N Suburban showdown is AAA Classic

There are nights when the available games and talent makes me realize that I have a major addiction to watching games.  Then there are nights like this where all the stars align.  Its #1AAA Benilde-St. Margaret's at #2AAA Spring Lake Park.  Both have 16 wins with only 1 loss and that was to #1AAAA Eastview (who got a major scare vs Eagan tonight).  Not only is this for the top spot in the polls but better yet its the defacto North Suburban title game.  Thanks to the insanity that is the unbalanced league schedule, this is the only time these teams will meet during league play this season.  I begin my night by getting a chance to see one of my former players in a 9th grade game that was won on a 3 at the buzzer.  Then blah concession fare during the JV game.  We end up with a full house of about 2000 after the long parent appreciation night ceremony.  We have John Lithgow and Dennis Haysbert as 2 of the 3 members of the quality officiating crew.  Flip Saunders in the house.  Surprised at how short he is (though he's still taller than me, I hate my life).  He took pictures with lots of the Spring Lake Park students after the game.  WCCO did their 6 PM news with a feed from the gym.

Game Time
Bryce Williams scores the 1st 5 for SLP which is countered by a 12-2 BSM run.  Sean Scott for SLP with 2 huge blocks early in the game.  SLP fights back with the next 6 with Williams taking a steal the other way for 2.  Isaiah Gray with a lefty bucket and posting off the inbounds as Benilde goes on a 9-2 run.  23-15 Red Knights at the 9:22 mark and it was their biggest lead all night.  Panthers fighting back again.  Scott makes a 3 and then smashes another shot off the glass and Zierden picks it up at the bottom of the center circle in the backcourt.  Scott with a layup and buries another triple.  25-23 BSM at the 6:50 mark.  BSM gets Zierden going with a UCLA cut into a right wing pick and roll for him.  He knocks down a 3 and then gets to the lane for 2 more off of it.  Soph guard TC Robinson puts back a miss for a 3 point play followed by Scott with back to back putbacks and SLP is back in the lead 32-30 at the 4:05 mark.  Lumpkin down the lane for a big one handed dunk at the 2:30 mark for a 36-34 BSM lead.  Scott and Williams make 3s to send SLP to the break up 40-37.

Scott flammable to start the 2nd half.  He posts for a free throw, then a head fake to send a defender flying by and 1 bounce to knock down the left wing 3.  He runs for a layup from Williams and then a sick move to ditch a defender out high and buries another 3 for 49-41 lead (biggest SLP lead all night).  2 BSM buckets before a Scott catch and 1 dribble back to get behind the line and he knocks it down from the right corner.  He has all 12 in the half to this point and BSM needs a timeout.  52-45 SLP with 13:29 left.  Then foul trouble starts to set in for SLP.  Williams sits with his 4th at the 13:12 mark.  Scott with another swat which results in a Robert Ben layup.  Then SLP's main defender on Isaiah Zierden, Jordan Thimmesch-Slepica, picks up his 4th foul with 10:52 left on a very strange Lithgow call opposite of the play and Jordan can't believe it.  I'll say it again about Lithgow like I did earlier in the year, good ref but calls way too much tick tack stuff that is ultimately meaningless in the actual play.

Lumpkin making a living at the foul line in the 2nd half for BSM.  His 2 with 9:34 left cut the lead to 3, 54-51.  But he goes over the infamous BLOB shooter inbounds and runs to the corner play and Scott makes him pay with yet another 3.  Scott adds 2 FTs inside Lumpkin pair of FTs and runout for a dunk.   BSM going to some zone but both offenses struggling.  Williams and Thimmesch-Slepica return at the 5:53 mark with SLP hanging on 61-58.  Lumpkin grabs an offensive board and as he's falling to the ground puts it back in to cut the lead to 1.  Then SLP with 2 turnovers, a missed drive to the rim and a missed front end in the next 90 seconds.  But BSM can't score any points on their end either as nothing will fall.  Scott grabs a miss with 2:52 left and scores.  Then BSM misses a bunny and turns it over after another missed SLP front end.  Scott converts that too.  65-60 SLP with 2:05 left as BSM takes timeout with the ball.

BSM turns it over and SLP misses inside.  A mysterious call on a SLP player on the ground sends Lumpkin to the line with 1:23 left.  He makes the first and misses the 2nd.  Isaiah Gray grabs the criminal offensive rebound of a free throw and converts.  SLP inbounds and promptly turns it over with 1:14 left.  Zierden is fouled with exactly a minute left and buries both to tie the game at 65.  Scott comes down and takes the quick 3 from straight away which is no good.  BSM rebounds wiht 45 seconds left and they'll hold for 1 and not take a time out.  Danon Briggs dribbles out most of the clock.  Then late the ball ends up in the left corner and we wonder what the shot will be like as it looks like OT.  But Lumpkin makes a great cut to the front of the rim and nobody sees him.  He gets the easy layup with 2.6 left.  Williams gets a decent look at 3 but its long and no good. BSM comes from 5 down in the last 2:05 to score the last 7 points.  Red Knights get a great road win 67-65 to hold on to #1 in one of the best games I've seen all year.

Post Game
For Spring Lake Park, Sean Scott was absolutely off the hook most of the night.  He finishes with 36 points (7 3s), 13 rebounds and 6 blocks on my sheet.  He had 21 of the 25 Panthers points in the 2nd half.  Bryce Williams was hot early and then foul trouble derailed him.  He scored all 12 of his points in the 1st half.  I would have liked them use Robert Ben more in the post against the small BSM lineup with Lumpkin mostly guarding Scott on the perimeter.  The Panthers had a couple of chances in the last 10 minutes where some bad shots and a couple of careless turnovers could have extended the lead and they came away with nothing.  They also missed all 3 front ends in the 2nd half (where BSM missed all 3 in the 1st half).  The Panthers fall to 8-1 in the N Suburban, 16-2 overall.  A quick turnaround with a tough road game at Centennial tomorrow afternoon and then at Irondale on Monday night.  The shame of tonight's loss is that SLP will probably drop in the polls which to me is ridiculous.  No way that should happen on an objective analysis.

For Benilde-St. Margaret's, Sanjay Lumpkin leads with 25 points and 14 rebounds on my sheet.  He had 14 of the 30 2nd half points.  That included 7 of 8 from the charity stripe.  Isaiah Zierden finished with 17 points but had a night where the ball just wouldn't go in.  I had him 7-22 shooting and missing his last 8 but good looks which we'll talk about below.  Lumpkin will be a serious contender to win Mr. Basketball and Scott really helped his cause, though a win probably was necessary to truly vault into the final 5.  The Red Knights improve to 17-1 and lead the N Suburban at 9-0.  The road is still tough as they are on the island to play at DeLaSalle on Tuesday night which should be another crazy atmosphere.

Play of the Day
Our play of the day is how Isaiah Zierden got good looks all night.  Basically a 1-4 high with Danon Briggs entering to Zierden on the right wing.  Briggs would UCLA cut through and the screener would go ball screen for Zierden.  Screener was mostly Lumpkin but Breion Creer was used here too. I like that as a different look.  Creer's a bigger screen and tougher to get around.  Lumpkin is a major threat if he's the screener.  SLP did a nice job of showing and preventing easy 3 point looks but that allowed Zierden to get by and have opportunities from the middle of the lane all night.


  1. Sean Scott showed that he was clearly the best player on the court, both offensively and defensively. If Lumpkin will get serious Mr. Basketball considerations then I don't see how Scott doesn't. He does more with a less talented squad.

  2. I'd say Isaiah Gray was the hero of the game. He started strong, but then was nearly disastrous, BSM parents were saying he should be taken out. Moore stuck with him and he made three big plays. The offensive rebound, a trap that caused a travel, and the assist to Lumpkin for the win. Credit BSM for sticking with him, and it payed out with him making the plays that changed the game.


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