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.

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