Eden Prairie shoots down Hopkins

Welcome to the new Lake Conference #3AAAA Eden Prairie.  You start your adventure in the league with a trip to #1AAAA Hopkins.  These teams also ranked 1 and 2 in the CzarPI and QRF so on paper this one looks to be a dandy, though I had low expectations.  A quality Walking Taco as always at Hopkins.  Pretty good crowd and the Mr Basketball committee moved from front row to an obscure spot by coaches farther up.  Pretty good crowd on hand as well, but no Hopkins pep band which would have been a nice addition.  But we do get the Hopkins mascot which is quality.  You know the result so let's pick a fitting song.  The band is an easy choice.

Song of the Day
The Eagles - Life in the Fast Lane

Game Time
Eden Prairie hanging around early with a Dylan Stewart putback and then Conner Nord to Jacob Foss on a nice interior pass for a layup.  Then Grant Soderberg, once, twice, three times 3 is nice.  18-12 EP at 12:25.  Marvin Singleton with 2 putbacks before EP goes off.  Stewart with a nice spin for 2 and a skip pass finds Jack Klukas for 3.  Stewart leaves with his second foul with 8:31 left in the half and EP isn't affected.  Klukas for 3, skip to Soderberg for another 3, Blake Wragge for 3.  Soderberg with a pair of layups and then an offensive rebound is kicked out to Klukas for 3.  44-26 Eden Prairie with the shocking lead at half after a 26-10 run over the last 11 minutes.  9 bombs in the half for Eden Prairie.

After some paint surely came off the walls of the Hopkins locker room at half, they come out with a purpose.  Hopkins 3 quick drives to the rim for 5 of 6 free throws (Coleman 3 of 4).  48-33 only 1:05 into the half and Hopkins is at another level and the feel of a huge run is there. Soderberg backdoor to push the lead right back to 18 at 13:50.  Singleton with a layup, Zach Stahl with a 3 point play and Coleman for 3.  54-43 EP with 11:15 left.  Stewart back to back layups and we're back to 15.  He sits with foul #4 at 9:41.  Singleton all over the place in the 2nd half.  On the post for 2, then a clutch block and he rewards himself with a 3 point play on the other end.  8:12 left, 62-51 EP.  Soderberg drive and kick back to Wragge for the only EP 3 of the 2nd half.  2 EP FTs at 5:29 put them up 69-53 and they've done a nice job of weathering the storm.

But that was just the first wave.  Coleman with a putback, Singleton on a drive, a turnover results in a Coleman 3, a missed layup and Coleman lays it in on the other end.  EP misses, Hopkins misses 2 chances but EP turns it over and Demetrius Martin nails a 3.  Singleton with another clutch block and he puts back a miss on the other end.  Holy cow, Hopkins is within 69-67 with 1:40 left after a 14-0 run.  Out of a timeout, a great play call on the sideline out of bounds for a Stewart layup and then Hopkins turns it over for a Stewart FT.  72-67 EP with 1:07 left.  Chambers 2 free throws and Soderberg misses a front end with 44.7 left.  Singleton goes to the hoop for 2 to cut the lead to 1.  Sander Mohn 2 FTs for EP.  74-71 Eden Prairie with 28.4 left.  Hopkins takes their last timeout with the ball.  Its a well executed Howard Pulley look for a Joe Coleman 3 that is short.  Marvin Singleton gets the board.  Ball becomes loose and a jump ball goes to Eden Prairie with 10 seconds left.  Stewart makes 1 of 2 and forces a tieup on his miss with 6.3 left.  Hopkins is out of timeouts so this one is effectively over.  Hopkins misses at the buzzer and Eden Prairie pulls the shocking upset 75-71.

Post Game
For Hopkins, Marvin Singleton leads the way with 24 and 12, most of those in the 2nd half.  Interesting enough it was drives and putbacks that did the work.  Very little in the way of actual postups.  Joe Coleman 7-15 for 23 points and 7 rebounds.  He'd like to have 4 or 5 looks back though as he had some bunnies that he normally makes not go in.  I had him 2-6 in actual shooting with a couple of 3s.  But giving up 9 3s was the dagger in the first half.  Hopkins 22-48 from the floor and 5-17 from 3.  The Royals fall to 15-1, 0-1 and host Wayzata on Friday

Eden Prairie is now 14-2, 1-0.  Grant Soderberg leads the way with 18 of his 22 points in the first half.  9-15 shooting including 4 of 6 from 3 on my sheet.  Dylan Stewart was plagued by foul trouble all night but he still finished with 18 points (12 in the 2nd half) and 6 rebounds on 7-9 shooting.  Jack Klukas 5-5, 4-4 from 3 (all 1st half) for 14 points.  Eden Prairie shoots 27-41 for the game, 10-14 from 3 (9-13 1st half).  They host Minnetonka Friday before a tough 3 game road stretch starts on Saturday.

The teams meet again on February 18th at Eden Prairie.  Great trivia question from Mr. Basketball chairman Ken Lien tonight.  Name the last team to beat 2 #1s on the road in back to back games.  (For the record I don't know).  Remember Eden Prairie won at #1AAA DeLaSalle last Saturday.  Hopkins could have done it if Johnson would have beat Hyde Park in the Best Buy Holiday Classic.

Late Game Strategy Thoughts
Now I'm in no position to be critical of a coach that has won 600 some games and has forgotten more basketball than I'll ever know, but I didn't like coach Novak's strategy in the last 30 seconds.  Out of Eden Prairie 2 free throws and 28.4 left in a 1 possession game, he took his last timeout.  That effectively takes 7-9 seconds off the clock because the clock runs after a made basket.  That shortens the game when Hopkins would want the game to be extended  With that much time left, I think you call Siyani Chambers over (an experienced point guard and your floor leader) and have him get you into something quick to the rim and look for the best shot, 2 or 3.  Keep the pressure on Eden Prairie to make free throws since I felt they appeared at a breaking point for most of the second half.  It would also have saved the timeout if they needed a 3 later or to stop the clock after a made bucket.

I think it also handcuffed Hopkins into having to go for a 3 early since they wouldn't have had a timeout to draw a play up later or stop the clock.  That said, going early may be the best look at 3 that you'll get.  Coach Novak had Martin curl off of 2 left elbow screens and then had Coleman flare off of Singleton to the left wing after his initial screen for the open 3.  The play was well designed (Howard Pulley 16s ran the same thing for Tyus Jones during the summer with Tyler Vaughan coming off that double), perfectly executed and Coleman got a clean look that was on line but short.  Your best player gets a clean look to tie and you show confidence in your star, great call right?  I understand the logic and there are good principles in it but I don't like the call..  I've documented Coleman's shooting plenty here.  With guys like Siyani Chambers, Demetrius Martin, Nick Jorgenson, Jamal Davis and Zach Stahl (who had fouled out), you have plenty of options for shooters that I would rather have seen shoot that 3.  My alternative is this.  I think the same play with Coleman curling hard to the basket off that left elbow double screen would have been a great first option for a quick 2 with one of those other shooters flaring off for the wide open 3 as a 2nd option.


  1. February is also the month when the Lake Conference teams being playing each other. Up until then, they'll all been playing noncon games. I like this realignment. Hopkins and Eden Prairie had been section foes in the past. This is the start of a great conference rivalry.

  2. The latest alignment split them up, I remember Eden Prairie going out 3 straight years at the buzzer in that old section (Hoffarber got them twice in section finals during the Wittman days and Anthony Tucker beat them at Hopkins in a 4 vs 5 opening round game)

  3. Since the Class AAAA tournament is seeded, this could be the championship game.

  4. With all that said, I wouldn't be surprised if Minnesota Transitions upsets Eden Prairie this season. They are knocking off the giants left and right. In that Section 4A, Prairie Seeds could upset MCA.

  5. Prairie Seeds won't beat MTS, only MCA in my mind. I don't see MTS beating Eden Prairie either and definitely not if EP shoots it like last night.

    EP still has to get past Shakopee and Chaska in Section 2 which won't be a picnic.


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