Minnesota made its biggest road trip of the year by walking, running, or dancing its way south to the Kings of the Court tourney in Des Moines. Not only teams but tons of local referees made the trip for this tourney that used 13 different buildings. Unlike the Texas Lightning 8th graders, I didn't travel coach in my own bus. I was also fortunate not to be eaten by the life size polar bear in the lobby of Des Moines North High School. Speaking of food, a nice variety week with stuffed french toast at IHOP, Outback and a pulled pork sandwich at the outstanding Kingdom Hoops facility which runs circles around (Not so) High Performance Academy. 5 nice hardwood courts with 1 sportcourt. Here's some of the sights from my weekend.
A late afternoon departure but the day starts with a bang. MN Heat Weimar 15s give up a wild 3 at the buzzer to Kingdom Hoops II to go to OT. Then Kingdom holds for the entire OT and scores with 4.3 seconds left to win 52-50 in OT. Howard Pulley's top 15s took out IA Pump N Run 2 52-34. Then my technology goes haywire on me and I'm ready to make a clay pigeon out of it so live updates for the rest of the night are ruined. Its off to see the end of the PNR 17s with Ian Theisen (16s off) as they win 64-27 over IA Central Elite. Glory 16s beat Kingdom Hoops 2 54-47. Heat Elite 17s win 69-55 over IA Mavericks Wilson. Magic Superfriends run away from Heat Lesewski in the second half.
Saturday Pool Play
The day starts with a look at the start of the Iowa State AAU Tournament. The top All Iowa Attack team with D1 stars Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell, and Kyle Abrahamson (all top 150 kids). They played without star PG Marcus Paige and still won 77-27. Iowa Barnstormers were up 30 in their game before it became unwatchable. Then its next door to Des Moines North and greeted by the life size stuffed polar bear in the lobby. Heat Elite 17s beat EOTO Black 68-36. EOTO Gold with Evan Battle lost by 7 to the Omaha Crusaders. Then the PNR 15s started off 34-0 and blew out IA Magic 85-11. Henry Ellenson 24 points. Down 30-0 and Magic airballed a free throw, just 1 of those days. Glory 16s also blown out. Heat Ogorek 16s hung around with top Mokan squad until last 10 minutes and lost by 25. Pulley White 17s with Siyani Chambers and Quinton Hooker won their pool with a 96-53 win. Southside pounded the ball inside and beat ECI Select to win their pool. Joey King 18 in the first half of that one.
Saturday Bracket Play
Then one of the best games I saw on the weekend as Fury Black 15s came from 10 down in the second half and beat Kingdom Hoops I 55-54. Kingdom Hoops played without Jay Knuth (maybe top frosh in IA) who was injured last week at Sabes. MN PNR 15s got off to a quick lead and beat MN Elite by 12 in the first round. Heat Select 15s also won to setup the matchup with PNR. MN Ballers (replacement for 43 Hoops who played 17s at Select tourney) and Ultimate Hoops both win to force a quarterfinal matchup. Fury Blue 16s made a late run and almost came from 8 down late but lost 51-48 to Kingdom Hoops 1. HP White 17s come from 3 down in last minute to beat Magic Superfriends 63-61. Heat Elite 17s lost to ECI Prospects 76-75 on an AJ Jacobsen buzzer beater. PNR 17s were 1 down at half before beating the Iowa Barnstormers 69-51 (no James Harrington for Stormers). The day ends with a really fun 14u game between Alex Illikainen's MN Cyclones and Texas Lightning. Have to love an 8th grade team with their own decked out tour bus. 30-29 Cyclones at half but Lightning with a 38-35 lead late before Illikainen comes up with a great high low post feed for a layup, his own post move, 1 free throw and puts back the miss on the 2nd. Kobe Critchley 4-4 FTs to seal the 49-44 win. The day ends with the top brackets filled with Minnesota teams. 4 teams in 15u, 3 in 16u and 3 in 17u.
Sunday Bracket Play
MN Fury Black and MN Heat Select both get blown out in the quarters. MN PNR in a surprise thrashing took out Heat Select 61-28. Heat with no answers for a 3-2 zone. Mokan Red took out Fury 57-37. Trailblazers took out MN Heat Frank. Ultimate Hoops took out the MN Ballers 60-46 in the 16u quarters. HP 16 Black took out Kingdom Hoops 1 50-48 in overtime in the quarters in a very entertaining game. Kingdom Hoops using 3 fouls to give at the end of regulation and then smartly not using the 4th as Pulley put up a prayer at the regulation buzzer. Joey King in foul trouble but Southside pulls away and beat ECI Prospects 72-59 in the 17 quarters. HP 17 White took out Prime Time 84-61 in another 17U quarter. Then Southside took on PNR in the semis. An 18-4 run gave PNR a 35-25 lead that was cut to 4 but a late 12-0 run gave the Pumps 58-44 win. Kingdom Hoops I came up clutch against HP White 17s to win 76-69. Lots of missed free throws both ways down the stretch in that one. In the silver bracket Heat Ogorek and Heat Altena (top 2 MN Heat 16u teams) played an intense game with Heat Ogorek hanging on 40-36 to win their half of the Silver bracket (2nd place pool finishers)
Kingdom Hoops defeated MN PNR 76-59 to win the 17s. All Iowa Attack Moore with Peter Jok defeated Howard Pulley 16 Black 56-51 for the 16U title. MN PNR took out the other Mokan team in the 15s 47-42 to win the 15u title. Net Gain defeated MN Cyclones 47-38 to win the 14U title.
Players that caught my eye
Tyson Kalien - Magic Superfriends. He shot the lights out against Heat Lesewski and played well against Pulley.
Justin Pahl - Heat Elite 17s. 10 3s in 2 pool games including 6 3s and 29 points in their 2nd pool game. He also had 18 points and 4 3s in their opener.
AJ Jacobsen - ECI Prospects. He nailed a buzzer beater to knock Heat Elite 17s out of the 1st round. Then he put the Prospects on his back in the first half against Southside with Joey King in foul trouble. Prospects played without their other star Daniel Yale.
Wally Ellenson - MN PNR 17s. He was the lightning rod during the 18-4 run that put PNR over the time against Southside as he got the rim and was able to finish at will.
Latrell Love - Southside. Not the biggest or most mobile post player you'll see but you can't help but notice that he's very productive and finds ways to score.
Dexter Werner - ECI Prospects. The big man from Bismarck had a great battle with Joey King inside and more than held his own rejecting King on more than 1 occassion. He had the flop of the tourney guarding King in the post and drawing the charge.