2011-12 Opening Saturday

Prologue
A busy opening Saturday of the 2011-12 season.  3 games on my schedule plus the 7 session round robin Jefferson scrimmage.  A good day for food as I had cheese pizza at Richfield and despite the bad traffic getting over to Hopkins for the other 2 games, I did manage to get another outstanding Walking Taco at Hopkins.  But the Doritos weren't smashed.  That's a very important step 1 that was overlooked.  The parking lot was packed at Hopkins so nice crowds but thanks to the media entrance being in the back I ended up walking all the way around the building in the snow.  At least I need the exercise.  I forgot song of the day yesterday so you get 2 songs today.  We'll go with the colors of the winners at Hopkins and an injury reference which will be explained later.

Songs of the Day
Eiffel 65 - Blue
Pat Benetar - Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Jefferson Scrimmage
Props to Tom Critchley for the scheduling.  7 teams on my court all played twice and no Jefferson.  That means I don't get to see Jefferson's unwatchable style, the pity.  That included Pelican Rapids, Grand Rapids, Marshall, Spring Lake Park, Eden Prairie, Roseville and Blaine.  Teams played 7 straight running time halves in a row (20 minutes each) so the play got more ragged as they went on.  Alex Illikainen played well for Grand Rapids and Austin Pohlen showed some flashes.  I liked Casey Bruggeman from Pelican Rapids as well.  Sean Scott lit up Roseville during their session.

Game 1: Waconia at Richfield
To start this one looked to be all Richfield.  Eric Jimson with a drive for a 3 point play.  Shawn Bear for 3 and Jared Noonan gets the bounce for another 3 point play.  Timeout Waconia.  Noonan with a tough shot for 2 more and Deshawn Jones with a steal for a dunk.  13-0 Richfield and another Waconia timeout.  Noonan to Jones for a layup and a Jimson putback.  19-4 Richfield at the 13:25 mark and the rout appears to be on.  But Waconia wakes up.  The rest of the half is all Wildcats as Alex Schmitt scores 14 in the half and Waconia leads 43-32 at half after a 39-13 run of their own.

Richfield greatly improves their defense in the second half and that leads to a run off of turnovers that forces a Waconia timeout.  Its a 10-0 Richfield run off of 4 straight Wildcat turnovers.  Noonan with a drive at 12:45 and Richfield takes the lead back 50-48 (18-5 Richfield spurt).  Waconia would see Wiley Ferron sit with 4 fouls and 7:50 left but they would still go on a 6-0 run to push the lead to 7.  Fast forward to 2:27 left 67-61 Waconia, Richfield ball and Noonan goes to the bench.  Waconia would miss a layup and 2 free throws to give Richfield a chance.  54 seconds left down 69-66 when Richfield takes timeout with the ball and here comes Noonan back into the game.  Richfield would get a layup and then force a turnover to get the ball back.  On the inbounds, a scrum ensues and Richfield gets another timeout with 28.5 seconds left.  In the process, Waconia's Josh Lenz would hit his chin on the floor and we have a long delay to get him stitched up right on the court.  He was also cut above the eye earlier in the game and was taped up.  Rough day but he was OK.  After the delay, Richfield's initial set would get them nothing.  Noonan got the ball back on top with 16 seconds left and called for a clearout.  He drove to the lane and went up and under, no good.  Lorenzo Evans with 1 tip, 2 tips and a 3rd tip just falls off the rim at the horn and Waconia wins 69-68. 

Waconia's guard duo gets it done with Alex Schmitt scoring 19 and Matt Rachey 18.  Schmitt is the only senior on the Wildcats roster.  Despite losing last year's guards and star Shelby Moats, the Wildcats appear to be a team that won't drop off much from last year's trip to the state semis.  Eric Jimson and Deshawn Jones 14 each for Richfield.  Jared Noonan 12 points, 4 boards, 3 assists on 4-15 shooting.  Deshawn Jones impressive getting after it and very athletic.  I didn't get the move to sit Noonan and then bring him back late.  If his play meant he needed to sit down 6, then why bring him back down 3 later?  Conversely, if he was important enough to have on the floor down 3 in the last minute, then why have him sit down 6 with 2:30 left?  That coaching move just didn't add up for me.  Seems to me you'd keep him in the entire way or sit him down the rest of the game.

Game 2: #1AAAA Hopkins vs #3AA Braham
Thanks to the injury, traffic and walking all the way around the building at Hopkins, I was looking forward to a relaxed game and Walking Taco.  But the girls tipoff classic was far enough behind that I made it in time for tip.  That's great but with another game, when can I do the Walking Taco?  Hopkins jumps out to an 18-3 lead as the defense is too much.  Braham would settle down and go on a 11-2 run of their own thanks to Sam Stigen knocking down a pair of 3s.  Cameron Braund gets loose inside and a Tyler Vaughan drive.  37-31 Hopkins with 4 minutes left in the half.  Hopkins would put this one away with a 26-4 run across halftime (including 15-0 to start 2nd half).  Tyler Vaughan would knock down 5 3s in the second half to make it interesting but that was after the big run.  Braham would get no closer than 14 the rest of the way.  102-67 Hopkins rolls.  Siyani Chambers 22 points for Hopkins.  Tyler Vaughan 27 points, Cameron Braund 15 points for Braham.  I did manage to get the Walking Taco in at halftime.

Game 3: Minnetonka vs Rogers
A depleted backcourt for Minnetonka as they played without Andrew Grosz (wrist injury) and Tommy McDermott.  The first half was a story of runs.  9-0 for Minnetonka for a quick 11-3 lead.  Joe Risinger's 2nd 3 would push the lead to 10 before a 11-2 Rogers run thanks to 6 from center Mike Schreiber.  25-24 Minnetonka at the 7:31 mark.  Minnetonka immediately countered with an 10-0 run.  Chase Cleveland outstanding off the Rogers bench.  His pair of 3 point plays cut the lead 4.  44-38 Minnetonka at half.

Schreiber still going inside as his 3 buckets allow Rogers to tie the game at 58.  Careino Gurley with a jumper and then forces a jump ball for Tonka as the Skippers getting the bench to give them plays.  Risinger would add a pair of free throws.  73-64 Minnetonka with 6:47 left and Schreiber goes to the bench with 4 fouls.  Rogers rallies with a 7-0 run ending with an Austin Barbeln 3.  73-71 Minnetonka with 5 minutes left.  Risinger would counter with another 3 off a nice set drawn up in a timeout.  Rogers counters with another 3 to keep the lead at 3.  Then another Tonka bench player, Bennett Celichowski, with a huge 3 to push the lead back to 6 with 3:25 left.  Back to back Rogers turnovers result in a free throw and Risinger's 6 3 of the night on a nice flare to the left corner.  84-74 Tonka with 2:50 left and that's too much to overcome.  Minnetonka makes their free throws and wins 93-83.  Joe Risinger 6 3s and 26 points to lead the Skippers.  Riley Dearring and Latrell Love 19 points each.  Celichowski and Gurley not huge numbers on the stat sheet but really gave the Skippers solid minutes to replace the missing pieces.  11 3s for Minnetonka plus 16 inside points from Latrell Love (he hit 1 of the 3s).  Skippers get that balance on a nightly basis and that's tough to beat.  Michael Schreiber 29 points to lead Rogers. Nick Runge 16.  Chase Cleveland off the bench with 14 points, 12 in the first half.

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