2012 Comets Shootout Preview

Back after a state tournament breather its time for the annual big time kickoff of the Minnesota season.  That means its time for 2012 Comets Shootout.  Here's what I'm watching.

In 15U there are 30 pools divided into 10 pools of  3.  28 of the 30 pool games are in Foley with the round of 16 and quarterfinals at Sauk Rapids High School before moving to the home base at Whitney.  But this division is more about who's not playing than who is.  tNBA is at the Howard Pulley Jamboree.  Net Gain, Pump N Run and MN Phenom are all playing up in the 16U division.  That leaves the MN Cyclones as the overwhelming favorite to win their division again (14U champs last year).  I'll be shocked if Alex Illikainen and company don't steamroll through to another title.  Best competition comes from the top Comets squad out of pool A and the top Fury team out of pool D.

15U Picks: Comets Stumpf, Fury Johnson, Grassroots, Fury Shelman, Cyclones, 43 Hoops Vaughn, Heat Lesewski/Bui, MN Select SD Heat, WI Playmakers are my picks to win the pools.  Cyclones have their half of the bracket to themselves while Comets Stumpf and Fury Shelman are on the other side.  Since Fury has one of my former players, we'll take them to make the final before losing to the Cyclones.

This bracket provides the most exciting pool game of the entire tournament.  That's Comets Elite vs Pump N Run at 11:30 AM Saturday on the main court at Whitney.  Big props to the coaches for putting that one together.   The 15U teams playing up will have good chance to move on.  Net Gain gets a favorable draw in pool C.  MN Phenom has 2 tough ones against Fury Dixon and Heat Gardner but I wouldn't be shocked to see them move on.  12:40 PM on Whitney court 1 with Phenom vs Gardner will likely decide the other gold bracket qualifier.  Pump N Run 15s got a very good draw in pool G.

The young talent is noteworthy with Evan Shephard (Phenom), Sacar Anim (NGS) and whatever PNR has.  8th grader Dalante Peyton playing up on the MN Premiere 16s.  EOTO is likely the squad that was Heat Select last year (though missing Andre Wallace) hence they get my nod.  Heat Frank with Geno Crandall and Lance Gardner has some talent to play with.  Fury Dixon may be the 2nd team but in name only.  They have size with Ngor Barnaba of Rochester John Marshall and a talented guard group of John Veil, Zach Wessels, swiss army knife Noble Fahnbulleh and TC Robinson.  Fury Grosz with a balanced group and talent to boot with guys like Clay Elrod, Andrew Grosz and Charlie Koontz.  Add in guys like Wheeler Baker, Derek Magnuson, Kolby Seiffert and Eric West and you have depth too.  Hoping to see Jim Warmack with the Dakota Pride again.  The East Grand Forks post played at both 16s and 15s last year for the Pride.

16U Pool Picks: PNR and Comets, Heat Vang and MN Rush, Select and Net Gain 15s, Fury Dixon and Heat Frank.  EOTO and Comets Stanfield, Fury Grosz and Heat Schumann, PNR 15s and Dakota Pride, Playmakers and Triple Threat.

16U Bracket Picks:
Top half: PNR 16s over MN Rush, EOTO over Heat Schumann, Fury Dixon over NGS 15s, Pride over Playmakers

Bottom half: Fury Grosz over Comets Stanfield, PNR 15s over Triple Threat, Select over Heat Frank, Comets Elite over Heat Vang.

Quarters: PNR 16s over EOTO, Fury Dixon over Dakota Pride, Fury Grosz over PNR 15s (great game at 10:20 ct 3 Whitney on Sunday),  Comets Elite over Select

PNR def Fury Dixon and Fury Grosz over Comets Elite in the semis.  PNR 16s def Fury Grosz for 16U title.

Now to Minnesota's Toughest Basketball.  As always the championship game will be 7th game for the teams in just over 24 hours.  All after taking the ACT and making the trip north.  Like the 16U division the games are mostly split between the Whitney and Sauk Rapids Middle School. 

Pool A goes to the host Comets Hanson.  A very good group with Nate Huot running the show and 7 feet of Connor Voss inside.  The other player to keep an eye in this pool is AJ Jacobsen of ECI.

Pool B has the mystery known as Chris Carr's 43 Hoops group.  Markus Taylor-Knighten is expected to be with that group, what else he has remains to be seen.  The surprise in this group should be the MN Wolves.  Its a new crew that has added seniors Latrell Love and Darian Pittman.  Fury Ouse (2nd team) has Sam Burt in the middle along with shooters Adam Huessner and Collin Host.  Peter Kruize and Nick Goldberg are 2 more front court pieces with Nick O'Hara to run the show and Kharie Kirkland to lock people down.

Select's top team and 7-footer Carson Shanks headline pool C.  Devon Pekas and Dan Wills highlight the Glory squad and where else would you find a star out of the Christian Athletic League (Peter Maring of Cambridge Christian).  PEM's state tourney star Beau Nelson also on the Glory roster.  Comets Seevers will have St. Cloud Cathedral's Joe Burt joining the party.

Pump N Run's top club picks up a good draw in pool D.  With the quick turnaround and high number of games we'll see if not having a full slate of 10 guys hurts them later on Sunday.  Looking forward to seeing Cullen Russo again after a year of prep school.  I'll also bet on Darius Hill here rather than MN Chosen.

Pool E is full of teams that don't have the superstar type player but try to embody the concept of team.  Heat Ogorek has a kid I'm a fan of in Brad Freeborn (face up 4).  They have workable guards in Jack Martinek, Beau Smit and Robert Claypool, a defender in Drake Mjaanes and a role player in Brad Carlson.  Comets Stock has some kids who had really nice seasons in Cody Sprenger, Mike Millard and Dylan Erickson.  Magic Maroon is largely north metro kids.  Porter Morrell was a solid guard for Elk River during the season.

Pool F has Net Gain which means you never who or what will show up.  Last year they looked positively awful on Saturday night and barely made the championship bracket.  Then on Sunday they ran through 4 games to win the title.  Bryce Wojta runs the point.  Riley Dearring and Rashad Vaughn are back on the wings.  Andre Wallace was added as well.  The South Dakota Heat feature guard Wyatt Krogman.  He was the top player on a state title team and is the younger brother of Louie Krogman, the all time scoring leader in South Dakota.

Pool G features the top Playmakers squad that won the 16s last year.  The group has the core back with skilled 4 men Toby Hegner and Turner Botz.  Both are D1 talents.  That also includes Gopher target and the best closer I saw all year in Matt Thomas.  He didn't play in the event last year and the Playmakers still won it.  Triple Threat with additions from the old Ultimate Hoops squad (merged with Fury) looks to be a sleeper.  Matt Rachey, Jack Kozlowski and Wiley Ferron will all be big contributors.  Ethan Freer, Alex Chandler and Brett Ahsenmacher will also contribute.  Select Blue will feature Jack Harrison of Prior Lake.  Austin Huss and Tyler Bates are 2 others to watch there.

Last but not least is the top Fury squad of Ben Davis.  This is the rest of the old Ultimate Hoops group with some new names thrown in.  Grant Shaeffer runs the point, Dustin Fronk shoots it.  Bridge Tusler and Zach Lindquist are tough wing matchups.  Ben Oberfield, Jordan Burich and Carter Evans give them size  Danny Sullivan is a skilled 4 and DJ Pollard gives them another athlete.  Plenty of pieces for a quality 17U team.  Heat Reese featuring Isaiah Hanson and the Mike duo of Wales and Hudspeth from Tartan.  They also have the athletic animal Deshawn Jones up front.  Post Jeff Probert and guard Kyle Filzen highlight the WOTN squad in this pool.

The Picks:
Comets Elite and ECI, 43 Hoops and Fury Ouse, Select and Glory,  PNR and GetShook (very wide open for 2nd spot), Heat Ogorek and Comets Stock, NGS and SD Heat, Playmakers and Triple Threat, Fury Davis and Heat Reese

Top Half: Comets Elite over Glory, 43 Hoops over Get Shook, Select over ECI, PNR over Fury Ouse
Bottom Half: Triple Threat over Heat Ogorek, Net Gain over Heat Reese, Playmakers over Comets Stock, Fury Davis over SD Heat.

Comets Elite over 43 Hoops, PNR over Select, Net Gain over Triple Threat, Playmakers over Fury Davis (best quarterfinal by a mile, 12:40 PM Whitney Court 3)

Comets Elite over PNR thanks to depth, Playmakers over Net Gain, Playmakers def Comets to win the title.


  1. Almighty Czar, any thoughts on the 14U outlook at the Shootout? I think it's between Heat-Boone & Fury-Wilde. Both have a high # of 9A standouts from the recent 8th gr MYAS state tourney.

  2. Absolutely no idea on the 14s. I hear Heat has some very good teams at that level.

  3. What's up with the Vilage Athletes (16U)? My son (Ben Ratliff, Providence Academy, 2014) was invited to play for them this time around... Could they be a dark horse?

  4. Same pool as PNR and Comets, enough said.


Have a different take than mine? You can provide your take here.