Eagles Win Another Close Blue & Gold Battle

Its Section 3AAA warmup number 2 with another instance of the higher seed going on the road for a game that they'll play at home in the playoffs.  This time it takes me to Columbia Heights to see the Hylanders take on league rival and neighbor Totino-Grace in the season finale.  Its a preview of next week's 4 vs 5 game in section 3AAA.  I miss out on the pizza because I was too busy yapping with a dad during the JV game.  But only during the JV game as the Heights band makes an appearance and does quality work.  Members of the 2010-2011 state runner up team returned to unveil a banner for that accomplishment during the pregame festivities.

Game Time
Heights with a 7-0 run to jump out to a 7-2 lead.  This starts the battle between centers Nick Carr for Totino-Grace, a massive 6'9 left tackle and Jordan Mills, an athletic 6'3 with a quickness advantage.  Mills takes Carr off the bounce for a bucket and drives again for 2 free throws.  He earlier executed a nice up and under for 2 more.  Carr opened the game with a post bucket and then puts in a layup.  Mills scores through Carr and then makes a free throw.  14-10 Heights inside the 12 minute mark.  Sam Meyer adds an outside presence for the Eagles with a trey.  Mills up and under Carr again but Carr counters with the reverse layup.  Meyer with the 3 point play as TG takes a 25-22 lead at the 4:02 mark.  Carr with a putback and layup before Meyer scores the last 4 of the half.  That counters the 2nd 3 from Dion Sanstad.  33-28 Totino-Grace at the half.

Carr on the post for 2 and a Meyer pull to push the lead to 7 for Totino-Grace.  Mills with a foul line jumper and another bucket.  Add in 4 more from Heights to cut the lead to 37-36 with 14:50 left.  Then a pair of effort plays.  The Eagles track down a long rebound in the right corner, the ball goes all the way around the horn to Andy Moritko in the left corner and he takes it strong for 2.  Heights misses 2 quick shots on the other end but gets them both back.  A nice tip out on 1 of those long rebounds.  Sanstad cashes that in with another bomb on the 3rd chance.  Tied at 43 with 11 minutes left.  Meyer for 3, 2 Heights free throws.  Then Carr on the post for another bucket and powers up an offensive rebound for 2 more.  50-45 Eagles with 8:50 left.  Senior Taylor Renberg for 3 and Christian Esko off the bench to deal with Carr scores his only bucket of the night.  Carr again inside before Mills drives and goes up and under again.  He misses that but its to himself and he puts it back.  54-52 Totino-Grace leading as we go under 6 minutes to play.  Meyer with a slick pass to Carr that results in 2 free throws, Heights misses a front end and Carr scores again.  Sanstad with a big 3 to cut the lead in half.  58-55 Eagles with 3:10 left.  Heights gets 2 stops, but misses 2 free throws and 2 attempts for 3.  Carr makes them pay with a sideline out of bounds bucket, then another inside hoop and foul.  Carr misses the freebie with 55.6 left and a 62-55 left.  Heights knocks down a jumper and gets a missed front end.  They miss a 3 but Renberg grabs the miss and makes 2 free throws with 17.3 to play.  62-59 Totino-Grace with the lead.  They get the ball in and Heights doesn't foul until there's 3.2 left.  The front end is no good and Heights gets a timeout with 1.4 left to set up a final chance.  The long pass is out of bounds and untouched (though right in front of me it looked like it may have been tipped by either team).   Totino-Grace holds on 63-59 and won the first meeting 57-56.

Post Game
For Columbia Heights, Jordan Mills finishes with 20 points, 14 in the first half.  He did a nice job of using his quickness against Carr, even with him backed off.  3 crafty up and under moves too.  Dion Sanstad with 4 3s and 14 points.  Matt Kourouma with 12 points.  Heights has a nice JV team that they're excited about.  That includes 8th grader Jarrette Baptiste.  Heights finishes the regular season at 12-12 after a 2-7 start.  In the North Suburban, they finish 9-7 and likely in a 5th place tie with Irondale (assuming St. Louis Park took 4th with win over Fridley).

For Totino-Grace, Nick Carr unstoppable with 32 points.  Get anchored on the right box and the ball will find you.  Nothing but bunnies.  Have to get him to go left from there.  Then you get 17 from shooter Sam Meyer.  Hard to beat them when the Eagles can play halfcourt and run their stuff.  I expected Heights to do much more full court pressure to try to get turnovers or at worst speed the pace of play.  It'll be interesting to see what coach Braziel comes up with for next Thursday.  You have to assume the coaches held some stuff back with seeding already determined.  Totino-Grace finishes 3rd with a very solid 12-4 record in the North Suburban and 15-11 overall.

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