A 6AAA Showdown

Prologue
Its a Star(s) studded game to be Bear(s)-ish.  A showdown of the top 2 teams in section 6AAA as #6AAA Holy Angels visits #4AAA Blake.  Big news before the game is Blake's star point guard John Veil out due to illness.  Many Blake people really wanted to see that head-to-head matchup with Jordan Dembley.  Its Subway at the concession stand as I crack open the case of turkey subs.  Add in another 20 ounces, this time Sprite, to keep the season counter moving right along.  The Minnesota Sports Network did the game and was kind enough to have me to discuss local hoops at the halftime break.  Check out their work at www.mnsportsnetwork.com and search for the Blake/Holy Angels game to hear me yap about the 1st half of the game and top teams and players around the state.

Game Time
Blaine Crawford back to back hoops for Blake and Larry McKenzie is not at all happy.  A couple of major offensive breakdowns in that sequence cause him to get his team's attention with a quick timeout.  That sparks a 10-0 run for the Stars with Charlie Koontz racking up the last 7 inside.    Jordan Dembley for 3 and the lead is 19-10 AHA at the 10:40 mark.  The fouls start to mount for the Stars big.  Danny Sullivan with his 2nd charge at the 6:29 mark and Koontz with his 2nd 23 seconds later against Crawford.  Blake cuts the lead to 3.  Delshon Strickland with a critical 3 and a putback to keep the lead at 6.  A Sullivan missed tip dunk results in 2 JR Bascom free throws on the other end.  29-27 Stars at 1:15.  Strickland with another 3, Dembley with a steal for 2 and a Strickland free throw in a mini-spurt to end the half.  35-29 Holy Angels at the break.

8-0 Blake run to start the half with Crawford scoring half of those.  That puts Blake back on top 37-35.  Koontz with a free throw and then picture perfect rim run and finish on a great bounce pass from Strickland.  Kebu Johnson didn't have many bright moments but he finds Crawford for a big dunk to immediately stop the momentum.  13:30 left with Blake up 39-38.  Back and forth we go.  Kebu with a nice spin move for 2, Bascom with a jumper.  Strickland with another 3 and Dembley with a nice look for Koontz who makes 1 of the 2 free throws.  49-48 Holy Angels with 8:48 left.  Crawford with a layup and then a clutch 3 from John Augustine at the 7:20 mark to give Blake a 4 point lead.  Strickland again, this time on the drive to cut the lead to 2.  Holy Angels defense ups a level but they can't score.  Crawford misses a bunny and then commits his 4th foul on Strickland with 4:54 left.  Strickland makes 1 of 2 and Sullivan grabs the miss for another 1 of 2 from the line.  Game tied at 53.   Kebu with a block on 1 end after a turnover and then scores on the other end to put Blake ahead.  Holy Angels misses and Crawford is back in with 2:57 to go.  Blake ball up 55-53.

Then Jordan Dembley comes up big for Holy Angels.  He steals a reversal pass and takes that for 2 to tie the game with 2:22 left.  Crawford fouled but misses 2 free throws with 1:58 left.  A high screen and roll to Dembley's left hand (good hand) and he finds Koontz again on the right block for a layup.  After a Stars timeout, Koontz strips Kebu and Strickland takes that and scores with a minute left.  Blake not done as Augustine wtih a clutch 3.  Timeout Blake down 59-58 with 50.1 left.  Kebu strips Strickland but can't get the rightly layup to fall.  But he was fouled and makes 1 of 2 with 35.3 left, tied at 59.  Holy Angels holds and Dembley gets the ball for the high screen roll.  He doesn't get a good screen but takes the ball to the left baseline and makes a tough 7 footer with 3.5 to go.  Blake gets 1 last chance in the left corner but Sullivan swats it away at the buzzer.  Holy Angels wins 61-59.

Post Game
Blake falls to 6-3 with the loss (Edina, Minnetonka, AHA, not a bad set).  Blaine Crawford 16 points and 13 boards on my sheet.  Too athletic as he was able to go up and over Koontz or Sullivan or whoever it was inside.  Blake needed a big game from Kebu Johnson and he struggled.  10 points on 4-15 shooting on my sheet.  JR Bascom 10 of his 16 in the 1st half.  John Augustine with 10 off the bench.  Without Veil, lots of the sets Blake runs just don't have the same punch.  Like the high screen and roll or the high double ball screen to a double down for Veil.  The offense definitely struggled, especially late when Holy Angels stepped up their defense.  Only 6 points in the last 7:20 for the Bears.  Blake is off until next week with their 3rd and 4th straight home games (after 7 away from home) against Roosevelt and Providence.

Holy Angels comes away with a big section win to improve to 7-4.  Big for the Stars as I feel they needed the win for seeding more than Blake did.  Jordan Dembley didn't have a big night on the stat sheet but he made the plays in the last couple of minutes.  He finishes with 9 points.  Delshon Strickland with 23 points and 5 3s.  Once again he came up clutch to keep the Stars ahead when they needed it (despite the final turnover).  Charlie Koontz had a quiet 2nd half but still finished with 17 and 9 boards on my sheet.  Danny Sullivan with an off night with only 7 points and shooting struggles but did chip in 9 rebounds as well on my unofficially unofficial stat sheet.  The Stars open Missota conference play on Friday with a tough game at Chaska.

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