson, Lakeville North and then taking Eastview behind the woodshed at their place.  Jameson Parsons with 21 a night for them.  Eden Prairie with a pair of come from behind wins.  First vs Lakeville South and then down by 10 at half at Apple Valley.  Nice start for Apple Valley too at 4-1 (3-1 league).  Rosemount and new coach Brian Schnettler off to a nice 3-1 start as well.  Eastview, Lakeville South and Chaska all with 2 league losses already but can beat anyone on a given night.

Biggest surprise was Maranatha losing at home to St. Agnes.  New Life Academy has played a big school schedule to start and so they've stumbled to a 1-4 start but expect better once they begin league play.

How about Hutchinson at 5-0 including wins over Waconia, St. Michael-Albertville and both Mankato schools?  Great start for them.  Holy Angels is 1-4 against a brutal schedule that includes 3 ranked teams.  New Prague undefeated by beating up on the Big 9, expect them to be in the running for the league title.

Minneapolis City
Minneapolis South 4-0 with good home wins over Osseo and Richfield.  Big center Alonzo Traylor averaging 24 a night for the Tigers.  Henry is the only other team above .500 at 2-2 but they gave Hopkins and Minnesota Transitions decent games.  with their guard play (Hughes and Cox 50 ppg combined) and athletes, they're not a team you want to see in the tournament. 

North Suburban
Benilde-St. Margaret's and Robbinsdale Cooper off to impressive undefeated starts.  The Red Knights go 10 deep and have to be one of the state's favorites in class AAA.  Cooper getting scoring from Darry Jones and the inside presence of Calvin Godfrey for a great duo.  The Hawks won at Minnetonka in double OT and demolished Sibley by 31 last weekend for a pair of impressive wins.  Columbia Heights with a tough loss to Park Center last week to fall to 2-2, but with Jacob Thomas and Zach Lofton they can fill it up in a hurry.  Those 3 are the class of the league with Spring Lake Park trying to jump into that mix.

Northwest Suburban
The story here has to be 5-1 Park Center who finally took their 1st loss last week to Edina.  The Pirates are big and athletic with a quality point guard.  They'll have a chance to jump up into the top group.  Anoka and Elk River off to a combined 7-1 start.  Can they keep that up?  Post Lomumba Ismail off to a nice start for Anoka.  Early favorite Champlin Park off to a tough 1-2 start with both losses to ranked teams.  Centennial also surprisingly is 0-4.  Their schedule has been difficult, but winless at this point is a surprise.

St. Paul City
Johnson off to an impressive 4-0 start where they really haven't been challenged.  The destruction of Stillwater was particularly impressive.  Central 5-0 coming off an impressive week where they won at Minnehaha and Orono who were both ranked.  The rest of the league has been down as expected.  Arlington losing a couple of close ones, including 27-24 to Trinity.  That's an ugly score.

Suburban East
The 3 favorites (Stillwater, CDH and Forest Lake) all off to nice starts.  How about Zach Riedeman putting up 30.8 ppg for Forest Lake?  Hastings slightly disappointing at 1-4.  Cretin-Derham Hall getting great play from their 3 sophomore stars.  CDH has great depth with those 3 playing well and a beast inside in Seantrel Henderson.

In the east, St. Croix Lutheran off to a disappointing 0-3 start giving up 77 points a game.  St. Agnes with a surprising win at Maranatha.  St. Anthony 3-1 but the competition will get tougher.  In the west, Blake is 4-1 against a soft schedule.  Minnehaha 4-2 with both losses to ranked teams but they dominated a ranked Braham team at the Breakdown tip-off. Disappointing 1-4 start for St. Paul Academy but 2 of those losses were to ranked teams and another to the east favorite St. Anthony.

Minnesota Transitions with a pair of impressive road/neutral wins in their 3-0 start.  PACT 5-0 against a weak schedule.  The New Life Academy win was a good one.  It'll be interesting to see how PACT does in the St. Cloud Cathedral tournament.  Good test for them.  Austin Rink 24 a night for PACT.  CHOF 0-5 despite 16.6 PPG from soph center Tyler Strandlund.  A 1-man band with no accompaniment.

Como Park holds off St. Bernard's

To Como Park for an early Saturday start vs St. Bernard's.  Standard concessions fare and music.  Looking forward to see Ricky Suggs play for St. Bernard's.  Ran into Concordia-Roseville coach Eric Schutte, who's almost impossible to spot when he's not wearing the Armani suits.  There's no better dressed coach in the metro.

Game Time
St. Bernard's going 2-3 zone which they'll stick with most of the game.  Ricky Suggs has it going in the first half.  Interesting that another lefty using a ton of right hand inside.  He has a putback, layin and a pair of free throws to put the Bulldogs up 9-4 at the 13 minute mark.  11 all at 7:47 as Joe Conley comes off the bench and finishes a 7-2 run with a putback.  Suggs with another pair of buckets in a 6-0 run.  Time out Como Park at 6:20 down 17-11.  Conley with a 3 point play and Como leads 21-20.  We go to the half with St. Bernard's up 24-23.  Suggs with 14 and 9.

Back and forth in the 2nd half.  Suggs and Conley trade hoops 29-28 Bernard's at the 15 minute mark.  Conley with a 3 point play at 12:22, 36-35 Como Park.  Conley for 2 and then a floater at 8:35 give Como Park a 45-41 lead.  But Suggs scores inside and Jake Demarias nails a 3.  47-45 Bulldogs with 6:35 left.  Como takes the lead back with Devion Welch converting a 3 point play inside, Brandon Baker with a pair of hoops.  Suggs with a pair of free throws at 4:24 52-50 Como Park.  Conley floats again and tips in a miss.  56-50 Cougars with 3 minutes left.  Bernard's comes out of a timeout with a 1-3-1 trap.  They convert 1 turnover into a tip in but they won't get closer than 4.  Interesting that Suggs had a steal and layin with 9.6 left and the backboard was slapped.  If a technical would have been called (and it could have been), that would have been really crazy.  4 point game and St. Bernard's would have had 2 free throws and gotten the ball back.  Como Park wins 63-59.

For St. Bernard's, this is a down year. They fall to 2-2.  Ricky Suggs finishes with a big game of 26 and 13 on 9-17 shooting.  Shane Taylor and Jake Demarias each finish with 11 points.  The Bulldogs host PACT on Tuesday in what should be a decent game.  Then they open with Roseville in the Catholic Spirit tournament at Concordia-St. Paul.

For Como Park, they improve to 1-1.  My sheet is off a few points but I had Joe Conley with 17 of his 23 in the 2nd half   He got great looks from the high post vs the 2-3 zone and did a nice job of turning and attacking the rim from there.  I also had him with 10 rebounds.  Him and Suggs went at it for a large part of the day.  Quiet day at the point for Adrian Wackett.  He's getting some D3 looks from places like St. Olaf.  Como Park travels to East Ridge (who won at St. Bernard's by 14) in one of the very few Wednesday games next week.  They'll then play in the Minneapolis North holiday tournament.

Raider balance takes out Hastings

To Cretin-Derham Hall to see the 4th ranked Raiders taking on Hastings. No Seantrel Henderson as he's out east doing football stuff.  The best value in the metro with the highly tasty and cheap hot dog and reasonable beverage. Nice to see some familiar faces of parents tonight.  We get the CDH band tonight which is always a treat.  Great work with the Austin Powers theme and Crazy Train at halftime.

Game Time
With no Henderson, the 3 stars sophs (Tillman, Montero, Neumann) all see the starting lineup for CDH.  That moves Raijon Kelly to the 2.  Taylor Montero with a pair of free throws to tie the game at 4 at the 14:40 mark.  That's Hastings star Shane Monjeau's 2nd foul and he has to sit.  Gus Gehlen coming off a bad wheel which explains his absence on Saturday, but he's the first guy off the bench. He nails a 3 and then a steal for a layup.  12-4 CDH at 12:04 and Hastings needs time.  CJ Neumann with a putback and another Gehlen layup pushes the lead to 12 at 9:53.  CDH going with 5 bench guys now as they play 11 guys in the game.   26-14 CDH at the 5:02 mark when the starters return.  Hastings played some 3-2 during this stretch and I thought that it was effective.  But they didn't as they got out of it.  34-21 CDH at the half. 

Monjeau with 5 points and Nick Gmiterko with a hoop to quickly cut the lead to 6 at 16:10.  6 point game at 14:40 when it falls apart.  Neumann with a pair of inside hoops, Kelly with a jumper and 1, Tillman for 3.  That's a 10-0 run to push the lead to 16 and this one is over.  46-30 with 12 to go.  CDH again goes to the 5 bench guys rotation but Hastings makes up no ground.  66-40 Cretin-Derham Hall wins.

For Hastings, Shane Monjeau with 7 of his 17 points early in the 2nd half to try and bring them back.  I also had him for 8 rebounds.  Nick Gmiterko with 11 points.  The 2 combine to go 10-27 from the field on my sheet.  Darius Wilkerson is a nice athlete but beyond that there's little help.  Hastings falls to 1-4. They make the short trip across the river to play neighbor Prescott, WI on Tuesday before hosting their holiday tournament.

For Cretin-Derham Hall, 11 players score.  CJ Neumann leads the way with 10 points and had a couple of nice lefty hooks inside.  Kevin Hannon 3 triples for 9 points.  Cortez Tillman and Raijon Kelly each with 8 points.  You can tell Kelly is still adjusting to playing the 2 as he's used to handling the ball.  Nice job by the bench to not give up the lead in either half.  This could have been a trap game as the Raiders travel to rival St. Thomas Academy tomorrow for a tough game.  Then they'll play in the Catholic Spirit tournament at Concordia-St. Paul (not U of St. Thomas due to construction).  They should breeze to the final there and play Minnetonka.

Shakopee at Henry thoughts

To Minneapolis Henry for their showdown with Shakopee.  This is the west metro version of Stillwater at Johnson.  But Shakopee doesn't have the size that Stillwater does.  Tonight has interesting 20 oz Diet Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash for the beverage choice.  Not awful, but I don't know that I'd get it again.  During the pregame, Comets director Chris Lewis predicts Henry by 12.

Game Time
The shooting gallery opens early tonight.  Dennis Joiner for 3, Jordan Hughes for 3, Louis Cox twice is nice from deep.  14-7 Henry at the 12:30 mark.  Jason Perkins on the post for 2 before picking up his 2nd foul at the 10:19 mark.  Ethan Petrill for 3 and we're tied at 14.  Dennis Joiner from deep as the Patriots go inside out.  Then Hughes again from deep and Petrill from deep.  22-21 Henry at the 7:05 mark.  The 3rd Shakopee junior, Dylan Ulferts, rolls an ankle at the 6:05 mark and doesn't return.  Big loss for the Sabers.  Joel Hergott keeping Shakopee in it.  He nails a 3 and then 3 free throws.  Hughes for 3 and a drive for 2.  Hergott drives and scores.  Hughes finishes the half with a drive for 2.  36-32 Henry at the half.  Hughes with 16 for Henry.  Hergott with 10.  Ethan Petrill with 9 quick points in the half.  6'6 backup center Kameron Fisher with 8 points off the Henry bench.

Shakopee getting out early in the 2nd half.  Hergott and Kris Vavrosky from deep..  Perkins drives for 2 and then a 3 point play from Hergott.  Shakopee then inside out for a Calvin Angell triple.  14-4 Shakopee run to start the half.  46-40 at the 15:50 mark.  Fisher comes off the bench for Henry and immediately scores.  Louis Cox with a steal for 2 and Hughes with back to back triples.  10-2 Henry spurt over 3 minutes.  50 all when Cox and Romeal Taylor knock down triples.  Then Cox from deep and a Hughes 3 point play to force another Shakopee timeout.  62-54 Henry with 8:09 left.  Fisher scores and then Taylor finds him cutting to the basket twice.  70-56 Henry with 4:45 left.  Then Perkins fouls out at the 4:29 mark.  Taylor from Cox, Fred Henry with 2 free throws and a Cox 3 push the lead to 19.  77-58 with 3:45 left.  27-8 Henry spurt over 8:40 (or 37-12 over 12 minutes if you go back to the biggest Sabers lead).  In the last minute, Shakopee nails a pair of jumpers and Henry fumbles away a pass that would have been a layup with 9 seconds left.  Henry wins 82-70.  Somebody take Chris Lewis to Vegas for hitting that one on the head.

For Shakopee, Joel Hergott with 21 points to keep Shakopee in this one.  Jason Perkins with 13 points and 6 rebounds despite foul trouble all night.  I would have liked to see him get more post touches.  The Sabers host Mounds View on Tuesday before the Lakeville holiday tournament.  The loss of Ulferts was big as Shakopee doesn't go very deep.  Ethan Petrill played respectable defense on Hughes, but he's such a scorer, hard to slow him down.

For Patrick Henry, they hit 13 3s.  Hard to beat them when they shoot it like that.  Jordan Hughes with 28 points on 9-15 shooting.  Louis Cox with 21 points on 7-15 shooting.  Both with 5 triples as they combine for 49 points.  They came in averaging 50.  But how about the 18 points off the bench for Kameron Fisher.  Always around the rim cleaning up and brought nice energy.  He should see the starting lineup immediately.  The Patriots host Totino-Grace on Tuesday before playing in the Fridley holiday tournament.

Jason Perkins photo courtesy of MNPhotoNet.net

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???

A small school proposal

So to ramp up some small school interest yet keep some local traditions, in the spirit of the holidays I provide this gift of a proposal.

Expand the MCAA to 16 teams and 2 divisions

Since CHOF, PACT and Spectrum basically play an MCAA schedule anyway, put them in the league once and for all.  With the size of the Tri-Metro and the relative lack of size and competitiveness of St. Agnes and Mounds Park Academy, I'd move them to the MCAA.  That makes 16 teams and 2 divisions.   Or if Lester Prairie could find a home out west, put Minnesota Transitions in since they play the MCAA teams in non-conference games.

South: New Life, Mounds Park, St. Agnes, CHOF, Trinity, Bethany, Lion's Gate, Southwest Christian
North: Maranatha, Meadow Creek, Providence, West Lutheran, Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity, Spectrum, PACT, Heritage

MTS would play in the east and SW Christian would move to the west which works better geographically.

Expand the MCAA Tournament
Play 14 regular season games (your own division home and home) and then do a 4 game guarantee MCAA tournament.  That concept is very similar to the current MCAA tournament where most teams get 3 games.  Seed it like the current SEC tournament (North 1 vs South 8, etc etc).  If seeds hold, you'd never play a team from your division.  Since we know they wouldn't hold in all cases, you could just layout the 4 games ahead of time so they'd all be against the other division (North 1 plays South 8,4,2 and 1).  In that setup, the final week is like the Twin Cities series where each seed plays the same seed on the other side.

The tournament would be 8 games a night playing on Tuesday/Friday over 2 weeks.  With a total of 32 games and 16 teams, you have each team host a double-header on 1 night of the tournament so you can use it for financial gain across the league.  You can rotate how its hosted.  1 year you'd have Heritage host the 1st and 3rd place games, then the next season have those 2 games over at Mounds Park Academy.  2 high-class facilities for the league and provides the east/west balances.  The schools with smaller gyms could host the early round games since they have less demand.  For the remaining games, you try to schedule it to have as many of the host teams playing at home as possible for more revenue.

So if you're the MCAA, this guarantees you 18 games.  Add in a holiday tourney and you only have 5 or 6 games to fill.  It still gives you division and conference bragging rights with the tournament.  And if the tournament is the last 2 weeks of the regular season, its a great way to prepare for the playoffs.

The Tri-Metro would be able to have an 18 game league schedule with 10 teams instead of the 16 games league schedule they play now.

Johnson dominates Stillwater

For tonight's intro, we take you back to the early days of The Czar.  December 19, 2007 when Stillwater came from behind for a wild 64-62 buzzer beater victory.  Stillwater might be on their 2nd coach since that game, but it does mark the return of Paul Franklin to the building where he had that life-long memory.  Stillwater #4 in AAAA coming in, Johnson #3 in AAA.  Blah Hot Dog but the 7-up was appropriate for this one.

Game Time
Let's just say this one was over quickly.  Estan Tyler with a pullup, a triple and a sweet behind the back pass for a layup.  Max Rosenbloom with back to back triples and its 15-3 Johnson at the 14:30 mark.  Tyler with a steal that leads to him nailing another triple.26-7 Johnson at the 8:57 mark.  Ryan Duxbury finally gets a touch in the post and scores at the 7:10 mark.  Tyler with another pair of threes and this one is over at the half as Johnson leads 50-22 .  The 2nd half is nothing but blah.  Stillwater does win the 2nd half and keeps it out of running time.  Johnson rolls 77-52

For Stillwater, turnovers were an absolute killer.  They just couldn't generate anything vs the Johnson man or 1-2-2 pressure.  Against the 1-2-2, the Ponies almost looked lost.  Duxbury playing the high post against it and not finding him.  Paul Franklin leads the way with 13 points and Ryan Duxbury with 12 points. White Bear Lake and Hudson are a pair of games for the Ponies before they travel to Rochester for the Rochester Rotary Tournament over the holidays.

For Johnson, an impressive first half performance from a deep Johnson squad.  Defensively they really get after people.  And Estan Tyler's shot was absolutely pure tonight with 4 triples in the first half.  Much improved from outside for him.  Max Rosenbloom with a nice night of 10 points.  The Governors could get their chance at the best at the Best Buy Holiday Classic where the brackets layout with Sibley and Hopkins in the semis and final.

St Croix Lutheran at Roosevelt Thoughts

No concession stand tonight which is a shame and I was under the impression that all the JV games were at SCL so that we'd have boys varsity only.  So much for that assumption as this was a varsity doubleheader with the ladies playing the night session.  So we get started half an hour late, so much for the late game I wanted to do.

Game Time
Let's just say the first half had offense at a premium.  A Cameron Cummings 3 point play puts St Croix on top 13-10 at the 11:05 mark.  Wesley Tucker finishes the half with a steal for a layup.  That gives St Croix Lutheran at 26-24 halftime lead.  Very ugly half of basketball.  James Smith keeping Roosevelt in it with 10 points.  Calvin Jenkins with 9 for Roosevelt in the half.

The start of the second half seals this one.  Nasir Garad with a jumper, a triple and then a post up.  Smith with a tip and Jenkins with a 3 point play  43-27 Roosevelt with 11:25 left . Total run is 17-3 to start the half.  SCL tries to make a come back behind a layup and triple from Mark Lawrence.  That cuts the Roosevelt lead to 46-40 with 8:13 left.  The Crusaders get no closer.  Roosevelt wins 62-55.

For St. Croix Lutheran, the sophomores guards once again lead the way.  Wesley Tucker 17 points and 6 rebounds on my sheet..  Cameron Cummings with 15 points but couldn't get it going in the 2nd half.  The young Crusaders fall to 0-3 on the season against a soft schedule.  Next up, at Tartan to start the Tartan holiday tournament.

For Roosevelt, Calvin Jenkins finishes with 18 points.  SCL didn't have a good answer for him.  James Smith with 10 of his 12 points in the first half.  Nothing special here.  Roosevelt gets their first win and they have a couple of winnable games coming up before Christmas.

Breakdown Tip-Off Classic Thoughts

What a day at the 2009 Breakdown Tip-Off Classic.  20 of the 24 boys teams were ranked and 3 of the 4 unranked teams had stars to follow.  Some thoughts on what I saw.

Session 1: #4A Sebeka vs #2AA New London-Spicer
"Moose" Johnson for NLS was just that.  Sebeka had no answer for him.  Sebeka's Joey Cuperus and John Clark are a duo that any class A team would be glad to have.  Sebeka with a 3 point lead with 1:40 left and the teams trade turnovers.  Moose with a putback and then a steal to give NLS a chance for the lead but they turn it over.  Ryan Sharp with a layup and Sebeka is back up 3 with 30 seconds left.  Jayme Moten with 2 FTs with 8.4 left and then NLS forces a turnover.  They get the ball with 2.9 left at their free throw line.  Motem catches the inbound takes 2 dribbles makes a good but slow pass to Erik Tengwall who knocked down the left corner 3 at the buzzer for the thrilling win.  He beat the buzzer but I thought it took more than 2.9.  Great finish.

Session 2:
Waconia broke open a close game with a 18-2 run over the last 8:30 of the 1st half for a 39-21 halftime lead.  Waconia rolled from there for a 75-55 win.  Marshall Bjorklund with 28 and 15 but he had no help in this one.  Great job creating space with his strength, particularly by using the left shoulder.  Shelby Moats on the other hand had help.  Really like what Danny Fischbach is doing for them and Ben Korteum can knock down 3s in a hurry.

#1AA Plainview-Elgin-Millville was down 3 at half to Minneapolis North.  Cole Olstad quiet but he hit a 3 at the halftime buzzer for 10 first half points.  He finishes with 24 as PEM wins 81-74.  No Pengi Mboma or Malik El-Amin for North which definitely would have helped.

Session 3:
Great game between #4AA Staples-Motley and #4AAA Columbia Heights.  22-16 Staples with 6 to go in the first half before a 19-8 Heights run.  35-33 Heights at the break.  Columbia Heights continues the spurt into the 2nd half.  Jacob Thomas with a 3 and a bucket for push the lead to 53-42 with 14:25 left.  The lead gets to 13 before Staples gets hot.  Derek Wolhowe with a pair of triples in a big Cardinals run.  74 all with 4:15 left.  Staples-Motley star guard Jordan Riewer with a pair of assists and then a continuation 3 point play.  82-76 Staples-Motley with 1:38 left.  Columbia Heights with 5 straight turnovers trying to hold the ball vs the Staples 1-2-2 in that stretch.  Thomas right back with a tough triple to cut the lead in half.  Harold Rainey strips Riewer for a layup and then another Staples turnover.  Thomas with 2 FTs at 36.8 and Heights is back on top 83-82.  Staples with a miss but Thomas misses the front end of the 1 and 1 with 13.8 left.  Riewer fouled and makes 2 FTs with 8.4 left.  Heights pushes to half-court and takes time with 4.8 left.  Thomas gets a decent look in the corner but its blocked.  Gerard Bapiste finds the rebound and puts it back at the buzzer  for the thrilling 85-84 Columbia Heights win.  Riewer has committed to Jamestown and he'll be a very good player for them.  Despite the 2 late turnovers, he was clutch down the stretch.  Jacob Thomas with another huge performance.

Session 4:
#2AAA De La Salle vs #10AAAA Osseo.  Strange game as it just felt like D was winning the entire way but Osseo was ahead on the scoreboard.  Tight all the way though.  Aaron Anderson with a great pass to Chris McMorris for a backdoor dunk at 3:50 and Joey Sonnefeld (playing post with 8th grader Ian Theisen) on the post for 2.  56-50 Osseo with 2:47 left.  De La Salle not going away.  John Hertle with a steal for 2 and a Bretson McNeal bomb give D the 57-56 lead with 1:10 left.  John Rowland tips in a miss with 40 seconds left and Osseo is back on top.  McNeal misses and Chris McMorris is fouled with 17.9 left.  He makes the first and misses the 2nd.  No timeout for D as they call a standard set play for Jalen Jaspers.  As he attempts to come off a screen from the low post to the top of the key he gets absoluted mugged and tackled.  No call for the 2nd time in the game on that.  Not to mention it was right in front of the D bench.  WOW.  Its a broken play and D misses.  60-57 Osseo wins and coach Thorson stares down the refs as they leave.  You can't blame him either.

I saw the last 12 minutes of Lakeville South and #1AAA Benilde-St. Margaret's.  Soph PG Isaiah Zierden was outstanding in the time I saw.  And wow is Benilde deep.  Sophs Will Dunn, Sanjay Lumpkin, and Danon Briggs with Zierden all seeing minutes.  BSM wins 99-87.

Session 5
#3AAAA Henry Sibley vs Cloquet.  The matchup of bigs was entertaining as Jake Kreuser played about as well as I've ever seen him play.  7 points and 7 rebounds in the first half against an overmatched Cloquet squad.  Jimmy Ryan continues to shoot well with another pair of triples.  37-16 Sibley at half and they roll.

Talk about a rebound.  #10AA Minnehaha took #7AA Braham behind the woodshed for a 81-51 win.  Didn't see any of it but I wouldn't have expected that.

Session 6
1st half #3A Minnesota Transitions vs #7AAA Minneapolis Henry.  MTS playing zone, Kevin Noreen getting his.  23-7 MTS over the last 6:15 of the first half for a 51-35 halftime lead.  But MTS needed OT to hang on 85-83.  Disturbing trend for MTS as they let Minnehaha back in on Tuesday and now gave up a lead to Henry.  And how does MTS only score 34 points in the last 22 minutes?

Then all of the big game of the day #1AAAA Hopkins vs #2AAAA Tartan.  Or it should have been.  Tartan with the 1st 4 points of the game and that's their highlight.  Hopkins scores the next 19 points.  Tartan fights back to within 5 in the first half.  34-23 Hopkins at the break.  More Hopkins in the 2nd half as they start the half on a 13-5 run.  Hopkins wins 81-66.  Joe Coleman with 31 points and again all within 2 feet.  Marvin Singleton was matched up with the Preiner twins most of the night in a very difficult matchup for Tartan.  He finished with 23 and 9.  Tim Lubke was the top scorer for Tartan with 14 points.

Session 7
#5AAAA Chaska at #7AAAA Minnetonka.  3 starters in street clothes for the hosts but they weren't going to lay down in this one.  Chaska's super junior Ross Travis left late in the first half with an apparent back injury.  42-39 Tonka at half.  Max Watts with a great hustle play for a 3 point play.  60-50 Chaska with 11:13 left.  Minnetonka comes all the way back.  Andrew Turnblad with a 3 point play to give the Skippers the 68-67 lead with 7:11 left.  74 in the last 2:30.  77-74 Minnetonka after a Blake Nelson 3 at 2:10.  Jake White with a putback and 2 free throws to keep Chaska within 1.  The teams trade free throws before a Jacob Meyer triple with 8.6 left ties the game at 83 and sends us to OT.  Max Watts with a big triple at the 1:33 mark of OT.  94-89 Chaska and they win 99-92.  Jake White with 29 points and Max Watts huge again for the Hawks with 26 points.  Chad Howard out of his mind stepping up for Minnetonka with 29 points.  Nick Latzke outstanding again as he also had 29 points.

Saw a few early minutes of the #8AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall vs #6AAAA Champlin Park game.  All 3 of the star sophs for CDH (Montero, Neumann and Tillman) all on the floor.  Interesting to see Raijon Kelly and Tillman on the floor at the same time.  Look for Neumann to have a bigger role now that Clay Horne has moved out east.  Too bad many people didn't see the end of this one as CDH held on 82-80 in double OT.

Battle of the Birds

To Cooper for the 1st initiation this season of the annual rivalry between Cooper and Armstrong.  Cooper kids wearing "Battle of the Birds" shirts with scores from the last 4 seasons on them (5 straight Cooper wins).  This season's score listed as "Why Bother".  LOL.  Crowd control necessary as Cooper students getting anywhere near the Armstrong students were mercilessly booed and then sent back to the Cooper side.  Too many good chants to mention but this sequence won the night's award.

Armstrong - "No more Rodney!" (note that Rodney, Kenquane Brown and Tubby Smith were all in attendance)
Cooper - "We don't need him!"
Armstrong "Yes you do!"
Cooper - "We've got Calvin!"

That's Calvin Godfrey who was in uniform and eligible contrary to the weekly rumor mill.  John Moore and Tim Theisen looking on.  Great pizza as a huge slice for the standard $2 was the best food value of the young season. 

We had to suffer through the girls game to get to the good stuff.  Armstrong girls in a rout 77-43.  With a overheated building and too much yapping here, "Let's Get It Started In Here, HOT!"

Game Time
No Godfrey in the starting lineup as Brandon Harrison gets the start at center for Cooper.  They also have soph Darrin Hebert starting and he's going to be a good guard for them.  5-2 Armstrong when Godfrey is the first one off the bench at 13:28 and the Cooper crowd erupts.  That sparks an 8-0 run with Charles Williams getting a dunk and a Godfrey putback and foul.  10-5 Cooper at 9:16.  Andy Seidlitz with a sweet high bank over Godfrey on an inbounds curl.  10-9 Cooper at the 8 minute mark.  Seidlitz keeps it going with a backdoor cut for a 3 point play.  He adds a free throw and then a steal.  Marquel Curtis converts the Seidlitz assist.  15-14 Armstrong back on top at the 3:10 mark.  20 all at the half and the offenses aren't pretty.  Godfrey 2 points on 1-6 with 5 rebounds for Cooper.  Curtis 6 points but 3-10 and Seidlitz 9 points but 3-11 shooting.

Darry Jones heats up for Cooper in the 2nd half with their 1st 6 points.  Cooper up 4 but Seidlitz right back with a 3 and a jumper.  He adds another triple for a 32-28 Armstrong lead at 13:40 to cap a 10-2 Armstrong run.  Then 2 free throws and a drive that picks up the 4th foul on Godfrey.  That gives him 2 more free throws.  37-33 Armstrong with 11:54 to go.  Godfrey has to sit.  Seidlitz with 14 of the 17 Armstrong points in the half.  Armstrong now with the 2-3 zone.  Jones with a triple and a free throw to tie the game at 39.  Brandon Harrison then picks up his 4th foul at 9:18.  Both bigs on the bench now for Cooper.  Jones joins them at 8:24 with his 4th.  Seidlitz scoops for 2 and Levi Abercrombie adds a layup off a turnover.  46-41 Armstrong with 7:30 left .  Where is the Cooper offense going to come from?  Cooper gets a quick layup from Charles Williams and 2 free throws from Phillip Fanjul at 7:04.  Godfrey returns in a bit of a gamble but Cooper needs the jolt but they've weathered the foul trouble since they're only down 1.  The jolt is there.  Godfrey runs the floor, beats his defender and makes the bank with the foul in a big momentum play.  Jones returns at 5:57 but a strange off the ball defensive push on Godfrey finishes his evening at the 5:26 mark.  Williams puts back a miss at 4:45 for a 49-46 Cooper lead.  Hebert with a tough finish for 2 at 4:20 to finish a surprising 10-0 Cooper run.  Curtis cuts the lead to 2 at 2:05 with a quick called post up for 2.  That's the first Armstrong field goal in 5:25 seconds.  Elijah Swen with a layup at the other end and 2 free throws sandwiched around an Armstrong miss.  Curtis with a step back triple with 58 seconds left.  56-53 Cooper.  Armstrong gets no closer as Cooper makes free throws to win it 63-55.

For Armstrong, Andy Seidlitz finishes with 27 points but nothing in the last 7:43.  Marquel Curtis 16 points but he never got it going in this one.  For a team that doesn't have a noteworthy post presence, when they don't make shots, its going to be tough.  Disappointing loss as I'm sure the Falcons feel this one was very winnable with that 5 point lead late.  The Falcons have a couple of winnable games against Anoka and Moorhead next week before hosting BSM next Saturday.

For Cooper, Darry Jones leads the way with 15 points, all in the 2nd half and despite sitting with foul trouble.  He needs to be a scorer and tonight he came up big.  Charles Williams and Elijah Swen also hit double figures with 10 points.  As for Calvin Godfrey, 6 points and 6 rebounds on my sheet.  His fouling out may have been a blessing as he was 0-5 from the charity stripe.  3-8 shooting.  Cooper was a different team with him on the floor as he controlled the paint on the defensive end despite only 1 block.  He's got some muscle to him, runs the floor well and can definitely block shots.  Raw on the offensive end but that will come.  With guards like Hebert and Jones to score and a productive big in Brandon Harrison and the rest of their athletes, Cooper is going to have a nice season.  Next up for the Hawks is the Minnetonka tournament vs Sibley on Friday.

The rematch between these teams is January 21st at Armstrong

Bob Gibbons updated 2010 rankings

Noted recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons came out with an updated top 200 for the class of 2010 this week.  Kevin Noreen moves up to #157 from #172 and in a surprise Jacob Thomas drops out after being #143 in the last rankings.

The entire Bob Gibbons rankings can be found here.

For the list of ranked Minnesota players, check out my Minnesota player rankings page.

Holy Angels hangs on at Washburn

A great battle tonight in section 6AAA as Holy Angels travels to Washburn.  A tough opener for Washburn especially with Holy Angels having 2 tough losses under their belt.  Love the beef hot dogs too.  Thanks to the AHA parents, I'm decked out in a restaurant quality AHA T-Shirt  But no Nestle's Nesquick jacket (picture of the rabbit mascot included) like one of the fans had.  I wouldn't put that on a third grader's lunch box if I were a parent (thankfully I'm not!).  Nice Washburn warmup shirts with "I am an athlete but academics is my game" on the back.  A message too often forgotten

Game Time
7-6 Holy Angels lead 2 minutes in before the Stars catch fire.  Sniper Tyler Emanuel with 1 triple and he adds 2 more to book end this big run.  Sam Gullickson with a 3 and Andy Jirik dominating inside.  The run is 19-1 over 4:45 and the rout is on, 26-7 at the 10:30 mark.  Cole Frechette with a layup on an inbounds and R.D. Brown with a steal for 2 and the lead is 34-13 with 6:40 left in the half.  The lead stays at 21 before Holy Angels starts to turn the ball over.  Clarence Thomas converts a steal for 2 to cap an 8-0 run and Holy Angels needs time.  Frechette puts back a miss to beat the halftime buzzer and the Holy Angels lead is 41-30 at the break.

Dwight Anderson with a bank and Clarence Thomas for 3 and the lead is 5 at the 16:15 mark.  Jirik taking over again.  He gets a layup and an old-fashioned 3 point play.  Jack Hogan with a drive for and Frechette with a great cut for an easy layup.  54-41 Holy Angels with 10:52 left and coach Reggie Perkins is not all happy in the Washburn timeout.  Holy Angels now going with the Swing Offense.  Washburn scrambling late and Frechette gets a layup with 2:30 left for a 63-52 lead.  Then it gets really interesting.  Thomas with a pair of free throws with 1:44 left and the lead is down to 64-58.  The Stars turn it over and DeMarco Gunn knocks down a 3 with 1:30 left and its a 1 possession game, 64-61.  66-62 with 35 seconds left when Thomas drives for 2.  Then Washburn sends Brown to the line (1-4 FTs to this point) and he misses 2 with seconds left and Washburn can tie.  They miss 2 good looks inside and Emanuel makes 2 free throws with 10 seconds left.  After an offensive rebound with 3 seconds left, the Stars need 2 free throws from Frechette to hang for the 70-65 win.

For Washburn, you could tell this was their opener.  The new implementation of the dribble-drive offense really struggled in the early going.  But Clarence Thomas is going to be a handful to defend in it, especially once he's played in it for a while.  He's the catalyst.  You won't see many nights where soph Dwight Anderson struggles with his shot like he did tonight (2-11 on my sheet).  Their athletes were really able to get after the Holy Angels guards and force turnovers.  I had Thomas with 23 points on my sheet but the Washburn jerseys are hard to follow so I may have confused some of his points with DeMarco Gunn's.

For Holy Angels, a nice bounce back win.  When they executed in the first half, Andy Jirik got tons of great looks.  A simple pin down to a post up got Jirik any touch you would want, yet Holy Angels got away from worked and went to the Swing for a large chunk of the second half.  I had Jirik with 18 points.  Cole Frechette with a nice performance as I had him for 17 and 11.  Tyler Emanuel with 11 of his 15 in the big first half run.  Coach McKenzie has the Stars playing very good defense as well.  They'll be sound, but I don't expect them to generate turnovers as the guards are not the kind of athletes to go out and hound people.

Hopkins at Columbia Heights thoughts

I've got 1 hand in my pocket and other has fallen off due to frostbite.  Brutal walk up the hill to Columbia Heights as the #4AAA Hylanders host #1AAAA Hopkins.  Always like the pizza at Heights and on the way back to my seat, we get Rene Pulley sighting #1 of the season.  Zach Lofton in street clothes for this one but Heights does have Andrew Hanson.  And before I know it, I have a whole host of people join me behind the scorers table.  A shout out to Rogers shooting guard Trevor Morlock for putting up with The Czar for this one.

Game Time
Interesting look from Hopkins as they start small with Joe Coleman at the 4, Marvin Singleton at the 5 and the 5th starter is ... Jeremiah Tolbert.  I've been waiting for that forever.  Columbia Heights comes out zone and DJ Peterson goes over the top to Joe Coleman for an alley-oop dunk to get us started.  Peterson has the assignment guarding Jacob Thomas on the other end.  Thomas beats Coleman for a layup after beating him earlier for a step back jumper.  8 quick Thomas points.  12-11 Heights at the 12:45 mark.  Then it falls apart for Heights.  Marvin Singleton dunks, then Coleman dunks a pair of turnovers.  9-0 Hopkins run forces a Heights timeout.  20-12 Hopkins at the 10:51 mark.  Coleman with 10 quick ones on 3 dunks and 2 layups.  Highlight moment in the 1st half.  Peterson blocks Thomas who gets it back only to be blocked by Coleman.   Back the other way we go and Coleman goes up over the top to hammer home a miss.  27-17 Hopkins at the 6:45 mark but it feels like 25.  Singleton 2 FTs, Coleman lays in an inbound lob and dunks, Siyani Chambers for 3 to push the lead to 19 before an NBA bomb at the horn cuts the Hopkins lead to 46-30 at halftime.

The momentum carries to the 2nd half.  Harold Rainey is hot.  Coleman dunks again at 13:40 to keep the lead at 11. Thomas then with a great block for a Rainey layup, then Thomas with a putback for a 3 point play and a swooping layup and all of a sudden its 54-50 with 12:12 to go and Hopkins takes time.  23-8 run over 6 minutes for Heights with Thomas a major factor in it.  Heights goes to the bench and Hopkins gets a couple of strategic traps that ignite a 15-0 run over the next 3:12.  Heights needs a timeout as the lead is back to 19, 69-50.  Heights tries to make 1 more run as they cut the lead to 14, but with Chambers on the bench with 4 fouls, Heights leaves Cameron Selmer alone for an easy corner 3.  Until the clock dies at the 1:39 mark, this one is elementary.  Game is called as the clock is toast.  Hopkins wins 95-71 (I think, but the clock was dead)  (Czar's Note 12/10/09: Final Score was reported as 95-78, Jacob Thomas with 38 vs the 35 I had)

For Columbia Heights, Jacob Thomas finishes with 35 points on 13-29 shooting on my sheet to go with 7 rebounds.  Step backs, drives, pull from NBA range, heat checks.  A bit of everything.  He tried to carry the Hylanders but to no avail.  Turnovers really hurt Heights in this one but due credit should also go the Hopkins defense for their on-ball pressure.   For Heights, they've got a tough one with Staples-Motley on Saturday at Minnetonka.   Andrew Hanson was coming off an injury and started but he saw limited time in the 2nd half due to matchups.

For Hopkins, Joe Coleman leads the way with 29 points on 13-20 shooting (7 layups, 6 dunks).  Marvin Singleton 25 and 14 on 11-15 shooting.  He even got to show off some ball skills late.  Both guys were way too much inside as they dominated the paint.  Riley Dearring with 12 points on 3-9 shooting.  He took a couple of rushed shots but that will come with experience.  Despite late foul trouble, gotta like what Siyani Chambers did on the defensive end at the point of the defense.  Interesting that frosh Dearring and soph Zach Stahl were the only rotation guys off the bench in this one for the Royals.  Hopkins has a trap game with Maple Grove on Friday before taking on Tartan on Saturday at Minnetonka.

Irondale at St. Anthony Contributor Thoughts

Thanks to the good folks at St. Anthony, I have this report from the St. Anthony game with Irondale last night  If you were at a game and have thoughts you'd like share, you can email me the info and I'll post it.  (see my contact page).  Concordia-St. Paul, Hamline, St. John's and St. Olaf all in the building last night.

A competitive start with both teams playing up down had it tied 13-13 with 10 mintues left in the first half. The STA offense really bogged down after that and the Knights took advantage and closed the half on a 15-4 run to lead at the break 28-17. Brian Sprang had 13 in the first half, Josh Pratt struggled shooting the ball and had just 7.

Second half began and the Huskies got a Karuza Cooke steal and an Aaron McCrossan 3 to cut it to 6 quickly..but they never really got much closer. Cut it to 5 at 44-39 with about 6 minutes left, but Bryan Sprang stated finding his offense again and the Knights pulled away for  a 59-44 win.

For Irondale Brian Sprang with 26, Chad Goodsell added 14 and showed some nice post moves, seems much more polished than he was last year.

For St. Anthony, Josh Pratt struggled shooting the ball but hit some late 3's and was still able to slash to the basket to finish with 18, nobody else in double figures for the Huskies. Derek Jahner didn't start and only had 4 points but provided some solid defense. Jahner is coming off an ankle injury and still might not be 100 percent.

Transitions gets first ever win over Minnehaha

A thoroughly miserable night for travel in the metro and the crowd at Minnehaha reflected it.  But this is my favorite facility so that helps.  And a big game as #3A Minnesota Transitions visits the #6AA Redhawks.  You have to love the 24oz bottles at the concession stand, but I wish the sloppy joes would have been ready.  The JV game makes up for it too as Minnehaha leads by 12 at the half, gets down 7 in the second half and then MTS banks in a 3 on a broken play at the buzzer to win 69-66.  And we have a special appearance by the MTS drum line.  And there was no warning to bring ear plugs.  Bolshevik!  Gotta love the Redhawks snazzy new black home uniforms.  St. Mary's and Augsburg on hand to watch tonight as well. 

Game Time
A pair of fun matchups as Rodney Owens (the KC player of fame) goes up against Parker Hines.  Taylor Hanson and Kevin Noreen get the other premier matchup.  Austin Brown really didn't do much to warmup (coming off injury) but he's en fuego to start.  15-14 Transitions at the 10:27 mark and Brown has 11 of the points for Minnehaha.  That's a good thing as Hines and Hanson can't find the net.  But the Redhawks do start to find the range, specifically Hines.  His deep 3 at the 6 minute mark gives the Redhawks their first lead, 25-22.  He then nails 2 more triples for a 31-30 Minnehaha lead outside of 3 minutes.  He adds a layup for 13 out of 15 Redhawks points.  Lefty David Wallendorf was the only player off the bench for MTS in this one and boy did he produce.  He nails 3 triples and a layup in the last 2:45 of the half for the final 11 MTS points of the half.  41-40 MTS at the break.  Hines with 15, Brown with 14.  Kevin Noreen with 14 and 6.  Wallendorf with 11.  Taylor Hanson only 1-5 for 2 points.

MTS comes out box and 1 (actually a 1-3 formation with Owens on top and Kevin Noreen in the middle) on Brown in the 2nd half (maybe triangle and 2 on Hines) with Kyle Noreen getting the task.  Minnehaha getting some chances to penetrate but nobody can pull away.  Hanson with a 3 to keep the MTS lead at 1, 53-52 with 13:30 to go.  Kevin Noreen with a 3 point play and Owens with 2 but misses the And 1.  That's the 4th foul on Hanson and he has to sit.  Austin Brown appears to get fouled at the rim with no call and Wallendorf converts that into a layup.  63-54 Transitions and coach Johnson is hot.  7-0 fouls against Minnehaha at this point in the half and he earns the technical with 11:39 to go.  DeAngelo Potter with a drive for 2 and an Owens dunk extend the lead to 14 with 9:30 to go after a 16-3 run.  Hanson is back with the 4 fouls but has to guard Wallendorf instead of Kevin Noreen.

Minnehaha slowly claws back.  Hanson with a jumper.  Brown with a pullup and 3 free throws.  Hines with a layup.  That's a 9-2 Minnehaha run.  71-64 Transitions with 4:20 to go and coach Sherman is not at all pleased with his guys.  Hanson nails a 3 after an Owens charge and its a 4 point game with 3:15 left, 71-67.  The Redhawks will get no closer.  Hanson now has to guard Kevin Noreen.  While Kevin was very passive on this night in the 1-4 low set, he wasn't on this possession.  Hanson has to let him go (4 fouls) and the lead is back to 6.  MTS holds and the rest is a forced 3 point and foul shooting contest.  MTS wins 85-75.

For Minnehaha, they fought back from the deficit and early shooting struggles.  Austin Brown and Parker Hines each finish with 24 points.  Brown 7-15 but only 2-7 in the 2nd half.  Hines finishes 10-22.  Taylor Hanson rebounded from a tough first half to finish with 15 points and 6 rebounds (5-5 in the 2nd half).  Had a tough night going at Kevin Noreen, but I thought he could have gotten another call or 2.  After those 3, only 12 points. Minnehaha with another tough test as they face #9AA Braham in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic at Minnetonka on Saturday.

For MTS, Kevin Noreen finishes with 30 points and 17 rebounds to close within 467 points of the all time scoring record.  I had him 10-14 from the floor but only 9-14 from the charity stripe.  DeAngelo Potter with 17 points and 6 boards on the night.  His 4 of 4 from the line late put this one away.  Rodney Owens with a quiet 15 points.  Very willing passer and plays with nice poise.  But he's athletic and can get out and finish on the break.  Kyle Noreen 10 points and 8 rebounds.  Depth could be an issue for MTS as they only played 6 and no Mac Ingram tonight.  MTS went zone late in the 1st half and stuck with it the rest of the way (if you count the box and 1 stuff).  Its early, but the zone was porous.  That's something that needs work.  They get #7AAA Minneapolis Henry Saturday night at the Breakdown classic in what should be a really entertaining game.

Sibley rolls in 09-10 Opener

Back to Minnesota to start my local season once and for all.  SPA came in off a 3 point loss to Fridley last Friday while this was Sibley's opener.  SPA without post Gabe Mast who decided to focus on football and baseball.  Sibley with their star bigs nicked up as Mike Rostampour has a sore ankle and Jake Kreuser's knee may not be 100% all season.  Not to mention, he sliced up his non-shooting hand.  For food, we have the always appetizing Taco in a Bag, though everything on it didn't include sour cream which was a slight disappointment and the doritos weren't mashed enough.  But enough critiques of food.  To the game

Game Time
SPA star forward Evan McMillan out of the gates with a putback for the first bucket of the game.  SPA point guard Santano Rosario counters a Jimmy Ryan 3 and a Rostampour FT to tie the game at 4 at the 16:20 mark.  Then Sibley takes over inside.  Rostampour with a putback, then 2 more.  Jake Goldberg inside for 2.  Then a big Rostampour block leads to a Dante Grant 3.  Timeout SPA.  But the bleeding isn't stopped.  Rostampour for 2 in a nice high/low set and Ryan with back to back triples.  20-0 run over 8 minutes and Sibley leads 24-4 just outside of the 8 minute mark.  The lead gets to 25 before SPA closes to 38-16 at the half.

In the second half, Bobby Wills off the Sibley bench.  While he's known for his defense, he converts a turnover into a layup and then makes a triple.  Jake Kreuser adds his only points of the night with a jumper from the left baseline.  Freshman sniper Adam Huessner in the game as Sibley starts to use the rest of the bench.  He nails a triple to push the lead to 32, 57-25 at the 10:50 mark.  JVs take the game most of the rest of the way.  Sibley wins 66-48.

For St Paul Academy, David McVeety leads the way with 4 triples for 14 points.  Santano Rosario with 13 points.  Evan McMillan held to 11 points and 6 boards on 4-13 shooting.  He got in early foul trouble against Rostampour in the first half as SPA just didn't have other options to use inside.  SPA tried man and 2-3 zone to slow down the Warriors but the size was just too much.  It doesn't get any easier for the Spartans as they travel to #5A Maranatha tomorrow.

For Sibley, Mike Rostampour was dominant inside and only had 1 foul on my sheet.  He finishes with 18 and 9 on 8-13 shooting.  Jimmy Ryan with 12 points via 4 of Sibley's 9 makes from deep.  Jake Kreuser quiet on offense with only 2 points but 7 rebounds and 4 blocks and he was a presence in the lane.  Sibley getting inside looks, mainly for Rostampour with good high/low and duck-in action.  Jordan Jackson was a total non-factor with 4 points on 2-5 shooting.  Sibley's next game is against Cloquet in the Breakdown Tipoff Classic on Saturday at Minnetonka.

The Future
Players to watch in years to come include SPA frosh PG Spencer Egly.  He's a backup now, but will take over for Rosario next year.  For Sibley, they have a pair of noteworthy freshmen.  Nick Goldberg (Little Goldy according to the Sibley students, he's Jake's brother).  More athletic and skilled than Jake, but not as strong and needs work on his perimeter game.  And we already mentioned Adam Heussner, who's a valuable zone buster right now and saw major time with the Warriors during fall play.

A weekend of Iowa basketball

Is this heaven?  No...its Iowa

Bolshevik!  I should have taken the left at Albert Lea.

I had the chance to spend Friday and Saturday in Iowa following former Como Park frosh coach John Carrier's South Tama Trojans.  Coach Carrier got his first career varsity win at his Trojans took out Waterloo Columbus on Saturday night.  Interesting that all league games are boys/girls doubleheaders in the Little Hawkeye Conference.  But the Friday adventure in Knoxville was lots of fun.  Great building, good fan support and a crazy ending in the women's game where South Tama lost because they had 6 on the floor with 19 seconds left in a tie game.

Very crazy with how tight the games were called.  Very very very touchy calls were the norm.  A whole extra level beyond the hand-checking emphasis we have here in MN.  Just crazy.  South Tama was down 9-0 in fouls in the first quarter of Saturday's game.  Not all were touch fouls, but it really hinders the ability to get out and get after people.  Between that and coaches having to sit all game, its a very different atmosphere.

The South Tama building looks like an oversized gazebo from the outside.  2 levels with 7 rows of bleachers per level on each side with a set at 1 end.  A big scoreboard with 4 sides hanging above center court, seat backs like Bethel and the kids singing the school song at center court after the game make the environment one of the most unique I've ever seen in all my years.

Opening Night at the SAL

And to think I was going to have the better game.  Props to Michael Much for picking the competitive game tonight.  Very surprised Coon Rapids took Forest Lake to OT.  Zach Riedeman with 35 big ones in that game.

I was at CHOF for their home opener with Heritage.  Cody Sarbacker not with CHOF which is a huge loss at the guard spot.  Heritage lost a bunch of seniors and a transfer.

Heritage's star Nick Parkhurst out of the gates quickly with a triple, a 3 point play and a layup and 2 more.  12-4 Heritage 5 minutes into the game.  1st half really goes nowhere from there.  CHOF 15 1st half turnovers but they hang around to be down 30-24 at the break.  Parkhurst with 14 points.  CHOF soph center Tyler Strandlund with 9 points.

2nd half is just ugly for CHOF.  Strandlund gets their 1st field goal of the half at the 8:50 mark.  But the lead is 20 at that point.  The rest is bench time.  Heritage wins 58-39.  Nick Parkhurst finishes with 23 points on 9-19 shooting with 5 rebounds.  Tyler Strandlund leads CHOF with 16 points on 7-21 shooting, 15 rebounds and 8 blocks.

For Heritage, they attempted to run some Swing Offense, but nothing much out of it.  CHOF attempted some 1-2-2 zone and diamond press.  I had CHOF for 26 total turnovers which didn't help the cause, but the main issue for both of these teams is finding some help for the stars.  Dan Leidall chipped in with 16 points for Heritage.  4 of their 6 scorers including Parkhurst return next season so improvement awaits.  Nobody else for CHOF with more than 6.

Best Buy Holiday Tourney Pairings

Here are the pairings for the Best Buy Holiday Classic Dec 28-30 at Augsburg.

St Paul Johnson vs St. Louis Park 4 PM
Henry Sibley vs Chicago Julian 6 PM
Hopkins vs Milwaukee Marshall 8 PM

Winner of Hopkins game plays Christian Faith Academy (NC) at 8 PM Dec 29 in semifinals

Loser of Hopkins game plays Minneapolis Roosevelt at 4 PM Dec 29 in consolation bracket

Week 1 Metro Hoops Preview

So after 2 brutal girls games that went to the mercy rule and 10 WI boys games its finally time for the MN boys season to begin.  My schedule is posted for the week with games at CHOF and St. Louis Park.  I'm in Iowa on Saturday to check out former Como Park frosh coach John Carrier's South Tama County Trojans.  Season totals are up to date on my season totals page which I update throughout the season.

As to the rest of week 1, I've posted a preview over on my Star Tribune blog (read that here).