The Czar's 2010 Most Excellent Holiday Adventure continues with a trip to Tartan for the opening day of their annual tournament. This year's tournament has a bit of sadness to it as the longtime assigning official died suddenly on Christmas Day. He was scheduled to work 2 games in the tournament this year too. Very classy move by Tartan to give him a moment of silence prior to the late game. Condolences to his family. On a happier note, not having the wonderful chocolate cookies again this year is more than made up for by adding Taco in a Bag. So popular it was sold out before the late game. Thankfully I had mine earlier in the day. Our song of the day goes from blues (traveler) yesterday to blueglass and country star Alison Krauss (one of the great signing voices of all time too) and certainly applies to the late game.
Song of the Day
Forget about it - Alison Krauss and Union Station
Game 1: Rogers vs Bloomington Kennedy
Jay Pivec and Minnesota State-Mankato watching this one. Kennedy suffers a long first half field goal drought to fall behind 24-11 with 5:47 left in the 1st half. They cut the lead to 28-20 at the half. Add on 16-5 to start the 2nd half thanks to a pair of Rico Gunn (great name) triples and 5 points from Deshun Patterson. 36-33 Kennedy with 11:40 left. The game see saws after that before Rory Donovan nails an elbow jumper (yes from THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE) and 2 free throws. 48-45 Rogers with 4:04 left. Kennedy still down 3 inside of 2 minutes and they jack up 3 triples and a layup. None go in. Rogers helps the cause with their own bad 3 with 1:05 left. Patterson takes it to the hoop and the lefty finish with 45 seconds left cuts the lead to 1. After a pair of free throws, Kennedy chooses to go for a 3 with 25 seconds left, somewhat surprising. Donovan blocks Cullen Russo and gets fouled. His 1 free throw with 10.3 seconds left negates a buzzer beating 3 by Gunn. Rogers wins 53-52. Rico Gunn with 3 triples for 15 points to lead Kennedy. Rory Donovan leads Rogers with 17 points. Rogers is now 4-1 with 4 games decided by 4 points or less. They could be 5-0 if not for a freak lane violation that cost them at Totino-Grace. Kennedy falls to 3-2.
Game 2: Prior Lake vs Elk River
Jack Harrison, dare I say, en fuego early. He nails 3 triples with 2 other buckets and a freebie for 14 of Prior Lake's first 19 points in 4:50. Matt Dysthe off the bench with 3 triples of his own in the half. Elk River has 6 players makes 3s in the half. The teams combine for 13 3s in the half. 38-34 Prior Lake at the break. Second half Elk River just can't get over the hump. They cut the lead to 2 90 seconds into the half before frosh point guard Jon Sobaski scores 6 in a row to push the lead to 8. 6 point lead when Sobaski hits the running banker with 4:10 left. Tucker Morrell with 2, then 3 to cut the lead to 3. Sobaski with the pullup to respond. 4 point game when Elk River turns it over and Sobaski makes 2 free throws at the 1:36 mark. Elk River can't score and they give up back to back layups to seal it. Prior Lake wins 72-62. Prior Lake now 3-2 to match last year's win total. Jack Harrison's 20 points is a career high. Funny to see PL look for him inside on "Razor", a post set used by Sibley for Mike Rostampour the last 2 years and the name is still the same. Jon Sobaski 12 of his 15 in the 2nd half. Elk River falls to 3-4. Frosh wing Clay Elrod hit 3 3s for 11 points to be a co-leader in scoring.
Game 3: Spring Lake Park vs Forest Lake
Spring Lake Park with 4 non-seniors starting including athletes Sean Scott (jr) and Robert Ben (soph). Forest Lake with a 10 man rotation including 9 seniors. Interesting contrast. Ben with 2 blocks and a layup early as SLP jumps to a 7-2 lead. But Forest Lake claws back with their 1-3-1 zone and star Phil Hegseth. He scores 5 points in a 13-4 FL run. 15-11 Forest Lake at the 9:05 mark. Sean Scott rebounds a missed free throw and puts it back for a 27-24 SLP lead at the half. Forest Lake fans not at all happy with the officiating. The second half is very close as no team pulls away to more than a 4 point lead. Jordan Berner with a drive at the 3:40 mark and Forest Lake leads 49-46. Scott with a putback and 2 free throws to put SLP back on top. FL retakes the lead with 2 FTs but PG Derek Dahl gets inside the zone and kicks out for a big Bryce Williams 3 with 90 seconds left. Berner makes 1 of 2 with 1:08 left and now FL has to play down 1. Dahl with 2 freebies, 55-52 SLP with 1:06 left. Off the makes, FL runs a set for Hegseth. He doesn't get the original look and then pulls out and misses from about 30 feet with 55 seconds left. SLP makes 7 of 8 freebies the rest of the way for a 62-54 win. Phil Hegseth 20 points to lead Forest Lake but only 1-8 from 3 on my sheet. Rangers lose their 2nd in a row to fall to 3-2. Sean Scott with the Josh Smith line of 22 pts, 12 rebs, 3 blocks on my sheet. Just way too athletic to deal with. He still likes to shoot the 3 which can be a weakness at times. Bryce Williams 3 triples and 15 points, the last one was huge. Robert Ben 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals in a very productive day. Spring Lake Park improves to 2-2 on the season.
Game 4: Brooklyn Center at Tartan
Class AA Brooklyn Center with no Demetrius Anthony starting. Starters include 2 freshman and an 8th grader against the #3AAAA Titans. This can't be good. The Centaurs get a break when Tartan gets a T during warmups. Both free throws are good and BC gets the ball. 2-0 lead with the ball, pull it out! Tartan's pressure too much. Joel Awich with a steal and big 2 handed dunk, then Drew Preiner throws it up to him for 2 more. Dantral Hines on the post for 2 and Jelani Shonoiki with the spin to convert a turnover to points with about 16 minutes left in the half. 6-4 Brooklyn Center. Tartan takes time at the 15:22 mark and coach K is not at all pleased. Tartan comes out and just turns up the defense. And it gets ugly, real ugly and really quick. No enough room here to describe the run because its 46-0 the rest of the half. BC gets no free throw attempts in it either. 50-6 Tartan leads at half and I can't say I've ever seen a bigger run. 10 guys make the book in the half and nobody of note sees the floor in the 2nd half. BC does break the run on the first possession of the 2nd half and that's all the drama I need to see. Tartan with the crushing 71-23 win to improve to 4-0. Brooklyn Center falls to 1-5
Bonus Story (thanks to The Coolest Guy in the NSIC for this one)
Our bonus story comes to us from Worthington and a strange ending. #2A Ellsworth at Worthington (their holiday tourney). Ellsworth up 2 with 18 seconds left. Worthington's Mitchell Weg fouled with 18 seconds left. Board says 9 fouls Ellsworth, 10 Worthington which is correct. Weg's first free throw is up and no good. Casey Schilling rebounds it and nobody else moves. Whistle blows and play stops. Now we have a long conference and after confirming the foul totals, Weg is allowed to reshoot the front end that he missed. Oh boy. Weg makes both and we're tied. Schilling bails out the refs by driving and getting fouled with 1 second left. He makes the 1st and intentionally misses the second and Ellsworth still manages to win despite the strange free throw ruling.