Kevin Noreen wins 2010 Mr Basketball Award

To the surprise of no one, Kevin Noreen of Minnesota Transitions was (quietly) named 2010 Minnesota Mr. Basketball.  Noreen led MTS to the Class A title over Sebeka with 24 points, 15 rebounds and 9 blocks in the state title game.  All of this with what has been reported as a ruptured spleen.  He finishes his career with the state record for total points (4086) and the record for most points in a single season (1205).  He averaged 36.5 points per game this season.  Its also very likely he'll hold the state's all-time rebound record as well (his last 4 year total is very close to David Hanson's record and Noreen played 6 years of varsity).

Improving the Mr Basketball Award

So I wrote about my issues with the Mr Basketball award a couple of years ago.  Time to bring those back.

1) Make the basic criteria clearer. One of the huge complaints is that no one knows what determines Mr. Basketball. The committee does a great job and I don't think they need to go into all the nitty gritty details. But the high-level stuff would be beneficial. Ex: Is it a career award or just for senior year, is it most valuable to team or best player etc etc.

1a) Make the qualifications of the committee clear.  For those of us who have been around, the qualifications of the committee have been made clear.  They go state wide and have college backgrounds and make sure to see the outstate kids as much as the metro kids.  but you'd think that Ken Lien would put this up somewhere permanent so he doesn't have to answer that question every single year.

2) The high school season is long over by the time the announcement happens.  If the comments online are true that the voting takes place before the state tournament (which I'd rather not see happen), then why the wait?  Wisconsin gets this absolutely right by announcing it at the state tournament. 29 or 30 games through section play should be plenty to figure it out. And if you wanted, you could have a banquet Sunday night after the state tournament so that the tourney is included. You'd get much more interest in the award this way.  After all, with no games, what are we really waiting for?

3a) Start with a narrowed down list. I don't agree at all with 20 or 25 finalists. How many of those kids actually had a shot to win the award. Let's get down to the real contenders immediately. Some people say its an honor just to be mentioned. But is it really an honor to be mentioned for something you have no chance at winning? It just causes the award to lose credibility. Look at the 3 kids from Bloomington Kennedy a couple of years ago as 1 example of this. Good players, they had a nice season. But none of them had any chance at all of winning the award so why are we watering down the list. Better yet, what if I got nominated for MN Sports Writer of the Year with 19 other people. Would you take the award seriously? I wouldn't.

3b) No 2 kids nominated from the same team except in very very unique circumstances. If you're not the best player on your team, then there's no way you can win the award, so why waste the time mentioning the name. If the committee can't use the regular season (or a major portion of it) to determine the best player on a team (even one like last year's Hopkins' team), then they won't get it right anyway. This award is about the #1 player, period. There's no place for top 5, 10 etc here. There are all-conference, all-metro, all-region, all-state etc teams for that recognition.  And you'd get recognized.  35 kids were named all-conference or honorable mention in the St. Paul City Conference this year.  7 teams * 5 starters = 35.  But don't get me started on those lists.

2010 State Tourney All-Breakout Team

Here's my 5 member all state tournament breakout team.  These are kids who took their game to another level at the state tournament.  In no particular order

Casey Schilling - Ellsworth
Mark Hoge - Crosby-Ironton
Alec Brown - Winona
Nick Thompson - Rushford-Peterson
Jordan Jackson - Henry Sibley

MTS vs Sebeka (2010 Class A Championship)

Very interesting game with Sebeka having an up and down style to run with MTS.  Then it gets really interesting when Kevin Noreen goes up to block a shot and comes down hard on his back only 2:04 into the game.  He'll stay in but definitely not 100%.  Sebeka gets out to a 13-4 lead before Kevin Noreen brings MTS back.  MTS getting good 2 on 1 looks vs the Sebeka pressure.  1 of the press breaks leads to a big Rodney Owens poster.  But MTS has also been really sloppy with 13 turnovers.  6-16 for everybody else on the team.  Joey Cuperus effective inside against Noreen who can hardly get off the floor.  He spends most of the last 16 minutes of the half hanging on the perimeter save 1 late post basket.  The Wolves get a break when Owens fouls Cody Pulju on a 3 at the first half buzzer but only 1 of 3 free throws are made.  32-30 Sebeka at the half and MTS has never had the lead.  MTS has used 3 timeouts already.  2 for injury and 1 in the last minute to stop a 10 second count.  One of the worst uses of timeouts I've seen in a long time.  Let's see if that haunts coach Sherman in the second half.  But there are all of the TV timeouts.  Other big question is if Kevin Noreen's back will stiffen up during the long halftime break.

My All-Tourney Picks: Kevin Noreen, Kyle Noreen and Rodney Owens - MTS.  Joey Cuperus, John Clark and Cody Pulju- Sebeka.  Casey Schilling and Trevor Gruis - Ellsworth,  Kasey Ollof and Nick Thompson - Rushford-Peterson.

MTS out and running vs the Sebeka press early in the half and Sebeka smartly gets out of it at about the 12 minute mark.  MTS has had their best offense when they broken the press so I like that move.  Kevin Noreen's size blocking and changing shots starting to be a factor with 6 blocks to this point.  Clark just made a ridiculous double-clutch with Noreen challenging.  Noreen with a layup at 7:40 for a 4 point lead (biggest so far) and Sebeka calls time to keep it close.  Shot challenged and missed and Owens runs out and finishes.  Danger time for the Trojans.  No points for Sebeka in the last 4 and a half minutes.  9-2 MTS over the last 7 minutes.  6 point lead MTS with 6 minutes and they pull the ball out.  Gack, too early for that. 1 turnover becomes a Sebeka hoop and Sebeka misses a chance to convert another.  Then a jump ball to MTS to save a turnover.  All of that in 1 minute.  53-48 at the 3:46 TV Timeout.  Kevin Noreen 1 block away from a triple-double.

Layup at the 3 minute mark extends the lead to 7 as MTS continues to spread.  Sebeka turns it over and MTS will hold.  Owens and Kevin Noreen tic-tac-toe for an Owens bucket.  Its another layup and the lead is 9.  Game set and finally MTS wins the elusive class A title 61-52.  Kevin Noreen finishes with 24 points, 15 boards and 9 blocks.  He ends his career with all time scoring records of 4086 (career) and 1205 (season).  Rodney Owens finishes with 22 points and 7 rebounds.  Cody Pulju 16 points to lead Sebeka.  John Clark 13 and Joey Cuperus 10 pts and 8 rebounds.  MTS shoots the lights out in the 2nd half.

Here's the Class A All-Tournament Team
Blake Lea - Rushford-Peterson
Kasey Ollof - Rushford-Peterson
Trevor Gruis - Ellsworth
Casey Schilling - Ellsworth
Joey Cuperus - Sebeka
John Clark - Sebeka
Alex Brockpahler - Sebeka
Kyle Noreen - MTS
Kevin Noreen - MTS
Rodney Owens - MTS

Thoughts on a pair of crazy games

What a pair of endings.  Great play call and comeback by Ellsworth.  Great look and around and out to end the Ellsworth game.  Casey Schilling is really coming on for Ellsworth.  MTS vs Sebeka has the chance to be crazy good. Sebeka has enough athletes to come after MTS. The loss of Ryan Sharp hurts though.

How about the end of PEM  vs CI. PEM comes back from 11 down, then misses a front end and 2 turnovers with about 5 minutes left.  Clay Olstad for 3 and the foul down 5 with 23 seconds left.  Miss the FT and PEM rebounds.  GREAT pass from Cole Olstad for the layup to tie the game with 7 seconds left.  How crazy can these games get.  Mark Hoge continues to play well for CI.  Great battle of 2 of the top players in the state to not play AAU last summer.  Hoge makes an surprisingly easy catch and dribbles it out before turning it over at the horn.  Very surprised he didn't create a look there.  PEM gambles for a steal in the last minute of OT in a tie game and Brock Tesdahl with the left corner 3 to win the money for the house.  Great 2nd pass.  PEM takes forever to foul down 1 in the last minute.  Hoge to the line with 17.2 left for 1 of 2.  Clay Olstad off the same set that got him the 4 point play look late in regulation, great look, just long.  Cole Olstad has a chance at the board but a jump ball points to Crosby-Ironton with 4.6 left.  Sam Baker makes 1 of 2 and Cole Olstad has a halfcourt 3 go off the backiron at the buzzer.  51-48 Crosby-Ironton in another OT game.  My o My.

MTS vs Rushford-Peterson (Class A Semifinal)

So now the small school semifinals.  After last night's officiating debacle let's hope today is better.  Year after year we see stuff like this too.  That's bad for our game.  Big story of the day is the conduct of at least 1 Hopkins player after the 2OT win over Sibley last night.  For the record, I didn't see any of it but there's are enough credible people out there who did.  The stories I'm seeing and hearing are repulsive.  With 4A having the day off, there's a full day, almost 2, for this to fester but also to be investigated and solved.  Either way, this will be a big deal again tomorrow night.  You'll either see punishment or a lack of punishment will have people calling for heads at Hopkins.  Between and a bad jelly donut in the press room, not a good start to the day (and I'm all about donuts).

The Rushford band is behind me warming up with John Lennon's Imagine and Smoke on the Water, nice.  And then they open with Great Balls of Fire.  A great line yesterday.  The MTS wolf looks like a werewolf with mange.  HA!  Transitions is a heavy favorite and unlike yesterday where Springfield didn't do enough to exploit their size, expect Kevin Noreen to get a ton of inside touches against the short frontline.  Rushford-Peterson's tallest player is 6'4 but lefty soph Nick Thompson (nice player BTW) is really a wing so it comes down to 6'2 Nic Duneman.   But don't count out RP.   This is coach Tom Vix's 11th appearance at state.

RP doubling Kevin Noreen out of their 2-3 zone and why not with their success yesterday.  MTS with a1-2-2 zone, also like yesterday.  6 minutes in before Blake Lea finally hits a 3 to put RP o nthe board. Kevin Noreen responds with his first bucket on the next possession.  Very slow pace and this will keep RP in the game.  11-6 MTS as we go to the 2nd TV timeout at the 9:14 mark of the first half.  4 turnovers quick for RP but they've settled down.

Rodney Owens with a 3 and he's off to another hot start.  Ben Krambeer dives over press row head first and is OK to a major ovation.  A gasp from everybody looking over the rail to see if he was OK.  Owens again for 3 at the 6:50 mark to push the lead to double-digits.  19-8 MTS as we go to TV timeout #3 at the 6:31 mark.  RP only 3-11 from the floor but they've recovered half of those misses.

Thompson for 3 and a nice cut behind the cut and they find him for a layup. 22-13 MTS at the 5:40 mark.  Kevin Noreen responds with a 3 point play on the post.  He misses a bunny and RP comes back with a 3.  A behind the back pass is a MTS turnover and Thompson with another 3.  That's his 3rd.  11 points for him and we go to the last TV timeout of the half at the 3:59 mark.  25-19 MTS with the lead.  Rushford with 4 makes in a row.    Rushford-Peterson 5-7 from the 3 point line.   That's how they can win this one.

MTS finally generates a turnover from their trap and the Noreens play hot potato for a Kevin layup.  Kyle Noreen picks up a cheap 3rd foul at RP is trying to hold for the last shot.  He sits and MTS goes to halftime with a 27-21 lead. RP misses their last 5 shots to finish 7-20 shooting but 5-9 from 3.  Also 6 turnovers for the Trojans.  Rodney Owens 12 points and 5 boards, Kevin Noreen 8 points and 4 boards for MTS.  Nick Thompson 11 points and 3 triples to lead the Trojans.  It'll be very interesting to see if MTS comes out with anything to step up the pace in the second half. MTS didn't show any of their diamond press yesterday or in this game so far. We'll see if it comes out in the second half.

Nice inside out pass from Kevin to Kyle Noreen for 3.  MTS extends their 1-2-2 and Owens immediately takes a steal the other way for 2.   Right back to double-digits.  Kasey Ollof with a long 3.  Kevin Noreen rebounds and the long outlet.  Kyle Noreen finishes that.  35-24 MTS at the 14:51 TV timeout. 

Kevin Noreen with a block.  Then a steal becomes a Kyle Noreen layup.  Rodney Owens tips a rebound to Kevin Noreen for a layup.  39-25 MTS before Thompson hits a baseline jumper.  Owens to Kevin Noreen down the lane for 2 and the foul.  43-27 MTS at the 10:21 TV timeout.  Turnovers have hurt RP so far in the half.

MTS comes out 2-3 from the TV break and Blake Lea promptly punishes it with a left corner 3.  Timeout MTS and Kevin Noreen give and go with Owens down the lane for the 2 handed dunk.  That's how you finish against the pressure.  Now it could get ugly.  Kevin Noreen in the middle is a big target.  DeAngelo Potter on a skip from Kyle Noreen and the lead is 18.  Nick Thompson with another triple.  Off an MTS turnover, Owens comes up with a block and Kevin Noreen is at the other end for 2 free throws.  52-35 MTS at the 6:31 TV timeout.  Close the book on RP.  Their fans have been screaming for fouls on every little thing.  Its a little much. 

RP fouling with 3:21 left, interesting when they're down 56-41.  He takes it off a 1:45 and the benches empty.  RP boos the return of Kevin and Kyle Noreen with 22 seconds left but its only a 9 point game and MTS wasn't looking to score.  They get their wish as MTS turns it over anyway.  Rushford-Peterson never leads.  MTS wins 56-49.  MTS moves on to the class A title game against Ellsworth or Sebeka which should be outstanding.

Kevin Noreen finishes with 17 points and 11 rebounds.  Kyle Noreen 12 points.  Rodney Owens 18 points and 17 rebounds for MTS.  Nick Thompson with another performance for RP.  He finishes 6-8 from the 3 point line for 20 points (9 3s in the tourney).  Kasey Ollof and Blake Lea held to a cominbed 14 points.  RP shoots 16-42 compared to 23-38 for MTS.  A crazy 12-16 FGs for MTS in the 2nd half.

St Cloud Tech vs Eden Prairie (4A Semifinal)

Item I'm watching in this Tech vs EP semifinal is how Tech generates offense.  Thomas Korf, Alex Hanks and Scott Nystrom have carried most of the load . The Eagles are outstanding defensively.  Brett Ervin needs to come up big.  Alex Hanks is a big game player so I expect him to come up big.  Nice to see some of the St. Paul Johnson guys taking in the night's action.  Love the Eden Prairie students in all hawaiian gear after doing formal wear yesterday.
Big emphasis for Eden Prairie on pounding the ball inside to Ervin.  The first 3 possessions feature nice action between Ervin and Ryan Smith.  Basic 2-in screen-away and pop back to high post action.  Simple but difficult to defend.  EP goes small for 4 out-1 in look with Ervin on the post.  Important to know if you're Tech who's a shooter and who's not as Eden Prairie does have defensive-minded guys that you can cheat off of.  Only 4 minutes into the game before I hear Tech Superfan for the 3rd time in my life which is 3 times too many.  Guy chants all game and claims to have Tech stats older than the bible. 

Coach Flom puts 3 starters on the bench during the first TV timeout and brings them back at 1st whistle for a little extra break.  Makes you wonder if he's concerned about the back to back and the big floor.  Even if he isn't, its a very creative move to get the best of rest vs playing time.  Ervin starts 0-5 bullying his way around the basket before getting one to go at 10:11.  14-6 Eden Prairie leads.  Scott Nystrom playing with 2 fouls.

The EP students are an absolute riot with oompa loompa and Old McDonald being sung during free throws.  LOL!  TV timeout at 5:23 19-11 EP leads.  Ugly game.  26-16 EP at the 4th TV timeout of the half.  Online stats have been dead for the last 7 game minutes.   Ervin has a post fade go in and out at the horn.  27-21 EP at the half.  Alex Hanks already 6-12 at the charity stripe for 8 points.  Brett Ervin getting good looks but a surprising 1-8 shooting.  EP 11-29 shooting and Tech 6-19.   24-14 EP on the glass with 9 offensive boards for 7 points.  After the issues with fouls in the last game we have 2 refs in this one who have been subpar.

Back to back easy buckets for EP pushes the lead to 31-21 and Tech takes a quick timeout 47 seconds into the half.  Korf responds with a curl and a nice finish that Jack Klukas counters with a 3.  Eagles by 11 and that feels like 20-25 despite a long time to go.  Tech gets back to back buckets before the TV timeout.  34-27 with 14:01 left.  Nystrom with a 3 from the left wing and the lead is down to 4.  But he gets called for a tick-tack 4th foul with 11:52 left and has to sit.  Big loss there for Tech.  36-30 Eden Prairie as we go to the TV timeout with 10:52 remaining.  Have to think if the lead gets to 10, Nystrom needs to come back in.

8-2 Tech down in fouls after a moving screen and the ref gets an earful from the Tech head coach.  Then the ref conviently calls for a ref rotation to get him to be the trail ref instead of the slot ref where he'd have to hear more.  That's just not cool.  Ervin has been really going at it and getting mugged on the postups without the ball and no calls.  Korf picks up his 4th foul with 8:57 left and only Hanks is left.  38-32 Eagles.  Let's see if Tech can stay close long enough to get Nystrom and Korf back in.  Timeout Eden Prairie with 7:56 left. 

Soderberg a great job of eluding Hanks off screens and he nails a 3 to push the EP lead back to 7.  Hanks responds on the other end with his own 3.  Exactly 7 minutes left and we get the return of Nystrom and Korf and its only a 41-37 gap.  I'm a little surprised by that as Tech was staying at least even with them out.  I would have let it go another minute or 2.  Eden Prairie can't convert 2 offensive rebounds and Hanks goes strong for another pair of freebies which he splits.  The teams trade 3s to keep the game at 3.  Ervin misses inside and Hanks takes a bump for no call and converts.  Tech crowd now excited.  EP scores and Tech takes time with 5:05 remaining.  46-43 Eden Prairie leads.

Nystrom to the rim and no good but he goes up strong to grab the board and put it back.  Ervin can't buy one down low and he fouls on the rebound for his 4th foul.  4:07 to go and Korf will shoot the freebies to give Tech the lead.  Both are nothing but net and Tech leads 47-46.  TV timeout with 3:53 left.  10:45 PM and Tim Leighton and David LaVaque having to be going nuts for deadline.

Tech stays with their 5 out look.  Hanks gets a lane and goes left baseline for more free throws.  Does he think he plays for Hopkins tonight??  "Bowl Cut" is the chant from the EP students.  Again he goes 1 of 2.  48-46 Tech.  Ervin spins and he gets grabbed (or maybe walked first).  Tech students steal the "In your head" chant.  Ervin makes 1 of 2.  48-47 Tech as we go inside of 3 minutes remaining.  Soderberg gets a double-screen for a 3 but shockingly airballs it from the top.  Tech with a bad shot of their own with 2:15 left.  Smith gets loose inside and Hanks has to put him on the line with 2:05 left.  1 of 2 is the number tonight.  48 all as Nystrom leaves a 3 short with 1:45 left.  A post feed to Ervin almost gets pick off and EP does turn it over anyway.  Tech with the ball and 1:18 left when they take a timeout. 

Tech goes dribble weave and they're playing for last shot as Nystrom passed up a drive.  EP traps it and Klukas gets a steal but the Eagles miss 2 layups.  A scrum ensues and a tieup goes to Tech with 27 seconds left.  Hanks catches with 7 seconds left at the right elbow when they could have gone 1-4 low with Nystrom would had the ball high.  Hanks goes left, lots of contact, no call and we'll play OT tied at 48.  Why not the way this night has gone.

Ref has to tie his shoe and the EP students chant "tie your shoe" at him.  I love it.  That way he can run out of here faster.  Hanks 1 difficult miss and then forcefully swatted at the 2 minute mark on the rebound.  Ryan Smith with a putback and we finally have points in the OT at the 1:40 mark.  50-48 EP leads.  Hanks drives and gets a tick-tack call after drawing all kinds of contact on the last possession.  Both are good with 1:23 left.  50 all.  Ervin nice drive and finish from the high post with 1:07 left.  Tech misses with 45 seconds left.  Kewon Johnson strips Klukas and takes it for a layup.  52 all with 34.5 left, unreal.  Timeout Tech.  What else can happen tonight?

Hanks urging the Tech fans to make noise.  Ervin brings the ball up and a pass gets tipped away. EP tracks it down and coach Flom gets a good timeout at the 9.6 mark with the ball just in the backcourt.  Ervin tries to duck in on the possession and gets the ball.  No way in this game that he's going to get a call there.  52 all and we'll go to a 2nd OT.  Somehow I think both Hopkins and the winner of this game are going to be glad they don't play again until the late game Saturday.

Hanks 1 of 2 and Soderberg makes 2 freebies for a 54-53 EP lead.  Hanks says forget the backcut, give me the ball.  He kicks out to Nystrom for 3 with 2:40 left.  Tech back up 56-54.  Smith with a quality spin on the post at 2:15.  Tie game again.  Then a backscreen lob from Hanks to Nystrom with 1:50 left.  What a playcall!  Inside out pass for 3 results in an airball 3 from EP with 1:31 left, ouch.  EP tries to go diamond press and Kewon Johnson just dribbles right through it.  Tech goes dribble weave and holds.  EP is looking to trap the handoffs.  Hanks hit with exactly 1 minute left and he'll shoot 2.  Interesting that Mitch Hallstrom fouls out and is replaced by defensive minded Brendan Gay.  I thought it'd be an offensive sub.  Hanks makes both for a 4 point Tech lead.  Kewon Johnson and Grayson Levine get into it with 53.3 left and Levine will shoot 2.  He makes the first and misses the 2nd but EP gets the rebound.  Eden Prairie timeout down 60-57 with the ball and 40.9 to play. 
Eden Prairie runs a favorite screen the screener set and Soderberg gets a decent straight away look and misses.  Nystrom goes after the rebounds and grabs the ball in the air and gets the timeout before landing with 28.1 left.  Outlawed in the college and pro game but not in the high school game.  Nystrom bumped with 25.8 left.  He makes both with nothing but net.  Gay to the line for 2 with 16.5 left after being fouled on a drive.  And that's all the scoring.  62-58 Tech wins another double overtime thriller.

Alex Hanks scored 22 points and 7 rebounds to lead Tech to the victory.  Great "Alex Hanks" chant from the Tech students as he gives his TV and post game interviews and a big ovation as he goes out the tunnel to the locker room.   Scott Nystrom 23 points and 6 boards.  Thomas Korf 2-9 for 6 points and 6 boards.  Ryan Smith 15 and 14 for Eden Prairie.  Brett Ervin 3-14 shooting for 9 points and 8 rebounds.  Eden Prairie 11-26 from the foul line.  Tech 19-32.  The teams combine for 10-37 from the 3 point line.   Eden Prairie wins the war on the boards 50-33 but had 15 turnovers to only 7 for Tech.

What a wonderful pair of games.  It makes a crazy late ending really worth it.  As I see the PA guy walk off drinking a bottle of water, I wonder if he'll have a voice left for the weekend. Not to mention TV guy Dave Lee.

Thoughts from a pair of 4A games

First some thoughts on the Tech/Champlin Park game which I saw the last 11 minutes of.  Really strange that Champlin Park got a 44-42 lead and then was in a huge hurry to throw up tough shots like they were down 10 with 30 seconds left.  A game the Rebels definitely should have won.

As to the 4A semi between Hopkins and Sibley.  I arrive at halftime to see an absolutely HUGE Sibley student section at 1 end of the court.  Its top to bottom filling the entire corner section.  Props to those students.Combined with a small Hopkins section.  At the 1st TV Timeout , 5 guys with 3 fouls and Sibley nursing a 40-36 lead.  Big time feel to this one.  The 1st guy with 4 could make a difference if it happens quickly. 

Its Rostampour (really?) with 13:25 left and coach Dasovich has to go get him.  Surprised Jordan Jackson hasn't attacked Siyani Chambers and his 3 fouls more.  Singleton stops Krueser, then takes him to the rim for a miss and blocks Grant.  That leads to Chambers going to the line to tie the game.  Kreuser not strong enough to dominate Singleton on the offensive end and now quick enough to stop him on the defense end so a very tough matchup with Rostampour down with 4 fouls.  Good timeout at 12:21 by coach Dasovich as you can feel Hopkins picking up the mighty mo.

Coleman with a steal and he tips it out and runs it down for 2 off the wrong foot and Hopkins goes up 41-40. Danger time for the Warriors here.  Kreuser misses 2 chances and Coleman converts 2 freebies at 10:18 . 44-40 Hopkins and that gets Rostampour back in at 10:03.  How long will he last?  Chambers picks up his 4th at the 9:45 mark trying to stop a pass to Kreuser.  DJ Peterson taking over the full time point guard duties now.  Nice luxury for coach Novak.  Also gives Hopkins a bigger lineup with Zach Stahl replacing Chambers.

Hopkins getting a couple of good high post looks vs the Sibley 2-3.  Coleman misses one and puts back a miss after that.  Singleton converts the other.  Still 50-46 Hopkins wiht 7:45 remaining as the teams continue to trade buckets.  Kreuser gets his 4th at 7:11.  Jake Goldberg replaces him.  Coleman picks a Rostampour skip out of the post at 6:45 and goes the other way for the 2 handed hammer.  Singleton vs Rostampour now.  Fun matchup.  Hopkins going right at Rostampour with 2 postups that Singleton scores on.  57-50 Hopkins with 5:20 left.  Singleton and Rostampour go tumbling at the other end.  Hopkins wants a double foul to get rid of Rostampour but they won't get it.  He makes the bonus freebies with 4:39 left for a TV Timeout.  Kreuser was at the table so we'll see both Sibley bigs in with 4.  59-54 Hopkins.

Singleton dribbling the spots off the ball trying to attack Kreuser and he turns it over for 2 Jackson freebies.  3:54 left Chambers returns for the Royals.  59-55 as Jackson makes 1 of 2.  Kreuser tips a miss in his own basket and Rostampour puts back a miss on his end.  61-57 Hopkins 3 minutes left.  Nice pullup jumper by Stahl before getting to Kreuser.  Jackson fouled 93 feet away and makes 2 with 2:43 left and we have the final TV timeout.  63-59 Hopkins leads.  Sibley has to figure out a way to get a stop. 

And they get the turnover.  Set postup for Rostampour on the right box and he goes jump hook over the left shoulder at 2:10.  Standard set and a good call.  Jackson picks up his fourth out high and DJ Peterson shoots 2 at the 1:57 mark.  He makes 1 of 2 so Sibley is now within 1 possession.  Jimmy Ryan straightaway for 3 and the Sibley section erupts.  Hopkins brings the ball to the frontcourt and takes time with 1:27 left.   64 all and this REALLY gets interesting now.

Coleman drives and Kreuser takes the charge with 1:17 left.  I know coach Dasovich has siad he may be better at taking charges than blocking shots.  Rostampour past Stahl on a postup and he misses.  The ball is tipped out and Coleman has a wideopen track  Grant gets the left shoulder which is meaningless with 53.5 left as Coleman converts.  He misses the free throw but Stahl grabs it and Kreuser fouls out at 51.6.  What a turnaround.  Stahl gets 2 freebies and misses both.  Goldberg grabs the board. Coleman reaches in and tips it away.  Its off Rostampour with 49 seconds left.  Unbelievable.  Coleman fouled with 47.2 left and he makes 1 of 2.   67-64 Hopkins.  Jackson right to the rack for 2 with 35 seconds left.  Timeout Sibley down 67-66.  Lots of time.  Coleman 6-10, Singleton 5-8 from the line to this point.  Coleman drives and makes a dangerous pass that is tipped out with 25.2 left.  Sibley didn't look to foul at all and Coleman would have been a good candidate.  But nobody really sticks out as an outstanding foul shooter.

Sibley elects not to foul Coleman but they get DJ Peterson with 20.2 left.  He comes in 37 of 60 from the line on the year.  He steps up and makes both pure for a 69-66 lead.  Sibley pushes and has a passed tipped away.  Sibley uses their last timeout with the ball in their half and 10.6 left.  With no timeouts, you almost have to play for the 3 here as Hopkins could just let the clock run out on a 2.  The ball goes right looking for Jimmy Ryan running the baseline. Nothing there.  The ball is reversed to Dante Grant who takes a dribble and ducks under Singleton and banks in a left wing 3 with 2.5 remaining.  Absolutely crazy.  Best shot I've seen all year.  The clocks runs out and we have a table review (new this year by rule).  Coaches are called over by the offiicals.  Its a 3 and there's no time left.  69 all and we will play overtime.  UNREAL!  Am I actually courtside watching this??

Nice pick and roll finds Singleton and no help and that puts Hopkins up 73-69.  Sibley called for a moving screen. Hopkins goes dribble weave and Grant blocks DJ Peterson from behind.  Jimmy Ryan cashes it in with a 3 from the left corner.  Timeout Hopkins up 73-72 with 1:35 left and the ball.  Singleton catches at the high post and gets called for changing pivot feet on a basic turn.  Have to see that again to see if he actually walked.  But Sibley turns it over on the other end with 1:12 left.  Grant fouls out at 1:04 to put Chambers on the line.  He makes both without issue.  75-72 Hopkins.  Jackson to the rim and spins for a call with 54.4 left.  He makes 1 of 2 and Sibley almost grabs the board after a pair of tips.  75-73 Hopkins with 33.5 left when Jeremiah Tolbert gets fouled.  The first is around and out after a "In Your Head" chant from the Sibley students (HA!).  The chant starts again and the 2nd is short.  Jackson to Ryan who's on the NBA line for 3.  Hopkins rushes back the other way.  Ball ends up with Coleman going strong and Rostampour fouls out with 7.2 left.  Now we have a loud building but the Sibley fans are behind the shooter.  1st is around and down and the 2nd is short. Sibley rebounds and takes timeout.  Its an extra long timeout as the time remaining is reviewed on the monitor.  Its set to 5.7.

With Kreuser and Rostampour gone, seems awfully tough to think that a 2nd OT would favor Sibley.  Jordan Jackson with buzzer beaters in the last 2 games against CDH and Eastview.  It has to be all him here.  Jackson splits a double team to catch but then a lob pass is turned over.  Singleton heaves at the buzzer and its long.  We'll play double overtime.

The parade to the foul line continues in the 2nd OT as Singleton makes 2 and Chambers makes 2.  80-76 with 3:01 left in the OT.  Chambers fouls out at 2:50 for a pair of Jordan Jackson free throws to cut the lead in half.  Peterson drives and finishes right handed at 2:30.  Jackson spins, falls away and banks at 2:20.  Crazy difficult shot that he's athletic enough to make.  Jackson reaches in and he's gone with 5 at 2:07.  That's the 3rd starter and 4th guy for Sibley to foul out.  Sibley now with 2 freshman on the floor and a reserve who has played minimal minutes.  Coleman makes 1 of 2 before a missed Sibley 3.  Peterson puts it on the deck and he earnes a trip to the line.  He makes 1 with 1:45 left.  84-80 Hopkins leads and Sibley takes timeout with 1:40 left.

Jimmy Ryan goes quick for 2.  90 seconds left and Hopkins by 2.  Hopkins in no hurry to score.  Sibley gets a trap on Peterson but a quick foul is called when it looked like they may have a steal.  Peterson makes 1 of 2 with 44.1 left.  Nick Goldberg gets a great look at a 3 from the right corner with 30 seconds left and its no good.  Singleton grabs the board and he's fouled with 25.7 left.  He makes 1 of 2 for a 4 point Hopkins lead.  Hopkins gets a doubleteam and a tip away.  Coleman puts on the exclamation point with a big 2 handed dunk.  Hopkins goes on to win an amazing game 90-82.

Hopkins wins this one and keeps it interesting at the line.  They shoot 39-58 from the charity stripe to 18-24 for Sibley.  No team had a lead bigger than 9.  Joe Coleman 25 and 7 for Hopkins. Marvin Singleton 22 points.   Jordan Jackson 25 for Sibley.  Soph Dante Grant comes up big with 20 points.  Mike Rostampour 13 and 12.  Czar's Note 3/24/10  The 39-58 FT shooting for Hopkins is a record for most free throws taken and attempted.

Minnehaha vs Crosby-Ironton (State 2A Quarterfinal)

Nice to Andy Birdsong before the game. He coached many of the Minnehaha kids in summer ball for the past few years and is now a graduate assistant at Florida State.  Glad to see him get a chance to his guys play at state.  Taylor Hanson is a major matchup problem for Crosby-Ironton as the Rangers have nobody over 6'3.  But CI is well-coached and Mark Hoge can play.  Should be interesting.

Game Time
Crosby-Ironton starts with their matchup zone and a soft 1-2-2 3/4 court press.  Austin Brown sporting a big wrap on his right hand due to February injury.  Hoge for 2 and then a steal for 2 more.  That cuts the Minnehaha lead to 8-6.  Hoge 2 layups, 2nd off Brown turnover and he throws his hand wrap to the bench in disgust.  12-11 Minnehaha inside of 12 minutes left in the half.  Hines with his 2nd from the deep beyond at 8:50 and a turnover for a Jack Johnson layup extends the Redhawks lead to 21-15.    Erick Forson with a tough 2 and that forces a Crosby timeout.  23-15 Minnehaha with 7;51 left in the half.  CI running a UCLA cut into a side-screen roll/double screen combo as their base "motion" offense.  Joel Reinhardt with a bomb against the zone and a Johnson tip pushes the lead to 13.  Minnehaha with a 14-5 on the glass before Hoge stops the bleeding.  Hanson with 2 offensive boards for a conversion to force another CI timeout.  30-17 Minnehaha with the lead after an 18-6 run.  Hanson picks up his second foul in a scramble at the 5:10 mark and he'll have to sit.  Minnehaha 8 turnovers or this one could be worse with Crosby shooting 8-25 compared to 12-20 for the Redhawks.  Tyler Dickie and Hoge for 3 and Minnehaha wants a timeout up 30-23 at the 4:24 mark.  The buckets give Crosby a chance to get back in their pressure which has been effective.  Hoge drives for 2 freebies and a bucket at 1:55 to cut the lead to 1.  Hanson back in.  Hoge goes baseline again for 2 and then a hard cut for 2 free throws.   Minnehaha hangs on to lead 35-33 at the half.  Hoge goes absolutely nuts for 21 points.  Parker Hines with a pair of triples to lead Minnehaha with 8 points.  CI finishes the half on a 16-5 run thanks to Hoge.  Minnehaha pounding the glass for a 19-9 advantage but they have 11 turnovers that become 20 Crosby-Ironton points.

Matthew Hudrlik with a straight away 3 off screen the screener action and CI has the lead 38-35 with 15:30 left.  Dickie for 2 and the foul at 14:10 and CI goes up 41-37.  Minnehaha not happy with the officiating so far in the half.  Hines jumper around and out, Hoge rebounds and Crosby with a tough putback.  Then Brock Tesdahl with a challenged 3 at 11:40 and Minnehaha needs a timeout down 48-40.  15-5 CI run to start the half.  Hoge with a pair of buckets to keep the Rangers lead at 8 with 10 minutes left.  Then a nice assist to Tesdahl on a screen roll for a double digit lead.  Hoge in the lane for 2, a missed defensive assignment for a layup, Hanson misses a bunny and CI is back the other way for a layup assisted by Hoge.  60-48 CI leads with 7 minutes left and Minnehaha takes a much needed timeout.  CI stays with their soft press.  Minnehaha interestingly doesn't extend their defense.  Hoge for 2 and the hack.  That puts him over 30 and its the 4th foul on Hines with 6:08 left.  Surprised he sits since the margin is 12.  Crosby-Ironton killing the clock with THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE.  Hanson with a steal for 2 and the foul with 3:58.  That cuts the margin to 63-54.  Timeout Crosby with 2:28 left and a 64-56 lead.  Minnehaha has to go quick but they have a tough time even getting a shot up.  Forson hits a couple of late threes but Minnehaha doesn't threaten.  CI goes on to win 72-67.

Mark Hoge from CI is the story in this one.  Minnehaha can't find an answer for him.  He shoots 12-20 and makes 10-14 free throws for a huge 35 point, 5 rebound night.  While Minnehaha cut out the 2nd half turnovers, the soft press took them out of rhythm all night.  Minnehaha finishes 23-5 on the season.  Taylor Hanson leads the way with 18 points and 7 rebounds.  Crosby shoots 60% in the second half to 12-29 for Minnehaha.  With the win CI moves into a semifinal rematch on Fridayt against Plainview-Elgin-Millville.  CI lost the meeting at the TWolves shootout 51-41.

Jordan vs PEM (State 2A Quarterfinal)

A nice way to start the night with the brothers Olstad of Plainview-Elgin-Millville taking on my favorite name Yuriy Malashenko and Jordan.  I'm at the same end line spot as last year watching PEM in the early game.  Deja Vu.  Soda count is 3 as I try to out drink John Millea.

Game Time
Jordan goes 1-3-1 (with man-man principles) to start. Cole at HP vs the zone. SLOW PACE with the Jordan zone. 6-2 PEM at 11:30 before Oakes 3. PEM trapping Yuriy Malashenko in the post out of Swing. Timeout PEM at 11:06 with 6-5 lead. Teams both 2-9 shooting. Jordan 5 turnovers. Malashenko with a strong rebound, swings thru a double team and then a tough follow bucket at 9:30. 11-9 Jordan goes on top. 6th rebound for Malashenko. Then Malashenko for 3 at 8:15 14-9 Jordan. Timeout PEM at 7:57. Hynes 3 at 6:50 17-9. That's a 15-3 Jordan run over 5 minutes. PEM 3-13, Jordan 6-17 shooting as neither team can find the range. Cole Olstad with a nice pass to Michael Pick at 5:20 for a reverse layup to break the run. Set play for lanky forward Tanner Oakes yields a 3 at 4:10 to keep the Jordan lead at 9, 20-11 Jordan. That's his 3rd triple of the half. PEM really sagging toward the post in their man to man defense. Malashenko drives from top of key for 1 handed hammer at 2:05 and a big roar from the Jordan crowd. Clay Olstad with a much need 3 at 1:15 for PEM. 22-16 Jordan. Top guy in Jordan 1-3-1 sagging to Cole. 24-18 Jordan at the half. Malashenko with 8 points and 8 boards at the break. Tanner Oakes with the 3 triples for 9 points. Cole Olstad 6 points for PEM. Shooting stats not pretty. Jordan 9-24, PEM 7-22 (2-12 from 3 vs 5-10 for Jordan).

Chris Conrad for 3 and steal for 2 as PEM quickly cuts into the lead. 24-23 Jordan at 16:20. Timeout Jordan. After another Jordan turnover, Cole Olstad fouled in the post and makes 2 freebies. 25-24 PEM and a turnover is another Conrad bomb. PEM getting after it with the diamond press for a 28-24 lead. Jordan 2 and Conrad ast to Clay Olstad 3. 31-26 PEM before Malashenko with a tough putback at 14:20. He snares another miss for 2 FTs at 13:47 (PEM 3-5 from 3 this half). 31-30 PEM. Jordan back to the 1-3-1 down 4 with 8 minutes left and PEM holds. Jordan comes out of 1-3-1 at 6:50. Cole Olstad drive for 2 at 4:20. 42-36 PEM. Slow offense for PEM as they're really killing clock. 2 minutes left and Jordan only has 4 team fouls so they have to give 2. Conrad banks FT at 1:23. 43-38 PEM. Malashenko charges at 50.7 with Jordan down 43-39. 44-39 when Malashenko grabs a miss for a 3 point play. 44-42 PEM with 22 seconds left. Timeout PEM with 16.6 left. PEM executes and finds Cole Olstad for 1 of 2 FTs and second one almost didn't go in. Jordan pushes to half court and takes time wiht 12.2 left down 45-42. Poor execution by Jordan and a forced 3 is blocked at the buzzer for a 45-42 PEM win.

Yuriy Malashenko with 16 and the usual big night of rebounds with 19 with 2 blocks thrown in..  Tanner Oakes quiet in the 2nd half to finish with 13 points.  Very surprised he didn't get more looks in the second half.  Chris Conrad with 9 of his 11 in the second half.  That ties Cole Olstad for the team lead in points.  Ugly shooting in this one as PEM shoots 16-42 and Jordan shoots 15-45.  That included 6-21 in the second half
Great ending at Williams Arena with Braham taking out Sibley East 59-58. Tyler Vaughan fouled by Marshall Bjorklund for 2 FTs with 3 seconds left in OT as Braham comes from double digits down. Vaughan 29, 12 and 6. Bjorklund with 33 and 23 on 14-16 shooting. WOW!

2010 State Tourney Preview

Here are my thoughts on the 3A and 4A opening round games for the 2010 State Tournament.

Class 4A
Hopkins vs Forest Lake.  Forest Lake plays a style that can frustrate teams, especially if they go 1-3-1 in this one.  I think they have to as Duluth East was too much to handle man-man.  Hopkins is more than that but they'll have to execute against the zone and not gamble vs the patient 5-out offense.  I'll take Hopkins in this one.

Eastview vs Sibley. A pair of teams on fire right now with Eastview rolling since the return of Joey King and Sibley hasn't been beaten since the TWolves Shootout.  Mike Rostampour vs the physical Eastview defense is something to watch.  Rostampour will have to stay out of foul trouble as he's the best matchup to try and slow down King.  I also expect to see a matchup of Vinard Birch and Jordan Jackson during the game.  I think Sibley has too much offense in this one so the move on.

Owatonna vs Eden Prairie.  Owatonna comes out of a weak Big 9 with a win over Hastings in the section 1 championship.  Eden Prairie waltzed through section 2 and their defense is way too much in this one.  I take the Eagles to win easily.

St. Cloud Tech vs Champlin Park.  Don't be surprised if this is the best game of the AAAA quarterfinals.  Champlin Park with more weapons on offense but the backcourt combo of Scott Nystrom and Alex Hanks for Tech can fill it up.  Kyle Zimmerman is a tough matchup for Tech, interesting to see if Tech will use Hanks on him at any point.  Tech keeps this one close and low-scoring, but the Rebels have too much offense in the end.

So that leaves us with Sibley vs Hopkins and Champlin Park vs Eden Prairie.  Sibley vs Hopkins would feel like a state title game, too bad its the 6 PM game on Thursday.

Class 3A
Hutchinson vs Johnson.  If you haven't experienced Johnson during the year, its really hard to grasp just how good they are defensively.  Play zone, pack it in tight and make Johnson slow down and make shots.  Then don't give Johnson easy points off of turnovers.  Johnson is a heavy favorite, but that strategy will allow Hutch to keep it close.

Orono vs Winona.  This is game for me that has the most intrigue.  Orono will throw the kitchen sink of traps at Winona's guards to try and offset the huge size advantage of Alec Brown and Mark Blacklock inside.  You'll see zone traps, full court pressure, man pressure with run and jump along with some scramble.  Very hard to prepare for them which makes their 2 wins over league rivals in section play more impressive.  If I'm Winona, I put Brown in the high post/top of the key area to break pressure and let him feed Blacklock down low all night.  Nothing like a 7-footer to be a 1 man press break.  Expect Winona to go zone which will give Orono plenty of looks from deep.  If Orono gets a lead in this one and forces Winona to come out and play man, then it could out of hand.  Orono loves to play spread ball and its not a good matchup for Winona to come out and play against it.

De La Salle vs Little Falls.  Dan Kornbaum will have to work to get his as there's no secret on the DLS strategy.  Front him, pressure the ball and get back side help.  The supporting cast will have to step up for the Flyers.  Jonah Travis is athletic enough to front and make the lob difficult but he has to stay out of foul trouble.  If you're Little Falls, hopefully you've worked on defending flare screens as DLS runs more of them, better and more points than anybody.  Expect a slow pace with both teams having to work to generate their offense.

Benilde-St. Margaret's vs Grand Rapids.  I don't like this matchup at all for Grand Rapids.  Their strengths are all better strengths for BSM and the Red Knights are deeper.  Peter Crawford, Seth Marx and Isaiah Zierden all matchup really well with Erik Stark, Austin Pohlen and Michael Johnson.  Grand Rapids has the experience of tough games this year so I think they keep it respectable but BSM wins.

1 semifinal would be a dynamite rematch between Benilde-St. Margaret's and De La Salle.  A shame that those would be the day games at Target Center on Thursday.  Johnson vs Winona if it happens would be another very interesting size vs speed matchup.

Final Predictions
No surprise here but I have to take Johnson in 3A and Hopkins to win 4A.

The Czar's 2010 Awards

Here are my picks for various awards for the 11 Metro Area Conferences.  It will also include some of my favorite personal awards.

MVP Awards
Classic Lake: Joe Coleman-Hopkins
Classic Suburban: Mike Rostampour-Sibley
Lake: Tyus Jones - Apple Valley
MCAA:  Darian Pittman - Maranatha
Missota: Joel Hergott - Shakopee
Minneapolis City: Jordan Hughes - Henry and Alonzo Traylor - South
North Suburban : Calvin Godfrey - Robbinsdale Cooper
Northwest Suburban: Josh Pella - Champlin Park
St. Paul City: Estan Tyler - Johnson
Suburban East: Zach Riedeman - Forest Lake
Tri-Metro: Jalen Jaspers - De La Salle and Taylor Hanson - Minnehaha

Breakout Players
Classic Lake: Joe Coleman-Hopkins
Classic Suburban: Ryan Redmond - Mahtomedi
Lake: Grant Soderberg - Eden Prairie
MCAA:  SaVaughn Jordan - Maranatha
Missota: Adam Hjelter - Hutchinson
Minneapolis City: Ricky Collins - Minneapolis North
North Suburban: Seth Marx - Benilde-St. Margaret's
Northwest Suburban: Marcus Tyus - Anoka
St. Paul City: Bryale Winters - Humboldt
Suburban East:  David Stanley - Roseville
Tri-Metro: Jonah Travis - De La Salle

Coach of Year Awards

Classic Lake: Ken Novak - Hopkins
Classic Suburban: Keith Newman - Mahtomedi
Lake: Zach Goring - Apple Valley
MCAA: Dean Neumann - Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity
Missota: Larry McKenzie - Holy Angels
Minneapolis City: Bo Powell - Minneapolis North
North Suburban:  Dave Johnson - Cooper
Northwest Suburban: Mark Tuchscherer - Champlin Park
St. Paul City: Vern Simmons - Johnson
Suburban East: Dan Cremisino - Forest Lake and Keith Lockwood - White Bear Lake
Tri-Metro:Lance Johnson - Minnehaha

The Czar's Random Awards
Best Hot Dog: Cretin-Derham Hall
Best Taco in a Bag: Hopkins
Best Pizza: White Bear Lake (Donatelli's)

Most Unique Item: Minnehaha Academy's Chicken Wild Rice Soup
Best Value: $2 Taco in a Bag at Totino-Grace.
Worst Time to Not Pay the Light Bill: Chaska, for lights going out in last minute of a tight game with Apple Valley
Better than a Stairmaster award: Running up and down Chanhassen's bleachers
Worst place to lose (insert important item here) award: Elk River.  Small children can barely get through the opening to get under the bleachers to retrieve items that fall through.

Rangers Rally to defeat State Curse

To Elk River with good friend The Caveman for the 7AAAA final between Duluth East and Forest Lake.  Forest Lake with difficult losses to Cambridge-Isanti and Blaine the last 2 years in this game.   Duluth crowd eventually shows up and a very nice crowd from Forest Lake for this one.  No band which is a disappointment and due to the NCAAs, another day with no food.  I'll take Houlihan's in Maple Grove on the way there instead.

Game Time
We get Zach Riedeman vs Johnny Woodard in the expected premier matchup of small forwards.  5-4 East before they open it up with an 11-2 run.  2 putbacks, Nick Toland with a jump hook, soph Taylor Stafford with a pull up jumper and Dyami Starks to Woodard for 3.  Timeout Forest Lake down 16-6 at the 12:37 mark.  Enough man to man for the Rangers as they come out of the timeout with 1-3-1 for the rest of the night.  Forest Lake not all that active in the zone and missing layups to boot.  Woodard off an inbounds for 2 and the 2nd foul on Riedeman.  23-10 Duluth East with 8:20 in the half.  After a break, Riedeman is back in and he finishes off a 12-4 Forest Lake run with a 3 point play at the 4:34 mark.  27-22 Duluth East still on top.  8-2 Duluth East finishes the half thanks to a step thru 3 by Starks and Woodard beating the halftime buzzer with a 3 point play.  Starks sits the last 3:14 with 3 fouls.  35-24 Duluth East at the half.

Starks stays on the bench to start the second half as it would be a disaster if he got a quick 4th foul.  He doesn't sit long as only 2 minutes pass before he gets up and comes in.  39-29 Duluth East.  Riedeman with a tough first half but trying to take over in the second half.  He goes coast to coast for 2.  Doug Sewall backdoor for a pretty 2.  Then Riedeman for 2 and a pair of assists.  On the first he takes a turnover and throws a lob that Sam Miller converts and then he finds Tyler Bey for a big 3.  No timeout from Duluth East and Phil Hegseth knocks down a jumper and the Forest Lake crowd is going nuts.  44-40 Forest Lake on top after a 15-1 run.  10:40 left to play.  Woodard with a layup and then 2 steals for 4 free throws to put East up 46-44 and stop the bleeding with 10 minutes left.  To this point, Forest Lake not getting a call going to the rim.  Forest Lake fans rightfully not happy with that.  Toland continuing his big game inside for the Greyhounds as he was all over the offensive glass in this one.  His tip ties the game at 52 with 5:40 left.  54 all when Duluth East turns it over.  Woodard gambles for a backcourt steal to get the ball back.  No dice and Riedeman makes him pay by finding Miller for a 3 point play.  Then Miller with a putback for another +1.  60-55 Forest Lake with 3:30 left and Duluth East takes a timeout.  Starks lets a defender fly by and off 1 bounce knocks down a 3 and then another to sandwich a tough bank by Riedeman.  62-61 Forest Lake with 2:18 left.  The teams trade turnovers.  Then Forest Lake goes inside out and Phil Hegseth buries a clutch straight away 3 with 1:18 left.  65-61 Rangers lead.  Starks misses and the teams trade turnovers.  Off a full court inbounds, Riedeman sets a vertical screen to bring a guard to the ball and takes off the other way for the touchdown with 50 seconds left.  That pushes the lead to 6.  Hegseth and Riedeman make 4 last free throws for a 71-64 Forest Lake win.

For Duluth East, Johnny Woodard with 13 of his 22 in the first half to lead the Greyhounds.  I also had him for 6 rebounds.  Dyami Starks 7-22 for 19 points (4-16 in the second half).  Nick Toland 15 points and he was all over the offensive glass.  Duluth East finishes the season 20-9.

For Forest Lake, Doug Sewall leads them in scoring with 20 points.  Consistent with 10 in each half.  I also had him for 11 rebounds.  Zach Riedeman with a rough 1st half of 3 points on 1-7 action as he was pressing a bit.  Big second half though.  16 of his 19 total points come in that second half along with 4 assists in the half.  7-10 shooting in the second half after the rough start.  6 total rebounds on my sheet.  Sam Miller finishes with 13 points including a pair of critical 3 point plays late. 

Red Knights Advance to State

After a great afternoon of NCAA action, it was off to Concordia-St. Paul's Gangelhoff Center for the 6AAA final between top seed Benilde-St. Margaret's and 3 seed Holy Angels.  These teams play at BSM in mid-December with the Red Knights rolling to an 84-60 win.  But it was a typical AHA slow start against a tough schedule as they finished 14-3 coming into this one.  No food tonight due to a full afternoon of eating.  Almost a perfect size crowd for the building and an appearance by the Holy Angels pep band.  St. Olaf and St. Mary's looking on.  De La Salle and Columbia Heights both looking on before they meet tomorrow in the 3AAA final at Blaine.

Game Time
5-4 Holy Angels early before a 7-0 Red Knights run.  Seth Marx for 3 and a pair of Peter Crawford hoops in the run.  11-5 BSM when Holy Angels takes time with 14:08 left in the half.  AHA comes back behind RD Brown with a 3 point play and a regular 3.  15 all at the mid point of the first half.  Holy Angels with a 3 point lead when Peter Crawford picks up his 2nd foul at the 4:13 mark.  6 of the next 8 to AHA and the lead is 7.  Marx with a clutch 3 off a set play to keep BSM close.  AHA 37-35 at the half.  Sam Gullickson 10 points.  Marx with 3 triples for 9.

Neither team can run away early in the second half.  Isaiah Zierden fouled on a 3 and he makes all 3 freebies.  39 all at 15:55.  49-46 Holy Angels with 11:31 left after 2 Cole Frechette freebies.  Another set play is another triple for Marx.  Then Holy Angels gets loose for an apparent layup but Crawford absolutely stuffs it.  We go back the other way and after being fouled on an inbound play , Crawford makes 2 free throws.  That 4 point swing ties the game at 53 with 8:48 left.  Then Crawford with the 3 point play at 8:11.  AHA's main post threat Andy Jirik picks up his 4th foul on the play.  59-58 Holy Angels when Isaiah Zierden strips Jack Hogan and gets the intentional foul call.  The foul somehow is called before the shot.  Zierden makes both and the Red Knights don't convert the possession.  Jirik is back in the game and they call a postup for him for an easy 2.  Crawford drives for 2 free throws and then grabs an offensive board for 2 more free throws at 5:16.  Jirik fouls out on the play.  64-61 is the Red Knights lead.  Evan Battle with 2 free throws and then Crawford finds him for a layup with just over 4 minutes left.  68-61 Red Knights after the 10-2 spurt.  AHA doesn't threaten the rest of the way.  Benilde-St. Margaret's advances to state with a 77-70 win.

For Holy Angels, Cole Frechette with 17 points.  RD Brown with 17 points off the bench.  Sam Gullickson 12 points with 10 of those in the 1st half.  Andy Jirik held to 8 points.  Once he fouled out, Holy Angels had no offense inside which really hurt them and that's when Benilde sealed the deal.  The Stars finish the season 17-12.  They have the backcourt pieces of Parker Bredow and Tyler Emanuel back for 2 seasons.  Damon Woods also returns.

For Benilde-St. Margaret's, Peter Crawford leads the way with 20 points, 14 in the second half.  Seth Marx 14 points with 4 more triples.  2 of those off set plays when BSM was down.  Isaiah Zierden 9 of 9 at the foul line with 13 total points.  Benilde-St. Margaret's can't be happy with how Holy Angels outworked them but they stayed close and took care of business at the end.  At worst Benilde is looking at a 3 seed in the state tournament (behind Johnson and De La Salle).  

2010 Class AAAA Section Final Keys

Here's some thoughts on the 7 class AAAA finals to be played the next 2 nights.

Section 1: Hastings vs Owatonna (at Rochester)
Owatonna is stingy defensively giving up 50.4 points per game, 2nd in AAAA  Hastings will need to get their forward due of Shane Monjeau and Nick Gmiterko (34.7 PPG) going.  If 1 of those guys has an off night, Hastings could be in trouble.  Based on common opponents Rochester Century and Rochester John Marshall, this one could should be close.

Section 2: Chaska vs Eden Prairie (at Chanhassen)
Perfect site right between both schools which is rare in class AAAA.  With Ross Travis, EP won handily at home.  Without Travis, Chaska took EP to the wire at Chaska. Strange.  Strong front lines for each team.  Brett Ervin has come up big for Eden Prairie in both games with 49 total points.  Jake White with a pair of respectable games but no body else for Chaska has cleared 10 points.  Not surprising since Eden Prairie is #4 in AAAA allowing just 51 points a game.  If I'm Chaska, I take a wash from the guard play and a wash from White/Ervin.  That leaves Ross Travis to come up big.  Max Watts was injured for Chaska in the regular season finale 2 weeks ago, his shooting would come in handy in this one.  Grant Soderburg can knock down shots for Eden Prairie so Chaska will need to find him.

Section 3: Eastview vs Lakeville South (at St. Olaf)
The only section where a 1 seed doesn't make the championship game.  This matchup guarantees the Lake Conference a second team in the state tournament.  Once Joey King returned, Eastview was the best team in the league going 8-1 down the stretch.  Eastview won a tight one at home against South 64-61 on February 23rd.  While King and Vinard Birch are difficult matchups for South, Alex Richter is a tough matchup for Eastview.  South needs to take care of the ball and find a second scorer behind Richter.  The battle of Riley West and Birch at the point is critical.  Both are quality defenders and second scorers for their teams.  That battle could go a long way in determining who wins as I see King and Richter getting their points.

Section 4: Sibley vs Cretin-Derham Hall (at East Ridge)
Hopefully we get the most intriguing matchup of the playoffs, Mike Rostampour against Seantrel Henderson.  2 beasts down low laying the lumber would be a site to see.  More likely we'll see some of Jake Kreuser using his length against Henderson.  Cortez Tillman likely out at the point guard spot for CDH with a sprained foot.  That means Raijon Kelly moves over to play point.  He did it last year but he's been a scorer this year, tough balancing act for him.  For Sibley, you have to be prepared for the high/low set with Henderson and the 2-3 zone trap from CDH.  Guys like Jimmy Ryan will need to make shots against that zone.  For CDH, keep Jordan Jackson under control with Elliot Owusu and Taylor Montero.  Henderson and Rostampour are both monsters on the offensive glass, those numbers have to be limited.

Section 5: Champlin Park vs Robbinsdale Cooper (at Rogers)
Discussion here has to begin with Calvin Godfrey of Cooper.  If he goes nuts for 30+ like he did in the semis vs Mounds View, then Cooper wins easily.  If he's in foul trouble and on the bench, then things even out and Cooper becomes an up and down team and the game becomes about tempo.  Cooper has plenty of guys who can score in Terrance Averyheart and Darry Jones just to name 2 double figure guys.  Elijah Swen and Terry Glass have also come up big at times this year for the Hawks.  Defensively they matchup well with the Rebels too with athletes and bigs like Brandon Harrison to play against Kyle Zimmerman. 

Section 7: Forest Lake vs Duluth East (at Elk River)
Forest Lake has a monkey on their back losing the section title game the last 2 years and lost both regular season meetings with Duluth East.  The third time is for all the marbles.  Duluth East won by 4 at Forest Lake and 6 in the Granite City tournament over the holidays.  Dyami Starks has had a monster year and he leads a high powered offense.  Soph Johnny Woodard not only can fill it up but he also gets the toughest defensive assignment and a tough one it is.  Zach Riedeman has lit the Greyhounds up for 30 and 34 in the 2 games but with minimal help.  Hard to figure Duluth East with 2 wins (road and neutral) over the Rangers but a really bad home loss to Bloomington Jefferson.  Both teams had tough semifinal games.   Duluth East's defense is the key.
Section 8: Buffalo vs St. Cloud Tech (at St. Cloud State)
A real battle here.  Tech has enough offense to win this with Scott Nystrom and Alex Hanks.  But besides those 2 and Thomas Korf, they got nothing in their semifinal win.  Buffalo is tough as nails and won the regular season meeting.  Brent Kettenacker can knock down shots and Aaron Duske is an effective inside outside threat.  If Tech can get out and run that will be to their advantage.  Buffalo grinds it out and really lock you down defensively.

Kevin Noreen reaches 4000 career points

Minnesota Transitions wins the 4A East Subsection Championship over St. Agnes tonight.  Kevin Noreen with 44 points in the game to surpass the 4000 career points plateau with 4001.  He has a max of 4 games remaining in his career to make sure it stays above 4000 if the MSHSL decided to (wrongly) retract points from games against certain opponents earlier in his career.

To see the entire breakdown of the record, from the day Cody Schilling set the record through now, see my Kevin Noreen's State Scoring Record page.

2010 Section 4AAAA Semifinals

To the brand spanking new facility at East Ridge for the section 4AAAA semifinals.  Carbone's pizza not bad, but a smidge greasy.  You wear that off walking all the way across the building to get it though.  Very nice crowd tonight and people hanging all over the railings.  U of Mary and Concordia-St. Paul in the building tonight looking on.  Great music tonight too with some Guns and Roses (Sweet Child O' Mine and Welcome to the Jungle) and Metallica's Wherever I may Roam.

Semifinal #1: Sibley vs Woodbury
Woodbury took out Stillwater for the 2nd time in 3 years in an upset in the first round.  I didn't pick that but it didn't surprise me.  Interesting to see Sibley since they haven't lost since I last saw them at the TWolves Shootout.  Nick Quicksell with 6 in a row for Woodbury to keep them within 14-10 almost 10 minutes into the game.  Sibley goes on a 18-6 run over the last 6:45 of the half and they lead by 17 at the break. 

A nice side out of bounds lob set gives Joe Rizzardi a dunk despite the fact that coach Dasovich saw the play coming.  That cuts the lead to 15 but Sibley isn't challenged in the second half. Mike Rostampour all over the glass in this one with putback after putback.  Sibley wins easily 68-47.  Rostampour finishes with 17 points and 17 rebounds on my sheet.  Jake Kreuser 16 points to continue the inside domination.  Jordan Jackson 18 points on 6-17 shooting.  Woodbury gets 16 points from Nick Quicksell on 6-21 shooting.

Semifinal #2: Tartan vs Cretin-Derham Hall
Noteworthy injury here is CDH starting point guard Cortez Tillman.  The sophomore missed the last game and will miss at least this one with a sprained foot.  Lateral movement being the current issue with it.  Big question here was how Tartan would deal with Seantrel Henderson.  Simple answer, they couldn't.  He enters the game at the 15:42 mark and promptly scores and is fouled and then puts back a miss.  Raijon Kelly runs out and finishes and then spins and goes glass for 2 more.  After a second Tartan timeout, Henderson finishes a screen/roll.  14-3 Raiders at 12:40.  Tartan won't go away as Troy Klingsporn makes a nice cut for a  layup, Manani Beavers converts a turnover into a layup and frosh Darrion Strong off the bench nails a 3 to finish a 9-0 run.  Timeout CDH with a 14-12 lead and 9:26 left in the half.  Strong with 2 more from the deep beyond to keep Tartan within 21-20 at 6:50.  Henderson with another putback and Taylor Montero with a steal for a 3 point play that might have been continuation.  Henderson rebounds and goes Wes Unseld to Elliot Owusu for a breakaway dunk.  Henderson then with 2 on the block to end a 9-0 Cretin run.  CDH sloppy in the last minute.  The Raiders lead at the break 34-28.

CDH ready to go in the second half.  A blocked shot and extra pass becomes 1 Gus Gehlen 3 and Kelly skips to him for another.  CDH goes to their 2-3 trap and Tartan doesn't handle it well.  Henderson on the post for 2, then a turnover for 2 Kelly free throws.  Then Henderson with a catch and the high post and the big fella puts it on the deck for a 3 point play.  Henderson with a putback and Kelly with 2 freebies at 9:20.  53-38 Raiders and the rout appears to be on.  With Henderson resting, Tartan manages to cut the lead to 10.  He comes back and converts against the Tartan pressure and another Unseld outlet leads to 2 Gehlen free throws.  59-45 Cretin-Derham Hall with 6:09 left.  Tartan with no answer for Henderson so hope looks minimal here.

Then Troy Klingsporn decides to enter the phone booth and come back with the Superman jersey (with apologies to Dwight Howard).  He nails back to back triples to cut the lead to 8 with 5:22.  Tartan decides to go Hack-A-Henderson here if he touches it, very interesting (and smart) strategy.  They miss him the first time but CDH misses 2 freebies anyway.  Klingsporn replies with another bomb.  Then then do get Henderson and he misses 2, but Tartan can't convert.  The teams trade turnovers before 2 more CDH misses at the line with 3:31 left.  Strong down the lane and he scoops for 2.  59-56 CDH with 3:17 left.  CDH turns it over and Tartan can't convert.  Kelly with 2 free throws at 2:59 to push the lead back to 5.  After trading turnovers, Strong has a great look at a 3 that's no good at 1:55.  Tartan can't get to Owusu in time and that costs them 2 Kelly free throws at 1:18.  63-56 CDH leads.  Carter Ciolkosz with a 3 countered by 2 Henderson free throws. 

Klingsporn again from 3 and Henderson misses a pair of freebies at 35.5 (once again Jerry Kline leaves him in the entire time down the stretch).  Klingsporn makes Cretin pay with another 3 with 20 seconds to go and Tartan is all the way back.  65 all when Cretin brings the ball to the front court and takes time with 10.2 remaining.  They run the same post play they've been running all night.  1-4 high, enter to the wing away from the elbow where Henderson is.  Post screens away (Neumann in this case) for Henderson to come to the low box.  Henderson runs over a Tartan defender (who probably acted a bit too) and there's no call.  Neumann pops back to the ball per design (both defenders go to Henderson and why not).  He catches in the middle of the lane and finishes as time expires.  67-65 Cretin-Derham Hall escapes with a win.  Cretin got that play all night and they've gotten it all year.  Tough to defend.  Seantrel Henderson leads CDH with 23 points and 8 rebounds on my sheet.  Raijon Kelly 8 of 8 freebies in the 2nd half for 17 points.  Gus Gehlen with 10 of his 12 in the second half.  Troy Klingsporn with 19 of his 25 in the second half (official has him for 27).  That included 5 triples in the last 6 minutes.

JUCO Updates

I don't write much about the happenings after kids leave the high school, but today brings the urge.  Rochester Community and Technical College not only ended the run of Minneapolis Tech (what a joke that whole situation is and good luck to Jay Pivec) but made a run at nationals to the DIII NJCAA title game before losing.  Half a dozen metro kids on that squad.

Also, the NJCAA D1 tournament opens today in Hutchinson, Kansas (lots of NSIC going down to watch that).  Howard, TX with Cooper's Joe Bright, Moses Sundufu from Hopkins and Carlos Emory (Eastview and Kennedy) on that team.  Butler, KS also made nationals out of the tough Jayhawk Conference.  Former Como Park assistant Steve Donohoe is an assistant at Butler.  Andre Ingram of Minnesota Transitions is on that team as well.  Como Park's Steve Baker is in the tourney at SE Iowa.

Thoughts from St. Cloud

So I spent Saturday in St. Cloud at the section semifinals for classes 8AAA, 8AAAA and 5AAA.  What a day.  Nothing like that 6 AM wakeup call to get one started and then getting in the door at 1 AM.  A day of surviving on Dominoes pizza and Pepsi all day.  While there was an hour budgeted between the 3 sessions, the sessions games were scheduled for 90 minute intervals (which never happens).  So it worked out well really well with no more than 45 minutes between sessions and game 1 went right to game 2.  Hard to beat Halenbeck Hall as a venue.  You have good seats low, more than ample room for students and bands on the ends and if need be, a huge upper deck.  Great work by the Little Falls band.  And always nice to see the coolest guys in the NSIC.  After doing metro games all season, its nice to get into the outstate and see the difference in the passion and size of the crowds, but student and adult.  Not to mention some of the talent that flies under the radar.  Props for Minnesota Comets director Chris Lewis who correctly called the game of the day before the day's action tipped.  We had blowouts, big comebacks, physical games, intense coaches and some end game drama.  I wrote about all 6 games for Minnesota Preps . Links to each are below.

8AAA Semfinals
Rocori vs St. Cloud Apollo
Little Falls vs Bemidji

8AAAA Semfinals
St. Cloud Tech vs St. Michael-Albertville
Buffalo vs Elk River

5AAA Semfinals
Orono vs Annandale
Rogers vs Delano

Titans grind way to second round

A much warmer trip this time (compared to January) to White Bear Lake where they hosted Tartan (thank you coin flip) in the 4/5 game in section 4AAAA.  The winner with a date Tuesday at East Ridge against Cretin-Derham Hall and I'll be at that.  The Donatelli's Pizza still good but not up to expectations tonight.  But can I really say anything that bad about deep dish pizza?  Very good crowd for this one, but this crazy house rule about no standing during play, are you serious?  Nice bit at halftime honoring the White Bear Lake girls team for their trip to state next week and a quality performance from their dance squad.  Something I saw a lot more of last year, but very little halftime entertainment this season (or at least recently).

Game Time
Spencer Cummings getting touches inside for the Bears against Tartan's undersized front line but he misses 3 bunnies in the first 3+ minutes.  Finally White Bear Lake gets on the board with a nice cut by Ryan Olson for a layup at the 13:15 mark.  6-2 Tartan at their pace.  After trading hoops, the Bears take the lead with a 12-3 run.  Cummings scores on an inbound, Richard Azevedo for 2 and the foul and Cummings on the post again during the run.  16-11 White Bear at the 6:32 mark and Charlie Buchmayer and Drew Preiner have long since been gone to the bench with 2 fouls.  Ryan Burns with the bulk to take on Cummings (though he took a long rest during this stretch) and he did a nice job.  Tartan with 2 and a putback from Troy Klingsporn and later Tim Lubke for 3 vs zone to put Tartan back on top 22-20.  Manani Beavers beats the halftime buzzer for 3 to give Tartan a 25-24 lead going to halftime.  

Azevedo with a drive off a Cummings screen for a 28-27 White Bear Lake lead at the 14:35 mark.  Coach Klingsporn trying multiple offenses tonight and he hits upon a 5 out set (very Forest Lake like).  That slows the pace of this one dramatically as Tartan is extremely patient in it with the curl and pop back to the ball action.  Drew Preiner with a putback and a pair of free throws.  Then Darrion Strong out of that spread look drives the lane for 2.  Drew Preiner with a well timed and delayed hard cut to the basket against the zone inbounds for an easy weakside layup.  35-29 Tartan with 8:25 left.  Tartan taking 1 to 2 minutes per possession.  Cummings picks up his 4th foul on a cheap hand check with 6:03 left and sits.  Tartan takes 2 long possessions and with 2 quick White Bear Lake shots, Cummings can't get back in the game.  Manani Beavers with a putback of his own miss and then after another White Bear miss, he converts a 3 point play with 2:30 left.  40-29 Tartan.

Cummings finally gets back in the game on the free throw and White Bear makes a late run.  He puts back a miss and is fouled (FT not good).  Tartan misses a bunny and David Rademacher scores.  Tartan misses a front end with 1:11 left and Azevedo puts back a miss.  Another missed front end for Tartan with 44 seconds left.  Tartan makes 1 of 2 before a White Bear Lake 3 with 9.9 left cuts the lead to 41-38.  But Tartan hangs on for the 44-38 win.

For White Bear Lake, Vidal Vance with 7 points to lead the scoring.  Spencer Cummings held to 6 points and after early touches and forcing Tartan into foul trouble, he was either on the bench or wasn't getting those touches.  Quick shots when Tartan slowed the pace really hurt their cause.  The Bears finish a very nice season at 17-10.  The losses of Cummings and Azevedo with the experience of Rademacher in the backcourt will hurt, but there is some experience and talent returning so don't expect a major fall from the Bears next season.

For Tartan, Drew Preiner and Manani Beavers with 12 points each to lead all scorers.  Drew was big in the run to give Tartan the 11 point lead in the second half and Beavers came up with big points in the last 3 minutes and the 1st half buzzer beating 3.  Tartan showed some of former Minnesota coach Dan Monson's Flex-Dive offense (something I should probably start calling The World's Almost Worst Offense with my hatred of the flex) and I thought it gave them the most openings of the night.  Problem was the timing.  Cutter would be open for a layup and the ball was delivered late.  The open post look did provide some driving lanes and the movement allowed the Titans to get some rhythm and wear down the Bears.  Tartan now 20-7 and have to deal with Seantrel Henderson of CDH in the semis.  Put money on seeing at least 1 cheap charge call due to the size difference between Drew Preiner and Henderson.  The smaller guy is bound to get one.  Will Tartan pull Henderson out and make him guard on the floor?  How quickly will Jerry Kline counter with CJ Neumann who's more athletic but less experienced?

Photo of Tartan head coach Mark Klingsporn courtesy of

The end of an era

To St. Bernard's for the final home game (and possibly final game) in their history.  This one is the 4AA East subsection 4 vs 5 game against St Croix Lutheran.  The diocese of St. Paul has voted to close the school at the end of the school year.  The number of fun games with players like Deonte Roberts, Trevor Mbakwe and Jordair Jett gracing the court along with the old, small and overheated atmosphere made it a fine place to see a game.  One of great games there was last year's game against Hopkins where the Bulldogs pushed the Royals to the limit.  For a trip down memory lane to look back at that classic from December 18, 2008, click here.  Basics at the concession stand with a hot dog and sprite tonight.  All of Minnehaha in the building since they had the night off.  Former Bulldog Zach Lofton, now of Columbia Heights, also in the building for this one.

Game Time
St. Croix's leading scorer Wesley Tucker to the bench with his 2nd foul at the 13:28 mark on a charge.  Not a good sign.  James Walker with a drive and then converts a layup against the press at 11:32.  10-8 St Croix Lutheran after those 2 hoops for their 1st lead of the night.  St. Bernard's coach Ed Cassidy not pleased and he wants a timeout.  That gets the attention of his Bulldogs, specifically soph forward Ricky Suggs.  He scores all 5 of St Bernard's field goals weaving his way inside as part of an 11-2 run.  21-12 Bulldogs with 6:30 left in the half.  Tucker has to return for St. Croix Lutheran.  Then 2 more Suggs buckets and a free throw for 28-20 St. Bernard's at 2:36.  St. Croix closes strong with a lefty finish by Tucker, a 3 by fellow soph guard Cameron Cummings and a putback by Walker.  30-27 St. Bernard's at the half.  Ricky Suggs 8-11 for 19 points in the half.

St. Croix Lutheran fired up to start the half.  Walker runs out off a miss for an easy layup.  Its his 2nd hoop of the half and 6 in a row in 90 seconds give the Crusaders a 33-30 lead.  Timeout St. Bernard's.  Cummings with a tough deuce countered by a Suggs drive.  37 all with 14:05 left.  Then Tucker has frosh guard Ben Buerkle on him and that's a strength mismatch.  Tucker converts that into 2 hoops which forces coach Cassidy to move Suggs over to play Tucker on defense.  Buerkle does get revenge with a 3 thanks to Tucker gambling for a steal and missing.  Then another triple and a Suggs steal for 2 and Asante Simmons with a bucket in a 7-0 Bulldogs run that puts them up 48-46 with 7:30 to play.  Then a great sequence.  Suggs blocks Tucker and we go the other way.  Cummings then swats Suggs as he tries to finish and back the other way it ends up being a Tucker layup with 5:50 left.  Wow.  50 all as St. Bernard's takes timeout with 5:43 left.

Tucker runs out for a layup off a missed 3, then Dominic Cambrice with a steal for 2 and the cheapy foul for 1 more. Simmons misses a 3 but nobody blocks him out and he follows it for 1 of 2 free throws with 3:45 left.  57-53 St. Croix Lutheran and Tucker has 4 fouls.  Coach Boehm rolls the dice and decides to sit Tucker down.  Suggs converts a turnover into a post bucket to cut the lead to 2 with 2:50 left.  The Crusaders turn it over again but the Bulldogs can't convert that.  Timeout St. Croix Lutheran with the ball and 2:07 left and Tucker will come back in.  The Crusaders turn it over for a 3rd straight time with 1:39 left.  Taylor and Suggs can't convert chances on the other end with 1:20 left.  They get another break as Cambrice misses a front end with 58.8 left.  St. Bernard's misses 2 more chances but Tucker goes 0-2 at the charity stripe with 29.8 left.  Suggs can't convert on the other end.  St. Croix Lutheran with 3 turnovers and 0-4 FTs on the last 5 possessions in a 4 point game and didn't give up the lead.  After 1 of 2 free throws, Taylor gets a look from the left corner with 3 seconds left.  That's no good.  Cummings makes 2 freebies and St. Croix Lutheran pulls the upset 60-55 in the final game in St. Bernard's history.

For St. Bernard's, Ricky Suggs finishes with 32 (I had 28 on my sheet) and 10 rebounds.  Shane Taylor with 7 points as the Bulldogs had trouble finding points from anybody else.  They really got out-hustled too.  The Bulldogs finish 12-15 with only 1 senior of note which all told isn't a bad season.  It will be interesting to watch in the offseason where some of the players and coach Cassidy end up.

For St. Croix Lutheran, they avenge a 68-49 loss to St. Bernard's 2 weeks ago.  They improve to 7-20 and will play at top seed and huge section favorite Minnehaha on Saturday night.  Cameron Cummings leads the way with 15 points.  Wesley Tucker with 10 of his 14 points in the second half.  James Walker with 14 points as he came up big and showed great energy slashing around the basket

Sewer leads Richfield to opening round win

To Richfield for the 6AAA 4 vs 5 game with the Spartans hosting Holy Family.  Holy Family 18-8, Richfield 12-14 but still got the home game.  Its how I would have seeded it but very tough to not give an 18 win team an opening round home game.  No Taco in a Bag tonight much to my horror but we do have the Otis Spunkmeyer cookies hot off the press, hmm gooey good.  Guard play the story of the night not only here but also in Waconia where the #2 seed went down again this year in the first round.  This time to Washburn and their guard oriented dribble drive motion.

Game Time
We have a technical for dunking in warmups for 2 Holy Family freebies, a 3 and then an easy inbound layup all by Curt Clauss.  Holy Family 7-0 and their outstanding student section (bigger than Richfield's) making this feel like a home game.  Richfield then heats up from 3, specifically Daron Garvis.  He nails 3 triples, then Jay Sewer with a steal for 2 and a triple of his own.  Ben Webster then finishes an 18-4 Richfield run on a sweet play.  Long lead pass almost goes out of bounds but its saved to Webster trailing the play for a layup.  18-11 Richfield at the 11:10 mark.  Richfield cools off but still has a 27-18 lead at the 8:45 mark before a Holy Family run.  12-2 Holy Family over 5:30 finished off by a Jeff Soule triple.  Garvis with another 3 before the half ends and Richfield leads 35-32 at the break.

Back and forth to open the 2nd half.  Big soph Ryan Dahl with a short jumper to draw Holy Family to a 41 all tie with 14:55 left.  Richfield then looks to pull away thanks to Sewer.  He finds John Johnson for 3 and Erik Jimson for a layup.  A Holy Family turnover gives Sewer 2 free throws.  Jared Etienne not known for his offense scores on the post to finish off an 11-2 run.  52-43 Richfield with 12:05 left.  Etienne nails a 3 and the lead is 10 with 10 minutes left.  Holy Family not going away though.  Clauss with a 3 point play off a scramble and a Mitch Mandel foul line jumper cuts the lead to 58-55 inside of 7 minutes to play.  Clauss with a bucket off another scramble.  Holy Family with some momentum but Sewer finds Ben Webster in the left corner for 3.  Dahl with a putback after 2 Soule free throws.  63-61 Richfield with 4:23 to play.  The next 2 minutes seal it.  Etienne with a putback, Mandel misses a front end, Sewer to Corey Fitzgerald for a layup.  Sewer then drives for 2 at 2:40 after a Holy Family turnover.  69-61 Richfield and Holy Family doesn't get any closer than 4 the rest of the way.  Sewer slams the door with the drive and tough and 1 seals it.  Richfield wins 81-72.

Holy Family finishes the season 18-9.  Curt Clauss leads the way with 20 points.  Jeff Soule 12 of his 18 in the second half but missed 4 straight free throws in the last 2 minutes.  Mitch Mandel 15 points and 10 rebounds on my sheet.  Ryan Dahl with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Holy Family never really got comfortable in their offense.  That kept them from getting enough inside touches for Dahl and Mandel where they had an advantage.

Richfield moves on to play Benilde-St. Margaret's on Saturday in the 6AAA Semis.  Jay Sewer 27 points and 4 assists.  Holy Family had no answer for his quickness and ability to get to the rim.  When Holy Family made a first half run, that was when Sewer got cold and forced a couple of shots.  Big contributions from Daron Garvis with 4 triples for 19 points and Jared Etienne with 13 points. 

2010 Mr Basketball finalists named

The 2010 Mr Basketball Final 5 have been named.  Here they are.

Marshall Bjorklund - Sibley East
Trevor Gruis - Ellsworth
Kevin Noreen - Minnesota Transitions
Dyami Starks - Duluth East
Jacob Thomas - Columbia Heights

Thomas is very interesting since he just had a couple of really rough games in front of the committee.  Starks has had a nice year but they obviously were looking for guard balance.  I'd take Alec Brown over Starks, Thomas or Gruis so I'm very surprised he didn't make the list.  Calvin Godfrey would have made it on my list as well as he turns Cooper into a very different team that has been outstanding all year.  Bjorklund and Noreen were locks.  If career accomplishment is part of the criteria, then Gruis is very deserving.  Interesting that 4 of the finalist may not even get out of section play.

CHOF wins 4A playin game

To CHOF for their 4A South playin game vs Math and Science (Woo, Whooo!).  This wasn't the original game as some how Fair Downtown was magically added to the bracket as the #5 seed with no feedback.  That pushed CHOF from having an outside shot against St. Agnes and/or St. Paul Humboldt on 1 side of the subsection to the winner of this one playing at MTS on Thursday on the other side.  Can't blame the CHOF folks for not being happy with the MSHSL on that one.  No concessions tonight and a crowd of about 30.

Game Time
Tyler Strandlund gets CHOF off to the expected hot start.  A layup and a pair of putbacks along with a pair Joe Bluhm 3s get CHOF out to a 16-0 lead 4 minutes into the game.  25-8 CHOF before a Tyler Strandlund steal for 2, Adam Rohlf for 3 and Kendall Strandlund for 3.  Tyler Strandlund runs out from a 1-4 inbound for a layup and then sits the rest of the half.  The lead gets to 39-8.  43-17 CHOF at half.  Tyler Strandlund with a pair of steals for buckets to push the game to 35.  He plays point guard some in the second half as CHOF puts on the brakes.  71-33 CHOF wins with no press.

Tyler Strandlund 24 points, 14 rebounds (I had 16 on my sheet when I left with 7:30 to go and missed no M&S points) with 7 blocks and 5 steals to lead CHOF.   Brady Hannula and Nirmal Mekala lead Math and Science with 8 points.  CHOF visits MTS on Thursday in a renewal of their rivalry.  MTS won the regular season meeting 101-59 with a 29 point lead at the half.

2010 Class AAA and AAAA Metro tidbits

I did section 4A and 4AA predictions already (read them here), now on to the big boys.  My section winners will be on Minnesota Preps tomorrow (I'll link them when available) so I can't give them to you here.  But I will give you some highlights of games before that.

Class AAA
Section 3: No 1st round surprises here.  Semifinals should be dynamite.  I'll take Columbia Heights to upset Central in 1 semifinal.

Section 4: No early round surprises here.  St. Thomas wins a very tight one over Mahtomedi in the semis.

Section 6: Holy Family with something to prove after winning 18 games and getting a first round road game at Richfield.  I'm there to see this one and I think Holy Family gets it done.

Class AAAA
Section 2: Nice Chaska/Shakopee rivalry in 1 semifinal.  With Ross Travis back, I think the Hawks have too much size and firepower for Shakopee to overcome.

Section 3: A pair of great rivalry games in the semis with Apple Valley and Lakeville bragging rights at stake.  Great section

Section 4: Lots of hype around the White Bear Lake vs Tartan game.  My gut tells me Tartan by double-figures in that one but the matchups are bad for them after that.  Semifinals here feature 4 teams that have been highly ranked this season.  If you like big guys, this is the section to watch.

Section 5: Nice first round rivalry game with Mounds View and Irondale.  Mounds View won a tight one during the regular season.  I'll take them again as coach Kauls will have a plan for Bryan Sprang.  How about Osseo vs Champlin Park for a 3rd time this year.  Osseo has faced Cooper the last 3 season in this section (they split the last 2 section finals), will that happen again?

Section 6: South vs St. Louis Park should be interesting in the 4 vs 5 game but Alonzo Traylor is too big.  I like South in that one.  I talked about Minnetonka vs Armstrong in my MN Preps piece this week.  I think Armstrong has to chew off a few fingernails but they advance.  I'll take them over North in the semis too.

Section 7: Duluth East wins another high scoring game with Andover.  The section final was the toughest pick I made.

Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League revealed.

I mentioned previously that Nike was doing a new summer concept this year.  Well its now officially out there.  4 pools for the 42 Nike sponsored teams.  Games at the Boo Williams and then May has games in Houston and Los Angeles hosts over Memorial Day weekend.  The league finishes up at the crown jewel of Nike events, the Peach Jam.  Howard Pulley is in pool A.

Read more about the league here.

The full league schedule and pool list for 2010 can be found here.

Section 4A and 4AA Predictions

Its time for the annual predictions to begin.  We start with sections 4A and 4AA.  Only 1 upset in this entire group.  The 1 high profile projection is Maranatha against MTS.  Minnehaha should coast but St. Paul Academy played them tough at SPA.

4A Playin Games
CHOF over Math and Science
Lion's Gate over Prairie Seeds
Bethany over St. Paul Prep

Section 4A Round of 16
West Lutheran over Ascension
Heritage over 4 Directions
New Life over Fair
Humboldt over Lion's Gate
St. Agnes over Bethany

Section 4A Quarterfinals
Maranatha over West Lutheran
PACT over Heritage
MTS over New Life
St. Agnes over Humboldt

Section 4A Semis
Maranatha over PACT
MTS over St. Agnes

Section 4A Championship: MTS over Maranatha

Section 4AA Round of 16
Minnehaha over Arlington
St. Bernard's over St. Croix Lutheran
Concordia over Mounds Park Academy
SPA over International School
Breck over Trinity
Blake over Providence
Roosevelt over Edison

Section 4AA Quarterfinals
Minnehaha over St. Bernard's
SPA over Concordia
Brooklyn Center over Breck
Roosevelt over Blake

Section 4AA Semifinals
Minnehaha over SPA
Brooklyn Center over Roosevelt

Section 4AA Championship: Minnehaha over Brooklyn Center

Twin Cities Game 2010

To Johnson for the 2010 Twin Cities Championships.  The games moved from Arlington this year after the brawl last year and the police presence not lacking.  Washburn wins the Freshman game 60-45 over Central thanks to Jamison Whiting.  An 18-5 run put that game away.  Johnson defeats Henry 53-45 in the JV game with Henry's Tim Gill turning heads.  Down the road watch also Jalen Albritton and Quashingm Smith-Pugh for Johnson.

Game Time
To the varsity game with Johnson and North.  De La Salle and St. Thomas in the building scouting Johnson.  Tartan's Mark Klingsporn also making a cameo appearance.  5-4 Johnson at the 15:40 mark before they're off on a 9-0 run.  Roosevelt Scott takes a steal the other way for a dunk and then a putback during the run.  Then a couple of fun plays as Max Rosenbloom goes up and tips in a pass and North comes back with a lob that Mark Devine hammers home.  18-11 Johnson at 9:40.  Anthony Lee with a putback and a layup before Rosenbloom grabs a miss and goes strong for a 3 point play at 6:05.  30-14 Johnson leads as this one starts to get out of hand.  Marcus Marshall for 3 to push the lead to 42-22.  Another Marshall 3 to beat the buzzer and Johnson leads 49-24 at the half.

Ricky Collins tries to bring North back as he nails a 3 and off a turnover nails a jumper to cut the lead to 17.  He has a shot at a 3 after another Johnson turnover but its no good.  Collins does hit another 3 at the 13:30 mark to cut the lead to 54-38 but that's as close as North will get.  A 22-7 Johnson run puts this one away.  A pretty ending to the run with Max Rosenbloom to Estan Tyler for a layup.  Then Tyler returns the favor behind the back to Rosenbloom for a layup.  76-45 Johnson leads.  They win 92-67.

For North, Ricky Collins leads the way.  I had 16 points on my sheet but that could be off  Mark Devine a non-factor inside.  The Polars finish the regular season 19-7.  They earned the #2 seed in section 6AAAA and will host Wayzata on Tuesday.

For Johnson, Max Rosenbloom with a double-double in the first half and he reached the 20-10 plateau.  Roosevelt Scott almost reached a double-double as he was very active.  Estan Tyler quiet but sound.  Johnson hosts league and east side rival Harding in the opening round of 4AAA next Friday before facing Hill-Murray or Highland Park.  Mahtomedi or St. Thomas likely await in the section final.