2012 Midwest Players Classic Review

Last Saturday was the 2nd annual Midwest Players Classic at the La Crosse Center in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin.  Once again a quality group of Minnesota teams made the trip across the river.  Here's how they fared.

Game 1: Austin vs Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, WI
Really good crowd on hand to see local star Riley Bambenek, a Winona State commit, and the GET High (don't do drugs kids) Red Hawks take on the Austin Packers in the opener.  Austin star Joe Aase with 7 in a row to help the Packers to a 13-9 lead after 1 quarter.  The lead would get to 8 before a GET comeback.  23 all at the half.  GET's 1-3-1 is too much in the 2nd half as they hold the Packers to only 11 points.  Riley Bambenek struggles with his shooting but ends up with 13 points 10 boards and 7 assists on my sheet as GET wins 49-34.  That zone held Joe Aase to 13 points and 7 of them were in a 1st quarter spurt.

Game 2: Owatonna vs Onalaska, WI
Owatonna with a 10-0 run to end the first quarter and take a 14-7 lead to the 2nd.  Onalaska would counter with a 9-0 run to regain the lead.  Even midway thru the 2nd when Onalaska star Matt Thomas scores 10 of the last 12 Hilltoppers points.  That's in a 14-4 run to end the half and a 35-26 Hilltoppers lead.  Thomas finishes the run in the 3rd quarter with a steal for 2 and the lead balloons to 16.  Thomas with 12 in a 19-4 run that blew it open.  Owatonna gets the last 10 of the game against the Onalaska bench to cut the final margin to 54-46.  Matt Thomas 17 points and 5 rebounds to lead Onalaska.

Game 3: St. Paul Johnson vs Whitefish Bay Dominican
Johnson played this one without star PG Marcus Marshall (Missouri State commit).  Dominican had their D1 backcourt of Jamal Taylor and Duane Wilson on hand along with frosh post stud Diamond Stone.  5 all early when Dominican goes on a 21-2 run that puts this one out of reach in the 1st quarter.  Wilson all over the place in the run with a tip in, scoop, steal for a James Worthy like dunk left handed and an NBA 3.  Could definitely see why he'll be visiting Memphis at the end of the month.  Taylor goes for 24, Wilson for 21 and 8 rebounds, Stone for 11 points, 7 boards and at least 5 blocks.  Waylon Johnson with 11 in a nice outing for Johnson.  Dominican rolls 78-46.  Hard to see how they'll be challenged in division 4.

Game 4: Roseville vs Milwaukee Riverside
Riverside would get a 3 at the buzzer to take a 15-9 lead after 1 quarter.  Mack Johnson would bring Roseville back with 12 in the 2nd quarter to come from 8 down.  25-22 Roseville at halftime.  37-35 Riverside going to the 4th.  42 all with 4 minutes to go.  Roseville would get a pair of steals and miss open layups to convert on those.   Riverside helping out by holding the ball.  46-42 with 20.9 to go and Roseville goes 0-3 from the line on a 3 shot foul.  That's a dagger and means a 3 ball at the buzzer by Mack Johnson is meaningless.  47-45 Milwaukee Riverside wins.  Mack Johnson 5 3s and 25 points.  Bakari Triggs with 2 late layups for the final Riverside points.  He finishes with 16.  11 for sophomore star D'Andre Downey.

Game 5: Eastview vs Madison Memorial
This was meant to be the game of the day and it was a major shocker.  Memorial played without "Popcorn" Morris up front and point guard Brendan Ortiz came off the bench. Ortiz was the star of the triple OT state championship game last year for the Spartans.  Cleveland St commit Junior Lomomba off to a fast start with the 1st 6 Memorial points.  Eastview would counter with a pair of 3s from guard Chris Narum and Drake commit Joey King with his own 3.  Jester Weah 2 inside buckets to end the quarter.  13-10 Eastview after 1.  2 turnovers lead to points in an 8-0 Eastview run to start the quarter.  Memorial would counter with 7 in a row of their own to cut the lead to 21-17.  But Eastview finishes the half on a 10-2 run in the last 2:20.  King on the post with 1 bucket and 2 assists out of there as well.  Point guard Darin Haugh would add another steal and 2 in that run as well.  31-19 Eastview at the break.  Narum back to back 3s vs the Memorial 1-3-1 to start the half and holy cow the lead is 18.  Memorial would get a pair of 3s and a layup from Ngijol Songolo to cut the lead to 10 right before the end of the quarter.  45-33 Eastview going to the 4th.  Center Ben Oberfeld would get 4 inside buckets exploiting Memorial pressure and the Spartans couldn't score on the other end.  It gets out of hand and Eastview wins big 64-37.  Very impressive performance from Eastview, especially Darin Haugh at the point.  He won the head-head battle with Ortiz.  Eastview also played lots of 1-3-1 which isn't like them and it was very effective.  Ben Oberfeld finishes with 16 and 8.  Joey King with 11. Chris Narum 5 3s for 15. Darin Haugh 8 but it doesn't tell the story of how he ran the team, took care of the ball and was a defensive nightmare.  Junior Lomomba held to only 2 points after the 1st 6.  He finishes with 8 and 8.

Game 6: Kaukauna vs La Crosse Aquinas
Aquinas played without star point guard Bronson Koenig (Wisconsin commit) due to a hand injury that will sideline him for the rest of the high school season.  They also were missing forward Mike Conway who blew out a knee before the season started.  That's their top 2 players so you had that going against the Galloping Ghosts, scary thought.  Kaukauna would open the lead to around 15 midway through the 3rd but Aquinas would claw back to trail 39-30 going to the 4th.  Then a 16-4 run to start the quarter.  Soph guard Reggie Rabb starting in place of Koenig nailed the go ahead runner with 2:05 to play.  Rabb played here in the cities with MN Fury Black last spring.  Kaukauna would have a free throw to tie with 21 seconds left.  That was no good but they forced a turnover in the backcourt.  The scramble was wild but the Ghosts couldn't score and Aquinas steals one 47-46.

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