Titans grind way to second round

Prologue
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 MNPhotoNet.net

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