White Bear Lake holds off Stillwater

Above the Arctic Circle
Its a trip east to Siberia (remember Prior Lake is now a friendly southern resort town, proper Russian geography), so that means Stillwater at White Bear Lake.  It also means cold.  But not cold pizza.  I forced myself to wait until the end of the JV game (which is flipped with the B squad game at WBL) but running for the Donatelli's pizza is always worth the trip.  But this night is all about the hair.  WBL's junior center Zach Meyer sporting the 5 star restaurant quality mullet.  When introduced, the last guy in line feigned combing the mullet out.  HA!  Had the WBL dance squad in the house tonight as well for entertainment.  They were sitting in front of my group and when we mentioned the mullet, they had to point to Meyer's significant other who happened to be one of the dance line.  Poor girl was mortified.  Randy Jordan as always sporting the towel, but tonight's was big enough to cover the snowbanks outside.

With Bears and Ponies and wild hair and a bunch of yapping going on at the game, let's go with

Song of the Day
Talking Heads - Wild Wild Life

Game Time
Stillwater off to a nice start.  Post Matt Hilgers opens with back to back buckets and matches that with a pair of fouls and sits less than 2 minutes in.  Paxton Harvieux with a pair of freebies, a putback and a 3 on a nice inside out pass.  13-5 Stillwater at the 12:40 mark.  Meyer picks up 2 push off fouls trying to post up inside in a physical battle.  The 2nd is at 10:13 and we won't see him the rest of the half.  17-8 Stillwater at the 9:15 mark and WBL already has 10 turnovers in a very sloppy game both ways.  Josh Tismer off the bench with a steal for 2 and a layup to cut the lead to 17-12 at the 7:45 mark.  Soph Adam Holmberg for 3 at the 6:25 mark for a 20-12 Stillwater lead.  But that's their only field goal in the last 9 minutes of the half.  Bears guard Nate Sheldon heats up with a jumper, 2 bonus free throws, a steal for 2 and a fadeaway J for 9 of 12 WBL points.  WBL finishes the half on a 17-4 run over the last 6:05 for a 29-24 halftime lead.

A Harvieux putback at 13:40 cuts the Bears lead to 32-30.  Then Tismer with a jumper and 3 point play to push the lead back to 7.  Harvieux commits his 4th foul at 11:04 and has to sit.  That results in 2 Meyer free throws.  With soph Austin Holmberg done for the night thanks to playing both halves of the JV game (3 half limit reached), Stillwater has to find a guard off the bench.  In a surprise, its Sam Lagus, who's not a normal member of the rotation.  His 3 at 10:50 keeps Stillwater within 2 at 39-37.  Meyer with a layup off a turnover and 2 more freebies before committing his 4th and leaving at the 9:18 mark.  43-38 WBL.  Tismer with a big 3 trailing the ball up the floor.  48-40 WBL at the 7:50 mark as Harvieux is back in the game.  Soph Andrew Duxbury carrying the Stillwater offense at the line with 5 of 6 at the charity stripe in this 3 minute stretch.  A pair of Sheldon freebies at 3:51 push the lead to 54-45.  And this one should be over.  The lefty Lagus with another triple, then he nails his 3rd in a row.  That last 3 was after Jake Malwitz got the tip away on defense and dove on the floor for a timeout to keep the possession.  That's one of the few times that's a very smart play.  After a Bears turnover, why not Lagus again for 3.  Holy cow, talk about unexpected.  Its a 9-0 Lagus run on 3 triples.  54 all with 1:35 left.  Tismer finds Meyer inside and Meyer converts 1 of the 2 free throws.  55-54 White Bear Lake with 1:06 left.  Stillwater takes timeout and is patient on their possession.  Harvieux drives right baseline to the rim, up once, no good, grabs the rebound and the putback is off the rim and out.  WBL rebounds and gets fouled.  And Stillwater picks up a technical foul on the play as well with 21.6 left.  Oh my.  Captain Colton Smit knocks down 3 of the 4 free throws and the Bears get another freebie on the possession and that's your ballgame.  White Bear Lake hangs on 61-56.

Post Game
For Stillwater, Lagus with 4 3s for 12 points, all in the second half, to lead Stillwater.  Paxton Harvieux 10 points on 3-12 FGs on my sheet with 5 rebounds.  Soph Andrew Duxbury with productive minutes in limited second half action.  5 of 6 free throws and a driving layup in about 6 minutes of playing time all late in the second half.  9 players score for Stillwater which is a positive, but there's not a goto scorer in the group.  Combine that with adjusting to a new 5 out offense and they're not an offensive juggernaut by any means.

For White Bear Lake, Nate Sheldon with 15 points on 9-10 FTs.  His 9 points late in the first half were big to keep Stillwater from running away.  Josh Tismer off the bench with 13 points.  Zach Meyer 7 points inside, only 1 field goal, due to foul trouble.  Liked what I saw of him again tonight after a breakout performance vs the super loaded Atlanta Celtics 16s in July.  He should get plenty of looks inside this season as the post in their 4 out 1 in offense.  While I'm all for being loyal to your seniors, I'd like to see coach Lockwood get juniors Tismer and Eric Gebeke some more minutes.  Add in soph guard Beau Smit with the 3 juniors (Tismer at PG, Gebeke at wing and Meyer in the post) and there is a really nice foundation that you could build on for next season with success for this season.

Playbook
59-56 White Bear Lake with 9.5 left.  Stillwater just scored and took a timeout to stop the clock.  You're White Bear Lake and are inbounding under the Stillwater basket and can run the baseline.  You want the ball to end up in the hands of a high quality foul shooter.  Here's what they ran.

4 across the near foul line with Sheldon inbounding.  Break 1 guy to the ball and throw it to him out of bounds.  Everybody else goes away.  Sheldon steps inbounds and gets it right back.  Simple and effective.  7 of 8 on the night and no doubt about it, he knocks down the final 2 with 6.5 seconds left seal it.

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