Its opening night and that's a chance for #3 Blake to make a statement on the road vs St. Paul Como Park. Also the 1st game for new Blake coach Sean Kruger. I only saw the last minute of the JV game but it was close enough to force me to wait for the usual quality hot dog. The 20 oz Sierra Mist raises the season total to 5 beverages and 84 oz. Pretty quiet crowd. Always a difficult game to do since there's only public address for the starting lineups. Hamline in the building along with Concordia Academy.
In what may end up being 1 of the surprises of the year, it took over 7 minutes before we saw the 1st flex cut from Blake. That said, Blake did run their entry into THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE on the 1st possession so I suppose that counts for something. 2 big missing pieces for Blake in this one as Sioux Falls commit Kebu Johnson and forward JR Bascom were both on the bench in street clothes. Blake's 3-2 matchup zone caused some fits early as Como Park couldn't find any offense. Post Blaine Crawford with a bunny, John Veil with an easy 3 off a simple BLOB set then Alex Smith with a jumper and post layup on a nice lob feed. 11-1 Blake at the 13:01 mark to force a Cougars time out. Como Park would finally get on the board at the 10:10 mark with their first field goal of the night but the lead was still at double figures. Veil would go to the bench for a breather and Como Park used that to go on a 7-0 spurt. Cougars leader Keiron Sauer with a long distance bomb to close that run. 16-10 Blake at the 6:12 mark. Johnny Curran with one of his clutch triples on the night and 5 in a row from Crawford. The 8-2 spurt counters the Como Park run for a 24-12 lead at the 4:20 mark. Veil to Crawford off the nice screen and roll execution at the 3 minute mark and another Curran 3 inside the last minute. That closes out the Blake offense for a 29-16 halftime lead.
The second half saw Como Park hang around for far too long. Sauer with back to back buckets to cut the lead to 30-20 inside of 15 to play. Sauer with a 17 footer inside the foul circle. Como Park would score again to cut the lead to 9. Then a Blake turnover but the Cougars missed 2 bunnies for a chance to cut the lead to 7 with more than 11 to play. Sauer with 2 free throws and Como would tack on another bucket and the lead was cut to 7. Timeout Blake with a 37-30 lead and 10:17 to play. Veil with another pretty assist and a Crawford 2 handed dunk after Sauer gambled on the post feed. Not quite done yet though. Darnell Elliot with a bucket and a nice spark off the bench. Como Park hanging around only down 41-32 with 7:45 to play. Blake back to their matchup zone and that helped put this one away. Curran and Smith with both ends of the bonus against the Como pressure. Veil to Curran for a dagger 3, Crawford with a 3 point play and a Veil pullup. That finally puts the game out of reach. 56-39 inside of 3 to play and its over. Blake goes on to win 62-46.
For Como Park, they're undersized and really don't have much firepower. Keiron Sauer had plenty of moments with 20 points in the game. I also had him for at least 6 steals. Bryon Shaw with 8 points off the bench. They extended the floor and it actually bothered Blake some. That was especially true when Veil didn't handle the ball. But it bothered Veil some too which I didn't expect. Cougars play at Tartan on Tuesday and that's not a good matchup of personnel for Como Park.
For Blake, Blaine Crawford leads with 22 points and 10 boards on the Blake stat sheet (20 points in the officially posted box score). John Veil 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists on the Blake stat sheet. Only 4 players in the scoring column for the Bears and that has to be slightly disturbing. Alex Smith and Johnny Curran with 13 each rounded out the scoring. Everybody else wanted no part of shooting. Blake running a lot of pick and roll with Veil and Smith/Crawford out of the left slot area. That did lead to those nice Veil assists. For the future, keep an eye on 7th grade guard Jack Moe who's playing JV right now. The Bears are in the loaded Tartan scrimmage at Prior Lake on Saturday morning before they play at Chaska on Tuesday. 1st 8 games for the Bears are on the road or neutral site. They won't play a home game until January 5th vs Holy Family
Play of the Day
Today's play is a simple BLOB set from Blake. 2 guards on the blocks with your best shooter backside. 2 posts on the elbows. Ball side guard on the block pops out to the corner for the catch. He dribbles to the top where the shooter is coming off the foul double (or the always illegal elevator screen) from the bigs for the straight away 3. Blake runs this for Veil and for good reason.