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.


  1. How could you not eat Gina Maria's pizza. Best in twin cities.

  2. Wanted it but realized I wouldn't have enough time to eat it thanks to the 10 minute warmups. Had a hard enough time just chowing down my hot dog in time for the next game.

  3. Pizza was great, well worth the $5 for the huge slice. I was there almost the whole day (left after AV / PC, it was just getting too late) and thought it was a great event, though I have to agree with you, could have done without the second anthem and the PA was horrible. I could barely understand him most of the time, when I did the names were often incorrect and I don't know if he was trying to put some flare into it or what but he couldn't even say "Jones" in an understandable manner. I mentioned to my son during one of the games that I really didn't like the PA guy and two different people turned around and said they agreed with me.

    But all in all well worth the trip and a great value. Some very entertaining ball early in the season.

  4. Is there a place where this games can be watched online?

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.


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