Titans topple 60 Minutemen

Its another edition of equal time for the east half of the metro as I get another look at the St. Paul City vs ISD 622.  In this case, its St. Paul Central hosting Tartan.  Interesting experience at the pay window as I had to sign in for my media pass but somebody took their pen and after digging for mine (I always use pencils), come to find out its dried up.  Eventually I get signed in and in the door.  Thankfully there's more than water on the drink cart so my smuggling in beverages can wait.  Hot dog was hot off the press (obviously they knew when I was showing up) and a solid B on my scale.  Since we can't write a letter with no pen, we'll have to sing one.

Song of the Day
Plain White Tees - Hey There Delilah

Game Time
Xavier Hall with 3 straight layups early as Tartan jumped out to an 8-2 lead at the 15 minute mark.  They'd extend that lead to 16-8 on an inbounds layup by 6'8 soph Brody Jackson.  Then Central goes to more pressure and Montrell Williams converts a pair of turnovers into layups.  Junior center Malik Durant-Haines with back to back buckets in the post.  That cuts the Tartan lead to 20-16 with 7:50 to play in the half.  Tartan would counter with a 9-2 run thanks to 5 from Mike Hudspeth.  29-18 Titans inside of 4 minutes left in the half.   32-25 Tartan at the break.  2 players from each with 8 points to lead their teams.

Durant-Haines showed early he was going to be a tough matchup for the mostly undersized Titans (outside of Jackson).  He starts the half with a bucket (and fouled), then 2 free throws off a well-executed screen and roll.  34-29 Tartan with 16:31 to play.  Then Kharie Kirkland ignites a run.  He makes a pair of free throws, then a drive to the rack and a great hustle play to grab a loose ball which nets Hall an easy layup much to the delight of the Tartan coaching staff.  40-29 Tartan at the 14:45 mark.  Soph Markus Taylor-Knighten with a block for a Williams layup on the other end.  That's countered by Darrion Strong pulling up and using the window and a drive sandwiched around a putback by frosh Marshawn Wilson.  50-35 Tartan with 9:25 to go and they appear to be pulling away.

Taylor-Knighten in the post for 2 followed by a pair of easy buckets.  Then Williams with a 3 point play and a layup on a turnover.  Tartan needs a timeout with 7:19 left.  The run isn't quite over as its Williams again, this time on the offensive board for 2 after a wild scramble.  That ignites the crowd and he finishes the run with a layup on another Tartan turnover.  Central crowd really in to it after the 15-2 run over 3 minutes.  52-50 Tartan with 6:20 to play and we have a ballgame.  Durant-Haines with a block on 1 end but Central can't convert.  Central forces a turnover and Williams get stuffed on the dunk attempt, holy cow.  Tartan finally a stretch of only 1 bucket in 4:30 with a Jackson putback.  Taylor-Knighten counters with a pretty spin inside for 2.  Then a Hall drive and nice lefty finish inside and Kirkland turns a turnover into a layup.  60-52 with 2:30 left and it must be over now.

Darius Campbell with a right baseline drive and finger roll.  Strong counters with 2 free throws on what look like an awfully clean block by Durant-Haines.  He'd get a layup along with 2 free throws as Tartan on back to back possessions missed a layup and a bonus front end.  Durant-Haines again inside with 18.7 left and Central is only down 2.  Kirkland would make 2 free throws and a Williams charge the other way would seal it.  Same official had called everything a block all night but I think he got that one right.  Tartan hangs on for a 64-60 road win.

Post Game
For Central, center Malik Durant-Haines leads the way with 20 points.  Have to say he's the best post player in the St. Paul City conference.  He got touches, but would have liked to see even more run for him for post looks.  Tartan had to play Brady Jackson lots of minutes to try and matchup with his size.  Montrell Williams with 11 of his 17 in the 2nd half.  Soph star Markus Taylor-Knighten 14 points and 7 boards on my sheet after missing his first 4 shots.  Minutemen fall to 0-3 with the loss in their home opener.  Difficult home games against Wayzata and Edina loom before the Catholic Spirit holiday tournament.

For Tartan, they improve to 2-1 and will host Holy Family next Tuesday.  Nice balance for the Titans with 16 from Darrion Strong.  14 each for Kharie Kirkland and Xavier Hall.  9 points from the big soph Brody Jackson while having to bang with Durant-Haines.  All 64 points on the board come from non-seniors and there were 3 underclassmen in the rotation.  They shot 9-34 from 3 vs Apple Valley last week.  Based on what I saw, this can be a streaky group from the arc.

Play of the Day
Interesting to see Central use a pet play that would be familiar to Titans fans.  If we go back to March of 2010 and look at the epic CDH vs Tartan section semifinal (read about it here), CDH used this same play for Seantrel Henderson on the final play.  Its a 1-4 high with the point guard entering to the wing and then clearing to the strong side corner.  Post screen across and it gets curled to the block.  Central got 1 easy bucket from Taylor-Knighten off of this and tried a couple of other times to get that look too.

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