Down to the wire with the top of class 3A

There's the Hatfields and McCoys, the Bears and Packers, the Yankees and Red Sox etc.  But the biggest "rivalries" throughout history have been based on religion.  Which brings us to #5 De La Salle and their home battle with #3 Benilde-St. Margaret's.  A disappointing crowd but eventually we fill in.  A little extra salsa on the Taco in a Bag but that adds a little kick to it.  St. Mary's and St. Olaf again in the house.  We have a ton of AAU guys, Krosschell, Harris, Pulley and Nick Carroll from Fury in the house.  And a special appearance by Washington Wizards assistant Don Zierden.

I normally don't talk JV ball here but I have to in this instance.  BSM without their 4 star sophomores (all stayed up on varsity for this one) was up 39-19 with 12+ left.  Then a foul on a rebound on DLS.  We get some yapping and a minor 1 handed shove from a DLS player.  The BSM player goes into Charles Barkley mode and slams the ball off the DLS player's skull.  The official only gives the DLS player a T which means his certification to do any officiating should be immediately revoked.   The DLS JV coach finds out this result and he too gets a T.  BSM misses both of those freebies and the whole disaster lights a fire under the Islanders who come back and win 56-53.

Game Time
We have 3 officials working this one who either worked state last year or previously.  I'm not a fan of at least 2 of them and the officiating was not state tourney quality in this one.  To the real deal, we're 6 all at the 15:25 mark before Bretson McNeal caps a 9-0 Islander run with a 3.  McNeal and Jaspers with 2 more from deep and its 21-11 Islanders at 11:10.  A bad charge call on Peter Crawford sends Benilde's top player to the bench at 10:37.  Jonah Travis picks up his 2nd cheap foul of the day and he's on the bench at 9:37.  Red Knights on a 9-0 run capped by 2 Nick Meyer free throws at 6:13.  23-22 De La Salle leads.  Isaiah Zierden drives and gives the Red Knights their first lead at the 4:30 mark, 26-25.  Myles Barnes with a dunk and a 3 point play before McNeal flares for another triple to tie the game at 33.  37-35 De La Salle at the half.

The start of the second half is the Peter Crawford show.  A putback, a pullup jumper, a backcut for a 3 point play, a tough 2 and another backcut for 2 more and he'll top it off with a foul line pullup jumper.  All of that in just over 4 minutes.  48-46 Red Knights as De La Salle takes a timeout at the 12:48 mark.  Crawford with all 13 points for the Red Knights in the half.  Zierden and McNeal trade shots from deep.  Evan Battle and Travis trade post hoops.  Zierden then with another 3.  Timeout De La Salle with 8:25 left down 56-51.    And that starts the run that ultimately puts them ahead.  Travis on the post for 2 more and a putback to cut the lead to 1.  Then a sweet baseline spin off of Battle from the left block for a reverse layup.  Jaspers with a foul line jumper off the secondary break and he finds McNeal for 3 before knocking down his own 3 with 3:38 left.  65-59 De La Salle after a 14-3 run in 4:47.  Crawford strong to the hoop and he finishes over Travis, wow.  Nick Meyer and Jaspers trade drives before a Red Knights timeout at 2:40.  69-63 De La Salle.

Double flare screen for Zierden that the Islanders jump out on.  Crawford slips it and is fouled for 2 freebies at 2:10.  Jaspers misses a front end that Travis rebounds but he misses a 1:40. Seth Marx puts back a miss at 1:30 and its 69-67 De La Salle.  Red Knights choose to stay with their run and jump pressure and the Islanders take time with 51.4 left.  Out of the timeout, they can't get it in and its a 5 second call.  Meyer then called for a questionable pushoff with 38.1 left to give De La Salle the ball back.  Red Knights want to foul Islander point guard Walter Franklin but it takes them until 8.5 seconds left to do that.  Instructions to Zierden during the free throws are to push the ball to halfcourt and get a timeout.  Franklin makes 1 of 2 but Zierden is on the sideline in front of the BSM bench with 3.4 left and coach Moore slams his hand on the scorer's table in disgust.  Jalen Jaspers makes 1 of 2 freebies with 2.2 left to seal a 71-67 De La Salle victory.

For Benilde-St. Margaret's, Peter Crawford with 18 of his 22 in the second half.  Isaiah Zierden with 3 triples and 15 points.  Seth Marx held to 4 points after his big game earlier this week against Columbia Heights.  Evan Battle off the bench with 8 points.  Myles Barnes with 7 points before fouling out.  We talked about section 6 earlier in the week but based on the eye test, you have to keep them the top seed at 19-5.

For De La Salle, they improve to 20-3 and this should lock up the top seed in section 6AAA.  Jalen Jaspers leads the way with 25 points.  Bretson McNeal with 6 more triples and 20 points.  Red Knights did not do a good job of defending the flare screens for him.  Jonah Travis finishes with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Most of that in the second half due to foul trouble in the first half.  Marcus Dorsey 5 points and played well, especially early, off the bench.  They really were rattled by the run and jump pressure though which is not a good sign against teams like Henry or Columbia Heights in the section final and especially not against Johnson at the state level.  On the road at Henry on Tuesday will be an interesting test for the Islanders.

Panthers steal one at Jefferson

To Jefferson for my first look at the Jags and Lakeville North.  We're using programs from a home game vs Burnsville so I have to be resourceful on the Lakeville North roster.  Disappointing pizza and the usually overzealous PA guy . And it pains me to say that the Jaguar costume has to be replaced.  Not good.  We have Tupac's California Love playing on the PA at halftime which is quality though the "clean" version being played was a bit strange.  On a positive note, nice to honor the 8 Jefferson seniors prior to the varsity game.  Minnesota State's top 2 coaches were looking on if I saw correctly.

Game Time
5-3 Lakeville North at the 16:15 mark.  Then the slowest 10-0 run you might see.  Jalen Williams at 14:25, Jack Wittenborg then goes it along with a pullup and triple and then a layup via turnover.  Williams ends the 5:20 run with a free throw at 9:05.  Lakeville North has to come back with 3 starters during the run but not Dajon Newell.  Devon Knopke off the bench in this one and he finds Gavin Albright for a pair of 3s.  Timeout Jefferson at 7:04 with a 16-13 lead.  But Lakeville North only gets a triple from Knopke the rest of the half.  Williams to Wittenborg after a LONG possession for a layup at the 1:05 mark.  Jefferson probably held the ball 2 minutes and coach Evens is yelling for patience.  Please tell me he was saying that to the crowd.  As you'd say online, SMH.  24-16 Jags at the half.

Kyle Peterson steps up for Lakeville North with a jumper and a pair of triples in the first 3:45 minutes.  Panthers down 31-26.  Wittenborg with a nice pullup followed by 2 Williams free throws and its 37-28 Jags with 10:09 left.  Wittenborg drives for 2, Williams puts back a miss and Wittenborg with another pullup at 5:53 for a 43-34 Jags lead and with their slow pace it feels like they'll go anaconda on this one and just squeeze the life put of the rest of the game.  Peterson with another 3 at 4:35, countered by a Williams post up for 1 of 2 free throws at 4:15.  44-37 Jags.

Then Williams with a steal but misses both free throws.  Knopke drives and scores at 2:45 to cut the lead to 5.  Jags turn it over and now North is patient.  Knopke finds Peterson all alone on the backside of the 2-3 zone for a layup with 2 minutes left and its 44-41.  North presses on the make and forces Marcus Alipate to walk as he tries to beat the 10 count.  Knopke drives hard on the left baseline for 2 more and Alipate misses a front end at 1:34.  Williams grabs the miss but he can't convert the bunny.  Junior forward Alex Moore off the Lakeville North bench fouled on a layup and he makes 1 of 2 with 1:19 left to tie the game at 44.  Alipate drives and makes 1 of 2 with 56.8 left.  Lakeville North runs 30 seconds of offense and can't find anything so they take timeout with 24 seconds left.  Its Moore again, this time on the left block for 3 the hard way with 8.2 remaining.  Amazing.  47-45 Lakeville North for their first lead since the first 4 minutes of the game.  Jefferson took time out before the free throw and they inbound to Alipate and let him go full court.  He drives and loses the ball off a knee with 1.1 left.  Dajon Newell makes 2 free throws with 0.2 left to seal a 49-45 Lakeville North win.

For Jefferson, they get 2 points and no field goals in the last 5:50.  3 turnovers and 1-4 free throws in the last 2 and a half makes it difficult.  Jalen Williams off the bench in this one for senior Charlie Reichel.  A nice night for him with 15 points and 13 boards on my sheet.  Jack Wittenborg leads the way with 19 points.  Marcus Alipate a rough night with 7 points on 2-13 shooting and 6 turnovers. But with their top player having an off night, give the Jags credit.  They used their flex type offense to pound the ball inside all night long and on defense they flipped between man and a couple variations of 2-3 zone (they'll X the wing guys and play it straight).  Jefferson started 3-13 including a loss to Chanhassen after beating them by 27 early in the year.  The Jags are now 6-15 but they're recently beat Apple Valley and won at Duluth East who are arguably favorites in their sections.  Not to mention, 7 of those losses are by 5 points or less with 4 of those being leads at halftime.  5 of their 9 losses last year were also by 5 points or less.  They may be looking at a 3 vs 6 game at Chaska to open section 2AAAA play which I wouldn't look past if I were Chaska.

For Lakeville North, this win was grand theft auto.  The Panthers have now won 9 of 12.  Eric Peterson is the only Panther in double figures tonight with 13 points.  All of those were in the 2nd half as he hit 3 big triples and a layup to keep the Panthers close.  Devon Knopke assisted on that and followed with a couple of big buckets but only finished with 7 points.  Dajon Newell with half of his points on the final free throws.  Both were surprisingly passive, especially Newell.  Against a team like Jefferson, that hurts.  I don't have exact minutes but it seemed like Knopke/Newell played separately as much as they played together.  I expected more of them on the floor together.  Section 3AAAA will be very interesting with any of the top 6 teams having a reasonable shot.  Eagan and Rosemount were hot early, but have struggled recently.  Eastview on the other hand has won 8 of 11 and has Joey King in the lineup now.  They gave Apple Valley all they wanted without King and just beat Lakeville South.

Islanders survive late Cadet comeback

Its the first of back to back trips to De La Salle. Tonight its St. Thomas Academy visiting. We've got St. Olaf and St. Mary's in the house looking on. Rene Pulley and Willie Braziel make a late appearance and John Moore also makes an appearance. No Taco In A Bag tonight, aw shucks. Hot Dog OK, bun needs a bit of work. Can't go wrong with Mug Root Beer.  Jalen Jaspers awarded a ball for passing the 1000 career points mark vs Minnehaha a couple of weeks ago.  Best of all, you can't go wrong with a De La Salle teacher playing the national anthem on the saxophone.  Not the first time I've seen it there, but still absolutely outstanding and about the only thing that would be a quality replacement for their jazz band doing it.

Game Time
Billy Chapman with a couple of quick assists for layups and St. Thomas is up 8-6 at the 12 minute mark.  Marcus Dorsey with a putback for a 3 point play and Jonah Travis adds a putback for De La Salle.  St. Thomas playing triangle and 2 on Jaspers and Bretson McNeal.  Interesting twist.  Out of a DLS timeout at 8:20, St. Thomas goes 3-2 zone.  Add in a pair of Charlie Aslesen triples and St. Thomas is within 18-16 at the 5:20 mark.  Then John Hertle for 3, Walter Franklin with a great tip out of a rebound and Jaspers takes it the other way for a 2 handed flush and a putback.  St. Thomas back to the triangle and 2 as DLS is up 25-16.  They go to halftime with a 30-23 lead.

The Cadets stay with the triangle and 2 to start the second half.  Hertle with another 3 for a double digit lead.  Coach Thorson then gets a technical as 2 of the 3 officials really let the kids play tonight (both did the JV game too, same thing).  The Cadets get nothing on the possession and only make 1 of 2 free throws.  Jaspers then with a nice baseline drive and reverse layup and then Travis on the post for 2 and St. Thomas needs a timeout.  37-24 they're down with 14:50 left.  Coach Sjoberg has seen enough of the gimmicks as the Cadets go straight man the rest of the way.  Soph lefty shooter Thomas Sjoberg with back to back triples to force a De La Salle timeout with 8:20 left.  Cadets still hanging around down 48-36.  Then an 11-2 run blows this one open.  John Hertle with 1 great dribble to the baseline for a better passing angle and that's a 2 handed dunk for Travis on the postup.  Jaspers backdoor off the secondary break from Travis.  Jaspers with a layup and McNeal from deep and its 57-38 Islanders with 6 minutes left.  The only post presence for the Cadets, Will Patt, fouls out moments later.

Then Billy Chapman, who was 2-15 shooting with 8 points at this stage, decides to go off and DLS puts it on cruise.  Chapman for 3, then he creates space for 2, then a pair of free throws and then a 3 point play at 2:34.  The lead is down to 61-50.  Chapman with a putback at 2:01 and then a turnover gives him a 3 and another turnover results in him grabbing a miss and making 2 free throws.  Holy cow its 61-57 De La Salle with 1:16 left and its a game.  DLS doesn't beat the 10 count on the clock but they do beat the ref's 10 count and that's 2 Jaspers free throws.  Chapman gets a good look at a 3 and its short with 50 seconds left and that's really the last gasp.  Chapman tacks on a 30 footer at the end for 21 points in the last 5:10.  DLS hangs on 69-61.

For St. Thomas, Billy Chapman finishes with 29 points on 8-25 shooting (6-10 in last 5:10).  Thomas Sjoberg and Charlie Aslesen both reach double figures with 10 points.  I'd like to see Aslesen get more shots.  Will Patt had foul issues and was held to 4 points.  The Cadets fall to 14-9 overall but still should hang on for the 2 seed over league rival Mahtomedi in section 4AAA.  The wildcard would be if Mahtomedi knocks off Sibley next week.

For De La Salle, they improve to 19-3 and didn't get trapped before the big one that I'm at on Saturday vs Benilde-St. Margaret's.  Jonah Travis with 16 of his 22 points in the second half.  Jalen Jaspers 17 points. Once thing that showed again for me in this one is that you can run basic zone stuff (short corner, dive the high post etc) vs junk defenses.  Too many teams panic.  St. Thomas took advantage of some sloppy play at the end with the big lead.  Not something coach Thorson will be happy about.

Red Knights win battle for second place

To the Haben Center at Benilde-St. Margaret's for senior night for BSM's 4 seniors.  These teams tied for 2nd 1 game behind Cooper in the North Suburban.  We have a less full than expected crowd but he do have the Red Knight pep band.  The jumbo hot dog tonight was outstanding and no rubik's cube wrap thankfully.  Minnesota State and the Mr Basketball guys watching along with Rene Pulley

Game Time
No time to waste here as this was over almost immediately thanks to the seniors.  Peter Crawford drives and kicks to Seth Marx for 3.  Crawford with a bank and kicks for Marx for another 3.  Lather, Rinse and Repeat as its Marx again from deep.  11-2 Red Knights and we're barely 2 minutes in.  Time out Heights.  Isaiah Zierden then nails back to back bombs.  17-2 at 14:45.  Crawford with a putback, Marx again from the great beyond and an Evan Battle layup at 11:30 push the lead to 24-8.  Heights needs another timeout.  7 in a row out of the time out for Benilde-St. Margaret and caution flammable, its Marx again during the run for 3 around to Battle buckets inside.  31-8 Red Knights and we haven't reached the halfway point of the first half yet.  While BSM has everything going in, Heights can't get anything to go in.  Jacob Thomas picks up his second foul at the 7:22 mark with Heights down 33-12 but he'll still sit the rest of the half in a bit of a surprise.  48-23 BSM at the half thanks to 8 threes, 5 of them by Marx.   Jacob Thomas 0-4 and no points.

Marx going out in style in his last regular season home game.  Flex cut for a 3 point play and a post up for 2 push the lead to 55-25 at the 16:35 mark.  Thomas finally heats up with his first hoop of the night on a 3 at the 12:17 mark (0-7 to that point).  He scores 15 points in less than the next 5 minutes but a charge in that run also gives him his 4th foul and with 7:33 left he gets trapped.  He gets called for the pushoff just before Heights could get a timeout and he's done.  The bench gives a small bit of the lead back but the Red Knights win easily 93-69

For Columbia Heights, dismal shooting in the first 10 minutes (along with some tough shots), dug a hole that was too deep.  Jacob Thomas finishes with 15 points on 5-15 shooting.  Zach Lofton leads the way with 17 points on 7-19 shooting.  Heights falls to 18-5 and 3rd place alone in the North Suburban thanks to Cooper beating Irondale tonight.  Despite the loss, I'll still take the Hylanders for the #2 seed in section 3AAA and a favorable draw against St. Paul Central in the semis (rather than the bad DLS/Henry draw in the other semi, but that one will play out next week)

For Benilde-St. Margaret's, the seniors go out big.  Seth Marx and his 5 triples lead the way with 22 points.  Peter Crawford 18 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists on my sheet in a quality tool box performance.  Darren Glover 9 points but he really locked up Thomas for tough shots or no shots, especially during the first half.  The Red Knights with one of the class AAA games of the year at De La Salle Saturday afternoon.  Glover will have his hands full with Jalen Jaspers in that one.  With Waconia 1 ahead in the loss column, does a BSM loss Saturday give Waconia a claim for the top seed, especially if they win the season finale against Orono to share the Wright County title?

Exciting Battle of Number 6

ow, Ow, OW!!!!  The hard foul on ice on the way here makes this one tough to watch but I'm tough so we'll continue on.  Its a battle of #6AAA De La Salle visiting #6AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall.  Despite barely making the tipoff, I am making sure to get the restaurant quality beef hot dog.  The PA system is bad enough on the CDH side.  No wonder they rarely open the side behind the benches where I was tonight.

Game Time
All bigs early.  De La Salle's Jonah Travis with 2 free throws from an offensive rebound.  Cretin's Seantrel Henderson with 2 putbacks.  Travis with a putback and a layup.  Those sandwich triples by Raijon Kelly and Taylor Montero.  12-8 CDH at the 11:40 mark.  Bretson McNeal for 2 and then 3 around a pretty backdoor cut for 2 from Montero.  Travis pins a Elliot Owusu layup to the board for a goaltending call before another Henderson putback.   18-13 CDH as DLS takes time at the 8:10 mark.  Jalen Jaspers finally gets going for DLS late in the half as he flares for 3, drives for 2 and nails another 3.  31-28 Cretin-Derham Hall as we go to the half.  Henderson really tough to handle inside.  Jonah Travis with the 1st 8 for DLS but only 2 more the rest of the half.

Henderson with another putback and Cortez Tillman with a layup at 14:10 for a 39-32 CDH lead.  They decide to go zone the rest of the way.  It starts with the same 2-3 trap that was so effective against Stillwater earlier this year.  After a McNeal 3, Kelly with a pair of freebies, Henderson with a postup for 2 and then Kelly with a steal under the basket for 3 the hard way.  46-35 CDH with 11:27 left and De La Salle needs a timeout.  They get the response necessary too.  Travis with a set play lob off a baseline out of bounds for a dunk.  McNeal for 3 and a Travis block becomes 2 Jaspers free throws.  46-42 CDH with 10:09 left as the Islanders score 7 in a row.  Henderson with a post layup off a flash and great touch pass from CJ Neuman.  CDH then goes 1-3-1 at the 9 minute mark and promptly forces a pair of turnovers.  Owusu gets the first for an easy breakaway dunk and Montero converts the other.  52-44 at 8:01 after that hoops and we get the mysterious CDH timeout.  Kelly adds a tough stepback shot from the left baseline to push the lead back to double figures, 54-44, with 7 minutes left.

Travis with 4 straight free throws, a much improved part of his game, to keep it close.  Then 2 DLS turnovers, 1 vs each zone as CDH is back to the 2-3.  Gus Gehlen converts the 2nd into a triple.  58-48 Raiders with 5:20 left.  Jaspers with 2 free throws.  A CDH turnover for a McNeal layup cuts the lead to 6.  Montero for 3 with 3:30 left for a 61-53 CDH lead.  Travis grabs his own miss and puts it back, Jaspers with a layup off a turnover with 2:30 left. DLS really pressuring and in their haste to help on Henderson inside, Owusu gets lost under the rim for a layup.  McNeal with 2 FTs at 1:38.  CDH then with 2 really questionable shots.  DLS can't convert the first but Travis grabs his own miss and converts a 3 point play with 32.8 left and its 63-62 CDH. Hold the phone.  DLS doesn't immediately foul and Travis bear hugs Henderson to put him on the line with 22.7 left.  Why is Henderson even in the game at this point???  He misses the front end and DLS has the rebound and a chance to win on the road.  No timeout, tick, tick, tick.  A flare screen for Jaspers or McNeal was effective all night but DLS doesn't get into anything and they lose the ball out of bounds with 5.1 left without taking a timeout.  After not getting anything in transition on the rebound, I would have liked to see a DLS timeout.  That would have given them about 10 seconds.   Montero makes 2 free throws with 3.8 left with Henderson still .  DLS has a play drawn up and its a handoff for McNeal who's shot is just long at the buzzer.  CDH hangs on 65-62.

For De La Salle, Jonah Travis with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks (goaltending call not included).  Jalen Jaspers 6-17 for 18 points.  He had some good looks off of their secondary break on the dribble handoff to the top.  Against Minnehaha in their last meeting he made a bunch of those shots.  Tonight those shots didn't fall.  Bretson McNeal with 4 triples and 18 points as well.  The Islanders fall to 17-3 breaking an 11 game winning streak.

For Cretin-Derham Hall, they improve to 18-4 with the 4 losses by 15 points.  Seantrel Henderson leads the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds.  Raijon Kelly and Taylor Montero each with 12 points.  Elliot Owusu with 10 points.  I liked the zone strategy from CDH as I'd much rather play against the DLS zone offense than man offense.  Kicker is that you have to know who not to guard.  Most teams don't bother with that and make their lives so much harder.  Minnehaha was one of the few who picked out the non-shooters and didn't guard them.  The debate for the top seed in section 4AAAA will be very interesting between CDH and Sibley if both win out.  Sibley has more losses against a brutally tough schedule but they're a conference champion and CDH will likely be 2 games behind Forest Lake.  The teams are #6 and #7 in the current state poll.  (We'll ignore the fact the #8 Eden Prairie beat CDH head to head, will win their tougher league and has a better power ranking.  How much are polls really worth?)

Jonah Travis photo courtesy of

Czar misses Irondale comeback

Blasted 3 PM start, this should have stayed at 1 and then I wouldn't be watching the clock.  1 of our refs shows up late and that can't be good.  First look at Irondale sniper Bryan Sprang and the surprising Knights who are 8-2 in their last 10 coming in.  Worth noting that Como Park was blasted by Hopkins last night while Irondale had the night off.

Game Time
Como's Joe Conley and Sprang get the assignments on each other in a fun matchup.  Conley with a layup before picking up his 2nd foul at 11:40 and he'll sit the rest of the half.  10-5 Como Park leads.  Sprang with back to back bombs to tie it at 11 with 10:25 left in the half.  Then Como Park is off on a 12-0 run.  Adrian Wackett with a jumper and a 3 point play.  Lefty Bennett Cooper with a jumper and triple of his own that ends the run in 2:40.  Irondale's Tim Colwell with a layup out of The World's Worst Offense and a triple.  That sends the game to halftime with Como Park leading 35-30.

Sprang with a 3 and a spin for 2 more and Irondale is within 3.  Conley counters with a 3 point play at 16:10 to push the Cougars lead back to 43-37.  Como Frosh BaJuan Adams with a tough inside 2 and a nice assist to Brandon Baker for a layup.  Cougars lead 50-41 with 12:10 to go and we have an upset brewing.  An Adrian Wackett drive at the 5:40 mark keeps Como Park on top 58-48.  Vince Calistro with 1 of 2 freebies with 4:22 remaining to keep Irondale within 9 and there's nothing that makes you think Irondale is coming back so I'm out the door to my next game.

There's a saying on a bad foul call that the ball don't lie.  If the kid misses the freebies, it must have been a bad foul call.  Well, I take the hard foul (fall) on the way out the door (ice) as a message that I shouldn't have left early.  Irondale comes back and wins 83-74 in overtime in a major Como Park meltdown.  Sprang scores 12 of the last 25 Irondale points to finish with another big day of 39 points.  Joe Conley only 5 points for Como Park.  Brandon Baker comes up big with 21 points for the Cougars.

Mahtomedi at Richfield thoughts

To Richfield to see them for the first time this season as they take on Mahtomedi.  Taco in a bag tonight with the option of Fritos or Doritos.  Does it get any better than that?  Richfield coming off a stretch where they played Tartan tough and took it to St. Thomas Academy.  Richfield with only 1 senior, Jay Sewer who makes a huge contribution.  How will this compare with high quality curling action on CNBC?

Game Time
Mahtomedi hot out of the gate as Bobby Sherwood doubles up on a floater/triple pairing.  11-4 Zephyrs at 11:15.  Sewer with a pair of assists for layups to cut the lead to 11-8 at 10:30.  Then Mahtomedi is off on a 14-2 run.  Andre Arnett for 3, then 2 on an elbow isolation followed by another triple and he finishes the run with a pull up jumper inside of 6 minutes left in the half.  25-10 Mahtomedi leads.  Sewer coast to coast for 2 and then a high soft bank.  Arnett going again as he gets a bucket and 2 more free throws off the elbow iso.  And he tacks on a 3 to end the half.  40-21 Mahtomedi at the half.  Sherwood and Arnett with 35 of the Mahtomedi points on 6 triples.  Jay Sewer with 2 buckets and 3 assists for 11 of the 21 Richfield points.

Richfield with the 1st 4 of the second half as they threaten to hang around thanks to a pair of Mahtomedi turnovers.  44-31 Zephyrs before soph Justin Pahl nails a pair of 3s and then pulls up breaking on a turnover for 2 more.  That pushes the lead right back to 19 with 11:23 left and Richfield needs a timeout.   Sewer drives for 2 and finds Corey Fitzgerald for 3 and Mahtomedi needs timeout with 6:31 left.  54-42 Zephyrs lead. But Richfield won't threaten.  Sherwood with a floater and Mahtomedi drains the clock the last 4 minutes and makes 9-10 free throws in a 2:30 stretch.  That keeps the lead in double digits and Mahtomedi wins 71-55.

For Richfield, Jay Sewer finishes with 12 points.  Soph Darrien Johnson also reaches double figures with 10 points.  The Spartans are now 5-8 in the Classic Suburban, 11-11 overall.  The schedule does them no favors with a trip to Johnson tomorrow afternoon and a home date with Sibley on Friday.  Richfield played 10 guys and 8 of them return next season.  That includes 5 sophomores, notably Darrien Johnson.  But the big question is who will score.  Sewer is the only guy averaging double figures and he graduates.  Not to mention he's the one guy who can create for others.

For Mahtomedi, Sherwood and Arnett held to 10 points in the 2nd half after combining for 35 in the first half.  Bobby Sherwood with 23 and Andre Arnett with 22.  The Zephyrs are now 16-6 and 8-5 in a 3rd place tie with Tartan in the Classic Suburban.  They're in a battle with St. Thomas for the 2nd seed in section 4AAA.  Those teams split 2 close games already this season and a section semifinal matchup appears to be on the horizon.

Cooper too big for Fridley

So after a long night watching The Crown Prince's alma mater blow a late lead and lose 37-36 on Tuesday, I return to The Kingdom for a quiet night in the metro.  Tonight takes me to Cooper for their North Suburban game against Fridley.  Fridley with 9 league losses in a row sandwiched by 2 wins over St. Francis and somehow there's still 2 other teams besides St. Francis below them.  A hot dog upgrade at Cooper this year as I couldn't wait around for the pizza.

Game Time
Calvin Godfrey wtih a putback and Darry Jones with a triple to bookend a 9-2 Cooper run in less than 2 minutes to start the game.  Jones runs out for a layup and Godfrey with a 3 point play on the post and its 14-4 Hawks at 13:10.  A pair of Fridley triples cuts the lead to 16-10 before Cooper runs out again.  Soph Darrin Hebert, who's not seeing as much varsity time now, for 3.  Terrance Averyheart with 3 of 4 free throws, Godfrey on the post for 2 but then misses a lob pass off a blocked shot.  24-10 Cooper when Fridley calls for time at the 8 minute mark.  8-0 Cooper run over 2:25.  Interesting that Cooper going with 1 starting big (Godfrey before this timeout, Brandon Harrison after) and 4 perimeter players from the bench.  Ryan Jenkins with another 3 for Fridley with 5:20 left in the half.  27-15 Cooper and that's Fridley's first FG in 6:40.  Godfrey and Harrison on a trap force a turnover for a Jones layup, another turnover for a Averyheart layup and Elijah Swen for 2 to push the lead to 18.  39-24 Cooper at the half.

Cooper starts the 2nd half strong as Godfrey puts back a miss to cap a 7-0 run.  2 more Fridley turnovers result in 2 more Cooper layups.  54-28 with 13:42 left as Fridley calls time.  This one is all over at this point as Godfrey doesn't play the last 11 minutes.  Raheem Tyner comes from way off the bench and outworks everybody for 18 points in the last 10 minutes.  At least 12 of his points came from running the floor and working the offensive glass.  Nicely done by the 6'5 junior lefty.  Cooper goes on to win 76-42.

For Fridley, Devin Hemmerich leads the way with 11 points.  The Tigers fall to 7-13 and 3-10 in the N Suburban.  5'7 soph Ryan Backstrom comes back next year at the point after starting tonight and Ryan Jenkins with a pair of triples tonight returns on the wing.

For Cooper, in addition to Tyner's 18 points, Calvin Godfrey finishes with 15, 10 and 3 blocks.  Darry Jones with 14 points.  Very strange night for the Hawks.  They played a ton of 1-2-2 3/4 court in the first half back to straight 1-2-2.  They ran 5 out with both bigs on the floor (Godfrey and Harrison, no Johnny Jackson tonight) and showed some 1-3-1 in the last 12 minutes along with some 2-3 high delay type offense.  While the game got to mercy rule with 6 minutes left, it looked like Coach Johnson did a ton of experimenting tonight as this one could have been far worse if Cooper would have really looked to pound the ball to Godfrey inside.  The Hawks have now won 6 in a row and have 1 test left at Irondale on Tuesday to lock up the league title.

Changes in the summer landscape

With a light schedule this week, let's get in some summer news.  First, the Reebok Summer Championships (the big Reebok event during the big Las Vegas recruiting period) is shutting down, combine that with the down turn of the Main Event and the Adidas Super 64 looks to expand.  Plenty of our local top teams (43 Hoops and MN Pump N Run to name 2) play in that.

As to Nike, very interesting.  They've picked up the Wisconsin Playground Warriors, the top program in Wisconsin.  Hopefully that brings them here for the Howard Pulley Invite in May.

In the biggest change of summer, Nike is going to the Nike Youth Basketball League (read more here).  The idea is to make games for the 42 Nike programs more meaningful (i.e eliminate those first 3 pool play blowouts for many of these teams before they get to the real games in bracket play).  It also is to focus much more on player development which is a Nike strength anyway with guys like Ganon Baker (great development videos, get them, the enthusiasm is awesome) and all their skills camps by 1 name guys like Amare, Vinsanity etc.

Lots of details yet to emerge on this but the impact it has over the long haul could be very interesting.  Nike is one of the few organizations with the power to affect change on the game so I'm looking forward to see how this pans out.  With the 4 big events, what does this mean for events like the St. Louis Eagles and Sabes Invitiationals which are events for the individual teams?  Stay tuned

Jaspers leads DeLaSalle to big win.

The night session is at DeLaSalle.  The Walking Taco at the concession stand tonight, sweet!  And as always, yes give me everything on it.  And I haven't even entered the gym yet.  Due to my late arrival during the girls game I make a rare appearance in the upper deck and find Columbia Heights coach Willie Braziel on hand to watch the Islanders for section play.  St. Olaf and Hamline on hand watching as well.  Nice crowd but no DLS band and they played on Thursday vs North.  Oh the disappointment.   Minnehaha won the first meeting 71-59 (read about it here)

Game Time
All Minnehaha early as Austin Brown spins for 2 and Taylor Hanson knocks down a 3.  9-1 Minnehaha at 12:25.  Jalen Jaspers with a jumper and 1 at 12:11 for DeLaSalle's first field goal of the night.  Bretson McNeal in his first game back in a couple of weeks and he's flammable.  He scores 12 De La Salle points in a row on 4 3s in a 5 minute span.  The last on a nice set double flare screen where LaMonte Hall absolutely wiped out the defender on a screen that went from elbow to low block.  That keeps the Islanders within 17-16 at the 6:30 mark.  Jonah Travis picks up his second at the 6:02 mark and that's after Walter Franklin has already been on the bench with 2 for 6 minutes.  Eric Klingner turns that into 2 free throws and then converts a 3 point play. Timeout DeLaSalle down 22-16 with 4:08 left in the half. McNeal with a steal for 2 at 3:05 and its 24-20 Minnehaha.  Parker Hines for 3, Eric Forson for 3 and Joel Reinhardt with a putback.  That sends Minnehaha to the break up 32-24.

2 free throws by Taylor Hanson at the 14:49 mark keep Minnehaha up 37-30.  Then an interesting twist as DeLaSalle decides to go small and play without Jonah Travis or Marcus Dorsey.  That puts Jaspers in the middle and gives him the chore of guarding Hanson.  He immediately responds with a pair of putbacks.  Then great ball movement is 2 passes and a great head fake by LaMonte Hall.  Hall steps back off the head fake and nails the 3.  A turnover becomes 2 free throws by Walter Franklin and we're all tied at 39 with 11:11 left.  Hines called for 5 seconds while Minnehaha wanted a timeout.  Coach Johnson is livid for good reason and the official compounds the mistake by giving the technical.  Franklin makes 1 of the 2 technicals and the Islanders don't convert the possession so we're tied at 41.  Hanson with a jumper but then he picks up his 4th foul with 8:40 to go and a 45-44 Minnehaha lead.  A turnover turns into a Jaspers layup at 6:45 and DeLaSalle leads for the 1st time all night, 48-47.  Hanson right back in the game.  Minnehaha with a pair of bad possessions around a Jonah Travis bucket.  50-49 DeLaSalle with the ball as they call timeout with 4:04 left.

Travis with a putback at 3:35 and the lead is 3, big basket.  Then another Minnehaha turnover for a Franklin layup is a backbreaker.  54-49 Islanders with 3:10 left.  Hanson on the post for 2 but Jaspers counters with a nice bank out of the post and after a turnover he tacks on a free throw to push the lead to 6.  Brown with a putback countered by Travis converting inside on a dish.  De La Salle turns it over after a Minnehaha miss and Brown's layup with 1:15 left cuts the Islanders lead to 59-55.  The rest is free throws and the Islanders make 9 of 10 in the last 1:01 for a 68-61 win.

For Minnehaha, they fall to 18-4 and into a 1st place tie with De La Salle on top of the Tri-Metro west division at 11-1.  Austin Brown with 16 of his 20 in the second half but also 6 turnovers in the half.  Parker Hines 12 points but no field goals in the 2nd half.  Taylor Hanson another quiet game vs the Islanders with 10 points on 3 field goals.  Its very possible the Redhawks won't be challenged again until state where Crosby-Ironton could be a state quarterfinal opponent.

For DeLaSalle, Jalen Jaspers with 19 of 26 of his points in the second half as all the offense went through him.  That included some post up action with him playing center for a chunk of the 2nd half.  Bretson McNeal with 14 of his 18 points in the first half and those were crucial to keeping the Islanders close.  Jonah Travis 11 points as Minnehaha chose to double him in the post in this one.  Tough non-conference schedule of Cretin-Derham Hall, Benilde-St. Margaret's, St. Thomas Academy and Minneapolis Henry still awaits the Islanders before the regular season ends.

Jalen Jaspers photo courtesy of

Maranatha at CHOF Thoughts

Game Time
Let's get right to it.  An early Saturday tilt as I watch Maranatha at CHOF.  Looks like MCA missed the 1st 7:20 of this one.  After a Darian Pittman 3 to start the scoring for MCA at 16:40, CHOF scores the next 12.  Tyler Strandlund huge in the run with a 3 point play, a putback and a pair of nice step thru moves.  12-3 CHOF at 10:40.  Pittman goes glass on a floater at the 9 minute mark to break the run and score the first MCA basket in 7:40. That starts a 17-0 MCA run as CHOF can't get anything to fall.  CHOF no field goals in that last 10:40.  25-15 Mustangs at the half.

MCA quickly extends the lead to 15 with the 1st 5 of the second half.  Tate Piepkorn with a pair of buckets to match a Pittman floater and bullet assist to SaVaughn Jordan.  Piepkorn's jumper at 15:52 is the 1st CHOF FG in almost 13 minutes.  Adam Rohlf with a jumper, Tyler Strandlund for 2 and a Piepkorn triple at 11:45 and CHOF is still hanging around.  38-29 Maranatha leads.  But MCA goes back to their "Mixer" zone offense that did nothing in the first half and CHOF stays around.  Tyler Strandlund spins for 2 at 7:50 and CHOF is still within 10.  But then he fouls out with 7:08 left.  Piepkorn drives at 5:50 to keep the game at 11.  But then a turnover becomes a Pittman pullup jumper, then he makes 2 free throws after a blocked shot.   After a CHOF 3 point play, Isaiah Hanson with 2 free throws and then Higgins rebounds a missed MCA free throw and puts it back.  56-40 MCA leads and they go on to win 63-47.

For CHOF, Tyler Strandlund with 21 points and 16 rebounds on my sheet.  Joe Bluhm and Tate Piepkorn each reach double-figures with 11 points.  The Lions fall to 2-12 with 6 straight losses (3 to ranked teams).  The rest of the schedule lightens up.

For Maranatha, a very ugly performance.  SaVaughn Jordan with 12 of his 20 points in the second half to lead the Mustangs and he easily could have had 30 as he missed a handful of bunnies inside.  Darian Pittman with 15 points and 9 rebounds.  He played a large chunk of the game off the ball to my surprise.  Jay Higgins 8 points and 13 rebounds.  MCA still a young club with 3 sophs, 1 frosh and 1 8th grader in the rotation and junior Jordan.  I'm liking 8th grade guard Josh Goldschmidt down the line.  MCA improves to 19-2 and moves onto the MCAA tournament.  They will host New Life in the 1 v 8 game on Friday.

Tornadoes sweep through Park Center

To Park Center for my 1st viewing of Anoka this season.  Anoka coming off a nice bounce back win against Elk River (Elks beat them by 34 in early January) after 3 straight losses downgraded the Tornadoes to an F3 from an F5 tornado.  Park Center on the skids going 4-9 after a 5-1 start.  They've dropped their last 2 to the top 2 teams in the league, Osseo and Champlin Park.  Love the Park Center Pizza and I forgot that they also have the 24oz Pepsi.  Light crowd early but it actually filled in nicely in a pleasant surprise.  But no Pirate band which is a disappointment as they always do a nice job.

Game Time
No Terez Van Pelt in this one for Park Center and that can't be good.  I remember seeing Bryan Sherva this summer, but I don't remember him being that athletic, dang.  He's productive early with 2 and the foul off  The World's Worst Offense and then a triple.  12-10 Anoka at 11:55 as they start to play a 1-2-2 zone that will ultimately be the difference in this one.  Lomumba Ismail with a pair of freebies and a nice reverse layup out of the post.  Then a pair of Tornadoes putbacks and Park Center needs timeout at 7:59 down 20-14 (8-2 Anoka run).  Up and coming sophomore Marcus Tyus runs out for a layup and then David Mooers finds him for another layup.  After 1 of Deric Paine's 3 triples in the half for the Pirates, Tyus finds Sherva for 3 and Ismail runs out for a layup on a turnover.  Park Center timeout at 5:12 and coach Breitenbucher is not happy about his team not getting back.  29-19 Anoka leads.  Tyus with a floater and a triple to push the lead to 13 just before the half.  Bryan Asberry with a pair of late buckets and Paine beats the buzzer with a jumper to cut the Anoka lead to 43-34 going to the half.  6 triples in the half for Park Center against the zone defense and they're still down 9.  Not a good sign.  Tyus 13, Sherva and Ismail 12 points for great Anoka balance.

Anoka with a 9-2 run to start the half.  Mooers with a 2 freebies and then goes inside and gets it back from Ismail for a jumper.  Tyus drives and goes with the tough bank and another triple.  52-36 Tornadoes with 15:36 left.  Tyus to Sherva for another 3 for a 13 point Anoka lead inside of 11 minutes to go.  Jordan Lynn with a pair of putbacks (2 of his handful of those on the night) around an Ismail inside hoop to cut the lead to 7 with 6 minutes left.  But Ismail slams the door with a 3 point play and an easy layup off an inbounds play along with a pair of blocks.  Park Center gets no closer as Anoka wins 77-70.

For Park Center, Van Pelt's ability to penetrate against the zone was sorely missed.  Justin Casey 15 points and 8 rebounds on my sheet.  The lefty effectively using the right hand to finish in the lane.  Jordan Lynn also with 15 points and all over the offensive glass to get most of those.  Deric Paine 15 points with 3 first half triples to keep the Pirates close.  Pirates look like they won't get up into the 4 v 5 game in 5AAAA which means a tough 1st round game at Cooper, Osseo or Champlin Park.  Pirates fall to 9-11 on the season, 3-9 in the NW Suburban.

For Anoka, soph Marcus Tyus 13 of his game high 22 in the 1st half.  He's a nice get for the MN Fury this summer as he can handle and shoot out of the point guard slot.  Lomumba Ismail 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a pair of late blocks in a well-rounded performance for him.  Bryan Sherva finishes with 17 points but I really liked him playing the top of the 1-2-2 zone.  Anoka still without a signature win despite a 15-5 record.  They have a soft 4 game stretch before ending the season hosting Champlin Park and at Osseo.  That Osseo game looms large for seeding in section 7AAAA.  Duluth East has a similar record against a tougher schedule.  Their argument would be that they only lost at Osseo by 6 and that was without Dyami Starks and that they've beaten Forest Lake twice (though the Rangers will make my Suburban East prediction come true thanks to an OT win over CDH tonight).  The Forest Lake/Duluth East debate will be good too.  Forest Lake was hammered by Osseo at Christmas but FL is 16-4 with 4 wins over Stillwater and CDH compared to 14-7 for DE.  FL helped their case by breaking Superior's 44 game winning streak vs Minnesota teams last week.  Otherwise their only quality wins are the 2 over Forest Lake.  Should make for a very entertaining seeding meeting.

PACT claws way to ugly win

Fairly empty house on hand for this one as I make the late change to go watch PACT at Breck.  $3 hot dog seems outrageous but when it comes out both ends of the bun, you quickly retract that thought.  But this continues a bad week for hot dogs.  Anoka-Ramsey in the building to watch PACT's Austin Rink.  Considering BSM/Cooper went OT in another great game between those 2 teams, this one had better be good.

Game Time
No Austin Rink in the PACT starting lineup.  He's been nursing a bum ankle so I'd guess that was the reason.  5-0 PACT on a pair of Paul Nelson jumpers vs the Breck 2-3 zone in the 1st 1:50.  Then the offense just goes away.  PACT couldn't throw to a teammate, couldn't throw it against the back wall, couldn't throw it in the ocean.  3 turnovers for 4 points for a PACT timeout at 10:31 down 8-5.  John Baker on the post for 2 more and its a 10-0 Breck run.  Rink breaks the run wtih a putback at the 10 minute mark.  Rink grabs a rebound and throws the long outlet to Bruce Patterson who converts the layup at 5:20.  That breaks a 15-2 run over 10 minutes and its the last PACT field goal of the half.  2 turnovers in the last minute help conclude a 6-0 Breck run that ends the half.  21-12 Mustangs at the break.  Only 4 FGs for PACT and none out of the halfcourt offense in the last 16:10. All this against a pretty vanilla 2-3 zone.  Oof.

Funniest moment of the night is the refs not showing up for the start of the 2nd half.  After a couple of minutes of searching, they finally make an appearance for a big crowd ovation and a thumbs up from one of the refs.  Ha!  Caleb Murphy starts the half on the bench with 3 fouls, when he comes in he immediately gets called for his 4th on a John Baker 3 point play with 15:25 left and right back to the bench.  Murphy doesn't see the floor the rest of the night.  Rink with a pair of jumpers in the lane but Baker scores on the post again.  30-20 Breck with 12 minutes left before PACT jumps back into it.  Mick Hedberg with a layup off an inbounds play, Rink with a block that results in a Paul Nelson layup.  Post Dan Graffunder with a pair of free throws before PACT takes a really strange timeout at 10:47 while on a 6-0 run and all the momentum.  Graffunder from Rink against the zone to cut the lead to 3 at 9:30.  Jeff Lurie with a tough scoop for 2 and soph Tyler Hudson goes glass after a PACT turnover and the lead is back to 7 with 8:45 left.  Rink for 3 but Lurie with 2 free throws and soph Austin Lommen with a foul line jumper at 6:05 to give Breck a 39-31 lead.

Nelson with a turnaround and PACT with a great save that finds Rink under the basket for 2 more.  Breck goes the other way and gets mugged at 5:12 no call and we get the technical.  Oh boy.  Rink makes both technicals and then a jumper on the possession to tie the game at 39 with 4:50 left.  Between the officiating and the turnovers the last 4:50 is almost unwatchable.  Breck turns it over, Graffunder misses a front end.  Finally Breck takes a timeout with 3:45 left and its long overdue as they lost their composure a long time ago.  Rink over the top for an offensive board but he too misses a front end.  Breck turns it over again and PACT dives on it for a time out at 3:01.  Youngsters, that's one of the very few times where that play is actually smart.  They miss a foul like jumper at 2:42.  The teams trade walking violations.  Breck called for a charge and an illegal screen around stealing the ball from Rink.  Both were bad calls.  Rink almost gets stripped from the high post again but PACT gets the timeout 1st with 18 seconds left.  But they lose it out of bounds with 3.9 left.  Joey Yared goes back iron from half court at the horn and we'll play over time, still tied at 39. 

To the OT and its a foul shooting contest after PACT gets the 1st bucket.  43-39 PACT with 2:01 left and the ball.  Hedberg then misses 2 at 1:49 with the 1st stopping on the bracket, crazy and PACT turns it over with 1:15 left.  Baker 1 of 2 with 1:11 to cut the lead to 3.  57.5 left, Hedberg raises the ball and gets hacked on the arm in a clear give a foul situation and its called an intentional foul.  Absolutely horrible.  Earlier in the game a Breck kid was crushed on a breakaway and had to leave the game and that wasn't intentional (and it wasn't, good hard foul that looked worse than it really was) but this is?  Unreal.  Its 2 freebies and the ball.  Hedberg makes 1 for a 44-40 lead.  PACT goes on to win 49-44.

For Breck, they're still fighting with rival Blake to host the 4 vs 5 game with a 5-14 record in awful 4AA west.  They play at Blake next Tuesday.  Jeffry Lurie with 15 points to lead the Mustangs, 9 of those in the 1st half.  He's back next year with the 2 sophs Austin Lommen and Tyler Hudson.  They each had 6 points.  John Baker 9 points out of the post despite only being 6'0 and going up against bigger guys.

For PACT, ugly but a win is a win.  The Panthers are now 14-5.  They host Heritage and West Lutheran before the season ends and a win in 1 of those would probably lock up the 2 seed in 4A North if they haven't already earned it.  Lose both and the discussion gets interesting.  Paul Nelson comes up big late for 16 points.  Austin Rink with 13 of his 15 points in the 2nd half.  That was after a 1-6 shooting start.  Neat concept from PACT in their zone offense.  Out of the classic 1-3-1 set vs a 2-3 zone, they'd dribble at a wing to clear him to the other wing and to draw a top defender.  Baseline runner would run to the opposite corner off the high post going down and screening the back side block.  The low defender on the back side then has 3 guys to worry about, low post, wing and corner and all while being screened.  But with no one in the high post the 2nd guard in the zone would play the reversal pass to the top.  Off of that, Breck picked off a couple of skips for layups in the 1st half.  PACT did get Rink lots of touches in that high post spot off a nice adjustment in the 2nd half. 

Do we finally have closure on conference realignment?

From John Millea at the Star Tribune, we have this article talking about how the Classic Lake is approaching an agreement which will address their scheduling problems with a small league.  Long story short, they get games but have to stop looking at neighboring leagues.  Fun quid pro quo and hopefully it brings some closure to this whole realignment mess.  The idea of having the Classic Lake remain at 5 teams (Eden Prairie replacing Armstrong) and possibly going through this whole hassle again was certainly not appealing.

Apple Valley at Eden Prairie thoughts

What a night last night at Eden Prairie. Great students, a large Eden Prairie fan base on hand, 2 outstanding teams and an outstanding game.  #3 Apple Valley tried to run away early, but #1 Eden Prairie showed why they were undefeated until last week.  Minnesota Preps subscribers can read my full story here.

Concordia at Mounds Park Thoughts

I came 3 hours for this?  Note to self, make an appointment with a shrink (and I'm not talking about my height for those of you in the peanut gallery).  Its the palace known as the Lansing Sports Center, Mounds Park Academy's home building, as they host Concordia in the 1 metro game tonight that wasn't cancelled.  And with a name like Beacons, why cancel.  You needed a beacon to see anything.  The hot dog tonight while scorching hot was a major letdown.

Game Time
No Peter Wright for Mounds Park.  Not that it was a huge factor in the final outcome, but not having their best wing player couldn't help.  Keith Wood with a putback and the Panthers are within 11-5 at the 12:50 mark before it falls apart.  Chad Koepke with a pair of inside hoops for Concordia.  Lorenzo Davis a pair of freebies and a steal for 2 .  Cutler Finneman with a layup.  Reid Stoa with another Beacons steal for another layup.  2 more Panther turnovers results in 2 baskets, an inbounds play for 2 free throws and a Jordan Schneidermann putback.  All of that is a 23-2 Concordia run in just under 7 minutes to blow this one wide open 34-7.

The Beacons start the 2nd half with a 42-12 lead and Jordan Schneidermann makes sure there's no early comeback.  A steal for 2 and a turnover gives him a dunk plus he nails a jumper.  Add a ugly screen/roll that resulted in a Finneman basket and a Nik Novitsky 3 from the left corner.  The 11-0 run in 3:50 to start the half clears the Concordia bench.  53-12 at that point.  67-17 with 8 minutes left and Concordia rolls 75-24 (online score is flipped).  Mounds Park played more man to man defense than I expected but they're just so outmanned against even average teams.  Concordia's Jordan Schneidermann leads all scorers with 15 points.

Jordan Schneidermann photo courtesy of

MTS vs Red Lake Thoughts

To MTS for renewal of the rivalry between Red Lake and MTS.  We even have T-Shirts for the double varsity event today.  We have the always loud MTS drumline and an appearance by the MTS Wolf (mascot).  Bushy tail included.  Free hot dogs as part of open house and everything else is a Haiti fundraiser.  Gotta like both of those.  MTS girls win big as soph DJ Bland is honored at halftime for passing the 1000 career points mark.

Game Time
MTS goes diamond press and forces a handful of turnovers in the first 2 minutes.  Kevin Noreen with 3 hoops and a pair of assist to be part of the first 11 Wolves points.  17-2 MTS at 15:10.  Doesn't help that Red Lake can't make a bunny either.  Sam Kingbird with his first triple to cut the lead to 34-17 at 9:54.  Kevin Noreen with a steal for 2, a putback and then a layup after a Rodney Owens block.  40-17 going to a Red Lake timeout with 8:53 left in the half.  Kevin Noreen then living at the foul line.  4 in a row, then a give and go for a 3 point play and 2 more free throws.  51-22 Wolves at 6:22.  3 straight turnovers for 3 easy Red Lake buckets including Sam Kingbird with a pair of layups give the Warriors 7 in a row to force an MTS timeout.  Up and down we go the rest of the half.  72-47 MTS at the break.  Kevin Noreen with half of those (36) and 11 boards.  Sam Kingbird with 5 triples in his 21 points in the half.

Second half is a layup drill for each team as there's absolutely no defense being played.  That favors MTS as they start the half 15-6 and open the lead up to 96-57 after a Kyle Noreen steal and pass to Rodney Owens for a layup with 13:01 left.  MTS starting to pull the starters.  Owens and Potter are gone.  Kyle Noreen leaves at 10:47 and Kevin Noreen leaves at 9:12 with a 107-68 lead.  Bench fest, snooze.  But hold the phone.  The MTS bench can't take care of the ball and running time goes away at 5:02.  Its a Red Lake 24-1 run after a banked in triple to cut the lead to 108-92 with 3 minutes left and that brings all the starters back in.  They finish the game 13-3 for a 121-95 MTS win.

For Red Lake, Sam Kingbird 35 points and 9 triples.  They just had no answer for the MTS diamond press.  They fall to 12-5 and host MTS in the final game of the regular season on March 6th.  That's 6 of 8 at home to end the season.  That should be enough to get them the #2 seed in the north subsection of 8AA .

For MTS, Kevin Noreen finishes with 55 points, 19 rebounds, 5 assists on my sheet.  Rodney Owens 18 of his 30 in the first half.  Kyle Noreen 27 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists.  MTS now 17-3.  Forest Olivier = Anderson Varajeo.  I may have to give his hair the nod over Jayme Moten of New London-Spicer.

AHA applies the shutdown defense

One of my favorite trips takes me to Holy Angels for a Missota showdown with New Prague. Holy Angels on a quality 6 game winning streak over the last 3 weeks. New Prague coming in 1 game back of the Stars in the Missota race.  No Dominoes Pizza tonight at the concession stand, but the big pretzels looked awfully good.  A late start due to close JV and B squad games takes us to tip at almost 8 PM.  I'm liking 6'5 AHA frosh forward Danny Sullivan down the road.

Game Time
Slow start to this one as the teams go back and forth.  Cale Girten with a drive off a left elbow isolation for 2 free throws at 13:07 gives New Prague a 10-8 lead.  Jed Kreuser with a triple at 11:40 for 13-10 New Prague lead.  Jack Hogan spins for a layup and buries a floater, Cole Frechette double clutches a layup for 2. 6'1 Hogan in the post on 5'7 Joe Hatch for 2 more.  Then a New Prague turnover results in a Frechette layup at 5:40.  Its a 10-1 Holy Angels run over 4:35 for a 20-14 lead.  New Prague star Danny Geiger keeping the Trojans close.  2 free throws and a couple of really difficult turnaround fadeaways cut the Stars lead to 22-20 at 3:20.  We go the half tied at 25 in a defensive struggle.

Geiger starts the half with a jumper at 17:30 (remember this).  Andy Jirik sticks back his own miss, RD Brown with a 3 point play and then a 3 point play chance that he doesn't convert.  Those sandwich a Hatch hoop.  Sam Gullickson pick and pop for 3 countered by Girten on another elbow iso for 2.  Jirik from Gullickson on a great post feed for 2 and then Jirik runs out off a miss for an easy layup.  39-31 Holy Angels with 11:45 and New Prague needs a timeout.  9-2 Holy Angels run over 2 minutes.  Girten scores again but the Stars skip the ball to a wide open Tyler Emanuel in the right corner and that 3 is free money.  Geiger turns it over and Frechette with a nice reverse to convert it to points.  45-34 Holy Angels with 6:35 left.  5 in a row from New Prague before Frechette on the post for 2.  RD Brown slips a screen for a layup to counter a New Prague hoop and Frechette drives for 2 more.  9 point game inside of 4 minutes when Hogan misses a front end but Jirik snags the miss.  RD Brown with a sweet touch pass on the possession to Frechette for a 3 point play with 3:30 to go.  That pushes the lead to 12.  Great patience in the Swing Offense in the last 5 minutes from Holy Angels and we don't even get to a point where New Prague chooses to foul.  Holy Angels wins 54-45. 

For New Prague, Danny Geiger held to 12 points with his only field goal and points of the 2nd half coming in the 1st 30 seconds.  1-6 FGs in the 2nd half for 4-12 overall.  Jed Kreuser 3 triples for 9.  Cale Girten 6 points.  I would have liked to see more of that elbow isolation out of the dribble drive motion for him.  The Trojans fall to 12-6 and 2 games behind Holy Angels in the Missota standings with a tough trip to Shakopee on Tuesday.  That game is for 2nd place in the league.

For Holy Angels, Cole Frechette's 13 points lead the way but it was his defense on Geiger that was outstanding.  Andy Jirik 11 points and 12 rebounds on my sheet.  RD Brown with 9 points and great energy off the bench and it was his pair of drives early in the 2nd half that ignited the Stars.  While Frechette is getting credit here, let's give the entire AHA defense credit.  The dribble-drive motion can really strain a defense and the Stars did a really nice job of keeping people in front of them.  Holy Angels has now taken care of business in the 1st rotation of Missota play with 6 straight league wins and a section win over Holy Family.  But they have trips to Hutchinson, Shakopee and New Prague in a 2 week span coming up in the 2nd rotation.

Stars overcome Strandlund's huge night

To The Sal to see SW Christian take on CHOF.  Contrast here of guards for SW Christian against CHOF's star center Tyler Strandlund.  The simplest of concession stands but a Kit Kat is always a good option. 

Game Time
8-5 SW Christian early when Tyler Strandlund decides to get it going.  He nails a straight away 3, then a layup, then a smooth 3 from the right corner and a layup off a nice side pick and roll.  Its a personal 10-2 run over 2:10 for a 15-10 CHOF lead at the 13:20 mark.  5 in a row from the Stars to tie and we'll go back and forth.  23-20 CHOF after a Strandlund hoop at 7:15.  Then he sits at 5:13 with a 2 point lead and CHOF promptly gives up 4 in a row and he's right back at the scorer's table.  CHOF misses a late bunny and SW Christian knocks down a late jumper to tie the game at 31 as we head to intermission.  Tyler Strandlund 18 and 10 in the 1st half.  CHOF's other threat Tate Piepkorn with a pair of triples for 10 points. 

Strandlund with an early layup and then back to back buckets.  40-39 SW Christian with 12:40 left.  Jordan Dye with back to back baskets before frosh Kendall Strandlund banks a 3 from the right corner and Tyler Strandlund posts for 2.  44 all with 10 minutes left and then Tyler Strandlund picks up his 4th foul with 9:46 to go.  Yikes.  But CHOF rolls the dice and decides to keep him in the game.  Tyler with a putback at 7:40 for a 48-46 CHOF lead.  A pair of CHOF turnovers in the halfcourt result in layups.  Then CHOF gets a rebound, but SW Christian comes from behind to steal it and that turns into a free throw.  51-48 SW Christian with 4:21 to go.  CHOF with a good long possession vs the Stars 2-3 zone (partly due to only 2 scorers) and at 2:20 it finally ends with nothing to show for it.  But Piepkorn jumps a guard to guard pass and takes it the other way for 2 (his only field goal of the 2nd half).  After Dye makes 1 of 2 with 1:51 left, its another long CHOF possession.  This time Strandlund gets fouled and calmly makes both with 57.1 left to tie the game at 52.  Out of a Stars timeout, CHOF sticks with their 1-2-2 and SW Christian misses with 20 seconds left.  Strandlund boards it and brings it the other way.  Dye takes it away from him and goes the other way and has to be fouled.  He makes both with 8 seconds left.  CHOF wanted to push the ball to halfcourt and then take their final timeout, but they inbound and use up 2.7 seconds to go nowhere.  With 5.3 left they have to go the length of the court.  Strandlund never touches it and Piepkorn misses a tough shot late.  SW Christian hangs on 54-52.

For CHOF, Tyler Strandlund was a monster.  30 points (12-21 FG), 23 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 turnovers with a pair of early triples.  Only 4 points in the last 10 minutes and some of that has to be due to playing that stretch with 4 fouls.  Tate Piepkorn with 10 of his 12 in the first half and couldn't buy a shot in the 2nd half.  And CHOF has no other scorers, fortunately some zone and long possessions kept this one low scoring (10-8 in the last 10 minutes).  CHOF falls to 2-9 with the loss but after getting blown out in their 1st 5 games, they've been more competitive recently with this loss and only losing by 11 to a ranked Park Christian team.  Bethany Academy visits The Sal on Saturday.

For SW Christian, this was a must win as they're fighting MCAA rival Lester Prairie and Cedar Mountain/Comfrey for the top seed in section 2A north.  Losses to New Life and Bethany may haunt them despite a 2 point win at Lester Prairie.  A tough pair of games coming up for the Stars as they host #2A Minnesota Transitions and visit #10AA Mayer Lutheran in the next 2 weeks.  Jordan Dye leads the way with 13 of his 17 in the 2nd half.  SW Christian got very little out of their diamond press and had a rough night in transition defense.  Daniel Horner actually matched Strandlund until getting injured late in the first half.  But I was still surprised the Stars didn't do more to try and slow him down (e.g faceguard, diamond and 1 to sandwich him etc)

DeLaSalle takes out Mounds Park Academy

Almost nothing of note tonight except North Dakota State in the building to watch Jonah Travis.  Tough as a college coach to have to watch this one.

Game Time
Keith Wood with a putback at 17:05 and Mounds Park leads, Mounds Park leads!!!  Then they get a stop on defense.  Pull it out, pull it out!!  Not going to happen and that's your Mounds Park Academy Panthers highlight for the evening.  Jalen Jaspers with a pair of 3 point plays around a nice JonahTravis pivot and spin.  2 steals for buckets and Jaspers coast to coast etc etc etc.  The Islanders pressure defense was enough to almost force 10 second calls with straight man pressure.  Every ball pickup seemed like a 5 second call waiting to happen.  Jonah Travis with 4 dunks in this one.  1 from the short corner vs zone on a nice pass from Walter Franklin, 1 on an inbound lob and another early in the 2nd half as John Hertle goes off the glass to him for a 2 handed flush.  51-21 Islanders at the half.  Their starters are gone at 14:22 of the 2nd half.  71-30 when we reach running time with the benches.  DeLaSalle rolls 84-38.

Massive soph lefty Nate Burstein leads Mounds Park with 12 points.  He showed some handle and stepped out and knocked down a 3 in this one.  Jalen Jaspers with 14 of his 18 in the 1st half.  Jonah Travis finishes with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks that were back to back vs Burstein.

Gopher Hole Interviews Calvin Godfrey

As a follow up to me seeing Cooper play their last 2 games against Hopkins and Columbia Heights,'s Nadine Babu has an interview with Cooper's Calvin Godfrey and coach Dave Johnson.  Click here to read their thoughts on Calvin's recruiting and more.

Heights over Hawks in a thriller

If its a bad travel night, that must mean a cold miserable trip up the hill into the wind to Columbia Heights to see the Hylanders take on #4AAAA Cooper in a North Suburban showdown.  We always like the sausage pizza and Mug Root Beer.  More Hylander students out for this one.  And another appearance by big Cooper fan Mike Holtz, the mayor of Robbinsdale who I had a chance to talk to at the half.  A fun moment during the JV game when I'm eating my pizza and a little kid below me looks at his mom and points up towards me saying he wants pizza too.  Funny but it almost makes you feel bad.  But the big news tonight was no Calvin Godfrey.  Suspended for reasons that I'm not aware of.  That puts an entirely different complexion on the game.

Game Time
Brandon Harrison is the 1 big guy in the Cooper lineup and he gets off to a really hot start.  A reverse layup, 2 more and a jumper for 6 quick points and he had a block.  Jacob Thomas with his 2nd assist to Harold Rainey at 13:26.  Timeout Hawks down 17-15 and the pace is crazy fast.  Almost such that I can't keep up.  Harrison with 8 points already.   Cooper's Darry Jones for 3 at 11:53 for a 22-21 Cooper lead before a quick Heights spurt.  Harold Rainey with a stepback 3 and then Thomas from the corner off an inbounds for 3 more.  29-22 Heights at 9:55 after an 8-0 run.  Johnny Jackson with a pair of post up buckets for Cooper forcing Drew Hanson back into the game for defense.  Terrance Averyheart with his 2nd triple of the half and 2 Terry Glass free throws put Cooper back on top 37-35 at the 6:32 mark.  Elijah Swen with a pair of late threes and a Charles Williams layup put Cooper up 10 with 1:30 left in the half.  Zach Lofton goes right baseline gets bumped and throws in the short jumper left-handed and gets fouled.  He misses the free throw but Heights gets it back and Lofton converts a 3 point play.  Thomas with a putback and then a scramble with 0.2 left results in a Gerard Baptiste 3 point play to conclude a 10-2 Heights run.  57-55 Cooper after a wild first half.

Heights can't convert a turnover and Swen makes a layup on the other end.  That's followed by Harrison double-clutching around Thomas for 2 more at 14:30 for a 66-59 Cooper lead.  Thomas with a free throw, then a Rainey pullup for 3 and 2 more Thomas free throws cut the lead to 1.  Darry Jones pulls back his dribble for space and knocks down a jumper.  68-65 Cooper at 12:10.  Thomas cold at this point going 5-19 shooting but then he wakes up.  He drives the lane and get out of my way for the emphatic 1 handed dunk with 12 minutes left.  Then 2 between the legs dribbles before rising up for 3.  Swen then with back to back drives for easy buckets.  Thomas with a classic backdoor layup from an elbow pass.  Swen for 3 more and Thomas with 2 more drives for baskets.  78 all with 7:55 left as we go back and forth.  Thomas fouled by Harrison for 2 free throws at 6:36 and that's Harrison's 4th.  84-82 Cooper leads.  Swen for 3 and then a sweet pivot around Hanson for a post hoop at 5:30 put the Hawks up 89-84.  Lofton with his 2nd mini-spurt of the night as he drives for 2 and knocks down a straight away 3.  89 all with 4:55 left.  Terry Glass with a pair of freebies but Cooper doesn't get back and it results in a Thomas 3 point play.  92-91 Heights with 4:29 left.

Heights' Gerard Baptiste with a foul and then a technical at 4:05.  Jones misses the front end of the 1 and 1 and Averyheart only makes 1 of the 2 technicals.  Heights gets a stop on the possession so Cooper only ends up with 1 point out of the whole deal.  Charles Williams with a layup off a picture perfect high low entry at 3:10.  Heights misses and Cooper takes timeout.  Heights loses Swen on defense but he misses the wide open layup at 2:30.  Thomas right to the rack for 2 with 2 minutes left and we're tied at 94.  Cooper turns it over almost immediately but Heights misses 2 chances on their end.  Williams 0-2 free throws with 1:34 left.  Rainey back the other way splits a pair of defenders at halfcourt and finds Baptiste for a layup with 1:20 left.  96-94 Heights.  Jones right back the other way and he finds Swen for a layup at 1:08.  Heights holds and takes time at 41.7.  They can't get it in so they take another timeout.  Thomas gets the inbounds and dribbles away pressure.  To the rack with about 20 seconds left, takes a bump no call and its no good.  Mad scramble and it looks like Cooper gets it and has a run out, but Rainey steals it and goes to the basket.  He nails a floater with 13.5 left.  Cooper takes timeout in the frontcourt with 11.3 to go but they don't get a good look as Swen's 3 gets blocked at the buzzer.  Heights wins one of the most entertaining games of the season 98-96.

For Cooper, Elijah Swen leads the way off the bench with 20 of his 26 in the 2nd half.  4 triples in that total.  Terrance Averyheart 12 of his 16 in the first half.  Darry Jones 11 of his 16 in the first half.  Brandon Harrison finishes with only 14 points and 9 rebounds after a quick start.  Despite no Godfrey, Cooper is still huge but I feel they could have done much more to pound the ball inside.  Cooper falls to 14-3 and into a 3 way tie on top of the North Suburban with a big Irondale at BSM game looming on Friday night.

For Columbia Heights, they get a big win for section seeding in rough and tumble Section 3AAA.  It also keeps them 1 game back in the North Suburban standings.  Jacob Thomas leads the way with 34 points on 13-32 shooting but he made 8 of 13 in the last 12 minutes, clutch.  Harold Rainey with 18 points and whole mitt full of steals.  Zach Lofton 11 of his 18 in the first half.  Gerard Baptiste all over the place in the first half with 16 of his 22.  Heights now 13-4 and should be a favorite in at least 7 of their remaining games.  With a difficult schedule they can still make a run at high seed in section play.