There were some good big school games in the distant outreaches of the metro. That made it an easy decision to step back and take a look at my pick to win the Metro Charter, St. Croix Prep. They opened their season at Bethany Academy. Weston Berg out of the SCPA lineup with an injured shoulder. Expect him back midseason. Bethany featuring a very young lineup with 3 8th graders listed on the JV roster. A later start time means a late arrival still gives me plenty of time for food. The 2nd hot dog of the year not bad, but Como Park still takes our top hot dog award so far. Pepsi always the top beverage on the menu so we'll get that in. Beverage #6 puts me at 96 oz for the season to date. Nothing like the mini 12 oz bottle for tonight's container. Crown College in the building scouting talent.
SCPA leading scorer Jakob Schollmeier sat the 1st 4:21 before coming off the Lions bench. Nick Richardson with a 3 to cap a 7-0 St. Croix Prep run. 9-4 SCPA just outside the 12 minute mark. Schollmeier didn't take long to be productive as he scored in the post and made a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 17-8 (15-5 run) at the 8:52 mark. Bethany would come back with their own 15-5 spurt. Sam Hagen and Mark Mikhail with triples to cut the lead to 5. RT Mould with both ends of the bonus, Jared Johnson working on the offensive glass for 2 more Eagles freebies, Mould to the rack with the left hand and Johnson finishes the run with a free throw. 23-22 Bethany with 1:03 left in the half. Sloppy play from St. Croix Prep. Fouls hurting the Lions too (11-4 against in the 1st half). Guard Cameron Mehls on the bench during this stretch with a pair of fouls. Richardson would go coast to coast to earn himself a trip to the line. He made the 1st and the Lions ran down the miss of the 2nd. Soph guard Michael Gutierrez made the Eagles pain with a right wing bomb just before the half. 26-23 St. Croix Prep with the lead at halftime.
Richardson with layup to push the lead to 6 for SCPA before a Hagen 3 cut the lead to 30-29 just over 2 minutes into the 2nd half. Then the Lions would get an 8-0 to start to break it open. Richardson with a putback and 3 that sandwiched a Schollmeier 3. 38-29 Lions with 14:20 left. Schollmeier with 4 FTs around an elbow jumper for 6 in a row. Hagen matching him with a nice pick and pop for 3 and another bomb inside the 12 minute mark. Bethany hanging around down 44-39 with 11:35 to play. Then a critical 7-0 SCPA run. Seth Johnson with a putback, the best possession and passing of the night tic tack toe from top to the right wing to Schollmeier in the middle to Gutierrez in the left corner vs a trapping defense. Ring that 3 up. Bethany turns it over and Mehls knocks down a jumper. 51-39 SCPA with 9:43 left and Bethany needs a timeout. Bethany would make 1 last run at it. Seth Cupersmith for 3 after a tough spin move on the right baseline by Hagen scored him a basket. Hagen with both ends of the bonus with 5:31 to play. 54-47 SCPA hanging on to the lead. That dead ball brought Schollmeier back in after a breather and that was all the Lions needed. Seth Johnson with a putback and the foul, Hagen missing 2 free throws, Schollmeier on the offensive glass for 2 more, Mehls with a nice drive for 2. Those are 7 in a row to stretch the lead to 61-47 with 3:40 left. St. Croix Prep wouldn't be threatened after that. Lions go on to win 68-53.
For Bethany Academy, Sam Hagen leads with 22 points. 15 of those in the 2nd half and 5 triples for the game. Senior RT Mould with 10 points as the only other Eagles player in double figures. Eagles definitely played hard. They continue a soft portion of their schedule with their next 3 games at home against Edison, Randolph and Mounds Park Academy.
For St. Croix Prep, Jakob Schollmeier sat the 1st 4 minutes but came on in the second half. He scored 14 of his 18 in that half to help put the game away. He made his 1st 7 free throws and then somehow missed his last 3. Seth Johnson 13, Nick Richardson 11, Cameron Mehls 10 to round out the double figure scorers. Johnson active inside despite being undersized. Richardson played very well making plays all night on both ends. Mehls very underappreciated as a point guard. In this section, his play along with Gutierrez as another ball handler can make this club very dangerous. The Lions have their home opener next against Brooklyn Center on Tuesday. Then a very interesting game at Target Center on Thursday against St .Croix Lutheran. After that game, they could be a favorite in every game until February. But that's why they play the games.