The longest weekend of the year has concluded with the completion of the 2011 Sabes Invitational and 2011 Meg Vang/Minnesota Heat Tournament. I had a chance to visit both tournaments, I'll add some of what I saw, but first some of the odd.
I had 3 separate times where a player saw an unoccupied trainers station and me in the vicinity with my press pass on and asked me if I was a trainer. That included Hopkins' Zach Stahl asking if I could tape his ankle. LOL! So to all of you, no I'm not a trainer and no I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night, though it would have been tempting as late as we went. No, the Emperor can't do it either despite being a highly trained medical professional.
Tried to hit Jimmy John's for lunch on Saturday and they were out of bread. That's like a bank being out of money. So it ended up being replaced with double set of fries and extra grease on the double cheeseburger at McDonalds. Not good for the Czar's ever expanding waistline.
As to the High Performance Academy facility, 2 back courts have sideline against the wall, 1 other court has a cage about a foot off the end line. Only 2 baskets per court which isn't great for practice purposes if you want to do stations or anything like that. A major mistake in the scheduling of officials in this one by having the officials move from court to court. That means that if their game gets behind they also hold up the next game that they're going to officiate. That meant that the late game Saturday night didn't start until around 10:45 PM instead of the scheduled 10:10 time. Teams get a break and move court to court, no need to move the refs around. 11:35 PM and game still had 12 minutes left. Winner had to come back at 9:10 AM, that's a bit much.
We'll start simple with the 16U and 17U finals late Sunday at Bethel after completion of the Sabes. I was hoping for pizza after a long day but no such luck. WOTN took on 43 Hoops in the final. 43 Hoops impressive in the tourney blowing out MN Southside by 30 in the semis and then taking a 22 point halftime lead in the title game before winning the championship 53-31. 7 triples in the first half for 43 Hoops, 3 from Sean Scott. All of this without Marcus Marshall who sat out due to a knee injury suffered last week at the Jayhawk. Nick Sanborn productive for WOTN who also had an appearance from Brett Rasmussen. The second half was slow paced and all about jump shooting for 43 as they coasted home.
The 16U title game also featured 43 Hoops (didn't even realize they had a true 16s but I'll pay attention now) taking on Fury Gold. 43 Hoops with Washburn's Nick Anderson (stud!), Johnson's Waylon Johnson, Dion Bradley (Highland Park, but rumored transfer) and MCA's Isaiah Hanson on the roster. I come over from the 17s final with 8 minutes left and Fury Gold leading 36-32. That must have been the jinx because Fury finishes the game on a 20-3 run. Back to back 3s and a technical foul in a timeout start the run. The bottom falls out from there. Fury Gold wins the 16s title 56-35.
Interesting note from the tourney that brought back memories of the heat at the Best Buy Summer Classic last July. The track surrounding the courts at the Bethel rec center became an ice rink thanks to the humidity yesterday so late games had to be moved last night. Always something to make the life of a tournament director interesting.
2011 Sabes Invitational Recap
To the long part of the weekend, but there was a 35 second shot clock. It opened Friday night with the Howard Pulley 15 Black squad taking out MN Elite 58-42. Gaelin Elmore and Stephon Sharp with easy buckets inside and quality guard play from Kamali Chambers and Ben Fiers. They hold Andrew Grosz to 5 points as Elite had plenty of good looks that just didn't go in but the Pulley squad played awfully well.
Then the story of the night (and maybe the weekend). Magic Superfriends hung around and took a 41-40 lead on the Pulley 17 Black squad with 10 minutes left. Pulley looked to pull away up 10+ late, but a pair of missed front ends and clutch shooting allowed Magic to tie the game late. Then a Pulley miss and Rodney Owens (as a Packers fan it pains me to say this but OWENS, OWENS, OWENS! is appopriate in this case) runs out for a layup with 2.1 left to win it 69-67. Many thought Pulley had the game wrapped up and went to watch other games and missed this insane ending. Who else this year will be able to say they beat 43 Hoops and Pulley's top team? The irony is that Magic went on to lose their other 2 pool games and finish last in the pool.
Matt Thomas 5 of his 7 3s in the 1st half on his way to 30+ points as the WI Playmakers 16s beat the Illinois Warriors 68-58. Really like how MJ Delmore runs the point for the Playmakers. Isaiah Austin did appear for Texas PRO and while KC PNR did hang around, there was just too much talent to overcome. Texas PRO wins 75-60. #2 ranked Isaiah Austin is 7'1" and has skill like 6'1" player, just crazy skill. Played pseudo point guard and center on weekend. Comets big loss to St. Louis Eagles in 16s.
To Saturday (longest day of my basketball season with the late games) and it starts with Ray Allen Select in the 15s. First possession and I see them running ... (you guessed it). But they ran counters out of it so I was actually warming up to it. Love the game of guard Riley LaChance for them. Also in 15s, KC PNR gave up 17-3 run to St. Louis Eagles but countered with 13-0 run and won an entertaining game 48-42. MN Elite had a chance down 1 but missed in the last 5 seconds to lose 65-62 to Team Nebraska. Then later its deja vu as Team Nebraska almost comes from 7 down to Pulley 15 Black before falling 72-70. MN Elite beat the Playmakers to get a win in pool play.
Matt Thomas and the Playmakers out dueled All Iowa Attack and Peter Jok to the tune of a 60-51 win. Thomas 25 before missing the evening session for prom. Jok scored 28 included last 3s to keep it close. Major shock in the 16s as the 2nd Schoolers club opened a 20 point second half lead on the top Pulley 16s before winning by 7. Comets beat the 2nd Pulley squad in 16s 70-38. Jok came up clutch late with back to back 3s as AIA beat the Illinois Warriors 50-48.
St. Louis Eagles 2 knocked out MN Elite 62-56. TC Force gave St. Louis Eagles a game before losing 51-45. That TC Force squad is largely East Ridge kids. Comets 16s lost 44-35 to Chicago Demons. Howard Pulley Black 16s over HP White 16s 68-41.
Playmakers 16s and KC Keys had a crazy ending. Playmakers missed a front end with 20 seconds left up 1. KC fouled with 3.5 left and they take a time out they don't have but no technical. 1 of 2 FTs is good. Playmakers pass after make is intercepted and Keys race back only to miss the layup at the horn that would have won it so we'll play OT. Toby Hegner with 2 offensive rebounds leading to a putback with 25 seconds left that ultimately wins the game 58-56.
A fun Sunday morning in early bracket play. In 15u quarters, St. Louis Eagles 2 over HP Black 53-44. Quality 16u session with Kingdom Hoops giving up 7 point lead late but they get a putback with 5 seconds left in double OT to win 55-54. Schoolers Blue holds off Playmakers (Comets semis rematch I think?) 65-64 as Playmakers had ball down 3 with 3 seconds left. Matt Thomas was back from prom for that one, wonder if he stayed up all night? Would have made sense with a 2 hour trip and post prom.
Howard Pulley 17 Black then ran out to 15 point lead on St. Louis Eagles with 11:40 left. Then Eagles came back with a 19-3 run to take the lead. A pair of Cameron Biedscheid FTs with 1:49 left gave the Eagles an 8 point lead and it looked over. But Pulley had 2 chances at 3s in the last 12 seconds that would have tied the game before falling 67-64 in the 17u quarters. Cory Arentsen came up with clutch 3s in the comeback for the Eagles. While HP played really well in the 1st half, the rest of what I saw was forced shots and questionable chemistry. Very surprising to see a team with 2 outstanding point guards give up double digit leads. Isaiah Zierden showing again that he can fill it in a hurry when hot. Eagles sat their starters in an apparent disciplinary move until 8:18 left in the first half and trailed 19-11 when they came in.
Ray Allen Select ended up rolling to the 15U title 77-57 by beating St. Louis Eagles 2. Kingdom Hoops got down 20-8 but came back to lead 16s title game 33-32 at half. St. Louis Eagles pulled away in 2nd half to win 72-57. Treyvon Young opening eyes for Kingdom Hoops. Nolan Berry 23 points to lead the Eagles. Eagles 17s took on Texas PRO for the title. Cameron Biedscheid relatively quiet all weekend for the Eagles. Isaiah Austin stepped up huge with a triple double (blocks) as Texas PRO won the title 70-63. Daniel House outstanding all weekend for Texas PRO. Texas PRO just did survive KC PNR 17s in the semis winning 53-51. KC star Gavin Thurman had an open 3 at the buzzer that would have won it.
Speaking of KC PNR, their 17s are the best team I see in HS or AAU in running a set and getting what they want. Here's an example with 2 reads.
Shooter in right corner. Post on left block and top of key. Guards on wings. Post swings ball from top of key to left wing (away from shooter). The post follows his pass into a ball screen. Guard comes off it and post rolls into swinging gate/elevator screen on left block to shooter coming to left wing (misdirection). If guard turns down the ball screen and drives left baseline (sucker play to make shooter's defender think help), the big rolls to middle of lane and both bigs screen away for the shooter to come to left wing behind the ball. Both are really tough to guard and they ran these for a truckload of 3s against Texas PRO. They got KJ Pritchard open look after open look using these.