2011 Class AAAA Championship

Its a rubber match between Lake Conference rivals for the 2011 Class AAAA state championship as Eden Prairie takes on Hopkins.  Eden Prairie shot the lights out in the 1st meeting to pull the upset, while Hopkins won the 2nd meeting.  Hopkins let teams hang around in their first 2 games at Target Center until late before double digit wins.

A steal by Joe Coleman and then he charges on the other end.  4-2 Hopkins at the 14:27 mark and Coleman has 2 fouls. Coleman then steps in and draws a charge.  Coleman bailed out on a short jumper and he steps up and makes both freebies.  4 of the first 6 and Hopkins leads 6-4 at the 12:55 mark.  That's Dylan Stewart's 2nd foul for EP which is a big loss.  Siyani Chambers great quickness to jump around a post feed and take it the other way for a Marvin Singleton layup.  10-4 Hopkins at the 11:37 mark and Eden Prairie takes timeout after giving up 6 in a row.  Coleman takes a breather and Grant Soderberg makes back to back 3s to tie the game at 14 inside of 9 minutes.  Connor Nord with his 2nd nice assist of the night to Derek Dedeker and Soderberg leaks out for a free throw.  17 all at 8:04.  He's strong to the rim and EP leads 19-17 at the 6:50 mark.  Coleman slips a ball screen and Chambers with the perfect feed for the Coleman 2 handed flush.  21-19 Hopkins at the 5:29 mark.  The lead stretches to 7 before a Sander Mohn 3 with 2:30 left in the half.  That counters a Chambers 3 and steal for 2 more.  32-28 Hopkins at half.  EP has the recipe going again with 11-17 shooting, 4-4 from 3 but Hopkins is shooting 13-24 on their end.  Eden Prairie with 10 turnovers for 12 Hopkins points is the difference.

After fine halftime entertainment by the Alexandria Aces, there's the Let's Go Nick sign in the crowd held up by a youngster to catch my eye.  That's for Nick Jorgensen of Hopkins.  Demetrius Martin for 3 on a skip as the close out wasn't far enough.  Joe Coleman with a tough turnaround inside and Singleton on the post.  An EP turnover and a Zach Stahl FT pullup and its 46-30 Hopkins at the 11:20 mark when Eden Prairie takes the much needed timeout.  14-2 run this half for Hopkins.  EP shooting 1-11 and that just won't do it.  Dylan Stewart replies with 2 free throws and a bucket followed by a Soderberg 3 and Stewart puts back a FT miss to cut the lead to 8 with 8:49 to play.  Dedeker scores with 5:33 left and the lead is cut to 6.  Hopkins nicely spacing the floor with 2 guard slots filled up high, the lane open and taking the time on their possessions.  Its a possession over a minute and a half long for 2 Coleman FTs.  3:55 left and Hopkins up 54-46.  Hopkins turns it over and Nord with a nice drive to the rim for 2 with 2:45 left, 54-48 Hopkins.  Zach Stahl for 2 and Singleton steps up and makes 2 FTs iwth 2:10 left and the lead is double digits again.  Coleman a nice cut and better pass from Chambers for the layup as we're distracted by 4 beach balls going in the Hopkins student section.  Repeat that as Coleman finishes again and puts back his missed free throw with 1:15 left.  Bench empties with 29.2 left with Hopkins stars holding up 3 fingers for the third consecutive title.  Andre McDonald with a huge block as the exclamation point.  Hopkins wins 64-52.

Joe Coleman leads Hopkins with 22 point and 8 rebounds.  Zach Stahl 10 points and 8 boards.  Siyani Chambers 12 and 5 assists.  Marvin Singleton 15 points.  Hopkins shoots 56.8% for the game.  Grant Soderberg 16 points to lead Eden Prairie.   They shoot 44.2% for the game with 16 turnovers that turned into 18 Hopkins points.  

My Class AAAA All-Tournament Ballot
Joe Coleman - Hopkins (MVP)
Marvin Singleton - Hopkins
Siyani Chambers - Hopkins
Dylan Stewart - Eden Prairie
Connor Nord - Eden Prairie
Joey Sonnenfeld - Osseo
Terez Van Pelt - Osseo
Raijon Kelly - CDH (replaced by Zach Stahl of Hopkins)
Cortez Tillman - CDH
Taylor Montero - CDH (replaced by Grant Soderberg of Eden Prairie)

Total tournament attendance once again shows a dramatic decline.  This year's attendance was 48,274 down from 55,731 last year.

2011 Class AAA Championship

Its the 2011 Class AAA championship with Orono taking on Columbia Heights.  The coaches are good friends and if I remember correctly, coach Willie Braziel of Heights may have picked up their zone defense from Orono's coach Barry Wohler.  Heights just got done playing a DDM team in New Prague so that helps.  Should be fun to see what Orono throws at Zach Lofton who was outstanding in the quarters vs Marshall.  And after watching a dreadful 3 sessions of small school ball, we'll see if the big boys up the level of play.  Full lower deck at Target Center so at least there's a slim bit of good attendance.

The start is not promising as Orono starts off 1-10 and Heights starts 1-6 in the first 6 minutes.  Jordan Mills with the putback and that's Jordan Smith's 2nd foul for Orono at the 11:49 mark.  He'll stay in the game.  Then a totally foolish shoving technical on Heights at the 10:57 mark.  Smith makes both technicals as we go to a TV break with Orono jumping on top 8-7.  Then Smith with 1 jumper and another on a turnover.  Add Brady Wohler for 3 and its a 9-0 Orono run and Heights needs time.  15-7 Orono at the 9:55 mark  A bit of a surprise is the foul count mounting as its 8-3 Orono in fouls at the 8:30 mark.  Chase Myhran has 3 fouls and the task of guarding Lofton.  Lofton cherry picks for a 3 point play at 7:47 to cut the Orono lead to 17-14.  But Smith lowers the shoulder in the post and it may have been a flop.  Its his 3rd with 7:33 left in the half and now he has to sit.  Orono gets the fortunate TV timeout at 6:55.  Jeremy Borg with 2 outstanding blocks on Lofton and Wohler converts for 3 on the other end for an 8 point Orono lead.  Borg then adds a 3 point play at the 5:10 mark for a 9 point lead.  The lead is cut to 4 then Borg with a great hustle play that results in a Orono basket.  31-25 Orono at the last TV break of the half.  Meanwhile Lofton has been on the bench with 2 fouls.  Both teams actually better without them on the floor.  34-32 Orono at the break. Heights 11-32 with 11 offensive boards.  Orono 13-31 but they got 9 of those misses back.

Heights comes out and grabs the lead with Jordan Mills and Keanu Glover scoring inside.  Lofton rebound and long outlet to Roderick Logan for a layup (Smith backing off to avoid 4th foul) and Ben Glover with a drive for 2 to put Heights up 4.  Mills and Lofton stick back misses and the lead is 6 as the Heights height advantage starts to kick in.  Kyle Mileusnic counters with a straight away 3 on the other end.  45-42 Heights at the 14:23 TV timeout.  Borg to the rack for a 3 point play and we're back to even out of the timeout.  Zach Lofton with the charge at the 11:52 mark off a horns set.  That's his 4th and he'll have to sit in a game tied at 47.  Orono immediately nails a 3 on the other end.  You can see on the bench that Lofton is still not happy with the call.  Mills drives, behind the back and finishes on a pretty move for the sophomore.  Keauu Glover with a strong finish for the 3 point play.  9:51 left and we're tied at 54.  Wohler back to back hoops and its 64-57 Orono with 7 to play and Heights misses.  Lofton off the bench and to the scorers table.  Myhran scores and nails a 3 aorund a Heights miss.  The clock won't stop to get Lofton in.  Finally a shooting foul at the 5:41 mark will get Lofton in the game but its 70-57 Orono and that might be too much to overcome.  Lofton 2 free throws and a Ben Glover steal leads to a basket.  Another Orono turnover and Lofton puts that back for a 3 point play. 3:52 left and its a 9-0 run since Lofton came back in 1:49 ago.  70-66 Orono hanging on to the lead as they take timeout to talk it over.  Borg 1 of 2 FTs and grabs the miss for a Daniel Drew 2 with 2:40 left, ouch.  Mills with another Heights putback and Borg counters with a layup at the other end.  75-68 Orono with 2:15.  Lofton misses a 3 and Borg to the rack for the lefty finish and Heights is losing distance.  Ben Glover to the rim for 2 and after a Orono miss, we'll catch our breath with 1:26 left.  77-70 Orono leading.  Roderick Logan to the rim for 2 and a Lofton steal and assist.  20.4 left but the Orono is still 7.  Orono goes on to win the 3A title

For Orono, Brady Wohler comes up big with 23 points.  Jeremy Borg another quality outing with 19 points and 7 rebounds.  Jordan Smith only 5-11 but still had 21 points and sealed the game with late free throws.  Erik Peterson a productive double double of 11 points and 12 boards.  Zach Lofton 19 points and 6 rebounds on 6-18 shooting. Ben Glover 17 and 5.  Soph Jordan Mills another nice hard work outing of 17 points and 11 rebounds.  Keanu Glover 12 and 6.  Orono shoots 18-27 in the 2nd half after 13-31 in the first half.  Orono surprisingly had 18 turnovers to only 10 for Heights.  Heights 29-73 from the floor (39.7%)

My Class AAA All-Tournament Team Ballot
Zach Lofton - Columbia Heights (MVP), removed from the team afterwards by MSHSL.
Ben Glover - Columbia Heights
Jordan Mills - Columbia Heights

Jordan Smith - Orono
Jeremy Borg - Orono
Brady Wohler - OronoShelby Moats - Waconia
Alex Schmitt - Waconia (replaced by Ben Kortuem on official team)
Joe Hatch - New PragueJed Kreuser - New Prague

2011 Class AA Championship

Its the 2011 State Championship game in Class AA.  It features the sentimental favorite Perham taking on upstart Rochester Lourdes.  Lourdes defeated Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the section 1 final, the team that many thought was the favorite in AA.  Unfortunately it means its another game where I have to suffer through THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE.  No Zach Gabbard in the building at the outset which is a slight surprise.  I like the Perham fans standing until they score.  But again in this one they'll have to wait until after the 1st TV timeout.

It takes 5 minutes but a Nick Tobkin 3 gets Perham on the board with a 3-2 lead.  Mark Schumacher with a couple of blocks inside to show his presence.  Lourdes starts out 1-9 shooting.  TV timeout tied at 5 with 10:09 left.  Back to back 3s and its 11-5 Perham and Lourdes needs a timeout at the 8:52 mark. 11-3 Yellowjackets (quality masccot BTW) in 4:10.  Lourdes with 2 FGs the last 8+ and Perham 7 in a row to stretch the lead to 18-13 at the half.  33.3% shooting in the game with 6-18 and 5-15.  Perham settling for too many 3s (4-12 vs 1-3 from 2).  

Chris Eickemeyer inside for 2 at the 13:18 mark to cut the Perham lead to 20-19.  Alex Kapraun on an inbounds isolation and Lourdes is back on top at the 12:06 mark, 21-20 (8-2 start to the half).  Perham doing nothing on the offensive end.  Jordan Bruhn with 2 through contact and Perham is up 24-23 inside 9 minutes.  At the 8:54 mark, Kapraun picks up his 4th and Perham scores on a putback.  Lourdes down 26-23 when they take time with 8:38 left.  Kapraun back in at the 7:59 mark as Lourdes takes their chances but he's at the top of the 1-3-1 so he should stay out of trouble.  Tobkin for 3 at the 6:48 mark and the lead is 6. 31-25 Perham with 6:17 left as we go to a TV break.  2 more Perham free throws extend the lead to 8 with 5:18 to play and Lourdes misses a front end so they'll have to go man and extend the defense.  35-25 with 3:59 left.  Tobkin for 3 and the run is 11-0 over 3 minutes for a 40-25 lead..  Kapraun gets the shooters roll on a 3 and that cuts the lead to 40-31 with 2:20 remaining.  But Lourdes had chances inside they couldn't convert.  Eickemeyer with a putback with 47.7 to cut the lead to 8.  But its not enough as Perham wins the AA title 45-35.

Nick Tobkin 15 points to lead Perham.  Jordan Cresap 12 points.  Sam Stratton 9 points with 11 rebounds for the winners.  10 points and 4 boards for Alex Kapraun of Lourdes on 3-16 shooting (2-11 3s).  Shane McGrath 9 and 11.  Chris Eickemeyer 12 and 7.  Lourdes again doesn't shoot it well, 16-49, 2-18 from 3.  Perham 12-31.  Lourdes 15 offensive rebounds to win the rebounding battle 33-24. 

Hard to nominate 10 guys with the ugly play in this bracket, but here's my all tourney bracket.

My All Tournament Team Ballot
Alex Kapraun - Rochester Lourdes
Shane McGrath - Rochester Lourdes
Tate Harmon - WEM
Conrad Masberg - WEM
Mike Busack - Redwood Valley
JT Radel - Redwood Valley
Nick Tobkin - Perham (MVP)
Sam Stratton - Perham
Jordan Cresap - Perham
Mark Schumacher - Perham (replaced by Nic Jensen of Lourdes on official team)

I came very close to nominating Zach Gabbard.

2011 Class A Championship

Its Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa vs Springfield for the 2011 Class A Title.  BBE trying to be the state only undefeated team in the 2010-2011 season.  It would be the school's 1st state title in any sport.  Springfield was upset in the state quarterfinals in 2010.

Its a day of zone with Springfield playing 2-3 and BBE staying with their 1-3-1.  Kevin Kuefler off to another good start for BBE with a runout for 2, a putback and a he takes a charge on behemoth Tyler Marz.   Both teams really cold but BBE is crashing the glass to stay close.  Jesse Kieper with 5 in a row for a 5 point Springfield lead.  Tyler Marz on the offensive glass for 1 putback and may have been hacked on another and that has the Springfield crowd and bench in an uproar.   Marz with go to the bench with 2 fouls at the 4:31 mark but he'll return with 2:11 left in the half with a 23-22 lead.  I'm thinking it may have been better to save him.  He sets a big screen for an Alex Fink 3.  Then a turnover and Kieper's back to the line for a free throw that makes the lead 5.  Connor Goodwin back to back hoops for BBE in the last minute and a BBE desperation heave is just off at the horn.  Springfield 27-26 at the half.  Kevin Kuefler 14 and 12.  Jesse Kieper 14.  BBE 28-16 on the glass with 14 of those offensive for 14 points.  Teams combine for 23-64 shooting (35.9%).

Springfield takes a turnover the other way as Kieper converts again.  33-26 with 16:21 for the biggest Springfield lead and the crowd is on its feet.  Timeout by BBE to stop the bleeding.  Kuefler coast to coast and its an 8-0 run to put BBE back on top.  The run is 10-0 in 3 and a half after a Goodwin putback, 36-33 BBE with 12:50 left and now Springfield needs a timeout.  Alex Fink with a pretty bounce pass to Dillon Schultz for a layup and Schultz for 3.  41-36 Tigers after their 8-0 run out of the timeout, 10:45 left.  BBE out of their 1-3-1 to a 1-2-2 zone.  A scramble and Springfield misses an open 3. Kuefler skies for the rebound and a great outlet for a Brian Goodwin layup before another Schultz 3.  47-41 Tigers with 7:50 left.   BBE back to the 1-3-1.  It generates a turnover for a layup and Marz is mugged on the other end.  Springfield coach in the official's ear at the TV timeout and the other 2 refs giving each other mutual support.  47-44 Springfield with 6:38 left.  Kieper with a deep 3 and a Schultz putback 3 point play.  4:19 left and the lead is back to 7, 53-46.  Front end for BBE is no good and Springfield converts that for a 9 point lead.  That's 2-10 FTs and 0-15 from 3 for BBE.  BBE finally hits their 1st 3 with 3:08 left and Kuefler with a swat but he gets blocked by Cody Milbrath on the other end.  57-51 BBE down and an offensive rebound sends Connor Goodwin to the line but he misses the front end.  Brian Goodwin for 3 with 1:51 left and BBE cuts the gap to 5, 59-54.

Jesse Kieper leads Springfield with 25 points.  Dillon Schultz shows up big with 17 and 7.  Tyler Marz 7 points and 12 boards.  For BBE, Kevin Kuefler was my class A MVP.  He finishes 20 points and 20 rebounds (8 offensive).  Post Connor Goodwin another double double of 12 and 13 for BBE.  Game stats again are really ugly.  BBE 27-80 shooting (2-27 from 3), 2-11 FTs.  They won the rebounding battle 56-47 with 26 offensive boards for 26 points to stay in it.  Springfield 22-59 and 6-18 from 3 but they were 20-29 at the line.

All-Tournament Team Ballot
Kevin Kuefler - BBE (MVP)
Connor Goodwin - BBE
Brady Koehler - BBE
Brian Goodwin - BBE (replaced by Tyler Simonson from Chisholm on the official team)
Alex Fink - Springfield
Jesse Kieper - Springfield
Tyler Marz - Springfield (replaced by Cody Milbrath on official team)
Seth Hinrichs - MACCRAY
Brady Boike - MACCRAY
Adam Vake - Chisholm (replaced by Aden Casey)

2011 State Tourney Day 3 Class AA

Its random stream of thought time again as we look at the 2011 Class AA semifinals.

Game 1: Redwood Valley vs Rochester Lourdes
  • Lourdes comes out in a 2-3 and runs the La Crosse Logan version of THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE.  This is going to be a long game.  And they'll throw in some half court 1-3-1 and man to boot.
  • Michael Busack with 28 and 19 in the quarterfinal win for Redwood over Minnehaha.  His follow dunk forces an early Lourdes timeout.  After Lourdes comes back and takes the lead, 2 guys jump at Busack off a down screen and he makes a nice pass for a layup just before the halftime break. 19 all at the half, teams 15-40 combined shooting, 4-20 from 3.
  • What a scene with the entire Perham team, Zach Gabbard and the responders at halftime.  The first responders, principal and AD from DGF receiving awards for their heroic efforts.  More emotional than Wednesday at Williams Arena.  Great standing ovation from entire crowd.  Gotta be tough on the Perham kids to have that emotion just before they go into the locker room for their semifinal battle with WEM.
  • Sophs Jordan Ford and Alec Koster off the Redwood bench with a pair of 3s each (Koster back to back then Ford back to back) after not showing on the 1st half stat sheet and Redwood comes back to lead 33-31 with 4:18 left.
  • All of that was after Lourdes made a bucket with 9:22 left to lead by 4 . Then they don't get another field goal for the next 7:58.  Its Chris Eickemeyer's 1st shot of the night for a 37-35 Lourdes lead with 1:24 left.  (turns out its a stretch of 2 FG in 17 minutes for Lourdes).
  • JT Radel with a tough drive with 48 seconds left to tie it and bring the fans to their feet.  Lourdes will play and then take time with 6.5 left.   A nice misdirection flare screen but the pass gets tipped away.  Eickemeyer gets a clean look at 17 footer on the right baseline and its back iron and out for overtime.
  • Redwood patient vs 1-3-1 and they turn it over with a minute left in the OT on an over and back call on Busack.  Lourdes again runs it down and takes timeout.  Its their last timeout with 10.4 left in the OT.   
  • Eickemeyer with a putback of a missed 3 with 1:09 left and we're tied at 41, Redwood takes timeout inside a minute left and we've seen this before.  Teams trade turnovers inside the last half minute.  Redwood with the ball and 8.8 left in the second OT.  Lourdes stays 1-3-1 and a long 30 ft JT Radel 3 is just off and we'll play a 3rd OT.
  • After a timeout just inside 2 minutes left in 3OT, Lourdes holds.  Alex Kapraun gets a good look on a drive and its back iron.  Its a scramble and tieup stays with Lourdes with 0.2 left.  Kapraun gets a look but doesn't tip it and we'll play a 4th overtime.
  • Alex Kapraun for 3 from on the NBA line for a Lourdes 44-42 lead with 1:22 left in the 4th OT.  Then Radel is short on a 3 and Shane McGrath runs out for a layup.  Kapraun with a pair of free throws to ice it.  Lourdes wins 48-42 in 4 overtimes. 
  • Kapraun finishes with 20 points.  Mike Busack 8 points and 18 rebounds.  Lourdes 16-51 FGs (3-21 from 3).  Redwood Valley 14-43 and 6-24 from 3.  Redwood Valley won the war on the boards 44-27 but had 20 turnovers.
Deep breath

Game 2: Waterville-Elysian-Morristown vs Perham
  • WOW, Zach Gabbard gets up and walks out to line when the reserves are introduced.
  • These are the top 2 teams in the top 2 teams in AA in points allowed.
  • Perham has 2 stars in foul trouble, shoots 4-14 and turns it over 13 times but is only down 15-11 at the half thanks to 5-20 shooting from WEM.  Lost chance there for WEM.  Mark Schumacher demonstrated he was difference inside defensively until he had to sit on a close call 2nd foul.  WEM bench only plays 2 total minutes.
  • Conrad Masberg back to back hoops, 26-21 WEM with 9:04 left and they take the momentum killing timeout.  Sigh.  Not to mention it was a good time for a Perham timeout, just as WEM may have been on a run.  Though they wanted it after the 1st bucket.
  • Masberg again and the lead is 30-24 with 6:25 to play.  Just have a feeling that if Perham can get a lead, but they can't make a shot.
  • WEM does a nice job out of the DDM with the initial backdoor look and then feed the post guy flashing high and hitting the give and go.  Saw that work nicely tonight and in the quarters.
  • Perham finally scores after a 4:30 drought and then they get a turnover which turns into a charge.  50/50 call and it would have been a huge swing for Perham.   Tate Harmon counters on the other end with a nice stepthru move and the lead is back to 6. 
  • WEM takes an ill-advised open 3 (would've been dagger), the outlet is tipped and ends up right in a steaking Perham player's hands for a layup.  32-28 WEM with the ball and 1:42 left.  WEM to the basket and that's a charge with 1:30 left.  Nick Tobkin backdoor and the layup with 1:17 left and the crowd roars.  On the WEM inbounds, the touchdown pass is too long and Perham gets it under their own basket with a chance to tie.  Jordan Bruhn to Schumacher to tie the game with 50 seconds left.  WEM plays for 1.  Harmon's drive is no good and we're tied at 32 going to OT.  WEM needed to score there.  All the momemtum with Perham.
  • Perham jumper is just on the 3 point line to tie the game at 34.  Post Jordan Gregor to the line with 1:29 left in the OT and his FTs put WEM up 36-34.  Tobkin to the line with 1:25 left and his bonus freebies tie the game at 36.  WEM holding the ball again for 1 shot, Perham doesn't go out.  Down to the end and WEM really doesn't get into much of anything and a force is long.  36 all to the 2nd OT.
  • Perham with a steal on the 1st possession and Nick Tobkin knocks down a jumper for the lead.  Now they're over the hump.  He gets a block which leads to a free throw and its 39-36 Perham.  A WEM 3 is no good and its all Perham now. 
  • WEM presses and forces Perham to use their last 2 timeouts with 2:29 left in OT #2.  Perham really frazzled vs the pressure.  1 turnover results in a layup to cut the lead to 1.  Conrad Masberg fouls out with 1:36 left (a primary scorer) and Perham makes both free throws to extend the lead back to 3.  Grant Pope leaves a 3 short, Sam Stratton steps up after making the last 2 and gets the kind roll on the 1st, the second is also good, he adds a block of a layup on the other end.  ZG3 is the chant from the Perham students.  After 2 of 3 FTs on 3 point foul, WEM cuts the lead to 4 and forces a turnover.  But there's no quick score in order.  Perham comes from behind to win ugly in double OT 45-41.
  • Nick Tobkin 14 points to lead Perham.  Conrad Masberg 17 and 8 for WEM.  Its ugly, WEM shoots 13-51, 2-18 from 3.  Perham 15-43 and 2-14 from 3 (that's 4-32, 12.5% combined from 3).  19 Perham turnovers but only 6 after halftime.  
These games were ugly, but a day full of 7 overtimes is one to remember.

2011 State Tourney Day 3, Class A semis

Random stream of unconsciousness bullets from the 2011 class A semifinals at Target Center

Game 1: Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa vs MACCRAY
  • Big lineups for BBE and MACCRAY.  BBE starting 4 kids at 6'4 or taller with the 5th being a freshman.  MACCRAY 6'4, 6'4 and 6'7 Seth Hinrichs.  That size at the small level is a huge difference maker.
  • BBE didn't take advantage of the size initially by giving up an 11-0 run but they did start to pound it in and Kevin Kuefler got going.  MACCRAY gets only 1 Hinrichs 3 point play in a 9 minute span as they give up a 25-3 run to fall behind by double digits.  Kuefler with 20 in the first half for a 41-29 BBE halftime lead.
  • BBE stretched the lead to 23 before Seth Hinrichs scored 3 buckets in an 11-1 run to cut the lead to 61-48.
  • I like the idea of playing 1-3-1 with the BBE size, no real athletic or active guy on top (which makes a 1-3-1 really scary) but they did a nice job of doubling the post and MACCRAY never come up with a good answer for the zone.   
  • MACCRAY shot well but had 15 first half turnovers.  They cut out the turnovers in the second half but then the shooting went away (15-39).  
  • BBE also got a nice performance out of 6'6 lefty center Connor Goodwin with 21 and 8.  Him and freshman brother Brian make a nice combo to keep BBE going next year.
  • BBE wins 86-69 and remains the only undefeated team in the state.  They shoot 56.9% for the game. Kuefler finishes with 27 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.   Seth Hinrichs finishes with 23 points and 9 rebounds.
Game 2: Springfield vs Chisholm
  • Good to see Tyler Marz back at state after the Wisconsin football recruit (go Bucky!) blew out his knee during the football season.  Almost as big as Seantrel Henderson.  He comes in at the 15:11 mark and scores the first 2 Springfield field goals.
  • Chisholm with a 27-26 halftime lead despite 40.7% shooting in the half.  They came from 8 down in the last 9 minutes of the half.  Springfield did nice work getting inside the 3-2 zone and not settling for 3s.  Only 5 points combined from Springfield's top 2 scorers (Jesse Kieper and Cody Milbrath) who combine for over 36 a night.
  • Springfield had a nice inside pass for 3 and the shot was in and out. Then Chisholm rejects the putback to get the ball back up 1 with 1:49 left.  Then Chisholm is fouled, misses the front end and puts back the miss.  Wow.  Chisholm makes 1 FT to go up 4, then a touch foul for 2 Springfield FTs and a Chisholm turnover.  Springfield timeout with ball down 49-47 with 51.2 left.  Cody Milbrath with a putback to tie it with 23 seconds left. Chisholm makes 1 FT and grabs the miss with 13.6 left.   That's why I can't stand the rule that you have to wait for the ball to hit rim.  Allows WAY too many offensive rebs on FTs.  Then Chisholm misses another free throw.  That gives Springfield 1 last chance with 6.1 to play out of a timeout down 2.  Marz catches underneath and throws it back out, wow.  Alex Fink with the bonus FTs with 3.4 to play.  Clutch!  That sends the game to OT at 51.  Chisholm didn't make their free throws to put it away.
  • Springfield made 10 of their 12 FTs in OT to build the lead and win 63-55.  Chisholm finished the game shooting only 16-29 from the foul line. Big killer there. 
  • Springfield had the ball with the lead against the Chisholm zone in the last 3 minutes and chose to play.  Would have been very tempting to pull Chisholm out of it. 
  • Teams combine to shoot 36-104 from the floor.  Alex Fink 21 and 12 for Springfield.  Tyler Marz 9 and 9 in 25 minutes.  Cody Milbrath 9 and 8.  Adam Vake 13 and 11 for Chisholm.

2011 State Tourney Day 2 Class AAAA

Class AAAA Semifinals

Game 1: Hopkins vs Cretin-Derham Hall
CJ Neumann comes out and scores on the post as CDH opens a 4-0 lead in the first minute.  Pull the ball out!  Then a Hopkins block and putback followed by a Siyani Chambers steal and layup for a 6-4 Hopkins lead.  Coleman with a layup off a great misdirection zone set.  12-9 Hopkins at the first break. Marvin Singleton runs for a layup, Zach Stahl out and about for a 3 point play.  11:35 first half with Hopkins up 18-9 (18-5 run).  Cortez Tillman up and under Joe Coleman and Raijon Kelly for 3.  Then a pair of Hopkins turnovers and CDH goes to THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE and can't gain the lead.  Hopkins running nice sets and action against the zone as Coleman gets a dunk from Chambers.  Add in unselfish play on the break as Coleman goes to Stahl to Singleton for layup and the Hopkins lead is 28-22 inside 4 minutes.  Raijon Kelly picks up his 3rd foul at the 2:57 mark and has to sit.  CJ Neumann with a huge dunk just before halftime. Hopkins 34-28 at half.  Hopkins shoots 50% overall but only 1-8 from 3.  8 offensive boards for the Royals.

Another easy backside layup for Coleman and a Singleton putback.  CDH needs a quick timeout down 41-30 at the 16:15 mark.  CDH back on a 9-0 run ending with a Neumann 3 (something he's added to his game this year).  CDH switches over to a 1-3-1.  Singleton seals the backside defender and finishes through a Kelly block.  Coleman dunks after a CDH miss and a Demetrius Martin layup on a turnover.  50-43 Hopkins with 9:45 left.  Coleman with a putback and inside the 9 minute mark CDH finally has to go man to man.  Coleman on the inside and a 3rd chance is a Singleton putback.  Nick Jorgenson for 3 and CDH needs a timeout.  60-45 Hopkins with 5:51 left and the rest is elementary.   Coleman runs out for a flying 1 handed dunk as icing on the cake with 1:20 left.   Hopkins wins.

Joe Coleman leads Hopkins with 29 and 9 boards.  He shoots 12 of 16 with everything at the rim.  Marvin Singleton a double double of 15 and 12.  Siyani Chambers 10 points and 10 assists.  Raijon Kelly 16 points for CDH.  Cortez Tillman played well with 14 points on 6-10 shooting.  Hopkins shoots 52.7% but only 4-17 from 3.  Big number was a 42-18 advantage on the glass with 17-5 on the offensive glass. CDH didn't play that poorly with 44.2% shooting and only 10 turnovers but they gave up too many easy baskets early in the game with their zone. 

Game 2: Eden Prairie vs Osseo
Sad to see Jerrod Bervin in the stands rather than on the court for Osseo.  Connor Nord with a couple of quick hoops including a nice post move to give EP a 4-0 lead.  Joey Sonnenfeld for 3 to cut the EP to 8-7.  Nord inside for a free throw and an assist to Sander Mohn for layup.  13-7 EP at the 11:02 mark.  After an Osseo 3, Nord on the post for 2 more.  19-13 EP inside 7 to play.  Tough defense both ways with Eden Prairie cleaning up on the glass.  Bridge Tusler with a steal for a layup and a block leads to a DJ Hebert layup on the other end. to cut the margin to 4.   EP with 2 FTs for a 27-21 hafltime lead.

Nord to Soderberg for a pretty backdoor cut before a Van Pelt 3 cuts the lead to 31-28.  After a drought its Van Pelt to Bridge Tusler, Osseo hanging close down 33-31 with 13 minutes left.  Nord on the post for back to back buckets.  He adds a nice outlet to Dylan Stewart for a nice finish.  43-35 EP with 9:28 left and they take a strange timeout.  Ian Thiesen picks up his 4th with 7:38 left and has to sit.  Dylan Stewart's 2 FTs take us to a TV timeout at 6:58, EP up 48-42.  Stewart with a nice block on a Van Pelt drive.  Later a tough drive for 2 more and a cut to the post and lefty finish.  55-45 EP inside 4 to play.  DJ Hebert 2 FTs, and EP walks for a Joey Sonnenfeld 3.  57-52 EP with 1:28 left.  EP makes their free throws and a Derek Dedeker 3 point play seals it.  EP wins 67-56 and will play Hopkins for the state title.

Dylan Stewart with 24 and 8, Connor Nord 18 and 9 for Eden Prairie.  Joey Sonnenfeld 21 for Osseo.  EP outrebounds Osseo 51-21 in a major surprise. Teams shoot well in the second half after a cold 1st half.  19-60 in the first half.  25-45 in the second half.

2011 State Tourney Day 2 Class AAA

Class AAA Semifinals

Game 1: New Prague vs Columbia Heights 
Cale Girten 2 fouls vs Lofton at 13:24 1st half, sits.  Joe Hatch continued hot play with back to back 3s.  Heights starts 4-16 from the floor but has 8 offensive boards to stay close.  Then a pair of turnovers and Lofton converts those into 5 points.  That gets Girten off the bench at the 10:16 mark down 16-12.  7-0 Heights run and Lofton already with 10 points.  Middle of the Heights zone is wide open to exploit and New Prague not taking advantage.  2 late New Prague turnovers help Heights extend the lead to double digits.  30-21 Heights at half.  Lofton 18 points with 8-9 FTs.  Heights with 11 offensive rebounds on 24 misses.  Girten sat at the end of the half and when the lead got to double digits I would have brought him back (why not, you brought him back earlier) but the Trojans manage to stay within 9.

Jed Kreuser and Cale Girten with 3s as New Prague continues to hang around down 43-34 at the 8:30 mark.    Lofton with a tough finish and then a lob assist to Ben Glover.  49-34 Heights pulling away with 6:47 left.  Girten with 2 bombs and Luke Busch with another 3 for 3 straight Trojan 3s to cut the lead to 6 with 3 minutes left.  Over back on Heights and Kreuser for 3 with a minute left to cut it to 3.  Lofton drives and immediately scores going to the basket.  New Prague won't score again and Heights moves on with a 57-50 win.  Zach Lofton 31 points on 10-22.  Jordan Mills 10 points and 16 rebounds.   41-30 Heights wins the rebounding battle with 18 offensive boards for 18 2nd chance points.  Cale Girten 17 and 9 for New Prague despite first half foul trouble.  New Prague again shoots more 3s than 2s.  Teams combine to shoot 39-106 (36.8%) from the floor as neither team could break the 40% barrier.

Game 2: Orono vs Waconia
A interesting semifinal matchup between conference rivals.  Waconia won both meetings to win the Wright County.  Jeremy Borg guarding Shelby Moats is something to watch as he's had some success in the past.  Though Moats did have a 30-20 game against the Spartans earlier this year.  A pair of turnovers allow Waconia to take a 13-12 lead just inside the 8 minute mark. Teams shooting 9-28 to this point.  Back and forth as Orono would jump out to a small lead and Waconia would come back.  Smith's 3rd 3 is in transition leads Orono to a 25-19 halftime lead.  Smith with 13 in the half.  Moats with 7 points and 9 rebounds, 5 of 8 shot attempts from 3.   His last bucket at the 4:25 mark gave Waconia a 19-18 lead before giving up the last 7 of the half.

Moats has a couple of tough calls (a charge and no call on postup) go against him but Borg is doing nice work contesting him.  Waconia stays tough and scores the first 6 of the half to tie the game at the first TV timeout.  25 all with 14:01 left.   Al Sharpton with 3 or 4 straight calls against Waconia and then a make up call gets Moats to the line.  34-31 Orono with 10:30 left.  Then a bogus 5th foul on Ferron for ripping thru after getting mugged.  Then a Waconia player gets run over and no call.  Coach Hayes and the Waconia fans all over the officiating crew and its hard to blame them.  Brady Wohler hits a 3 to extend the lead to 7 but Waconia recovers to cut the lead to 3 before another Wohler 3 with 6:20 left.  43-37 Orono leading before Moats picks up a dicey 4th foul at the 6 minute mark for 2 Borg FTs.  Big moment when Borg puts back a 3rd chance with 3:45 left and the lead is back to 6.  Moats with a block on Borg with 2:30 to play and Alex Schmitt outhustles Orono for the rebound.  He's fouled for 2 free throws with 1:59 left.  47-45 Orono hanging on.  Borg grabs a miss and is fouled but misses both freebies.  Waconia takes time with a chance to tie and 1:32 left.  Kick to Ben Kortuem for 3 with 1 minute left and Waconia takes the lead 48-47.  Orono miss is tipped out with 30 seconds left and Jordan Smith scores with 20 seconds left.  Timeout Waconia down 49-48 with 17.8 to play.  Bronson Scheff drives off a high screen and gets mugged for no call.  Daniel Drew fouled with 7.8 left and makes 1 of 2.  Waconia takes last time out.  Alex Schmitt to the rim, loses the ball, gets it back and Borg swats his attempt out of bounds.  The refs will go to the monitor and set the clock to 1.6 seconds.  Waconia goes sucker play with 4 guys away and a back cut.  They don't get it and pass is tipped away.  With 1 second left, there's 1 last chance and Ben Kortuem's 3 is in and out at the horn.  Orono moves on with a 50-48 win.

Not a pretty game at all but with 2 teams who already played twice that makes offense harder.  Waconia shoots 15-44 (34.1%) with 20 turnovers, 14-21 FTs.  Orono 16-49 (32.7%), 14 turnovers, 11-22 FTs.  Jordan Smith 22 points and 6 rebounds to lead Orono.  Jeremy Borg 11 points and 7 rebounds along with nice work defensively on Moats.  Ben Kortuem 19 points to lead Waconia.  Shelby Moats 10 points with 14 rebounds.  4-12 FGs, 1-6 from 3.  Only 4 shot attempts for Moats in the second half.  Hard fought game and a great ending.

2011 State Tourney, Day 1

To Williams Arena for the opening day of the 2011 state tournament.  I wrote articles on the first 3 games of the day for Minnesota Preps and then sat back and took a different look at the last 3 games.  My random thoughts from the day.
  • The Johnson game looked like New Prague would make a run and then Johnson would just be Johnson and at some point take off and put the game away.  With 5 minutes, Johnson did go up 7 thanks to Estan Tyler but to the amazement of many, New Prague came back and took the lead.  The lead was 10 earlier in the half.  Down 4 it almost looked like Johnson went into panic mode.  Very surprising from an experienced team.   No surprise that New Prague shot it that well from 3 to pull the upset.  That shooting combined with stingy defense make their semifinal matchup with Columbia Heights very interesting.
  • Lots of chatter on boards and specifically on my pages about Zach Lofton and Columbia Heights.  They get it done behind a quality performance from Lofton but they also had great productivity from the rest of the squad.  They handle Marshall and playing like they did today would make them very tough to beat.
  • In a day where big leads vanished, Waconia jumped out to a 19 point lead at half time and then saw that lead get all the way down to 8 at one point.  Shelby Moats and his hot start got Waconia going.  Grand Rapids 8th grade PF Alex Illikainen with a double double.  Long and lean with good touch and nice hands, he's definitely a quality power forward right now and has nice upside.
  • For Waconia, you have to be impressed with them.  One day its Alex Schmitt, the next its Ben Kortuem, today its Wylie Ferron.  Hard to argue with the fact that they just win.
  • As to the last quarterfinal in 3A, Apollo thought they overcame demons when beating Little Falls during section play but after leading by 18 in the second half over Orono (who beat them at Christmas), this is a demon that won't go away anytime soon.  Orono used a 26-6 run over 7 minutes to regain the lead.  Great to see Ibrahim Abukar nail 2 clutch free throws to force overtime.  
  • Story of the day was the appearance of Zach Gabbard with his Perham teammates.  Great ovation from the crowd.  Great class from the Virginia players to include him in pregame and postgame handshakes.
  • As to the game, what a tough spot for Virginia because Perham is not the team you want to end up with in the draw.  This one was practically over when Perham boarded the bus to make the trip to the cities due to the emotion involved (nothing to due with Virginia's skill just to be clear).  Perham was an absolute buzzsaw.  They shot 52.3% for the game, 8-14 from 3 and executed their offense as well as any team I saw today. 
  • As to other offense, very difficult to watch.  Virginia shot 32.6% and turned it over 19 times.  Zimmerman shot 35.5% in the second half to lose a 10 point halftime lead and they lost 61-58 to Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.  Those teams combined for 40 turnovers.  WEM did shoot 61.9% in the 2nd half and held off 2 late 3 point attempts and blocked a 3rd to hang on. 
  • Zimmerman's star Brandon Giese shoots 5-19, 1-9 from 3, WEM has the hot second half and Zimmerman still should have won the game.  Their Mississippi 8 schedule was definitely useful in prepping them for the talent level they saw in this one.  Give WEM credit for their execution of the dribble drive in the 2nd half to get that high shooting percentage.
  • Maybe Zimmerman runs normally, but playing 10 guys in 2 to 3 minute shifts in what amounted to a halfcourt game mostly and with no press put on by the Thunder seemed very strange.  Not to mention WEM is one of the more high-powered teams in the state, they'll be happy to run with you.  You play those shifts and number of guys to take advantage of depth.  Playing slow and in limited possessions takes away those advantages because it doesn't force the opponent into their depth where you're better.
  • So after day 1 we have no Johnson, no Alex Richter or Johnny Woodard.  Will there be anything left on championship Saturday that fans want to watch?  Last year attendance was down almost 10,000 fans with no star power to watch.  Attendance has dropped the last 4 years from 78,660 in 2007 to 55,731 last year and I wouldn't be shocked if we don't reach 50K this year.  Is it time for Minnesota to ditch bringing 8 teams in every class to state and go a route like Wisconsin where we focus on bringing fewer teams for better games and scheduling those games around television (read 4A always plays in primetime like the Yankees) instead for the travel interest of the small schools?

2011 State Tourney Predictions

So after a dreadful record of 5-6 in my section final predictions and a 76-17 finish, here are my early thoughts on the 2011 MSHSL Boys Basketball State Tournament. 

A striking thought is all the star power that won't be there.  No DeLaSalle and Jonah Travis.  No Benilde-St. Margaret's and their group of junior stars.  No Lakeview Christian and Anders Broman.  No Joey King and Eastview.  No Chaska and Ross Travis/Jake White.  No MTS and Kyle Noreen/Rodney Owens.  No Plainview-Elgin-Millvile and Cole Olstad.  No Braham and Tyler Vaughan.  No Sebeka, no Rushford-Peterson, no Tartan.  No Montevideo or Windom.  But its always fun regardless.  Here are my bracket predictions and thoughts.

Class A
Top half of the bracket is loaded with the state's last undefeated team Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and Kevin Kuefler.  He gets a matchup with Ashton Erie in the opener but BBE moves on.  That sets up a dynamite semifinal between them and the winner of the top class A quarterfinal MACCRAY/Maranatha.  Seth Hinrichs is a nightmare matchup, but MCA has good guard play with Darian Pittman.  I'll take MACCRAY to win both as they survived tough section 3.  The bottom half doesn't have the same appeal.  I'll take Chisholm over Fosston and Springfield (Tyler Marz back for the Tigers) over Upsala.  I'll take Springfield's experience over Chisholm in the other semi.  Not a bad pair of semis.  MACCRAY goes all the way.

Class AA
Don't sleep on Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.  Cody Warner had a very nice season to lead LPGE through their half of the West Central.  I'll take them over Rochester Lourdes.  Redwood Valley brings coach Markus Okeson back to state (led Ellsworth there previously).  Keep an eye on Michael Busack.  After knocking out Montevideo and Windom (in 4OT) to win section 3, I think they win their 1st 2 at state over upstart Minnehaha and LPGE.  In the bottom half a very good opener with Virginia and sentimental favorite Perham.  Perham stayed the course with only 1 OT loss after the on-court collapse of star Zach Gabbard in January.  You know the emotions for the Yellowjackets will run high.  No way I'm picking against that.  Waterville-Elysian-Morristown gets Zimmerman in the last quarterfinal.  WEM gave Tartan all they wanted a month ago, but Zimmerman is battle tested from the Mississippi 8 and has great guard play with Blake Ehley and Brandon Giese.  I'll take Zimmerman to win that one.  Perham then takes out Zimmerman and Redwood Valley to take home the title.

Class AAA
Johnson takes out New Prague in the first quarterfinal, too many athletes but New Prague is good enough defensively to keep this one close.  Columbia Heights takes out Marshall in another case of too many athletes.  Individual matchup of the day is 6'8 8th grader Alex Illikainen of Grand Rapids taking on Shelby Moats and Waconia.  Waconia really rolling right now, hard to pick against them but Grand Rapids showed last year that you can't count them out.  With guard Austin Pohlen and 67 Mike Spoden returning from that team, experience is still there.  I expect a low scoring affair.  Best game of the 4 is the rematch of Orono and St. Cloud Apollo.  Orono won the regular season meeting in the Granite City tournament.  Size vs speed as Orono won't have much answer for the Apollo size, but Orono shoots it so well.  Fun matchup but I'll take Orono with their time to prepare and throw in new crazy defensive wrinkles.

In the semis, its a Wright County rematch of Waconia and Orono.  Waconia won both regular season meetings, but I just have a hunch on Orono on this one.  The other semifinal between Johnson and Columbia Heights I think will be the best game of the entire tournament at any level.  Heights won't be intimidated by the Johnson pressure and Heights is the type of team that Johnson has had struggles with this season.  Johnson's last 3 losses in the last 3 seasons, all to Washburn.  Estan Tyler guarding Zach Lofton is going to be something really fun to watch.  I'll take Johnson to survive that game and defend their title. 

Class AAAA
Hopkins begins with a blowout of Owatonna.  Duluth East vs CDH isn't all that compelling but I'll take CDH with their zone.  Lakeville South vs Eden Prairie is an oustanding matchup.  Lakeville South rolling right now so I like them in that one.  Osseo cruises over Maple Grove in their 3rd meeting of the season.   Hopkins with a comfortable win in the semifinals.  Osseo vs Lakeville South should be an outstanding semifinal.  I like the matchup of Joey Sonnenfeld and Alex Richter in that one.  I'll take Osseo in a tight one.  Hopkins wins the rematch with Osseo to defend their title.

The Czar's 2011 Mr Basketball Final 5

The Mr Basketball committee just trimmed their list of 20 candidates down to 5 finalists.  Not that it matters since this is one of the easiest selections we'll have, but at least guessing how long we'll have to wait for the official announcement makes it interesting.  Here's a refresher on who the original 20 were and who made the final cut.  Then I'll tell you who I would have picked and why.

Lucas Brown-Roseville
Joe Coleman - Hopkins
Shelby Moats - Waconia
Kyle Noreen - Minnesota Transitions
Jake White - Chaska

The other 15 candidates
Tom Schalk - Apple Valley
Marquel Curtis - Robbinsdale Armstrong
Marcus Alipate - Bloomington Jefferson
Ross Travis - Chaska
Benji Figini - Chisago Lakes
Zach Lofton - Columbia Heights
Raijon Kelly - Cretin-Derham Hall
Jonah Travis - DeLaSalle
Marvin Singleton - Hopkins
Alex Richter - Lakeville South
Seth Hinrichs - MACCRAY
Cole Olstad - Plainview - Elgin - Millville
Roosevelt Scott - St. Paul Johnson
Estan Tyler - St. Paul Johnson
Eric Robertson - Wayzata

The Czar's Final 5
Joe Coleman - Hopkins
Roosevelt Scott - Johnson 
Marvin Singleton - Hopkins
Jonah Travis - DeLaSalle
Jake White - Chaska

Coleman, Singleton, Travis and White were easy choices as they were clear game changers and consistent night in and night out.  I've been outspoken that I don't like picking 2 guys from the same team but Singleton was just that dominant compared to everybody else, couldn't keep him out.  Coleman, Travis and White were monsters all season and dominated most of their competition.  The last spot was really tough as there's a bunch of guys worthy of a look.  So based on individual performance, importance to their team, overall team performance and college upside, Scott got my 5th spot.  I had him as MVP of the St. Paul City, Johnson was undefeated in Minnesota until the Twin Cities Game, he played well in big games (40 vs MTS and end of Lakeville South game on opening night before Tyler's game winning tip are 2 examples) and he's a difference maker athlete even for Johnson and has large college upside.

Flying to the end of the season

To Hopkins for the final non State Tourney game of my 2010-2011 season.  Its Chaska vs Eden Prairie in the 2AAAA final.  Its a neutral floor rubber match as these teams split during the regular season with each winning at home.  A surprisingly big line when I make my early entrance and then much to my horror I realize its a 7:30 start, not a 7:00 start.  That means 2 things, 1 is that we'll have an SRO crowd (which we did) and that I won't make the end of this game.  BOLSHEVIK!  Kicking myself for that mistake. Taco in a Bag at Hopkins is always good but the sour cream seemed lumpy, just didn't mix well tonight, disappointing way to eat my way out of the season.  Mr Basketball guys amongst those watching.  We get both school's pep bands but with the final night of sections and the NCAA tourney getting underway, I'll steal from CBS.

Song of the Day
One Shining Moment - Written by David Barrett performed by Luther Vandross (certainly NOT the disaster done by Jennifer Hudson last year)

Game Time
Ross Travis gets the assignment for Chaska guarding Dylan Stewart.  Chaska gets the offense going inside with Jake White scoring their first 5 on the post.  Then Travis with a jumper and a post up and White sticks back a miss.  11-8 Chaska at the 12 minute mark.  Dylan Stewart already with a pair of drives for layups.  He then runs out and challenges for a 3 point play.  Robert Vishnevskiy off the EP bench for 3 and Grant Soderberg drives for an easy layup.  The 8-0 run over 3:50 forces Chaska to take timeout at the 8:10 mark down 16-11. Chaska comes back with 5 in a row to tie as Travis goes to a nice spin move, White makes the 1st of 2 FTs and Travis puts back the 2nd one.  21-18 EP at 3:20 before Chaska runs off 7 in a row featuring a pretty give and go with White and Travis that resulted in a big 2 handed baseline flush from Travis.  25-23 Chaska at the half.  EP comes back to take a 32-28 lead before Ross Travis converts an offensive rebound to tie the game at 32.  Then EP takes over.  Sander Mohn for 3, Jack Klukas on the post for 2 and then an EP 3.  42-35 Eden Prairie with about 9 minutes left when I have to head for the exits.  Thanks to Ryan James' updates it looks like EP kept a 10 point lead most of the rest of the way as they win 67-57.

I had Mr Basketball finalist Jake White (one of the last 5 now) for a double double of 11 and 10 in the first half on his way to 22 points.  Ross Travis 16 of his 25 in the second half and he had at least 3 blocks in the game that I saw.  Only 5 points from the rest of the roster in each half.  Chaska's offense never got into any kind of flow as Eden Prairie defensively made early adjustments to get back side help in the post out of a 4 out look.  Chaska finishes the season 24-5 and has the entire base rotation that played tonight graduating. 

Eden Prairie gets 4 in double figures as Jack Klukas scores all 15 of his points in the second half.  Dylan Stewart 7 of his 11 in the first half.  Derek Dedeker 12, Sander Mohn 11.  Their defense really kept Chaska at bay and the pace was definitely to their liking.  Eden Prairie is now 25-4 and the debate for the #2 seed with Osseo tomorrow should be very entertaining.  EP's losses are to Johnson, Hopkins, Washburn and Chaska and they have a win over Hopkins plus a ridiculously tough schedule. Osseo is 27-2 with a loss to Hopkins and a league loss to Blaine.  Best win might be Plainview-Elgin-Millville though as the rest of the schedule doesn't inspire (beating Buffalo once and Maple Grove twice is nice but not the same)

That leaves CDH and Lakeville South likely fighting for the last seed.  Duluth East, Owatonna and Maple Grove are probably locks for the random draw.  Duluth East will be a team nobody wants to draw with the lightning quick Taylor Stafford at the point (see performance vs Hopkins) and star wing Johnny Woodard.

2011 6AAA Championship

To Chanhassen for the 6AAA championship between Benilde-St. Margaret's and Waconia.  These teams met in the Eden Prairie holiday tournament consolation game with BSM winning big 90-60.  That loss put Waconia at 2-4 but the Wildcats are 18-3 since and ran through the Wright County.  BSM 20-2 (2 losses by 8 points) since that win to win the North Suburban.  To my horror, the pizza wasn't ready when I arrived.  But Pepsi is never a bad thing.  While Chanhassen is huge, a big crowd on hand with Lehigh, Stanford, UNI and Minnesota all looking on.  Mr..Basketball guys looked lonely in the front row center court tonight.  As to music, let's go with this 1 hit wonder.

Song of the Day
Crowded House - Don't Dream its Over

Game Time
Myles Barnes gets the assignment guarding Waconia's Shelby Moats.  BSM trying to use full court man pressure to up the tempo.  Moats with a jumper at the 13:40 mark, 10-6 Wildcats.  BSM with a handful of sloppy turnovers already.  Isaiah Zierden with a nice spin to the basket for 2 at the 12:10 mark.  12-10 Waconia leads.  Then Moats with a steal for a Ben Kortuem 3, Moats for 3, Bronson Scheff with a layup and another Kortuem bomb.  23-11 Waconia after an 11-1 run, 9:10 left in the half.  Barnes with a follow 2 handed dunk at the 4:30 mark for some BSM momentum, but Scheff converts 2 more sloppy turnovers into layups to push the lead back to 10.  Waconia leads 35-27 at the break.

BSM cuts the lead to 5 with a Barnes bucket and Isaiah Gray inside for 2.  Moats with a jumper, Kortuem banks a runner and Scheff follows with a runner of his own.  Waconia pushes the lead back to 10, 46-36 with 13:05 to play.  Then BSM puts on their run and its with Sanjay Lumpkin sitting with 4 fouls.  Zierden for 3, Gray to the basket for 2, Will Dunn with a 3 point play.  That's Kortuem's 4th foul and he'll sit with 8:09 left.  That takes a major offensive weapon off the floor for Waconia.  Waconia misses a front end and a side screen roll has Zierden finding Barnes for a free throw and Gray adds a layup.  Timeout Waconia with 6:59 left as they cling to a 50-49 lead.  Kortuem is back in the game and nails a 3 to kick the lead back to 6.  BSM with the next 7 a Dunn drive and fade, Barnes blocking Moats for a Gray layup and back to the side screen and roll for a Zierden 3.  56-55 BSM with 4:20 to play.

Scheff with 1 free throw to tie it.  BSM turns it over and Wylie Ferron with a putback with 3:25 left to put Waconia back on top.  Zierden misses a good look at a 3 off an offensive board and kick out.  Moats adds a free throw for a 59-56 lead.  2:56 left when BSM takes time and Lumpkin is finally back in.  He mails a jumper with 2:30 left.  Moats on the post with 1:45 left and Barnes fouls out defending him.  BSM makes a bad pass and turns it over with 1:30 left.  But Waconia misses a pair of FTs on the other end with 1:07 left.  Zierden held off the ball and makes the bonus freebies with 46.1 left.  61-60 Waconia leads.  Waconia runs out, Kortuem's long layup is off the glass long, Waconia grabs the miss no good, Kortuem in amongst the trees comes out with that 2nd miss.  That effort was a microcosm of the toughness Waconia showed all night.  But Kortuem misses both free throws.  BSM goes and Zierden misses a 3 with 20 seconds left.  BSM grabs the board but turns it over. Kortuem to the line for 1 of 2 free throws (that's 5 of last 6 FTs missed down the stretch).  15.9 to play, Waconia by 2.  Zierden drives middle and kicks to Lumpkin for a wide open left wing 3 that's no good.  Out of bounds underneath to BSM with 6.3 left and they take a timeout.  BSM goes to a 3 man stack ball side with Zierden on the backside elbow.  They get 1 curl cut and Zierden comes off a staggered double but can't get a catch.  A final pass is intercepted by Kortuem as Zierden doesn't touch the ball at the end.  Waconia wins a thriller 62-60 and advances to state.

Post Game
Benilde-St. Margaret's finishes their season 23-5 with most of the lineup returning next season.  Isaiah Zierden 18 points (I had 20 on my sheet with 3 3s).  Isaiah Gray 14 points.  I thought BSM would have drawn up something better to get a look in that last 6.3 seconds.  I also thought BSM would use more of their run and jump to try and force Waconia to play faster than their desired pace.  The UCLA screen to side pick and roll action with Zierden and Barnes was very effective.  Didn't see the double flare for Zierden either, that's something that BSM has had success with as well.

Waconia is now 21-7 and despite the record, I think based on 2 head-head wins and a better Wright County record than Orono, Waconia is a definite 3 seed in AAA at state (assuming Johnson and DLS are the top 2).  That means Apollo is likely the team that falls out of the seeding due to Orono beating them head-head at the Granite City.  Bronson Scheff outstanding with 14 of his 21 points in the first half.  Ben Kortuem 4 3s and 17 points.  Shelby Moats 14 points.  Give the Wildcats credit for withstanding multiple runs.  They were the tougher team tonight winning the 50-50 balls and they controlled the tempo.  Hard to argue with how the Wildcats played outside of the 5 of 6 missed free throws down the stretch that could have sealed the game.  That was very surprising.

2011 Section 4AAAA Semis

Once again its off to East Ridge for the section 4AAAA semifinals.  No food tonight as hot dogs weren't ready in the pregame visit to the concession stand.  I thought it might be close to a sellout for the early game with CDH and Roseville, but less than I thought.  Tartan took on Stillwater in the late game.  Today's music comes to us from the public address system and seems fitting for playoff basketball.

Song of the Day
Won't Back Down - Tom Petty

Game 1: Cretin-Derham Hall vs Roseville
David Stanley with a jumper and 3 early for Roseville.  Taylor Montero 2 quick buckets for CDH.  8 all just inside the 14 minute mark.  Then Montero to the left hand and  goes glass, CJ Neumann a pair of putbacks and Montero runs out for a layup.  16-8 at the 11:33 mark and Roseville needs a timeout to stop the bleeding.  Lucas Brown comes out of the timeout and buries a 3, Sam Peterson for 3 and Brown with a layup and its a 8-0 run in less than 2 minutes to tie the game.  CDH on a drought as they take timeout at the 7:49 mark.  Almost 4 minutes scoreless for CDH.  Brown then runs out for a big 2 handed hammer dunk to put Roseville back on top.  Peterson with a nice dive from the high post vs the CDH 2-3 and a Logan Brown 3.  25-20 at the 4:45 mark.  That's a 17-4 Roseville spurt in just under 7 minutes.  Montero cuts into that lead with a 3 before Stanley makes 2 free throws and Brown dunks a turnover just inside the 4 minute mark.  Raijon Kelly has 2 fouls but this will get him off the bench and back in the game.  Good choice there by coach Kline.  Brown blows by Neumann from the foul line and throws down a nasty 2 handed double clutch dunk.  31-25 Roseville at the half. 

Neumann getting it going to start the 2nd half as he scores a reverse layup and then a drive and the extension for a WOW! 1 handed dunk.  He goes for it on the next possession and only a hard foul keeps that from being a poster.  Montero for 3, Connor Quicksell on the post for 2 and a reverse layup.  39-34 CDH and they take a timeout that I didn't like at all at the 11:11 mark.  Thought it might kill the momentum.  Kelly drives for 2 and puts back a miss.  Its an 18-3 CDH run with no Roseville FGs.  Out of a timeout CDH goes to a favorite time killer, THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE.  Brown gets a steal out of that and takes it the other way for a reverse 2 handed dunk.  That dunk at 8:06 is the 1st Roseville FG of the half and 1st since the huge Brown dunk late in the first half.  A Brown 3 with 6:25 left cuts the lead to 6, 49-43.  But Roseville gives up the next to push the lead to 12.  CDH pulls away from there and wins 68-52.  Montero and Neumann with 18 each.  Lucas Brown with 20 and 9 boards for Roseville

Game 2: Tartan vs Stillwater
This one looks like a blowout early.  Darrion Strong with a 3 and jumper as Stillwater really packs in their man defense.  Joel Awich on the post and then 6 in a row from Luke Preiner, last 4 on turnovers.  13-4 Tartan at the 12:19 mark.  Stillwater closes the gap to 20-16 at the 5:50 mark on a Paxton Harvieux drive.  The 2nd drive where he may have gotten away with a pushoff.  Awich scores again inside and then a great drive from the foul line, hard stop and pivot away from the baseline for an easy 2 that looked like Hakeem Olajuwon.    27-22 Tartan at the half despite the game feeling like it should have been much more.

Soph Andrew Duxbury to the left hand for 2 and the foul at the 12:34 mark, 29-25 Tartan leads.  Then the Stillwater offense just goes away.  They don't get another field goal until Harvieux hits a jumper at the 3 minute mark.  By that time the Tartan lead is 18.  During the run Xavier Hall with a jumper and pair of nice drives for 2 and a Kyle Von Schmidt Pauli 3.  Tartan also going to some slow possessions to milk the clock.  Also a bunch of free throws as Stillwater brings back memories of MTS in the state tourney by starting to foul at the 4:30 mark.  That adds on 9 free points before it gets called off outside 2 minutes left.  Tartan wins 51-33.  Stillwater held to 11 points and 3 field goals in the 2nd half.   The Ponies do get 9 players in the scoring column.  Chase Bowersox with 7 to lead the way.  Tartan gets 12 from Darrion Strong, 11 from Joel Awich.

All of this sets up a rematch of last year's semifinal classic between Tartan and Cretin-Derham Hall.  CDH won at the buzzer last season, for a trip back in time, read about it here.

MSHSL releases new section assignments

Here are the changes from the new MSHSL section assignments for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

Section 4A
Add Legacy Christian from section 5AA
Add Minneapolis North from section 6AAAA
Lose Bethany Academy to section 1A
Lose Hmong Academy, New Life Academy, St. Agnes and St. Paul Humboldt to section 4AA
Lose Spectrum to section 5AA

Section 4AA
Add Hmong Academy, New Life, St. Agnes and St. Paul Humboldt from section 4A.
Lose Providence Academy to section 5AA
Lose Blake and Minneapolis Roosevelt to section 6AAA
Wouldn't be surprised to see St. Croix Prep added here later.

Section 3AAA
Add Spring Lake Park from section 5AAAA
Lose St. Paul Central to to section 4AAA

Section 4AAA
Add St. Paul Central from section 3AAA
Add Simley from section 1AAA
Lose Mahtomedi to section 4AAAA

Section 6AAA
Add Blake and Minneapolis Roosevelt from section 4AA
Add Chaska from section 2AAAA
Lose Mound-Westonka to section 5AAA
Lose Waconia to section 2AAA

Section 2AAAA
Add Burnsville and Lakeville South from section 3AAAA
Lose Chaska to section 6AAA
Lose Edina to section 6AAAA

Section 3AAAA
Add Cretin-Derham Hall, Henry Sibley and East Ridge from section 4AAAA
Lose Burnsville and Lakeville South to section 2AAAA
Lose Lakeville North to section 1AAAA

Section 4AAAA
Add Mahtomedi from section 4AAA
Add Mounds View from section 5AAAA
Lose Cretin-Derham Hall, Henry Sibley and East Ridge to section 3AAAA

Section 5AAAA
Add Coon Rapids from section 7AAAA
Add Maple Grove from section 8AAAA
Lose Mounds View to section 4AAAA
Lose Spring Lake Park to section 3AAA

Section 6AAAA
Add Edina from section 2AAAA
Lose Minneapolis North to section 4A

Section 7AAAA
Lose Coon Rapids to section 5AAAA.

2011 6AAAA Semifinals

To Osseo for a night of 6AAAA semifinals.  Always love the Dominos Pizza and Pepsi.  Plenty of coaches in attendance.  UMKC in to watch Marquel Curtis and Butler head coach Brad Stevens reportedly in to watch Siyani Chambers.  MN-Moorhead, SW MN State, Central Lakes, Itasca and Augsburg on the list of other colleges attending.  The Mr Basketball guys front and center for Joe Coleman.  I also get a Rene Pulley sighting (long time no see) and the MN Heat watching as well.  A media horde also showing up with Michael Much, Chris Monter and John Sherman in the building.  Al Sharpton working the opening game to boot.  The Wayzata pep band on hand for the late game.  They give us today's song

Song of the Day
Bob Seger - Old Time Rock and Roll

Game 1: Hopkins vs St. Louis Park
Hopkins won the first matchup 102-57 and left very little doubt about this one.  Joe Coleman with a reverse layin and a putback.  Siyani Chambers for 3 and Hopkins has the 1st 7.  Marvin Singleton back to back layups and a Nick Jorgensen layup.  17-3 Hopkins just over 5 minutes into the game.  Jorgensen another layup, Singleton on the post again and Coleman with a 3 point play.  26-8 Hopkins at the 8:55 mark for a St. Louis Park timeout.  Then a major pullaway late in the half.  Demetrius Martin starts the run with a 3.  Then Chambers with a nice cut to break pressure in the backcourt and he finds Coleman for a dunk.  Zach Stahl coast to coast, a turnover for a Martin layup and the lead is 47-17.  Hopkins moves on with a 81-44 win.  Zach Stahl an impressive night with 23 points and crashing the class.  Joe Coleman standard work with 22 and 8.  Marvin Singleton 12.  Kashif Hayes showing he has big upside with 15 points.  Aaron Ziman 10.  Marquealis Edwards held to 7.  St. Louis Park has some major losses (Ziman, Edwards, Joe Zangel) but with Hayes, Garrison Gillard and DJ Pollard coming back, there's a nice nucleus there.  The Orioles finish their season 18-10.  Hopkins is 27-1.  Who will they face?

Game 2: Wayzata vs Armstrong
A battle of Wayzata's size vs Armstrong's quality guard play.  Chris Burt's layup at 13:15 puts Wayzata up 9-5.  Armstrong counters with a 14-4 spurt thanks to Marquel Curtis converting a pair of Trojans turnovers and dunking a miss. 19-13 Falcons at the 7:46 mark.  Eric Robertson 4-17 in a cold first half but his bucket at 6:30 cuts the Armstrong lead to 21-18.  Curtis in the post for 2 free throws.  Then he steals a pass and he'll get the ball back on a lob for a layup, then a tip in at 5:05.  27-20 Armstrong.  9-2 Wayzata the rest of the way.  Robertson for 3, Burt inside for 3 of 4 FTs and a Tanner Helgren 3 at the halftime buzzer ties the game at 29.

Wayzata looks to pull away as Helgren with a steal for a layup and then a scoop for a 3 point play.  50-42 Trojans with 11:45 left.  Michael Willman with the play of the night.  He gets a long outlet from Curtis spins and throws up the reverse layup and the prayer is answered for a 3 point play.  KJ Bluford adds 2 to cut the lead to 51-47 Wayzata with 9:46 left.  Robertson to the rack for his 1st FG in 13 minutes, Armstrong can't putback 2 misses and Burt responds with a putback for a 3 point play on the other end and the lead is up to 9.  Curtis with a pair of buckets to keep Armstrong within 7.  Robertson diagonal skip to Helgren for 3 from the left corner.  Curtis counters that with his own putback for a 3 point play.  61-54 Wayzata with 5:52 left.  But Curtis won't score again and Wayzata pulls away.  Burt with 2 free throw, Zach Robertson with a layup, Helgren converts a turnover into a layup and adds 2 free throws, Zach Robertson again at the 2:25 mark.  Bluford breaks the 10-0 run with 2:05 left but its too late.  Wayzata wins 75-60.

Armstrong finishes their season 18-10 but went 4-8 in February and March.  Marquel Curtis with 26 and 10 for the Falcons.  KJ Bluford 18 points.  Most of the roster graduates including the guard trio of Curtis, Bluford and Levi Abercrombie.  Wayzata is now 21-7 and will play Hopkins in the section final on Tuesday night in Osseo.  Hopkins won the 2 regular season meetings by 17 and 30 points.  Star forward Eric Robertson under the weather, he shot 5-22 and finished with 13 points and 8 rebounds.  Credit Wayzata's roster for stepping up around him.  Chris Burt with 21 points inside and if he could have had 30 had the Trojans looked for him down low.  Tanner Helgren 3 triples and he comes up with 20 big points.  Zach Robertson 15 points and he was productive on the glass as well.  Only 1 basket off the bench combined for these teams tonight (a garbage time postup by Jaevon Walton). 

Falcons fly past Hawks

The thrill, the passion, the desire of section 4A playoff basketball.  After missing the scintillating (cough) 36-32 North Lakes upset (only win all year) on Monday night against AFSA, let's make up for lost time with Humboldt vs FAIR.  It may be FAIR Downtown (and that's Falcons not Skyscrapers), but their regular home gym is the lower school campus in Crystal (meth).  Tonight the game gets moved to Prairie Seeds Academy.  We learned from our opening game visit what a Lycan is and certainly a Lycan would eat either of these mascots for lunch.  I smuggled in a beverage fearing that there's be no concession stand but hot dogs and gatorade available tonight, though I did resist that temptation.  Humboldt shows up at 6:50 for a 7:00 tip (and the 20 minute warmup clock is supposed to start at 6:35, do you hear me Cooper and White Bear Lake).  So we finally get tip at 7:20.  So its clear tonight is an adventure, that leads us to this classic for today's music.

Song of the Day
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Run Through The Jungle
CCR leader John Fogerty got sued for plagarizing himself and this was the tune that he was sued for stealing in 1994.

Game Time
FAIR begins the night opening a 7-4 lead in the 1st 3:40 only to seem Humboldt counter with an 11-1 run.  Dashwan Wright with a pretty spin move for a layup and Chino Garcia converts a turnover into another layup to end the run.  15-8 Humboldt at the 11 minute mark.  FAIR's defense generating offense as the Falcons come back with a 12-2 run.  Falcons star Darrion Scott starts the run with a 3 and ends it with a layup converting a turnover.  20-17 FAIR just inside 7 to play in the half.  The rest of the half is Humboldt.  6 free throws lead to 8 in a row.  The Hawks end the half on a 14-4 run for a 31-24 halftime lead. 

Scott is the outside force for the Falcons.  6'4 Desmond Williams is the inside force and he comes out dominating in the 2nd half.  On the post for 2 free throws and a basket.  Then he gets a steal and scores again in the post.  Addison Hill coast to coast and he'll finish the 3 point play as FAIR explodes out of the halftime break.  Williams to the reverse layup for 2 more.  Humboldt needs time as its an 11-0 FAIR run.  35-31 FAIR with 14:39 left.  Williams with 8 of the 11 in the run.  FAIR gets more chances but Scott misses 4 FTs in a row.  Humboldt makes 1 free throw before a Scott putback ends the 13-1 run at the 12:10 mark.  Humboldt finally gets their 1st field goal of the 2nd half after 6 minutes.  Scott to the rack for 2 and Hill stops and pops in the lane.  44-37 FAIR with 9:45 left.  Humboldt finally getting back into the half and they nail back to back 3s to cut the lead to 1 in a blink of an eye.  Then Wright with 2 free throws and a layup via turnover.  Humboldt back on top 49-48 with 5:45 to play.  55-53 FAIR with 3:35 to play.

It all falls apart for Humboldt at this point.  Crazy sequence with Darion Schington turning it over and then getting the steal back on the other end.  He converts that into a bucket.  Humboldt turnover and Williams scores inside. Humboldt turns it over again but they get a tieup and the arrow goes their way.  On the possession, its an airball just inside of 2 minutes and only down 6.  Williams runs the other way and gets himself another bunny.  Then another Humboldt miss and FAIR runs that the other way for a layup at the 1:20 mark.  63-53 FAIR after the 8-0 run.  After a Humboldt 3, Scott makes a pair of freebies and Hill seals it with a 3 point play.  FAIR wins 72-58

Post Game
For Humboldt, they finish the season at 8-16, 1-9 in the St. Paul City.  Not much coming back next season, hard to see much of note on the horizon for the Hawks.  Dashwan Wright 11 points.  Keith Jackson and Chino Garcia 10 points.

For FAIR, 4 players in double figures. Darrion Scott finishes with 20 (22.2 avg).  Akil England 14 (10.9 avg) and Addison Hill 11.  Post Desmond Williams sat the 1st 9:05 of the game and didn't score in the 1st half.  He came out and dominated in the 2nd half scoring all 16 of his points to almost reach his 16.9 average.  FAIR will stay in the west metro as they'll visit Maranatha on Saturday.  MCA moving on with an 88-9 win over #18 seed North Lakes tonight.  FAIR beat North Lakes 97-30 earlier in the year.  FAIR isn't deep as they really only play 6 guys but only 1 of them (Hill) is a senior.  They have some length and athletes and I liked that they played some 1-3-1 with their people.  I'd like to see them be far more active in it though.  FAIR now 18-8 on the season.

The Czar's 2010-2011 Awards

Alright folks, with another regular season in the books (the 4th here) its time to hand out some hardware.  Here are my awards for League MVP, Coach of the Year and Breakout Player of the Year from the 11 conferences I claim to follow.  Everybody else is doing all-metro etc, I'll have my team of unsung heroes at the end.

League MVPs
Classic Suburban - Jim Remke (Hill-Murray)
Lake - Joe Coleman (Hopkins) ** also my pick for Metro MVP & Mr Basketball
Minneapolis City - Carnell Sheppard (Minneapolis South)
MCAA- Tony Kuplic (Trinity)
Missota - Jake White (Chaska)
North Suburban - Zach Lofton (Columbia Heights)
Northwest Suburban - Joey Sonnenfeld (Osseo)
St. Paul City - Roosevelt Scott (Johnson)
South Suburban - Tom Schalk (Apple Valley)
Suburban East - Raijon Kelly (Cretin-Derham Hall)
Tri-Metro - Jonah Travis (DeLaSalle)

Coach of the Year
Classic Suburban - Dick Ghizoni (Hill-Murray)
Lake - David Flom (Eden Prairie)
Minneapolis City - Joe Hyser (Minneapolis South)
MCAA - Tim Herman (Heritage)
Missota - Dana Kallman (Chaska)
North Suburban -  Dave Breitenbucher (St. Louis Park)
Northwest Suburban - Mark Tuchscherer (Champlin Park)
St. Paul City - Jon DePerry (Highland Park)
South Suburban - Zach Goring (Apple Valley)
Suburban East - Ted Critchley (Roseville)
Tri-Metro -Dave Bratland (St. Anthony)

Breakout Player of the Year
Classic Suburban - tie Alex Stafford (Henry Sibley) and Shawn Bear (Richfield)
Lake - Dylan Stewart (Eden Prairie)
Minneapolis City - Darius Hill (Minneapolis Henry)
MCAA - Josh Kennedy (SW Christian)
Missota - Kevin Carlson (Shakopee)
North Suburban - tie Rashad Vaughn (Cooper), Kashif Hayes (St. Louis Park)
Northwest Suburban - Tanner Schumacher (Blaine)
St. Paul City - Ty'Shaun Williams (Highland Park)
South Suburban -  Tyler Flack (Lakeville North)
Suburban East - Zach Meyer (White Bear Lake)
Tri-Metro - Anthony Brama (St.Anthony)

The Czar's All Unsung Heroes Team
These are kids who aren't necessarily the 1st player you think of on their teams, but they do all the dirty work, have to defend the opponent's top scorer most nights and are the guys who aren't appreciated until they're out of the lineup.  They're players who turn good teams into very good teams.

Jon Christensen - Lakeville South
Taylor Montero - Cretin-Derham Hall
Joey Sonnenfeld - Osseo
Frank Veldman - Eastview
Emeche Wells - Roseville

Holy Family Redemption

Hmmm, something seems familiar about this game (see last year).  Its a Holy Family at Richfield rematch in the opening round 4 vs 5 game in section 6AAA.  Its a battle of speed and fast pace (Richfield) vs size and a slower pace (Holy Family).  I miss the Taco in a Bag with Fritos that they had last year.  With Holy Family's Brian King a major story in this one, let's pick some music by The King. 

Song of the Day
Elvis Presley - All Shook Up

Game Time
Jared Noonan going off to start the game.  He starts with an NBA 3, then converts a turnover into a layup followed by another NBA 3.  Then coast to coast, he goes behind the back and scoops for 2 more. He has all 4 field goals as Richfield leads 11-4 at the 15:10 mark.  The game definitely to their fast pace so far.  Holy Family counters with their own run.  Some double high screen and roll action effective during the run.  Jack Curran is off the Holy Family bench and he finishes the 10-2 run with a post bucket and short jumper.  That puts Holy Family on top for the 1st time, 14-13 at the 10 minute mark.  Then Noonan distributing as he finds Shawn Bear and Daron Garvis for 3s.  24-17 Richfield at the 5:30 mark.  Then Dahl picks up a pair of quick fouls and has to with 3.  28-22 Richfield at that point.  Noonan with another assist for a 3, John Johnson with this one.  But Holy Family scores the last 5 of the half to close to 33-31 at the break.  Noonan 12 points and 5 assists so he was in on at least 25 of the 33 Richfield points.  Max Rosenthal 8 points including a late 3 to close the gap.  Ryan Dahl 8 and 7 boards despite the fouls.

Noonan comes out strong again in the 2nd half.  To the basket twice, a 3 and another assist to Bear for 3.  Timeout Holy Family at the 14:11 mark down 45-38.  Brian King with 5 of the 7 Fire points so far in the half.  Eric Jimson with a putback and he runs out for a layup with a nice assist from halfcourt by Noonan.  Dahl traliing the break and gets tangled up with a dribbler for a cheap 4th foul at the 12:11 mark.  He'll sit with the Fire down 51-42.  Noonan for 2 and then its the same old combination, Noonan to Bear, for 3 off a turnover.  56-44 Richfield with about 11 minutes left.  12 point lead and Dahl on the bench can't be good for the Fire.

Then again, maybe having Dahl on the bench gives Holy Family a better matchup with the small Spartans.    King with a layup, Bennett Smed with his 2nd 3 of the half, Rosenthal with his 3rd 3 of the night.  58-52 Richfield with 9:20 left and Holy Family is right back in it.  Only down 6, its a bit of a surprise that Dahl comes back in at the 7:15 mark.  Noonan again to Bear for 3 at the 6:35 mark to push the Richfield lead to 65-56.  Noonan drives by Dahl for 2 at the 4:10 mark, 67-60 Richfield.  Holy Family not going away.  A putback, a drive and kick for a Rosenthal 3.  Richfield misses a layup and King converts 2 freebies at the 1:51 mark to tie the game at 67.  Noonan airballs a 3 but Richfield grabs the miss and looks to have a layup but that gets swatted away.  King converts that into a layup on the possession.  Noonan not done as he drives baseline and finds Jared Etienne for a layup with 55 seconds left.  Tie game at 69.  Holy Family patient and almost looking to hold for the last shot.  King is left all alone on the left baseline and he knocks down the uncontested 15 footer with 33 seconds to play.  That definitely didn't look like the shot Holy Family wanted as it really looked like they wanted to hold for 1 (and why not on the road), but its great when it goes in.  Richfield brings the ball to the front court and takes time with 22.9 left.  Ball is tipped away but will stay with Richfield on the side with 14.7 left.  Noonan not getting a touch and we have chaos.  Richfield manages to get their timeout request heard over the great crowd noise with 4.5 seconds left.  Holy Family has a foul to give and they immediately take it on the inbounds.  Richfield gets 1 last chance from underneath their basket with 3 seconds left.  The ball goes to Bear who gets a great look from the top of the key and with 5 3s on the night, this one looks good but doesn't go.  Holy Family steals one on the road 71-69.

Post Game
A really tough loss for Richfield giving up a 12 point lead with 11 to go and a 7 point lead with 4 minutes left.  A couple of sloppy turnovers at that point really hurt.  Jared Noonan 25 points, 4 rebounds and 10 assists on my sheet.  He may have had half of those assists on the 5 3s that Shawn Bear made.  15 points for Bear.  John Johnson 11 points and played well but wasn't on the floor late.  8 players score for the Spartans.  Richfield finishes a better than expected season at 17-10, 11-5 in the Classic Suburban (3rd).  Lots of losses but Noonan and Bear return to a lineup that played a ton of guys.  Also keep an eye on freshman jumping jack Louis Williams.

Holy Family is now 19-8 and will play at Benilde-St. Margaret's on Saturday night.  An impressive win considering top guard Jeff Soule didn't play and has been out since Christmas time.  Brian King scores 15 of his 21 in the 2nd half, most inside.  He had 8 of the final 10 Fire points in the last 6:20.  Max Rosenthal, 4 3s on his way to 15 points.  Ryan Dahl missed about 9 minutes of time due to fouls but still ended up with a double double of 12 points and 10 boards on 6-10 FGs.  Richfield's athlete's had more success than I thought they would challenging his shots and making life difficult.  Bennett Smed all 8 of his points off the bench in the 2nd half including a pair of 3s.  Dahl and Rosenthal return next year along with starter Joe Traxler.

2011 MCBA All-Star Rosters Announced

Rosters for the 2011 MN Basketball Coaches Association All-Star games have been announced.  The games are Friday April 1st at St. Cloud St (7/8:45 PM) and Saturday April 2nd at Macalester (2:15/4 PM).  Blue vs Gold and Maroon vs Green on Friday night to determine Saturday games. 

Gold (head coach Rocky Peterson - Winona)
Marcus Alipate - Jefferson
Mark Blacklock - Winona
Joe Coleman - Hopkins (replaced by Joey Sonnenfeld-Osseo)
Benji Figini - Chisago Lakes
James Fort - Annandale
Calvin Jenkins - Roosevelt
Cole Olstad - Plainview-Elgin-Millville
Bryan Sprang - Irondale
David Stanley - Roseville
Mike Yahnke - Delano

Blue (head coach Val Whipple - Minneota)
Seth Hinrichs - MACCRAY
Simon Krych - St. Cloud Apollo
Kurt Moody - Pequot Lakes
Taylor Newton - Russell-Tyler-Ruthton
TJ Okafor - Champlin Park
Vaughan Thada - Owatonna
Clarence Thomas - Washburn
Jonah Travis - DeLaSalle
Estan Tyler - Johnson
Jalen Voss - Worthington

Maroon (head coach Willie Braziel - Columbia Heights)
Lucas Brown - Roseville
Marquel Curtis - Armstrong
Malik El-Amin - North
Shane Hennen - Minneota
Zach Lofton - Columbia Heights
Blake Maslonkowski - St. Cloud Apollo
Shelby Moats - Waconia
Jameson Parsons - Eagan
Zach Romashko - Blaine
Roosevelt Scott - Johnson

Green (head coach Chuck Tolo - Duluth East)
Matt Borowicz - Stephen-Argyle
Nick Latzke - Minnetonka
Bretson McNeal - DeLaSalle
Jayme Moten  - New London-Spicer
Tom Schalk - Apple Valley
Ryan Sharp - Sebeka
Marvin Singleton - Hopkins
Jordan Smith - Orono
Terez Van Pelt - Osseo
Jake White - Chaska

2011 Metro Section Predictions

Its once again time for the annual disgrace known as my section picks.  Anybody can pick the seeds, let's see how I do this season.

Section 4A
So after the opening line, I think this section will go exactly as seeded.   The pigtail games should be blowouts.  No shockers in the round of 16 besides Four Directions being allowed to play.  I recommend everybody in the section schedule 40 games and start practice in September next year since rules in the section don't seem to be enforced.  Heritage could get a scare from New Life in the round of 8.  St. Agnes vs MCA in the semis would have been interesting but the bracket does MCA a favor by having the Aggies eliminated by MTS on the other side.  MTS takes out MCA in the section final.

Section 4AA
A very wide open section where I could see 4 teams winning it.  No upsets in the first round.  Roosevelt already beat St. Croix Luth once this year, I'll take the 5 over the 4 again in the quarters.  Blake vs Breck in the 2/7 rivalry game has a chance to be interesting.  Ditto that for Minnehaha vs Trinity who played a 3 point game earlier this season.    But I'll take high seeds in those 2 games on home courts.  Now the semis get interesting.  Roosevelt has Calvin Jenkins so I think Concordia gets all they want before hanging on.  Minnehaha just beat Blake 3 weeks ago at Blake and just beat Minneapolis South last week.  I'll take the Redhawks to pull the upset in the 2/3 semifinal.   Concordia wins a close final over Minnehaha to move to state.

Section 3AAA
Como Park at Totino-Grace is interesting, but I see TG getting through.  DLS rolls to the final.  Heights gets revenge on a Henry team that has completely fallen apart.  Heights just hammered TG on Friday and won the other game big so I take them to advance to the final.  The final has the potential to be outstanding if Zach Lofton is healthy and ready to go.  If he's not 100% or not playing, then DLS is a clear favorite. Heights plays the old Henry style with a bunch of athletic guards and a lineup that can really score.  That's given DLS fits over the years.  Have to go with DLS to make state.

Section 4AAA
Highland Park won at Mahtomedi on opening night to give them the 4 vs 5 home game.  If Highland Park gives up a big game to Dane Schmid then Mahtomedi moves on.  I think the season long Classic Suburban schedule does more for Mahtomedi, I'll take the road upset here.  STA and Hill-Murray easily advance to play each other.  STA gives Hill-Murray a scare but Hill-Murray moves on to the final against Johnson.  I think the final is a real sleeper game.  If I remember right, Hill-Murray led Johnson last year at half in the tourney and only lost by 7.  Dick Ghizoni is an outstanding coach and their 2-3 zone is a good matchup for Johnson.  Johnson survives but not by much.

Section 6AAA
4 conference champions make this a brutally difficult bracket.  Waconia isn't the 2 seed so that means I can pick them to advance.  Though the AHA road upset 2 years ago does come to mind.  Washburn blows out Mound-Westonka.  I'll be at the tourney rematch of Holy Family at Richfield.  Richfield small and quick will have to deal with big Ryan Dahl inside.  Richfield did it last year, I think they move on again.  BSM beats Richfield in a fast game in 1 semi.  Washburn's guards are a bad matchup for Waconia (we saw that last year in the tourney) so I think the Millers advance again.  BSM is one of the few teams that can match the Washburn guards and their bigs are better so I think BSM moves on to state.

Section 2AAAA
Edina vs Chanhassen is an interesting 1st round game but I think the 4 top seeds move on.  Eden Prairie gets through a defensive struggle with Shakopee in 1 semi and Chaska has too much offense for Edina in the other.  Chaska and Eden Prairie split during the season and Chaska is on fire losing only once since the debacle at the TWolves Shootout.  I'll take Chaska to move through.

Section 3AAAA
Wow, now this is a tough section.  Top seed Eastview has the 1 first round gimme game against Park.  Rosemount and Eagan will be a struggle in the 2 vs 7 game.  Burnsville is capable of beating Apple Valley in the 3/6 game and the Lakeville rivalry in the 4/5 game could go either way with North playing better with Al Erickson back.  Hard to pick against the top seeds though.  I'll take Eastview over Lakeville South and Apple Valley over Eagan in the semis.  I'll take Apple Valley over Eastview in the final as the Eagles have had chances this year.

Section 4AAAA
Woodbury over Sibley in the pigtail game only to lose to Tartan.  White Bear Lake uses home court to beat Stillwater in a game I'll see for the 2nd time this season.  Roseville and CDH win easily to advance to a great rematch.  Tartan over White Bear Lake and I'll take CDH to win the rubber match with Roseville.  Then CDH uses their 2-3 zone and gives Tartan fits in a rematch of last year's semis.  CDH to state.

Section 5AAAA
Easy chalk picks in the 1st round here.  But if Centennial shoots it well, they might scare Champlin Park (only lost by 7 there on 2/11).  Osseo uses Joey Sonnenfeld to contain Bryan Sprang in 1 semifinal.  Cooper and Champlin Park should be an entertaining game in the other semi.  Champlin Park won the first meeting over the holidays, I think they win again but its close.  Osseo moves on to state.

Section 6AAAA
Minnetonka got shafted getting the 8 seed.  Minneapolis Southwest may have 8 wins but the best one was a Henry team that was falling apart.  Tonka at least beat Holy Family and a D1 kid at their place (Cedar Rapids Washington).  QRF and CzarPI both had this one right, shocked the coaches got this one wrong.  So instead of playing Wayzata (who they just took to OT) in the 2/7 game, Tonka gets to visit Hopkins.  Wayzata hammers Southwest, North loses to Armstrong.  South at St. Louis Park is a rematch of last year's 1st round at South (I went to the wrong school, ha).  Much different teams this year though.  I think Park is deeper and that gets them through.  Wayzata over Armstrong and Hopkins rolls.  Hopkins moves on to state.

Section 7AAAA
Coon Rapids over St. Francis in a dismal pigtail game.  Then the loser gets beat at Duluth East.  Anoka beats Andover.  Forest Lake beats Duluth Central and Blaine over Cambridge-Isanti.  Forest Lake beat Blaine during the regular season, but I think Blaine gets through in the semis.  Duluth East wins the other semi.  Duluth East historically not good in this section final and Zach Romashko is a beast on a court familiar to NW Suburban teams.  Should be a good game but Duluth East has too much and I think they advance.

The Final Weekend

So with the Emperor and Her Majesty in town for the weekend immediately following the CDH/Roseville game, I'm slightly behind on writing.  So I'll do 2 games here.  First is the CDH/Roseville game for the Suburban East title.  Second is the Twin Cities Game with Washburn hosting Johnson at all 3 levels.  Bad hot dog weekend as I miss out at CDH and Washburn has taken a step backwards.  But beet borschst and the quality beverage "Boris Cocunutski" on the menu at Lucia's in Uptown make up for it.  Food fit for a Czar!

Song of the Weekend
The Final Countdown - Europe

Game 1: Roseville at Cretin-Derham Hall
Roseville bringing 1 game lead to CDH for the Suburban East title.  Great crowd, especially with the Roseville fans taking up an entire section.  For a while it sounded like a Roseville home game.  Roseville starts with the 1st 6 before Cretin responds with a 16-4 run ending with 2 Raijon Kelly triples.  Lucas Brown sits the last 5 minutes after a questionable charging call gives him his 3rd foul.  Kelly sits the last 2:28 after picking up his 3rd.  CDH 32-25 at the break. 

Roseville comes out with 7 in a row via Brown cutting for a 3 point play and a breakaway dunk by Emeche Wells.  32 all, 1:40 into the half.  David Stanley with a steal for 2 that cuts the CDH lead to 37-36 at the 13:20 mark.  Then the deciding run.  Cortez Tillman to the basket, Taylor Montero pullup, a turnover for a Kelly layup and a banker and he fades and goes glass again.  Finally another Roseville turnover for a Montero 3 point play.  50-39 CDH with 9:47 left after a 11-3 run and coach Klein kills his team's momentum with a totally pointless timeout on the make.  Brown with a steal for 2 free throws and after a CDH missed layup, he dunks.  52-47 after the 8-2 Roseville run.  Kelly finds Montero in the left corner for 3 inside 7 to play to break the run.  Stanley with a 3 at the 4:30 mark to cut the lead to 59-53 but Roseville gets no closer.  68-58 CDH ties Roseville for the Suburban East title at 15-3.   These teams look to meet again in 10 days in the section semis at East Ridge.  Raijon Kelly 21, Taylor Montero 19 to lead CDH.  David Stanley 18 points, Lucas Brown struggled but had 16 points.  CDH effective with the 2-3 zone, especially with the wing/corner traps out of it.

Game 2: Johnson at Washburn (Twin Cities Game)
In the Twin Cities Game, all 3 levels were Johnson vs Washburn.  The Washburn freshman came from 12 down in the 2nd half to win 62-55. Football star Jeff Jones 17 points, Quinton Garvis 15 for Washburn.  Johnson pulled away late to win the JV game 63-59.  Johnson's Lazerik Gilbert 9 clutch points late to finish with 18.  Waymon Murphy a big day inside for Washburn with about 20.  Cyrus Moore-Brown also close to 20 for the Millers.

To the varsity game, once again effective use of the 2-3 zone in this game.  Washburn using to slow Johnson down.  But the early pace is quick.  Washburn 22-14 at the 9:15 mark with Nick Anderson finding Clarence Thomas for 3.  But Johnson comes back in the last 4 minutes of the half.  Roosevelt Scott with the layup, Estan Tyler backdoor and Anthony Lee double clutches for a 4 point Johnson lead.  Marcus Marshall a pair of 3s in the last 9 minutes as well.  36-32 Johnson at the break.

Estan Tyler with a drive for 2 free throws.  44-36 Johnson with 14:49 left.  Washburn roars back with Clarence Thomas for 3 and then a drive and poof we're tied at 46 with 13 minutes left.  Thomas adds another 3 to put Washburn back on top.  Dwight Anderson to Cedric Chappell inside for a pair of layups in the next stretch and then Chappell scores on his own inside with great footwork. Then a Johnson turnover for a Javon Smith layup.  65-56 Washburn with 5:33 left and Johnson needs a timeout.  That ends an 8-0 Washburn run off of 3 Johnson turnovers.  Johnson with a chance but they miss a layup and Chappell wrestles the rebound away and he ends up with a layup on the other end from Dwight Anderson.  73-64 with 2:40 in a big swing.  Washburn doesn't make free throw and they don't stop Johnson from going straight to the rim for easy buckets.  Scott drives to cut the lead to 76-72 with 1:09 left.  After 1 Washburn freebie, Scott right to the rim again for 2 free throws.  1 free throw from Dwight Anderson and Estan Tyler counters with a jumper on the other end.  80-78 with 35 seconds left.  But Johnson misses a 2nd layup in crunch time and Washburn seals the 85-80 win at the foul line.  Roosevelt Scott 24 points to lead Johnson.  The Govs had 6 players in double figures with 5 players having 10 or 12 points.  4 players in double figures for Washburn led by Cedric Chappell's 22 points.  Great job making himself available out of the dribble drive stuff Washburn does and he had a handful of layups from it.  Clarence Thomas 18 points , Dwight Anderson 16 and at least 6 assists.  Nick Anderson 11 points and he had at least 5 assists.  Johnson won't play again until the section 4AAA semis at St. Paul Washington (old Arlington) on the 15th.  Washburn opens with Mound-Westonka on Tuesday in tough section 6AAA.