2013 Bethel Tourney 2 Title Games

To Bethel for the end of their 4 days of tournament games.  Not the greatest group but a chance to see 4 new teams is never a bad thing.  A steaming hot hot dog and a standard Pepsi round out the day's menu.  The most timely music selection of the year is 50 Cent's In Da Club (clean version of course children).  OK, I'm cheating because I requested it but you can't go wrong with it on any day.  As I tell the Crown Prince all the time, its good to be The Czar.

Game 1 - Roosevelt vs Minnehaha
This one just not fair from the start.  Roosevelt without their best ball handler Demetrius Durant and their best scorer Terry Thomas.  Minnehaha star Kaharri Carter sits the 1st 8:16 but its hardly a fair trade.  Roosevelt scores the 1st 4 points of the game but gives up 19 of the next 21 before Carter enters.   His entry and 1st rest is during a 7 minute drought from the field for the Redhawks.  That allows the Teddies to stay within 20-11 when Carter comes back at the 4:32 mark.  Roosevelt misses a front end and then Carter goes off.  He scores 15 in that 2nd shift and overall 16 of the last 19 points for Minnehaha.  The Redhawks pressure is too much as the lead opens to 38-16 at half.  Carter tacks on 7 more in the second half in the blowout.  Minnehaha wins 66-35 but it wasn't that close.  Carter leads with 23 points in only 13 minutes thanks to 8-13 shooting.  Joseph Gillespie with 13 points, 6 rebounds to lead Roosevelt.

Game 2 - Bloomington Jefferson vs Champlin Park
No scores on the board and Jefferson takes a timeout 33 seconds in.  Then another timeout at the 13:10 mark after an 8-2 Rebels run.  Jefferson counters with a 10-2 run of their own thanks to the extra pass finding Jake Bodway for a 3.   12-10 Jags at the 10 minute mark.  Tim Larson for 3 and Tommy Gathje with 2 free throws and the Jags open a 23-19 lead.  Andrew Aakre makes 2 floaters from the left baseline around a wasted Jefferson timeout to save possession with the arrow.  23 all at the half.

Once again Jefferson coach Jeff Evens takes a timeout to save possession and its their 4th used timeout and there's still 16:07 left.  Kyle Lynch for 3 after Champlin Park missed a pair of layups.  29-25 Jefferson with 14:15 to play.  Then some run and jumps give Jefferson all kinds of problems.  I was surprised the Rebels didn't ratchet that up even more than they did considering the quickness of their perimeter players (Johnson, Smith, Gibson).  Trevor Garrison converts 1 to put the Rebels back on top.  A kickout for an Ian Smith 3 and he adds a steal for 2 free throws.  Aakre with a pair of freebies after a steal. Matt Rosen with a putback for a 3 point play with 7:57 left.  That breaks a Jags drought of 6:18 from the field and a 21-4 Champlin Park run.  Thanks to the 2 timeouts earlier taken by coach Evens solely to save possession (something I think is a total waste because percentages say you won't score on the possession anyway), Jefferson couldn't use their last one to stop the run.  That's critical in a close game and I think it was costly.  46-33 Rebels lead after that run.  A nice skip finds Bodway for 3 with 5:40 left and the Jags are still somehow hanging around down 50-41.  Brennan Witt 3 hoops inside, the last 2 on pretty feeds from Garrison.  56-43 Rebels with 3:25 and that keeps the Jags at bay.  But we're not quite done as a quick 3 missed by the Rebels gives Gathje a 3 with 2:05 left to cut the lead to 56-51.  A mistake whistle could have costs the Jags a chance at a 3 but Gathje makes a freebie.  JT Gibson had a quiet day of 2-11 shooting but he makes a nice cut to the middle and finishes a layup with 1:10 left.  Brian Fritzlar with a great behind the back save right to Lynch for a 3 with 47.1 left and the lead is down to 59-55.  The Rebels miss a pair of front ends late, but a Jags turnover gives Garrison a layup and that's enough to seal it.  Champlin Park wins the title 63-59.  Brennan Witt 18 points and 12 rebounds, 7-14 shooting to lead the Rebels.  Jake Bodway 17 and 6 to lead Jefferson.  Tommy Gathje adds 15 and 8.  Kyle Lynch 3 big 3s for 13 points.  Jefferson has 5 of the 7 pieces from the rotation coming back next season.  With a lack of athleticism and scorers, it was surprising to see them run some dribble drive action.  But it does mesh a bit with their high/low Swing action.

All Tournament Team
Tommy Gathje - Bloomington Jefferson
Kyle Lynch - Bloomington Jefferson
Andrew Aakre - Champlin Park (also the 3 point champion)
Ian Smith - Champlin Park
JT Gibson - Champlin Park
Brennan Witt - Champlin Park (MVP)

2012 Catholic Spirit Championships

I had to call off my boycott of the Catholic Spirit (remember they make the media pay to get in, Bolshevik to that) as it was my only way to get in 4 games and volume of games and teams is far more important than a flicker of the Czar's infinite wealth.  A major panic when I left my hoops bag at the Northstar Hoops Report middle school camp during the morning.  Thanks to Willie Vang and George Ellis for bailing me out on that one.  U of St. Thomas with quality hot dogs and the nice chips, dog and soda deal.  Always unique to UST is the soda out of the fountain, no cans or bottles.  Fairly dead atmosphere all day.  Did see Winona State make a trip to the metro to take in some of the action.  Let's take a look at the action from championship day of the 16th annual Catholic Spirit tournament.

7th Place - Providence Academy vs Minnesota Transitions
MTS took the place of St. Agnes for the last 2 days of the event.  After a 102-34 thrashing yesterday from Milwaukee Bay View, today wasn't much better.  MTS with no seniors on the roster and no real size.  Junior Willie Parrish trying to keep MTS close with 5 3s and 17 points in the 1st half.  But the turnovers are too much to overcome.  Providence up 49-26 at half and this one goes running time with Providence winning 79-42.  Joe Heck 23 points, most of them layups off of turnovers, to lead Providence.  Parrish finishes with 25 points and 7 triples.

5th Place - Hill-Murray vs Milwaukee Bay View
Hill-Murray gets 4 quick 3s from Ryan Buron to jump out to a 17-8 lead.  Soph Brandon Eckford with a pair of 3s and free throws to keep Bay View within 31-29.  But now its Eric Weimar who's hot for Hill-Murray, he knocks down 4 3s in the half.  Hill-Murray with 11 of them in the half for a 53-42 halftime lead.  Carlin Dupree with a 3/4 court 3 at the buzzer for Bay View.

Dupree with a 3 point play with 13:41 left and the Redcats are within 8.  Then Buron with another 3, a jumper and add on a Steve Makely 3 to push the lead back to 15.  Marlon Northern keeping BayView around with a 3 point play, putback and 2 more.  Dupree tacks on a bucket and is fouled.  9-0 Bay View run to cut the Hill-Murray lead to 74-68 with 6:32 left.  Jack Cichy with a pair of late layups and Hill-Murray closes it out 94-80.  Carlin Dupree 27 for Bay View.  Ryan Buron 28 points to lead Hill-Murray.  Eric Weimar 24 off of the bench as both he and Buron knocked down 5 3s.  Steve Makely added 4 for the Pioneers.  They make a total of 16 3s.

3rd Place - Cretin-Derham Hall vs Rosemount
This is the 1st time in 4 years that CDH hasn't been in the championship game. Joe Rosga out for CDH with a left hand injury.  Garrett Goetz back to back 3s as the Irish make 5 quick bombs for a 17-10 lead.  The Raiders respond with a 16-3 run thanks to a pair of 3s and Jashon Cornell scoring 6 inside.  34-32 CDH at half despite 8 Rosemount 3s.

The 2nd half is a shooting gallery put on by Stevie Moman of CDH.  He makes 3 triples, 2-3 free throws fouled on a 3 and a pair of technical free throws in an 18-2 run that starts the 2nd half.  That would open up a 52-34 lead for CDH.  Logan Halvorsen's 3 and bucket off a turnover cut the lead to 61-50 with 7:04 left.  Sam Neumann with a 3 point play and a pair of free throws plus Moman's 6th 3 of the half push the lead back to 19.  CDH wins 77-63.  Stevie Moman with 22 of his 28 in the 2nd half and a total of 8 3s.  Sam Neumann too big inside as he piles up 16 rebounds to go with a quiet 15 points.  Garrett Goetz 26 points to lead the Irish and 5 3s.  Rosemount sporting a nice group of sophomores with 2 sophs who start and 2 more in the rotation.

Championship - Wayzata vs Holy Angels
Wayzata looking for a 3 peat as champions after defeating CDH the last 2 seasons.  But the gold with blue candy cane stripe on the warmup pants is hard to look at.  Zach Robertson off to a hot start for Wayzata with 9 of the 1st 11 Trojan points.  Nick Eid off the bench with a Kevin McHale move and a layup on a nice bullet pass to the backside.  22-15 Wayzata at the 7:14 mark.  Sam Joiner with a couple of big 3s to keep Wayzata moving. Delshon Strickland coast to coast for 2 and a late 3 but Robertson gets loose for 2 late 3s.  41-31 Wayzata at half.

Jordan Dembley with a slick pass off the post up to Strickland for a layup.  Dembley goes the length of the court and splits a pair of foul shots.  Then Strickland again to cut the lead to 6.  A little diamond and 1 on Robertson from the Stars.  Then business picks up as we see a bunch of technicals.  Wayzata by 10 when we get a delayed charge call from the outside offical when the underneath ref made no call.  Right call but wrong guy wrong time and Wayzata head coach Phil Ward justly gets a T for making that point.  Brad Carlson picks up his 4th with 7:53 left and we get the 2nd Wayzata T.  3 of the 4 freebies are good but AHA can't convert the possession thanks to a bad shot.  57-52 Wayzata with 7:15 to play.  Carlson returns at the 6 minute mark and immediately scores to push the lead to 7.  Then a bad no call on 1 end, a bad no call on the other and then a tough call on Wayzata in the scrum.  The refs are already on edge from a bad 3 to 4 minutes and we get the quick whistle for a 3rd Trojans technical.  Dembley makes 3 of 4 free throws and then finds Strickland for a layup.   Strickland adds a floater to cut the lead to 61-59 with 4:41 to play.   Zach Robertson with a pair of free throws and a Holy Angels technical foul.  Wayzata can't convert the possession but they get the lead back to 6 inside of 4 to play.

Holy Angels makes 4 freebies in a row to cut the lead back to 2.  Kalivoda with a great backdoor cut for a layup at the 3 minute mark.  Strickland puts back his own miss for a 3 point play to cut the lead to 1 with 2:33 left.  The teams trade misses as Danny Sullivan has another instance where he couldn't score over the long arms of Robertson.  Carlson makes 6 of 6 free throws.  Holy Angels has 1 last chance down 3 with 8.6 left.  The ball is denied into the front court.  Sullivan has to take in the back court and push.  He gets off a contested 3 that is in and out.  Drake Mjaanes closes it out with 2 freebies.  Wayzata wins its 3rd consecutive Catholic Spirit title 75-70.  Zach Robertson scores 19 of his 24 in the 1st half to lead the Trojans.  Kyle Kalivoda 13, Brad Carlson 14 (8-8 FTs).  Delshon Strickland 28 points and 8 rebounds for Holy Angels and Danny Sullivan 14

All-Tournament Team
Joe Heck - Providence Academy
Ryan Buron - Hill-Murray
Carlin Dupree - Milwaukee Bay View
Garrett Goetz - Rosemount
Stevie Moman - Cretin-Derham Hall
Delshon Strickland - Holy Angels
Charlie Koontz - Holy Angels
Brad Carlson - Wayzata
Kyle Kalivoda - Wayzata
Zach Robertson - Wayzata

2012 Augsburg Day 2

To Augsburg for day 2 of their 3 day, 6-team, keep a schedule handy event.  Johnson holds off Andover 69-64 in the early game.  Then a rematch of Sibley vs Chanhassen from earlier in the year followed by Hopkins and Duluth East, good probably they are the champs of sections 6 and 7 in AAAA come March.  12 ounces of Pepsi tonight but a meal on the way.

Game 1 - Henry Sibley vs Chanhassen
Sibley uses hot 3 point shooting in the 1st half to jump out to a 14-7 lead.  Zach Haas with 2 of his 3 bombs in the half during that spurt.  Then their bigs Mark Pumper and Nick Goldberg see time on the bench with 2 fouls.  A couple of Scott Wenta plays late in the half keep Chanhassen within 24-19 at the half.

Chanhassen comes out strong with a 7-0 run to quickly take the lead back.  Jared Lea with a 3 and 2 more on a turnover.  Then Sibley turns up some pressure in the backcourt and goes on a run of their own.  Adam Huessner for 3 and converts a steal for 2.  Out of a timeout after another turnover its Huessner again from the deep beyond.  Its a 14-4 run to put Sibley up 38-30 with 11:50 to play.  Joey Witthus put up 36 for the Storm in the 1st meeting, but to this point only a 3 to open the game.  He comes off a shuffle screen and earns 2 free throws to cut the Sibley lead to 41-39 with 8:09 left.  Sibley has another mini-run in them.  Kessler Geschwill with 3 of 4 free throws and Julius Johnsno with the last 4 in a 8-2 spurt.  49-41 Sibley with 5 minutes left.  Chanhassen not going away though.  Frank Ragnow uses the big body for 2 inside, Derrick Row runs the floor and makes a nice catch and finish, Witthus with a tough 1 footer right baseline jumper, Ragnow inside and the foul.  He misses the free throw but Row puts it back.  Witthus fouled on a 3 and makes all 3 free throws.  Row with another layup as Sibley can't buy a bucket.  Adam Huessner gets a layup with 1:32 left to break the 15-0 Storm run but its too late by that time.  Sibley was down 4 in the last 20 seconds with the ball but turned it over.  Witthus seals the deal with 2 more freebies.  Chanhassen wins 60-54.

Sibley's loss breaks a 6 game winning streak as they fall to 6-3.  Adam Huessner with 10 of his 15 in the second half.  3 triples on his sheet.  Zach Haas 12, Julius Johnson 10 for the Warriors.  Chanhassen improves to 7-1 with the win.  They get great balance with 4 in double figures.  Joey Witthus and Frank Ragnow with 12 each, 19 of those 24 in the 2nd half.  Scott Wenta and Jared Lea with 10 each.

Game 2 - Hopkins vs Duluth East
I remember when Rhett McDonald played for his dad at Cambridge-Isanti and they upset top ranked Hopkins in the old Hamline tournament a few years back (Dan VanderVieren was suspended).  I made a point of seeing him play the next day.  Somehow I don't see this matchup of McDonald's Greyhounds against Hopkins in the same fashion.  Jake Wright 2 quick open 3s gets him going.  Amir Coffey adds a 3.  Then Wright going nuts with 4 more 3s.  24-9 Hopkins at the 10:12 mark.  Its the 2nd Duluth East timeout already and Wright already with 19 points.   Kamali Chambers with a long 3, a 3rd pass for a Melvin Martin 3 and Jamal Davis for 3.  43-20 Royals.  Wright adds another 3 along with Treyvon Edwards.  That more than offsets some inside work from Matt Lochner for East.  49-29 at the break.  Hopkins with 12 3s from 6 players including 7 from Wright.  22 points for Wright at the break.  Hopkins coasts from there but did play some zone (appeared to be a point zone or some other type of matchup) for the last 9 minutes.  Hopkins empties the bench at the 3 minute mark with a 78-41 lead and that's all I need to see.  Jake Wright leads all scorers with 28 points.  Duluth East has some athletes at the guard spots and Lochner inside so I still see them coming out of section 7.  They'll need to take better shots and do a far better job of finding and contesting shooters on the defensive end.

2012 Edina Tourney Day 1

A slow drive to day 1 of the 2012 Edina Holiday Tournament. That means Davanni's has to wait until halftime. Chewy so that was a major letdown, though a helpful dad (who shall remain anonymous for his own good) did warn me of that.  26 drinks puts me up and over the 400 ounce mark for the year at 408. 

Game 1 - Armstrong vs St. Thomas Academy
The opener had Armstrong down a couple of guards (JJ Morris and Cyrus Moore-Brown).  This game was a struggle for points all the way through.  Jalen Patterson with a drive for 2 and a Nick Waldvogel steal for 2 free throws ends a 7-1 Cadets run.  21-18 STA at the 5:34 mark of the 1st half.   Armstrong would close with 8 of the last 10.  A pair of drives along with a pair of Konner Goettsche FTs followed by Evan Nolan to the rack with the lefty finish.  28-25 Falcons at the half.

Klicky klackity clank clank clank was the story of the 2nd half.  Ben Fiers for 3 to put St. Thomas Academy up 31-29 at teh 13:20 mark.  Goettsche with a jumper to end a drought of 5:40.  Sean Burns with a layup at the 11:35 mark but that is the only points we'll see in a 5 minute stretch.  Patterson for 3 to break the spell for both teams.  He adds a drive at the 6:25 mark for a 37-33 Cadets lead.  Mitchell Biewen counters at the 6:15 mark to break another Falcons drought, this one 5:20.  A steal for 2 free throws and Goettsche in the post at the 4:45 mark for 6 in a row.  39-37 Falcons reclaim the lead.  Fiers with another bomb and Nick Griffin with a drive for 1 of 2 freebies.  41-39 Cadets with 3:21 left.  Biewen with an easy layup to tie the game.  The teams trade long possessions and misses.  St. Thomas gets a last shot but Patterson's step thru at the buzzer is long.  Not the type of free basketball we had in mind.

Goettsche with a tip in before the 1st minute is up.  St. Thomas gets a very long possession (over 2:30), only to miss a layup with 45 seconds left.  St. Thomas has 2 fouls to give but Armstrong turns it over before they can give one.  The Cadets get another chance but miss a short jumper.  Armstrong takes a couple of time outs to get the ball in.  Biewen makes 1 of 2 with 13.3 left.  The Cadets get 1 last chance.  Griffin has a good look at a long 3 to tie, its online but just short.  Armstrong holds on 44-41 in OT.  Ugly win for Armstrong but a W is a W.  Konner Goettsche 13 points and the only player on either side in double figures.  Armstrong now 4-3.  Jalen Patterson leads the Cadets with 9 points.  Cadets are now 0-6 but the last 5 losses are by a total of 21 points against quality opponents, worst of those was 6 points.

Game 2 - St. Louis Park at Edina
Thankfully the late game features 2 teams who like to get out and go.    Point guard matchup very interesting with former AAU teammates Kashif Hayes and Graham Woodward going at it.  So much for that.  Woodward flares for 3, a steal for 2, 2 free throws on a turnover, pull up in the lane for 2 and then knock down a 3.  16-4 Edina at the 13:03 mark and Woodward already with 12.  Reggie Lynch with a putback before picking up his 2nd foul and sitting at the 11:07 mark.  22-6 Hornets lead.  Woodward an inbounds 3, an assist to Ben Boone and Woodward coast to coast for 2 more.  33-14 Edina leading.  Woodward a steal for 2 free throws, a 3 point play and let's close the half with another 3 ball.  29 for Woodward, 45-28 Edina over St. Louis Park at the half.

DJ Pollard 2 quick Orioles buckets.  Woodward for 3 and then 3 free throws to keep the lead at 19.  Pollard with 4 and Mahki Moore with 5 in a 10-0 St. Louis Park run.  That cuts Edina's lead to 53-42 with 13:09 left.  Then they go box and 1 on Woodward (interesting time to pull it out), Woodward not getting touches but he does make 4 free throws in a row.  58-47 Edina with 11:46 to go.  Woodward with a deep jumper to tie the school's single game record of 42 with 9:17 left.  Ben Boone for 3 and the lead is back to 16.  Woodward makes 2 free throws with 7:53 to break the 25 year old school record held by Kraig Kluge vs Minnetonka.  Woodward to Lynch for 2. Lynch with a block that leads to 2 free throws on the other end.  75-53 with 7 to play and forget about after a 19-6 Hornets run.  Edina wins 95-64. 

Graham Woodward leaves with 2:57 left and finishes with a school record 46 points.  That's more points than we saw from either team in the earlier overtime game (absorb that fact for a minute).  I had him 13-23 shooting, 6 3s and a perfect 14-14 at the line with a handful of assists.  Easily could have had 50 if  not for a couple of layups that were down and came out.  Nick Boone quality minutes filling in for Lynch in the 1st half, Ben Boone 11 points.  8th grader Walt McGrory 8-8 FTs for all of his points.  Edina has now won 4 in a row after an 0-4 start.  Dennis Green asking "Are they who we thought they were?"  St. Louis Park did force some fouls in the 1st half but then got into foul trouble of their own and fell apart in the 2nd half.  DJ Pollard leads with 17 of his 21 in the 2nd half.  Jeffrey Bonds 8 of his 10 in the 1st half.  Kashif Hayes all 6 in the 1st half.  Orioles are now 6-3 on the season.

An epic battle of stars

Its back to The Old Kingdom for the biggest high school event in La Crosse in the 20+ years I can recall.  Its Matt Thomas vs Bronson Koenig in their 1st of 2 meetings this season.  The ticket demand was so high for this one that the game was moved to the La Crosse Center, former home of the La Crosse Catbirds when Flip Saunders coached them.  The turnout did not disappoint as the local reports were an attendance of over 5000 people for the game.  The bigger building did take away some of the atmosphere but a great move to get this in a quality venue.  The teams will also play their second meeting there on January 31st

The Game
Onalaska tried to jump out early as they opened a 15-8 lead late in the 1st quarter.  Coach Rick Schneider gets his guys to respond out of timeouts as well as anybody I see.  That held true here as well as the Blugolds scored 8 of the last 10 in the quarter to cut the lead to 17-16.  Mike Conway keeping Aquinas afloat with 9 points in the quarter.

Koenig doesn't get his 1st field goal until the 3:32 mark of the 2nd quarter.  That ties the game at 26.  We'll go to halftime tied at 30.  Only 3 field goals between Thomas and Koenig to this point.   A very dull 3rd quarter highlighted by Koenig's last field goal that he converts into a 3 point play.  40-37 Aquinas going to the 4th.

Conway sits with his 4th foul with 6:25 left.  Thomas drives with the nice lefty finish and we're tied at 40 with 4 to play.  Conway back in with 3:13 left and Aquinas hasn't lost any ground.  Nolan Ritter comes up with a bank and a free throw to put Aquinas up 3.  Then Koenig with his 4th foul with 2:39 to play.   He gets moved off of Thomas and Thomas immediately goes to the post, gets the hack and the bucket is good on a goaltend.  He misses the free throw.  43-42 Aquinas with 2:24 left.  Ritter misses a front end but Onalaska can't convert.  Koenig drives on the other end and finds Reggie Rabb for a layup with 1:52 left.  45-42 Aquinas.  Thomas gets his best look of the night but can't knock down the 3.  Koenig rebounds and gets an Aquinas timeout with 1:20 left.  They run the clock down to 42.5 left before Rabb misses a front end.  Thomas fouled and makes both ends of the bonus with 25.7 left to cut the lead to 45-44.  Ritter makes 1 of 2 with 18.8 left.  Thomas rebounds the miss, takes the ball to the front court where Onalaska takes timeout with 7.3 left to draw up 1 final play.

Thomas catches in the backcourt and Koenig picks him up.  Here we go.  He drives off a right elbow ball screen and the ball gets stripped by Conway.  That runs out the clock and Aquinas hangs on 46-44.  Koenig 8 pts, 3 Ast on my sheet.  Thomas 18 points 3 Ast

The Tactics
Onalaska stayed with their usual 2-3 zone but they did add a couple of tweaks to it.  They extended full court 2-2-1 to drop back into it.  That allowed the Hilltoppers to double Koenig on the inbounds and then soft trap him in the backcourt if he did catch it.  It also took Aquinas out of lots of their sets that they'll run for Koenig against man defense.  Aquinas went with a vanilla 1-3-1 zone offense against the zone with Koenig playing some on top and some on the wing.  But with the wings not moving, that largely took Bronson out of play.  One gap that the zone showed though was that the middle of it was wide open.  Koenig took advantage of this 1 time with a flash and catch that he converted to a 3 point play.  I'm surprised that Aquinas never came to that with him.  Other guards got that same play in the game as well but it could have used more often.  Its something they'll want to clean up before they see Lakeview Christian at the Timberwolves Shootout in 2 weeks.  Only 2-6 FGs on my sheet for Koenig in the game.

On the Aquinas end, they chose to play their standard man, but have Koenig faceguard Thomas for almost all of the game.  Onalaska tried to get some backcuts from Thomas on elbow feeds but Koenig defended that well.  It did lead to Thomas getting some handoff opportunities where Koenig had to trail him off of it.  Those were the best looks Thomas got all night.  One other thing that was effective was to have Thomas set screens, in particular ball screens.  With Koenig not wanting to give any help, this allowed Hilltopper players to turn the corner.  Thomas ended up 6-22 shooting with Koenig hounding him all night.  Thomas had a chance or 2 in the post thanks to strength but Koenig's long arms make that entry really difficult.  I also thought Thomas pressed a bit on some of those misses

Hylanders and Scots battle

A quiet night on the schedule so its a chance to get out to St. Paul Highland Park to see the Scots take on Columbia Heights.  The setup at Highland Park is the most unique and confusing that I see in my metro travels.  Ramps and stairs and unmarked doors and weird entrances make the gym a nightmare to get around in if you dare venture to the open side.  Getting there is one thing but then one must get back to the easy side for the Walking Taco at the concession stand.  Its a paint by numbers version for only $2 which is a steal.  Lettuce over the sour cream makes mixing a bit easier.  Add in another 12 ounces of beverages and I think I may just hit 400 by Christmas.  384 on a full 24 pack so far this year.  Great conversation with Heights coach Willie Braziel before the game.  Interesting tidbit from him that I really liked.  Have all high school athletes conform to the NCAA eligibility standards (without ACT scores of course) before they can play.  None of this progress toward graduation nonsense that we have now.

Game Time
Lefty Dion Bradley putting up 30 a night for Highland Park this season and he was well on his way early.  But interestingly enough, the points were right handed finishes.  He scores 10 of the 1st 16 and assists on 1 of the rest.  16-13 Highland Park up at the 11 minute mark as we have the expected fast pace.  6 in a row from Columbia Heights to reclaim the lead and a Mike Koenig triple to tie the game at 19 with 8 minutes left in the half.  We get a quick appearance of THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE from the Scots before Heights goes box and 1 on Bradley.  Bradley double clutches inisde for 2.  25-23 Heights at the 4:30 mark  The Hylanders will finish the half on an 18-6 spurt.  Dominique Galloway a 3 and a give and go assist in transition.  Then a 3 point play and late in the run a steal for an easy bucket.  43-29 Columbia Heights with the lead at half.

The Scots with a quick 8-0 run to start the 2nd half behind a Bradley putback and 3 point play.  He then finds Koenig for 3 and Koenig adds a layup.  The Heights lead down to 43-37 and still 16:20 to play.  Then the roof collapses on Highland Park.  Dion Sandstad with a 3 point play and steal for 2.  Sandstad for 3 and then a block that results in 2 Galloway free throws.  Sandstad to Galloway for 3 and that closes a 21-2 Columbia Heights run in 4:40.  That gives the Hylanders a 64-39 lead with 11:14 to go.  Bradley makes 2 free throws but then picks up his 4th foul with 9:42 left and has to sit.

No star, no problem.  Koenig takes over for the Scots.  He knocks down 3 triples in 90 seconds as the Scots go on a 14-1 run.  Timeout Heights with 7:31 left and the lead cut to 67-55.  Heights only gets a pair of free throws from Galloway before Bradley returns with 5:33 to play, 69-55 Hylanders.  Frosh Jerret Baptiste and forward Colton Williams keep the offense going inside with a pair of buckets each.  Highland Park never threatens again.  Columbia Heights goes on to win 84-67.

Post Game
For Highland Park, Dion Bradley finishes with 31 and keeps his average up.  Mike Koenig 4 of his 5 3s in the 2nd half.  He finishes with 27 points.  The rest of the roster is only able to come up with 9 though.  Nobody on the varsity roster listed over 6'1" and only 1 player in the entire program at 6'2".  Heights eventually took advantage of that inside.  Highland Park finishes the calendar year 5-2.  They take the holidays off before hosting Edison on January 4th.  Then a very tough stretch with a trip to Eastview, host Wayzata, at Minnehaha, vs Sioux Falls Roosevelt in Sioux Falls event, and Edina in their next 6.  They have junior Isaiah Brower and 3 sophs in the rotation plus some respectable JV talent.  Despite the small roster, you have to like what Jon DePerry is doing with the Scots program.

For Columbia Heights, they get great balance with 5 players in double figures.  Dominique Galloway leads the way with 22 and a few assists.  Junior forward Colton Williams effective inside with 17.  That helps offset the loss of center Christian Esko who's out with an injured elbow.  Dion Sandstad 15 points, Jerret Baptiste and Martice Creamer with 12 each.  Galloway and Sandstad make the show go, but they've gone to a pass and cut system (4 or 5 out depending on personnel) and get good balance from it.  Add that with their chaotic defense and the Hylanders will win their share of games.  They've now won 4 in a row after a season opening loss at Park Center.  That includes a win at Lakeview Christian last weekend.  They are in the Tartan holiday tournament (coach Klingsporn in the building tonight watching) and then they start 4 in a row on the road in the North Suburban.  A trip to St. Louis Park kicks off that stretch on Jan 4th.

Play of the Day
This is a set from Columbia Heights that they call "Quick".  Its a nice dual option play that gives a option for post up/layup or a 3.

Its a Michigan set with 2 guards, a post at the nail and 2 wings in the corners.  Guard to guard pass, guard cuts over the post and then turns and screens for him to the ball side block.  Screening guard pops back to the ball.  That guard can hit the 3 if the post up is doubled or you can get a switch for a mismatch.  A simple set but effective.  This was a goto play that they ran multiple times.  Also a good entry into their 4 out pass and cut.

Another One Walks The Plank

As I expected before the season, tonight would be a huge matchup of #1 vs #2 in class AAAA.  But the results of the Tipoff Classic changed who we thought the teams would be.  Its #1 Osseo visiting #2 Park Center.  Full house and SRO around the rails at The Pirate Ship.  A very good by the book Walking Taco along with 20 more ounces of beverage.  372 ounces on 23 beverages for the season.  No Isaiah McKay for Park Center due to injury.  The Park Center student section a bit more subdued than I expected.  But its a total outrage that they're not allowed to fly the pirate flag at home.

Game Time
Ian Theisen in the post for 2 for an early 3-2 Osseo lead.  Park Center rips off 8 in a row with a sick drive and scoop from their star point guard Quinton Hooker.  Hooker then buries a 3 to cap the run and he'll add a nasty step back jumper for 2 more.  Wheeler Baker breaks a FG drought of 5:15 for Osseo.  12-9 Park Center at the 10:37 mark.  Park Center would open up the lead thanks to 5 in a row from Devin Buckley and a long Hooker triple.  23-11 Pirates now up double digits.  Hooker with a putback just before the halftime buzzer.  32-22 Park Center at the break.  Hooker with 14.

Buckley keeping the offense going with a spinning floater and a running bank.  Baker then heats up for Osseo.  5 in a row from him cuts the Park Center lead to 8.  Park Center keeping the lead with a Treyton Daniels dunk, a drive from Hooker and Hooker converts an Orioles turnover with 2 at the charity stripe.  44-31 Pirates with 12:24 to play.  Then Daniels will sit with 4 fouls so now you have him and McKay (2 regulars) out of the Park Center lineup.  Buckley for 3 and Hooker with a floater for a 3 point play.  52-37 Pirates inside of 9 to play.  Bridge Tusler very quiet in this one but he scores and finds Theisen for a dunk after another Hooker bucket.  Baker adds on a triple and Theisen with a putback for a 3 point play.  5:52 left as Osseo takes a timeout.  Park Center hanging on to a 56-47 lead after a 10-4 Osseo spurt.  Is this the Osseo run to get them back in it?

Absolutely not!  Hooker to Buckley for 1 basket and Buckley adds another on another Orioles turnover.  Hooker makes 4 straight free throws to push the lead back to 15.  Strange that 1 official decided at this point in the game that breathing was a foul.  64-49 Park Center with 3:26 left.  They would go on to win 73-62.

Post Game
For Osseo, Wheeler Baker heated up with 15 of his 21 in the 2nd half.  Not good nights for stars Bridge Tusler and Ian Theisen.  Tusler with 12 points but his only field goal was a late 3, 1-9 FGs on my sheet. Theisen with 17 points and 9 rebounds on 5-13 shooting.  The rest of the Osseo lineup couldn't pick up the slack.  The Orioles were extremely sloppy with way too many turnovers.  They also didn't take advantage of the size of Theisen.   Osseo falls to 5-1 with the loss.  They host Champlin Park (3-1) on Thursday before heading to St. Cloud for the Granite City Classic.  They'll play Prior Lake in a rematch of an epic game from last year's Tipoff Classic and then the Saturday night cap against Apple Valley.  That's a game that could have been another 1 vs 2 matchup if Osseo had won tonight.

For Park Center, Quinton Hooker leads the way with 34 points.  He vaults Park Center to #1 in the polls.  He also has to be the clear hands down forget about it leader for the Mr. Basketball award right now.  But to keep that the Pirates will have to beat Osseo at least 1 more time (likely in the section final) for him to be in the same type of category when it matters at the end of the year.  14 points in the 1st half and then 20 in the 2nd half (13-14 FTs in the half).  Devin Buckley steps up with 21 points in the absence of McKay and the foul trouble of Daniels.  The rest of the roster scored 18 with 5 field goals.  Give credit to their swarming and switching defense for causing havoc inside and outside.    While they lose a ton, guys like Arione Farrar, Amani Hooker, Xavier Pollard etc are in the pipeline to keep the program going.

A sneaky Monday night battle

To Heritage Christian for a very interesting game between the #6A Eagles and defending section 4AA champion St. Croix Lutheran.  Heritage coming off a thrilling 106-103 win at #4A Lakeview Christian despite giving up 53 to Anders Broman.  No Evan Parkhurst for Heritage.  He's out for another few weeks after injuring both wrists in the season opener.  1 is in a brace and the other is in a cast.  Mama Dee's special is tonight's menu choice.  For 5 bucks, a pork sandwich, a mini cup of 3 small chocolate chip cookies and 12 more ounces of beverage.  That bargain deal puts me at 352 ounces for the season.  Remember folks, Garfield had it right.  Always eat your dessert first.  A good small college crew in the building with Northland, St. Mary's, Bethel and Northwestern (MN) all taking in the game.   If you're picking the game based on mascot theory, its human with weapon over animal.  Will that hold?

Game Time
Cody Sticha opens the game with a bucket and adds on 3 triples.  Those 11 points lead St Croix Lutheran to 22-10 lead at the 11:45 mark of the first half.  Zach Weld for 3, Christian Pieper for 3 and 2 more after a turnover.  That's part of a quick 10-2 run to cut the Crusaders lead to 4.  Sticha with an assist for 3 and an inside bucket to keep the lead at 29-25 at the 5:45 mark.  34-30 St. Croix Lutheran at the 4:37 mark.  Heritage would respond with 10 in a row in just 1:35 with a Pieper jumper ending that run.  40-37 Heritage leading at the break.

St. Croix Lutheran comes out shorthanded as Jackson Goplen misses the entire second half.  Freshman lefty 6th man Aage Rovney takes over for him and more than holds his own.  He buries a 3 to cut the Heritage lead to 2 and force a timeout with 13:11 left.  Weld with a charge for his 4th foul and has to sit with 10:15 to play.  Rovney with another bomb and St. Croix Lutheran reclaims the lead 51-50 with 9:35 left.   Heritage would have answers.  Spencer Bland on the offensive glass to put the Eagles back on top.  Brad Basco picks up his 4th and stays in with 6:01 left.  That brings Weld back in the game.  After a Heritage 3 point play.  Weld with a drive on the right baseline and a nice lefty finish.   He then counters a Crusaders bucket with a left wing triple.  62-55 Heritage leading after a 12-4 run, 4:40 left.  Bland 2 more offensive rebounds earns him another bucket.  That's sandwiched by 3s from Sticha and Rovney.  64-61 Heritage with 2:45 left.  The teams trade scores and Heritage turns it over with 1:43 left.  They made a great save to keep possession but then a careless over and back gives it back to the Crusaders.  66-63 Heritage leading.  St Croix Lutheran misses and then gives their fouls.   The last is almost an intentional foul but Heritage doesn't get that benefit and they miss the front end.  Another Crusader miss and Weld makes 1 of 2 freebies with 23.4 to play.  St Croix Lutheran turns it over at the 3 point line as they rush back the other way and somehow Heritage is able to run out the clock without a foul.  Heritage defeats the Crusaders (and mascot theory) 67-63

Post Game
For St. Croix Lutheran, Cody Sticha leads the way with 18 points.  The lefty wing showed why he's one of the more underappreciated players in the Tri-Metro. But if he would have shot it well, he could have had 30.  Lincoln Hochmuth and Aage Rovney 12 each.  Rovney is part of a nice freshman group.  Add in Trenton Krueger, Marcus Cross (think Wesley Tucker) and Gunnar Maki to go with Rovney and soph Josh Arndt who saw a couple varsity minutes tonight and you have a nice group for the future.  The Crusaders fall to 4-3.  Next up is the Bethany Lutheran holiday tournament.

For Heritage, a very balanced night with 4 in double figures.  Zach Weld and Spencer Bland with 16 each.  Brad Basco 12, Christian Pieper with 11.  They got to loose balls and got after the glass more than St. Croix Lutheran did.  Bland was very effective grabbing those and converting them.  Weld came up big with 6 of the last 10 Eagles points after returning with 4 fouls in a 4 point game.  The Eagles stay undefeated at 6-0.  Good wins vs West Lutheran, at Lakeview Christian and now this win.  They will play in the Park Rapids tournament over the holidays before jumping into the MCAA schedule.

A weekend of nailbiting hoops

Time to catchup on my last 3 games.  Here's what I saw over the last couple of days.  3 more beverages and 56 more ounces puts me at 21 drinks and 340 ounces for the season.  3 more hot dogs puts that count in double digits at 10 for the season.

Friday - Blake at Edina
Edina came in 0-4 but finally got on the board with a 70-62 win.  I was surprised that Blake didn't do more to try and keep the ball out of Graham Woodward's hands.  Early on the Edina role players struggled to put the ball in the basket.  But they ended up playing their best game of the year.  Woodward was outstanding scoring and passing (I had him with 21 points and 8 assists late in the game).  Reggie Lynch almost had a triple double.  8th Grader Walt McGrory gave the Hornets good minutes off the bench.  Soph Ben Boone chipped in double figure points.  John Veil had some good looks for Blake but was ice cold starting 1-12 from the field.  Blake would but the lead to 3 with 10:30 left.  Veil then with a 3 point play and long assist to Blaine Crawford to keep the Bears within 4 with 7:30 left.  Officiating went Edina's way as touch calls and 50/50 calls were in their favor but that's life on the road.

Forest Lake at Irondale
A very strange game in the afternoon session.  Irondale comes out 3-2 zone and Forest Lake befuddled by it.  That allowed the Knights to open up a 33-20 halftime lead.  Then Irondale all 1-3-1 and 2-3 in the 2nd half.  Noah Davis goes off for 5 3s in the 2nd half for Forest Lake and that helps force overtime.  Irondale then goes man for both overtimes.   They never came back to the 3-2 zone that was so effective in the first half.   Forest Lake comes back from 13 down to win 65-61 in 2 overtimes.  Jack Martinek leads Irondale and all scorers with 30 points.  19 of those after halftime.  Noah Davis very quiet in the first half but scores 20 of his 25 after halftime.  He buried 6 3s in the game.  Soph Devin Malik productive off the Irondale bench with 10 of his 12 in the first half.   3 others in double figures for Forest Lake.  They have 3 sophs in the rotation (including starter Connor Knutson) and frosh Noah Alm saw meaningful minutes in the 2nd half and overtimes.  A nice core to build for a couple years down the road.

White Bear Lake at Totino Grace
Then the 2nd half of the Suburban East at North Suburban showdowns.  White Bear Lake turnover prone early but once they figured it out their pressure led to a 15-0 run late in the first half.  30-23 White Bear Lake at the half.  Beau Smit with his 2nd 3 point play of the 2nd half, a block and he converts that for 2 on the other end.  White Bear opening up a 43-36 lead after an 11-4 run.  Reggie Meyer back to back 3s from the left wing and he adds a bucket on a post mismatch.  Intentional foul adds 2 Colin Fleming free throws for Totino Grace.  11-0 Eagles run to put Totino-Grace back on top 47-43.  Meyer with another 3 in his big 2nd half to keep TG ahead 52-50 with 8:50 left.  Then a 9-0 White Bear Lake run with Beau Smit and Stevie Hjelmberg scoring all those points.  59-52 Bears 5:50 left.  Meyer with back to back putbacks to cut the Bears lead to 3 inside of 3 minutes left.  After a White Bear Lake turnover, Fleming pulls up on the break for 3 and buries it to cut the lead to 63-61.  After a pair of Bears free throws, Fleming kick to Luke Gasperlin for 3 with 30 seconds left.  65-64 White Bear Lake.  Totino-Grace doesn't foul to extend the game and they really didn't get a trap either.  Timeout White Bear Lake.  Beau Smit makes 1 of 2 with 8.9 seconds left for a 2 point lead.  Totino-Grace pushes to the front court and takes timeout to setup 1 last look.  Luke Gasperlin catches in the opposite deep left corner on the inbounds and appears to have a wide open 3 for the win.  Out of nowhere it is swatted away and White Bear Lake hangs on to win 66-64.  Beau Smit 23 points, Tanner Hinck 5 3s and 21 points to lead the Bears.  Reggie Meyer 20 of his 22 in the 2nd half for Totino-Grace. Colin Fleming 3 3s and 23 points.

Stars survive in Triple Overtime

Bah Humbug.  Who needs a holiday party anyway?  The Czar is in the mood for Christmas cheer but after losing in bowling 106-104 in the 10th frame, I need some basketball.  But I left room after the party for my 4th slice of pizza of the season.  Beverage 18 puts me on pace to clear 300 ounces tomorrow.   Nice quick ceremony in the pregame to honor AHA coach Larry McKenzie for his 250th career win.  He did that on Monday at Hill-Murray.  Minnehaha and CDH on hand for scouting purposes.

Game Time
Jordan Dembley off a great start.  An assist to Danny Sullivan for 3, then to Charlie Koontz for a layup.  He then takes it coast to coast for his own bucket.  Joey Poehling from 18 feet straight away and its 14-4 Holy Angels at the 11 minute mark.   Back to back St. Thomas 3s cuts the lead into the lead.  St. Thomas timeout at 7:18 down 16-12.  Holy Angels repsons with 1 triple and then Dembley to Delshon Strickland for another 3.  26-16 after another Dembley assist for a layup, 3:40 left in the half.  Mitch Newberg for 3 and AJ Piram banks in a 3 at the buzzer for a 9-1 run to end the half.  That cuts the AHA lead to 27-25 at the half

Koontz with a pair of buckets and then a Dembley block on 1 end and spin move for 2 on the other.  35-27 Holy Angels.  St. Thomas responds with the next 7 points.  Jalen Patterson with a 3 point play in the run but as the run ends he has to sit with 4 fouls.  35-34 Holy Angels leading with 11:15 to play.  Strickland generating offense for the Stars.  He knocks down a 3 and a floater.  Then a pretty assist for a layup and knocks down a difficult 3.  47-41 Holy Angels with 6 to play.  Dembley and Koontz back in after a breather.  AHA struggling with turnovers late and Jordan Dembley not with the ball in his hands.  Strange.  John Neuberger goes glass after a turnover and offensive rebound to cut the AHA lead to 49-47 with 2:42 left.  The teams trade baskets.  Then Dembley with a tough miss and its tied up.  Arrow goes to St. Thomas with 55.8 left.  Patterson drives to tie it with 17 ticks left.  AHA will play on and not take a timeout.  Dembley drives and its a charge with 1.3 left.  Tied at 51 and we'll go to overtime.

Strickland with a tip with 1:20 left to tie the game at 53.  Holy Angels takes a timeout and goes to a small lineup with no Koontz or Sullivan.  St. Thomas patient with their offense.  Patterson takes the ball to the bucket and Strickland smothers it for a jump ball with 8.4 left.  Arrow to Holy Angels.  They'll advance the ball to halfcourt and take a timeout with 5.7 left to get their offense back in.  But they get absolutely nothing on the inbounds.  Dembley heave is no good and we'll play a 2nd OT tied at 53.

A tough call inside from halfcourt sends Koontz to the line where he makes the 1st and the Stars grab the miss of the 2nd.  1:18 left tied at 56.  They hold and almost turn it over at half court.  It was a bum that very easily could have been called a foul or over and back.  Holy Angels sets up 1 last play out of a time out with 13.2 left.  Dembley with the early kickout for 3 that's no good.  St. Thomas can't get past halfcourt with the rebound.  We'll go to a 3rd overtime tied at 56.

Koontz with a dunk after a no call on the St. Thomas end.  60-58 AHA and St. Thomas uses their timeout here with 1:59 left.  Nick Griffin to the basket for 2 to tie it with 1:45 left.  Dembley with a drive and finish with 1:20 left.  That broke a string of 8 straight misses for him.  Neuberger looked trapped in the corner but both AHA guys left him.  He put it on the deck and went glass again with 40 seconds left.  62 all as Holy Angels advances to the front court  and takes time with 20.8 left.  Out of the timeout they'll hold.  Dembley off the right wing screen from Koontz.  Dembley finds Koontz, shot up no good but Koontz grabs it and puts it back with 7 ticks left.  St. Thomas has to hurry back, they don't get it in right way.  Ben Fiers gets it and pushes it up the right side line.  His attempt from 30 feet on the right wing is just off the iron at the buzzer.  Holy Angels hangs on to win 64-62 in triple overtime.

Post Game
Tough one for St. Thomas but they did make a comeback after never leading in regulation.  Nick Griffin 17 points to lead the way on my sheet.  Jalen Patterson 13.  Not sure where the book got their 19 and 16 from.  They're not the most athletic group but they do have some length and shooters.  Patterson is a key difference maker for them.  He's seeing some point guard time due to Nick Waldvogel being out of the lineup.  The Cadets fall to 0-2 with a tough schedule coming up.  Minnehaha and Sibley at home.  Then a rivalry game at CDH before play Armstrong and either Edina or St. Louis Park in the Edina tournament.  Then back to league play with home games against Mahtomedi and Richfield.

For Holy Angels, Charlie Koontz leads with 16, 4 in the 3rd OT and the game winner.  Delshon Strickland 8 of his 15 in the 2nd half allowing Koontz and Dembley to get a breather.  Jordan Dembley had an off night shooting 6-15 with 6 turnovers but did add 5 assists.  He finished with 14 points and came up big in the 3rd OT.  The Stars improve to 4-2 with the win.  They play at Holy Family on Saturday before playing in the Catholic Spirit tournament.  Then tough road trips to Blake and Chaska to start the new year.

Centaurs slay the Warriors

To Brooklyn Center for game 25 of my season.  The Centaurs hosting MetroTech Academy.  Usually a thin concession stand at BC but pizza tonight and that's never a bad thing.  That's the 3rd slice of the season.  Beverage 17 puts me at 272 oz for the season. 

Game Time
Brooklyn Center jumps out to a quick 8-0 lead to force a MetroTech timeout.  The Warriors respond with an 11-2 run of their own.  Jamil Jackson for 3 to close it.  11-10 MetroTech at the 12:42 mark.  The Centaurs would take control from there.  Jacob Cattledge off the Brooklyn Center bench and scoring inside.  2 buckets and 2 free throws from him help the Centaurs open a 22-18 lead at the 8:50 mark.  But there's tick tack calls everywhere and the fouls against the home squad are 11-2.  Cattledge 2 more buckets and the lead starts to expand.  30-21 Centaurs with 6:40 left in the half and MetroTech needs another timeout.  Sammie Watkins with 2 freebies and a layup on a turnover to push the lead to 14.  The wing will then sit with 3 fouls.  Trevonte Marshall with a pair of free throws and a foray to the hoop for 2 more.  Brooklyn Center up 49-33 at half despite committing 16 fouls.

An explained T over halftime starts with a MetroTech free throw.  No field goals in the first half for MetroTech's leading guard Dominick Jackson.  He changes that in a hurry with a bucket, 3 point play and triple.  Its a 16-2 MetroTech run to start the half.  51-49 Centaurs with 12:37 left.  That run finally gets broken with the 1st Brooklyn Center FG of the half by Cattledge at the 12:22 mark.  Cattledge 2 more on a turnover and MetroTech misses a dunk.  Marshall goes glass for 2 and adds 2 free throws.  After another Centaurs hoop Marshall goes down the lane strong for the nasty dunk with 9 minutes left.  That ignites the crowd and pushes the Centaurs lead back to 10, 63-53.  MetroTech would hang around that 10-14 point mark but never get closer than 9 the rest of the way.  An earlier MetroTech T is matched by a Centaurs T as they open the game up with 3:29 left.  Then MetroTech fouling late and Dominick Jackson with a bit of a shove after the whistle and initial foul.  That gets him tossed with the 4th T of the night by the officiating crew.  Both coaches unhappy all night with the officating and both refs were in an ugly mood.  Bad all the way around. Brooklyn Center wins 95-79.

Post Game
For MetroTech, Mike Miller leads with 22 points.  Dominick Jackson with an off night outside of the early 2nd half spurt.  He still finishes with 20 points on 6-16 shooting on my sheet.  13 for freshman Jamil Jackson (their goto guy next year).  14 for Joshua Stephenson.  Metrotech falls to 3-2 (unknown score for Learning for Leadership game).  The schedule is cupcakes until they play in the Albert Lea holiday tournament.

For Brooklyn Center, they end up with 4 in double figures. Jacob Cattledge and DeAndre Bell control the paint to the tune of 23 and 20 points respectively.  Wings Sammie Watkins and Trevonte Marshall add 10 and 16 points each.  They were able to abuse the porous MetroTech defense when they wanted good shots.  Its a very senior laden group with Watkins and Tyler Wilebski the only 2 juniors playing.  The Centaurs off to a good 3-1 start with wins against Mayer Lutheran and St. Croix Prep.  Reality calls on Tuesday with a trip to DeLaSalle.  Then they have 3 in the Trinity holiday tournament.

Spartans survive section battle

After being snowed in last night, its back on the road for a battle in section 6AAA between Chaska and Richfield.  Chaska coming in banged up with Jacob Hansen out with a knee injury.  Chris Auer and Eric West just coming back off injury.  Add in a pair of returning players deciding not to play this year (Witthus and Sieffert) and the Hawks have a different look than expected.  But they've won 2 in a row after a heart-wrenching loss to Blake at the buzzer.  Its Richfield's home opener after beating Benilde-St. Margaret's and losing to Waconia on the road.  The 7th hot dog of the season not the biggest but still quality.  12 oz of Sprite puts me at an even 260 (ounces people not pounds!) on 16 beverages.  Plenty of seating available.

Game Time
This one is all Richfield early.  Ed Guyton a pair of buckets inside and a Deshawn Jones putback during an 11-2 run in less than 3 minutes.  14-6 Richfield lead at the 13:54 mark   After an Auer 3 for Chaska, its 7 more in a row from the Spartans.  Chaska needs a timeout again.  Freshman Patrick Dembley was Richfield's 6th man.  He drains a 3 and a turnover is a lob to Louis Williams for a layup.  Chaska takes their 3rd timeout of the half with nothing going right.  33-15 Spartans with 8:29 left in the 1st half.  The Hawks would respond with 9 in a row.  Center Eric West coast to coast and a Justin Arnold layup during the run.  Timeout Richfield at the 6:24 mark up 33-22.  Soph lefty Peyton Sanders would knock down a 3 ball to cut the lead to 5.  Guyton with a layup in the last minute.  42-34 Richfield at the break.

Louis Williams with a layup and a strong tip dunk attempt by Jones for 2 free throws and the Richfield lead is 10.  Jones with a layup at the 13 minute mark for a 49-40 Richfield lead.  A much slower pace in the 2nd half thanks to the Point Zone used by the Hawks.  That and not turning the ball over kept Richfield from getting easy baskets.  Gavin Bjorklund strips Jones for 2 and scores again.  Jones with another jumper.  But West to Sanders for a layup cuts the lead to 51-46.  At the 10:45 mark Jones asks for a breather and gets it.

A tough call on a blocked shot by Williams sends Bjorklund to the line where he makes 1 of 2 with 8:41 left.  Its also the 4th foul on Williams.  Guyton inside and Godfrey Luke for 3.  All of a sudden the Richfield lead is back to 9 and Chaska just can't get over the hump.    Or can they?  Bjorklund makes all 3 free throws on the 4th foul for Octavious Harris (an important Richfield option on offense).   West with a 3 point play.  Arnold adds a pair of free throws with 5:18 left and we're tied at 58.  Timeout Richfield and still no sign of Jones coming back in the game.  Auer buries a 3 with 4:30 left and that gives Chaska a 61-58 lead.  That's the 1st Hawks lead since 4-3 less than 90 seconds into the game.   Harris is back in the game and Williams is back at the scorers table after that.  But no Jones.

Dembley with a good cut from behind the zone to earn a free throw.  Then Lake with a huge 3 with 1:35 left to put Richfield up 62-61. Back the other way and its a charge against Chaska.  But Richfield dribbles it off a foot to give it back.  Chaska ball down 1.  They take a timeout with 49.1 left, set their sideline out of bounds (see below).  But the Hawks turn it over once again right off the 1st pass.  Richfield gives it back with 27 seconds left.  Chaska ends up with the ball under their own basket with 11.4 left.  Auer gets a great look and it goes halfway down and comes out.  The rebound is tied up and the arrow goes to Richfield with 5.8 left.  Richfield has 2 inbound attempts knocked away but retains possession.  On the 3rd attempt, Bjorklund steals it on the right wing.  His driving floater is long.  Isaac Tewes with a putback attempt and that's just off at the buzzer.  Richfield survives a thrilling ending 62-61.

Post Game
For Chaska, another extremely tough 1 point loss to a section opponent.  Gavin Bjorklund 10 of his 17 in the 2nd half to lead the Hawks.  Chris Auer with a pair of 3s for 10 points.  Isaac Tewes 11 points.  The point zone was effective but not having Hansen's 17 a night in the lineup and Eric West not yet in 100% form hurt the offense.   It doesn't get easier as the Hawks host a hot Lakeville North group on Thursday.  The Hawks record is now 3-2.  Based on the injuries they've had and these couple of losses, that will hurt their seed but I still expect them to be very dangerous come section time.

For Richfield, 12 points from Deshawn Jones and Ed Guyton leads the Spartans.  Jones sat out the last 10:45 which was a major shocker.  Hopefully he's healthy because that's a very shocking and strange coaching decision if it was that.  Octavious Harris 8 of his 10 in the 1st half.  3 clutch 3s from Godfrey Luke including the eventual game winner.  The Spartans put up 33 points in the 1st 9:31 and only 29 in the last 26:29.  The best looks were from cutters behind the zone or a guy getting lost at the rim.  They just don't have the same guys to bother you off the bounce that they had last year. The run and jump type pressure early bothered Chaska but once they handled that, they came back from 18 down.  Richfield improves to 2-1 and will host Bloomington Kennedy on Thursday.

Play of the Day
Today's play is another sideline out of bounds (SLOB for you new readers).  This one from Chaska.

  • Guard on back side block.
  • Post at the nail
  • Post at the ball side block.
  • Wing above the triangle of players on the lane, near midcourt.
Ball side post screens across for the backside guard.  He then flashes to the ballside elbow for the catch.  As the ball is in the air the top post steps up and back screens the wing near halfcourt.  The backside is cleared out for the easy pass from the post for the layup.  The Hawks got this a couple of times tonight.

The Big High School Weekend

A long weekend of back to back midnight arrivals at The Czar's Palace.  But 9 games in 28 and a half hours is well worth it.  Quality dominos pizza at North St. Paul for their tourney to go with the beefy size 24oz of pepsi.  Add in a very respectable hot dog and 1 pepsi and 1 coke at the Breakdown Tipoff Classic.  For those of you tracking it, and if you are, don't eat as much as me, here are the up to date counts.  I'm at 15 beverages for a total of 248 oz.  The hot dog was the 6th of the season to go with 2 slices of pizza.

Polar Classic (Friday)
Friday was the opening round of the Polar Classic at North St. Paul.  Fridley took on Eagan in the opener.  Fridley played without their top player, guard Michael Murray.  He's missed the season so far due to a football concussion but is expected to return next week.  Chaney Pal inside to keep Fridley within 11-9 at the 12:45 mark.  Eagan up 23-17 at the 8:31 mark as they take a timeout.  That sparks a 30-4 run across halftime to blow the game wide open.  Michael Gorder took over during the early part of the 2nd half to complete the run.  Fridley doesn't get their first field goal of the 2nd half until the 12:25 mark.  Its too late by that time.  Eagan wins 77-45. Gorder finishes with 21, 8 and 3 steals.  11 for Amane Akane to lead Fridley.  Eagan soph GT Johnson getting some time running the point.  The Wildcats have a bunch of 6'3-6'5 banger types so they can go big.

The late game was Harding taking on North St. Paul.  Harding would jump all over the Polars to the tune of 34-15 with 4:30 left in the half.  Bobby Anderson lighting it up off the Harding bench.  The Polars would score 9 of the final 10 points in the half.  That was partially thanks to Harding missing their last 7 free throws of the half during that stretch.  The game would hover around the 10-14 point margin for most of the 2nd half.  Anderson with a steal and spin and Harding held a 68-52 lead with 2:35 left.  That looked to seal it but Harding couldn't finish it as they were turning the ball over and missing free throws.  Joe Messerole would knock down a 3 and 2 more bombs from Jake McDonough would cut the lead to 70-67 with 20.3 ticks left.  Kenny Reed would make a free throw but Devin Bateman would putback a miss and get fouled.  Free throw no good with 9.7 left.  71-69 Harding.  Doc Wells with 1 free throw to give NSP life.  McDonough would be fouled with 3.9 left down 3 but only shooting 2.  He makes the 1st and intentionally misses the 2nd.  North can't come up with it.  Harding makes 1 more free throw for a 73-70 win.  Harding finishes 9-30 from the foul line but hangs on.  Bobby Anderson 24 points off the bench to lead the Knights and Kenny Reed with 21.  Jake McDonough and Devin Bateman 13 each.  Joe Messerole 12, Devonne Dickens 11.

Breakdown Tipoff Classic (Saturday)
A packed house for the late games (and we do mean late) means I took in only the 7 games in the west gym.  In fact I only left the gym once all day.  Here's what I saw

Game 1: Buffalo vs Woodbury
What an adventure this game was.  Renard Suggs and Ethan Freer go back and forth with 14 points each in the 1st half.  Freer buries a 3 at the buzzer for a 39-34 Buffalo lead at half.  65 all with 2:30 left when Woodbury got back to back 3s from Matt Ambriz and Diallo Powell.  The lead was still 6 inside a minute.  Freer with 5 straight Bison points but Woodbury breaks the press for an easy Mario Franco layup.  77-72 Royals with 30 seconds left.  Collin Olmscheid had a huge 2nd half.  He would bury a 3 and after Suggs missed a front end, Olmscheid made 2 free throws to tie the game with 10.1 left.  Suggs would have a chance but miss.  Buffalo had 1 last tip that was off.  Off to OT tied at 77.

Similar story in the 1st OT.  Suggs with 2 free throws to put Woodbury up 85-79 with 1:14 left.  Freer with a free throw then a quick Woodbury miss.  Jackson Schepp buries a 3.  Suggs makes 1 of 2 and then fouls Jonathon Singer on a 3.  Singer makes all 3 to tie the game at 86, 21.3 left in OT.  Suggs miss and Ambriz would have a final attempt blocked.  We'll play double OT.

Olmscheid with his 4th 3 to put the Bison up 5 and they wouldn't look back.  Buffalo would make 9 of 10 free throws in the 2nd OT.  Bison win a crazy game 100-95.  Ethan Freer leads all scorers with 31. Collin Olmscheid 18 of his 24 in the 2nd half.  Jackson Schepp 8-8 FTs in the second OT and finishes with 23.  Renard Suggs with 30 and 5 3s to lead Woodbury, many points leaking out too.  Diallo Powell with 20.  Mario Franco 14, Matt Ambriz 13 on 3 3s.

Game 2: #3AAA Blake vs #4A Lakeview Christian
Great strategy from Blake in this one as they face guarded Anders Broman and when he did get a catch they ran a 2nd guy at him.  I'm totally dumbfounded why everybody else doesn't do this, specifically in section 7A where you play him all the time.  This is a must see game tape for them.  That combined with the great balance and size allow Blake to pull out to a big lead.  But LCA would hang around thanks to another impressive game from Bjorn Broman.  I've said it before I'll say it again, everytime I've seen Lakeview play I've been more impressed with Bjorn than Anders.  Bjorn knocks down 6 of the 9 LCA 3s in the half.  Too much Blaine Crawford with 14 inside.  49-33 Blake at half.

Bjorn with a 4 point play after a couple of nice John Veil assists.  LCA not going away down 53-42, 16:04 left.  6 in a row from Blake push the lead back to 17.  Then Anders gets on the board with 14:40 left.  He adds a 3 and a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 12.  Crawford again inside and a turnover is a Kebu Johnson dunk.  Anders with another 3.  Pick and roll and its Bjorn for 3.  Josh Plys with another LCA 3.  69-58 Blake with 11:30 left.  Veil to Kebu for a layup, Veil jumper, Kebu steal for 2, Veil to JR Bascom for a short jumper.  The lead back to 18 and LCA needs a timeout but that run puts it away once and for all.  Blake wins 100-85.  Bjorn Broman leads all scorers with 10 3s and 33 points.  Anders Broman scores all 20 of his points in the 2nd half.  I had him shooting 7-14 (missed 1st 4) and 5 assists for 14 more points.  Josh Plys 6 standstill 3s for 18 points. The strategy held Anders in check but allowed many standstill 3s for LCA.  They knocked down a staggering 21 3s total and with 50 listed as a state record for attempts, that's something that the state records guy may want to investigate.   Blaine Crawford 26 points, too much size inside.  Kebu Johnson 24, John Veil 15 points and 8 assists.  (Czar's Note 12/9/12 upon further video Veil had at least 13 assists and possibly 2-3 more depending on how loose your interpretation of assist is)

Game 3: #2AAAA Hopkins vs Tartan
No Xavier Hall for Tartan due to injury.  Tartan center Brody Jackson playing well inside as the Titans opened a 36-25 lead.  Hopkins would counter with a 9-0 run thanks to a pair of Jake Wright 3s.  Tartan would finish the half on a 16-4 run.  Back to back 3s and then a Jackson bucket inside.  But Jackson would leave with an injured right ankle on the play and not return.  52-39 Tartan at half.  An 8-0 Tartan run midway through the 2nd half with the 1st 6 thanks to Kharie Kirkland would extend the Tartan lead to 77-58 with 7:45 left.  When was the last time you saw a Hopkins team down 19?

Hopkins would fight back behind the play of Jamal Davis.  A pair of 3 point plays and a couple more buckets for him and the lead is down to 8 with 2 minutes left.  Kamali Chambers 2 free throws and a Nick Johnson bucket on a turnover.  83-79 Tartan with 56.9 left after 21-6 run.  2 Tartan free throws matches another Davis bucket.  Down 4 inside of 30 seconds Hopkins would miss and free throws would finally seal it.  Tartan wins 88-85. Kharie Kirkland was bothered by the Hopkins pressure D but still came up huge with 26 points to lead all scorers.  Jamal Davis 18 of his 24 in the 2nd half to bring Hopkins back.  Jake Wright 15 of his 18 in the 1st half with 4 3s.

Game 4: #3AAAA Eden Prairie vs Rice Lake, WI
Interesting that Rice Lake ran America's Play for Henry Ellenson right off the bat.  Grant Shaeffer back in the lineup for Eden Prairie.  He came off the bench at the 16:08 mark.  Brandyn Christman with 6 early points as Rice Lake jumps on EP 13-5 (9-0 in there).  Eden Prairie would respond with a 14-0 run of their own.  Andre Wallace with a 3 and a bucket in that run for a 19-13 EP lead at the 8:20 mark.  Henry Ellenson all over the glass but picks it up on offense with a layup and a post bucket.  Then he's fouled on a 3 and knocks down all 3 free throws.   His putback in the last minute is countered by Alex Ihrke for 3 at the halftime buzzer.  27 all at the break.

The 2nd half is all Rice Lake.  Adam West for 3 in a 12-0 Rice Lake run to start the half (na na na na na Batman!).  After a pair of Shaeffer free throws, Rice Lake on the run and its a lob to Ellwood Ellenson who rises high for the monster throw down.  Anthony Anderson finally gets the 1st EP field goal of the half at the 11:40 mark.  43-31 Rice Lake in command.  Ihrke with another 3 and Wallace for 3.  Time out EP down 46-40 with 8:34 to play.  The Ellensons would put the game away.  Henry with back to back buckets, then Ellwood for 2 of his own, Henry again for 2 and adds a free throw.  Ellwood with a bucket with 3 minutes left.  63-48 Warriors with 3 left.  Rice Lake wins 67-51.  Henry Ellenson finishes with 21 points and 20 rebounds on my sheet.  Alex Ihrke leads EP with 14 points.  EP backcourt struggles.  Shaeffer 1-9 FGs on my sheet for 8 points.  Andre Wallace 10 points on 4-18 shooting.

Game 5: #4AAAA Osseo vs Eastview
Interesting to see Eastview pull out the old Dana Altman/Johnny Orr 2-3 high offense.  With only Ben Oberfeld returning, scoring was a question mark and the 1st field goal doesn't come until the 10:50 mark.  Meanwhile Osseo is already up 10-2 when that happens.  Bridge Tusler with a pair of steals for buckets in that spurt. Eastview would grind their way back.  Oberfeld inside for 2 and the foul  10-9 Osseo at the 9:08 mark.  Theisen sits with foul #2 at the 7:12 mark.  Tusler picking up with an assist for a layup and another steal for 2.  19-11 Osseo at 6:32.  Mark Dwyer with all 5 of his points in a row to tie the game at 20 at 3:50 mark (9-1 Eastview run).   25-21 at the half but no one sees it as due to the games being way late, Kentucky coach John Calipari and an assistant make their way into the full bleachers.

Eastview would get as close as 38-33 with 7:43 left thanks to back to back buckets by Oberfeld.  But not enough offense in this one.  Osseo goes on to win 50-40.  Bridge Tusler 16 points and all over the place as usual impacting everything on both ends.  Wheeler Baker 11 points.  Ian Theisen held to 2 late free throws as the big man matchup never materialized.  He did add 9 rebounds.  Ben Oberfeld 16 points and 7 boards on my sheet.  Ryan Lockhard 8 of his 10 in the 2nd half for Eastview.

Game 6: #1AAAA Apple Valley vs #6AAAA Park Center
The main event of the evening and it was a raucous atmosphere, mainly thanks to the outstanding Park Center student section.  You won't see a better flag (pirate flag in this case) in a student section anywhere.  Tyus Jones jumping center as Brock Bertam doesn't start (yet) for Apple Valley.  Dennis Austin 6 quick points and Apple Valley jumps out to a 13-3 lead.  Tyus already distrubing during the 9-0 run.  Quinton Hooker won't let Park Center go away as he scores 9 of the next 11 for the Pirates.  Soph Arione Farrar Jr adds a layup to tie the game at 17.  9:07 left and Apple Valley needs a timeout.  Pirates get another bucket after the timeout to lead 19-17 after a 16-4 run.  Tyus coast to coast for 2, then to Robert Tobroxen for a 3.  Hooker scores and then scores again after Tyus is blocked.  Tyus to Austin for another layup.  Tyus grabs his own miss for 2 free throws.  Hooker by Tyus for 2 more.  28-27 Apple Valley with 4:30 left in the half.  Tyus to the basket for 2.  Hooker to Isaiah McKay for 3.  Tyus back to back buckets late and a long assist for a Harry Sonie bucket to beat the buzzer.  43-35 Apple Valley at half.  Hooker 13 points.  Tyus 12 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists in the half.

Dennis Austin too much to handle inside with a bucket and 3 point play. Dustin Fronk with a steal for 2 and Tyus to Tobroxen for 2 more.  Apple Valley stretching the lead to 54-43 with 13:40 left.  Tyus for 2 and then pulling up on the break for 3.  63-49 Eagles with 11:12 left.  Park Center too high powered to be done yet.  McKay for 3, Treyton Daniels nice fade in the post.  Hooker an assist for a layup.  63-56 Apple Valley after a 7-0 Pirates run and still 8:18 to play.  Hooker with a jumper, Tyus misses a front end and Isaac Matthews with a putback to close an 11-0 Pirates run.  63-60 Eagles with 7:10 left and we've got a ball game again.

Austin to Tobroxen for a layup, Tyus with a free throw after a Pirates jumper.  66-62 Apple Valley.  Then Daniels with a post feed and goes to the rim and gets it back for a 2 handed smash and the Pirates student section blows up.  Devin Buckley scores with 3:40 left to tie the game at 66 and its all Park Center right now.  Hooker with an offensive board outworking people inside and makes a free throw.  A Park Center block on 1 end and its Buckley with a 3 point play on the other with 2:21 left.  That blows the roof off as the Park Center fans are going absolutely bananas.  Tyus flails for 2 free throws and Park Center turns it over after a timeout.  But Apple Valley misses.  Buckley scores again to push the lead to 72-68 with 1:30 left.  Tyus misses a 3 but Hooker turns it over.  Austin with a pretty spin to cut the lead to 72-70 with a minute left.  Isaac Matthews misses a front end with 30.2 left as Apple Valley had 1 foul to give and delayed giving it.  Now the Eagles have life.  Tyus faceguarded and can't get it.  Eagles miss but Tyus tracks down the rebound on the right wing with 15 seconds left and here we go.  Drive to the right baseline is a tough shot and no good.  Hooker fouled with 4.7 left and he misses the front end.  But Apple Valley travels on the rebound.  Park Center turns it over with 0.5 left but a final inbound full court is picked off.  Park Center knocks off the state's top team in an thriller 72-70.  Pirate fans swarm the floor afterwards.  Quinton Hooker comes up large for Park Center with 26 points and 8 rebounds.  Devin Buckley 12.  Hard to believe Apple Valley could only score 7 points in over 11 minutes.  Tyus Jones finishes with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists on my sheet.  Dennis Austin 17 points.

Game 7: Robbinsdale Cooper at #9AAAA Minnetonka
So this game doesn't start until 10 PM thanks to the long games in front of it.  In fact the other gym is almost done when this game gets underway. Riley Dearring would get off to a good start with 7 early points.  Lavar McCollough keeping Cooper close with a bucket and a pair of 3s.  He adds a putback for a 16-13 Coooper lead at the 11 minute mark.  Riley Dearring getting a breather with 2 fouls but would return in the half.  Tonka would open up a double figure lead on a 14-0 run.  Grant Kellogg starting it with a pair of buckets.  Soph Justin Moes back to back 3s.  Post Bremiah Snyder adds a pair of hoops during the run too. 27-16 Skippers at the 6:55 mark.  McCollough 2 free throws and a Billy Kellogg 3 cut the lead to 7.  Then Rashad Vaughn finally gets on the scoreboard.  He scores 9 points in the last 5:20 of the half.  A silly foul allows Andrew Grosz (back on the Skippers roster now) to knock down 2 free throws.  41-36 Minnetonka lead at halftime.

McCollough starts the 2nd half off with a flying 1 handed dunk and a behind the back assist to Darrious Denson for a layup.  Dearring stretches the lead to 9 with 6 points in a row.  McCollough then goes up high and rejects jumping jack Mike Fernando at the rim.  Big time play. Then a layup on the break.  49-43 Minnetonka lead with 13:05 left.  Dearring with a 3 ball countered by an extra pass for a Billy Kellogg 3. Snyder taking over inside with back to back hoops.  Vaughn with an inbounds jumper.  Snyder again and Vaughn 2 free throws.  58-53 Minnetonka with 8:58 left.  Dearring with a 3 and then back to back buckets.  That extends the Skippers lead to 69-57 with 5:45 left.  Vaughn with a steal for 2 but Snyder again inside and another Moes 3 slams the door.  74-59 at that point and Minnetonka goes on to win 79-71.  Riley Dearring 16 of his 23 in the 2nd half to go with 8 rebounds.  Bremiah Snyder 10 of his 16 in the 2nd half.  Lavar McCollough leads all scorers with 26 for Cooper. Rashad Vaughn 15 points and 9 rebounds on my sheet, only 6 points in the 2nd half.

Overall Thoughts
A great day of games and what a zoo it was.  Great teams and great results with plenty of drama.  I could do without the national anthem twice.  While the crowd went nuts for it, I was one of many who thought it was a case of trying to do way too much.  The other major negative for the day was the public address.  It wasn't good last week at the girls event and it was frankly unacceptable for an event of this stature.  Wrong names, mispronounced names, refusal to correct those names etc.  It was really ugly (like my webcast last year).  With all the money this event brings in, to not bring in a PA announcer was not a good choice.  So instead of complaining about it, I'll volunteer my time to do it next year if they can't or won't find anybody.  Give the Breakdown some credit as they have traditionally learned from their mistakes.  See this year where they put the premier game in the main gym prior to Minnetonka playing rather than jamming it in the smaller East gym.  The event gets better every year, but it will be hard to top the great day that we had this year.

Play of the Day
Its the sideline out of bounds from Eastview.  Its very similar to last season but still good stuff.

Setup is 3 across the foul line and 1 on the block as follows.
  • Post on the ball side elbow.  
  • Passing guard on the ball side block
  • Sbooter at the nail.
  • Screener on the backside elbow.
The passing guard curls around the post player and returns to the block.  Post pops for the catch.  The inbounder down screens the passing guard on the ball side block.  The post dribbles at that guard for a handoff (defacto double screen).  As the guard gets the handoff, he's coming toward the top of the key.  As he comes off the screen, the shooter flares off the backside elbow looking for a 3.

2013 Breakdown Tipoff Classic Quick Hits Preview

Instead of a brutally long breakdown (no pun intended) of every game at the  Breakdown Tipoff Classic, I'm going to give you 1 item to watch in each game and my predictions for each game

West Gym Games

Game 1: Buffalo vs Woodbury
Buffalo is off to a 1-2 start against a tough schedule.  This is Woodbury's season opener with a talented squad but one that is still adjusting to a new system.  Keep an eye on Buffalo's defense against the Woodbury dribble drive offense.  3 games in vs a team that is only playing game 1.  I'm going to take Buffalo here.

Game 2: #3AAA Blake vs #4A Lakeview Christian
Anders Broman will be a major attraction since he's only 153 points away from the state's all time scoring record (see the full tracker here).  The item to watch here is Broman vs Blake defensive wiz JR Bascom and lanky wing Kebu Johnson.  I think they hold Broman fairly in check and John Veil and Bjorn Broman even out.  I'll take Blake as they're too big and too deep.  I think they hold Broman to one of his lowest 2 point totals of the entire season.

Game 3: #2AAAA Hopkins vs Tartan
If you like defense this game is for you.  You won't find 2 teams who are better coached and more intense on the defensive end than these 2.  Halfcourt buckets will be hard to come by so whoever can do a better job of getting out and running wins this game.  I like Hopkins with their depth and more offensive firepower.

Game 4: #3AAAA Eden Prairie vs Rice Lake, WIRice Lake star soph Henry Ellenson (with a Gopher offer) is the main attraction here for a very good Rice Lake team.  Eden Prairie rock solid on the defensive end.  If they're depleted like on Tuesday vs Washburn than this game is far more interesting. Grant Shaeffer being the major difference maker if he plays.  I'll take Eden Prairie thanks to their defense.

Game 5: #4AAAA Osseo vs Eastview
The inside matchup of Ben Oberfeld vs Ian Theisen will be a treat for locals.  Theisen has been on the radar for years now and Oberfeld is a Bucknell commit who is as good an overall interior defender as we've seen in a while.  Theisen is a major portion of the offense for Osseo so if he's held in check, that's a big deal.  I still like Osseo to win as they have too many pieces and besides Oberfeld, Eastview may struggle to score.

Game 6: #1AAAA Apple Valley vs #6AAAA Park Center
Points, points, points.  That's at the point guard position with Tyus Jones taking on his summer teammate Quinton Hooker.  Its also on the scoreboard as the 1st team to 85 may very well be the winner.  Apple Valley gave up 51 to St. Louis Park in the 2nd half the other night.  The team that decides to defend more wins.  Apple Valley gets enough stops and they have more bench depth.  That's why they're at another level from everybody else right now.

Game 7: Robbinsdale Cooper at #9AAAA Minnetonka
High major recruits Riley Dearring (Wisconsin) and Rashad Vaughn (top 20 in the country in 2014) go at it on the wing in this one.  Vaughn going more solo while Dearring's teammates have stepped up early in the year.  I like Minnetonka at home unless Vaughn decides to put on another vintage performance like last year's 33 points vs De La Salle.  For the last 2 games, keep an eye out for high major D1 coaches to be in the gym.  Tom Izzo and Thad Matta both attended the Apple Valley opener on Tuesday.

East Gym Games

Game 1: Duluth East vs Prior Lake
No good matchup for Carson Shanks or Jeff Probert is going to be the difference.  Keep an eye on Shaq Coleman vs Jon Sobaski at the guard spots.  These are the 2 leaders who make their teams go.  Prior Lake playing well right now.  I like the Lakers to win again.

Game 2: #3AA St. Peter vs #6AA Pelican Rapids
A sleeper game that would likely get more attention if it were any other day of the year.  These teams flip-flopped in the AA poll this week.  Ryan Bruggeman is a star at the point for Pelican Rapids.  Peter Kruize leads the way inside.  His matchup with Tucker Forsgren will be the one to watch.  I'm going to take Pelican Rapids here with their inside and outside play.

Game 3: #5AAAA Roseville vs #6AAA Holy Angels
Holy Angels struggled against Minnetonka and then couldn't put away Breck before surviving in the last minute.   Their guard play has not been up to the high expected standard and their bigs (outside of Charlie Koontz) have been outmuscled.  Roseville has great guard play and good interior play.  Keep an eye on the Holy Angels defense vs the Roseville guards.  If they can keep Roseville from getting lots of open looks, that's a big key.  I'm not convinced that happens though, so I'll take Roseville here.

Game 4: #9AAA Minneapolis Washburn vs Hudson, WI
Forward Alex Herink leads the Raiders across the border.  The young Washburn lineup struggled in the season opener vs Eden Prairie before winning at Hill-Murray.  Nick Anderson makes the ship go.  If he plays well, the Millers can be very difficult to guard.  How Hudson defends him is the key to watch in this game.  Washburn will also need to get offense from another source like Evan Shepherd or Jeff Jones.  I'll take Washburn.
Game 5: New Prague vs Maple Grove
A rough and tumble Maple Grove team takes on a changed New Prague team.  The guards return and Paul Friendshuh sees his frontcourt mates all graduate.  Maple Grove comes in 0-2 and New Prague just lost to lowly Albert Lea.  This gets the award for least attractive game of the day.  I'll take Maple Grove here.

Game 6: #2AAA Austin vs #7AAAA Edina
Edina has gotten 2 big games from Graham Woodward and they have no wins to show for it.  The schedule has been brutal (at Waconia and at Lakeville North).  That at least should have Edina prepared.  Zach Wessels and Woodward is an entertaining guard matchup with Wessels having size and Woodward speed.  Expect Austin to play lots of 3-2 zone and how they guard Woodward with it is my key to the game.  Edina hasn't found another scorer yet and the Austin zone is nasty.  I like the Packers here.

Game 7: Robbinsdale Armstrong vs Wayzata
An old Lake Conference rivalry closes out the day as these neighboring schools get after it.  A good forward matchup with Armstrong's Konner Goettsche and Wayzata's Zach Robertson going at it.  They were summer team mates so plenty of familiarity there.  Armstrong has lots of players back from last year but Wayzata has more back than usual too.  Early in the year defense is ahead of offense and Wayzata does defense.  I'll take the Trojans here.

Visiting the Lake Show

Its the 1st night in a 3 night swing to what will seem like every edge of the kingdom.  Tonight takes me to the Kingdom's finest southern resort town, Prior Lake.  Lakers coach Alex Focke going up against his alma mater Cretin-Derham Hall in this one.  3 members of the Mr Basketball committee front and center.  Tyus and Tre Jones in the house.  UNI assistant Kyle Green on hand to watch Sam Neumann.  He watched GT Johnson at Eagan earlier in the day.  Rene Pulley and the tNBA guys representing the AAU crowd as well as CDH alum Nick Carroll from Pump N Run.  Eastview, Rosemount, Woodbury and St. Thomas Academy amongst those scouting tonight.  Nothing like pizza for desert so I'll dive into my 1st regular season slice of the season.  Always good pizza at the lake.  Beverage #12 is orange powerade, blah, and takes me to 192 oz for the season.

Game Time
Jon Sobaski 2 quick buckets for a 6-0 Laker lead and Jerry Kline wants a timeout less than a minute in.  Carson Shanks with his 2nd trip to the line from post play.  He makes all 4 free throws.  Jashon Cornell picked up 3 in the blink of an eye and sat for CDH.  Jeff Probert continues the inside play for the Lakers and its 16-3 Lakers at the 13:53 mark.  Nick Hart with a putback and the foul for Prior Lake and its 21-8.  CDH with another timeout down 23-12 at the 11:05 mark.  Then Shanks picks up his 2nd foul moments later and sits the rest of the half.  Joe Rosga single handedly keeping the Raiders in it.  He scores 17 of the 1st 20 CDH points.  His back to back 3 balls cut the lead to 25-20 at the 9:18 mark. 

Sobaski with a pull and an assist and Hart with a putback as the Lakers reopen the margin.  Neumann with a charge at the 7:09 mark and he'll sit the rest of the half with 2 fouls.  Probert a spin from the left block and a righty finish for the lefty.  Then a tip in and another bucket from the post to push the lead to 15.  Rosga making all 3 freebies on a foul to cut the lead to 10 with 4:02 left in the half.  The Lakers would finish the half on a 10-2 run.  Sobaski with a 3 point play and a buzzer beating 3.  47-29 at the half.  Rosga with 20 of those for CDH.  Sobaski 12 pts, 4 assists (9 more points) and 4 steals.

Shanks once again getting after it from the left box.  He scores a pair of buckets in there.  56-40 Prior Lake with 13:17 left.  Then a Raiders run.  Rosga with another bucket as he goes lefty to avoid the long arms of Probert and he adds another jumper.  An offensive rebound gets kicked out to Neumann and he knocks that down for his only field goal of the night.  Rosga with the clean strip of Sobaski and knocks down a jumper.  Timeout Prior Lake up 58-51 with 10:13 left.  Rosga the drive and kickout to the right corner for a Teddy Chapman 3.  58-54 with 9:35 left.  The run is 14-2 over 3:40.

But Prior Lake would have their stars answer.  Sobaski with a drive for 2, Shanks again from the left box, Probert for 2 and its a 7-0 run.  Rosga counters with a 4 point play and Stevie Moman with a putback.  That's the 4th foul on Shanks and there's still 5:09 to play.  Prior Lake clinging to a 65-60 lead as he sits.  Sobaski with another clutch drive.  Noah Scanlon with a drive for 1 of 2 free throws.  A CDH turnover and Sobaski with a nice spin move to convert that into points.  CDH needs a timeout as that expands the lead back to 10.  70-60 Lakers with 3:25 left.  Scanlon would make 6 freebies in a row down the stretch to seal it.  That included a pair with 5.8 left after a 2nd late 3 by Teddy Chapman cut the lead to 3.  Rosga would add in a bomb at the buzzer to finish off his huge night.  Prior Lake wins 77-75.

Post Game
For Cretin-Derham Hall it was the Joe Rosga show.  The sophomore finishes with 39 points.  5 triples in there and 10-12 FTs.  Teddy Chapman 3 3s in the 2nd half, including the 2 late ones to keep it interesting.  He finishes with 11 points.  Steve Moman with all 10 of his points in the 2nd half.  Sam Neumann held to 4 points (online box is wrong) on 1-7 shooting.  Great game plan from Prior Lake.  They took a tough minded kid like Scanlon and put him in Neumann's grill all night.  Not quite face guarding but close.  Make him put it on the deck to beat you rather than giving him open looks.  Expect to see that game plan against the Radiers throughout the season.  The Raiders started 3 sophomores and a junior and had another sophomore and 2 juniors off the bench.  That doesn't include freshman star Brian Lankford either.  The future is very bright.  CDH 0-1 and they have 4 in a row at home before the Catholic Spirit tournament.   Rosemount visits on Tuesday.

For Prior Lake, a very good performance from Jon Sobaski.  21 points, 5 assists and 6 steals on my sheet.  When CDH would get close, he made plays to keep the Lakers in control.  Noah Scanlon with 8 of his 10 points from the charity stripe.  Jeff Probert very productive in the 1st half with Shanks in foul trouble.  He had 12 of his 14 in the 1st half.  That included a nice right handed finish from the left baseline and a nice righty jump hook from the right block.  Chris Washburn thinks he's amphibious.  Shanks finishes with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks.  That doesn't count at least that many that players altered.  The Prior Lake size was a factor as CDH had nobody to go against Shanks and Probert.  Biggest story though was that Prior Lake was just flat out tougher.  They got on the floor and played much harder.  Experience teaching youth a valuable lesson there.  The Lakers improve to 2-0 and will play Duluth East in the 1st game in the East gym during the Tipoff Classic on Saturday.  Then a big challenge next week as Waconia and Eden Prairie come to town.

A battle at Breck

Lucky number 13 on my game count tonight.  It takes me to a battle between Holy Angels and Breck.  Always like the cozy atmosphere at Breck.  Coach Matt McCollister was a long time assistant to AHA coach Larry McKenzie so great to see them get together.  Interesting moment sees a parent bring in her tiny dog that would have made Paris Hilton proud.  Add that to list of things I haven't seen before.  A decent hot dog is my 5th of the season.  Beverage #11 is a can of 7 Up to raise the total ounce count to 172 for the season.  Good crowd fills in the building.  New Life, Roseville, and BSM on hand scouting.  Our officiating crew is John Lithgow and The Nutty Professor.

Game Time
Right off the opening tip, its Jordan Dembley with the halfcourt lob to Delshon Strickland who rises high to tip it in.  Then the full court pressure is on and it bothers Breck.  Strickland adds a step back J and a free throw line jumper off of nice inside out play.  12-1 Stars and we're only 2:45 into the game.  But Lithgow is working so get out your tic tacs.  The hand check calls are out in full force.  Only 4:25 in and Breck is already in the bonus  They make 6 of their 1st 8 free throws before finally getting a field goal from Tilyn Hollis at the 12:20 mark.  15-8 Stars still on top.  Danny Sullivan already seeing bench thanks to 2 fouls and Charlie Koontz gets his 2nd as the defender flopped.  10th team foul on AHA at the 8:33 mark and that's Sullivan's 3rd.  Dembley with a bucket and then a pull up 3 on the break.  29-19 Stars at the 5:20 mark.  7 of the next 9 to Breck thanks to a Will Culliton 3 and Kevin Linehan with a 3 point play.  31-26 AHA with 2:23 left in the half.  Holy Angels would finish the half on an 8-0 run thanks to a couple more Dembley buckets.  39-26 AHA at the half.

The run ends up being 15-2 crossing halftime with 7 of the 1st 9.  46-28 Stars with 15:07 left.  Mo Lawal with a 3 and then a Strickland T with 14:12 left sends him to the bench with 4 fouls.  46-34 AHA as they take time with 13:30 left.  Hollis picks up his 4th on a charge and has to sit with 13:06 left.  Lawal heating up with a bucket and free throw.  A text book backdoor layup out of the DDM offense for 2 more.  Culliton with the lefty finish for a 3 point play.  Linehan with an inside blk that turns into points.  54-44 AHA with 10:45 left.  Some jawjacking going back down the floor and its a silly T on Breck that costs 2 points. 

Breck goes on a run after that.  Lawal for 3, Linehan with a great cut on the BLOB for a layup and the freebie.  Hollis and Strickland come back at the 9 minute mark.  Hollis immediately pays dividends with back to back bombs.  57-56 AHA with 8:12 left and we have a ball game again.  Then Hollis off the bounce after a couple of AHA misses and Breck has come all the way back to lead 58-57 with 6:38 left.  Its a 14-1 Breck run over 4 minutes since the T. 

A Breck turnover and Dembley goes the other way and finishes through the contact for a 3 point play.  Not much later, Dembley gets the call for an iso 4 low and breaks ankles for a straight away 17 footer while eating a sandwich.   Sullivan with a smart playing getting the smaller Linehan on his back in the post for an easy bucket with 3:44 left.  Timeout Stars leading 66-62.  Holy Angels misses some open looks and Sullivan fouls out just inside of 3 minutes left.  Linehan to Culliton for a jumper with 1:50 left to cut the Stars lead to 66-65.  Holy Angels takes a timeout with 1:27 left. Culliton steals the inbounds and takes it the other way for 2 and the lead.   67-66 Breck with 1:20 left.

Then the game defining sequence.  Holy Angels gets chance after chance after chance and can't convert.   Breck finally corrals the rebound but gets trapped by the basket.  Strickland gets a steal out of it and finishes a 3 point play with 53.6 to play and the Stars student crew erupts.  Breck takes a timeout as they can't get it in.  It doesn't matter as Dembley steals the inbounds after the timeout for a layup.  71-67 AHA with 45 seconds left.  Breck turns it over and Dembley adds a pair of free throws.   Strickland makes 2 more free throws and that's enough to seal it.  Holy Angels defeats Breck 75-69 in a very fun game to watch.

Post Game
For Breck, 4 players in double figures.  Mo Lawal with 20, Will Culliton with 19.  Tilyn Hollis 8 of his 14 after coming back with 4 fouls.  Those put Breck on top after being down 18 early in the 2nd half.  Kevin Linehan gave the Mustangs great minutes off the bench running the point and scoring 10 points.  Would love to see him at the point more so Hollis can be more of a scorer.  A very thin bench for Breck was thinner tonight with forward Graydon Kulick going down with a knee injury in the 1st half.  Kwaku Bodom was away at a leadership conference so he wasn't available.  Very interesting to see the Dribble Drive Offense from Breck and that it generated a ton of 1st half foul trouble thanks to Holy Angels hand checks.  Breck falls to 1-1 and plays at New Life on Friday.

For Holy Angels, they gave up an early second half lead of 18 points but made the plays on defense down the stretch to win.  Jordan Dembley leads the way with 24 points.  Delshon Strickland 13 points (I had 15 on my sheet).  Charlie Koontz with 15 points.  The Stars once again had a size advantage but could have pounded the ball inside more.  Coach McKenzie had to use 11 guys in the 1st half thanks to the foul trouble.  With that in mind, the Stars play BSM on Friday and then have to deal with another group of guards when they play Roseville in the tipoff classic.  The Stars improve to 1-1 with the win.