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.

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