Govs win another St. Paul title

Off to St. Paul Johnson where the Governors were looking yet another St. Paul City title and berth in the Twin Cities game.  Highland Park looking to not only ruin that but also claim the title and the top seed in section 4AAA for themselves with a win.  An upgraded walking taco from the plain chips and meat variety during my last visit.  12 oz of 7-Up to add to the beverage tally.  A fair but late arriving crowd on hand.  Plenty of coaches looking on as assistants from UW-Platteville, Dakota County, and NDSCS were there along with an assistant and head man from Central Lakes.

Game Time
Johnson off to a quick start thanks to a pair of 3s and a bucket from soph star Jalen Mobley.  11-1 Govs at 13:55.  Dion Bradley gets his offense going with a 3.  Johnson extends the lead to 17-4 at the 11:40 mark.  Then with nothing working, coach Jon DePerry just tells everybody to get out of the way and let Bradley work.   That works and with the Scots able to get out in transition they go on a 20-5 run to take a 24-22 lead at 3:40.  Bradley with 11 of the points in the run.  Johnson comes back and goes on a 9-1 run to end the half.  31-25 Govs at the break.  Bradley with 15 of the 25 for the Scots.  Mobley 12 for the Govs.

Highland Park gets a little momentum right away to keep Johnson from a quick run to blow it open.  Aaron Moore 7 points in the 1st 4:20.  Then a Scots steal for 2 and a runout for a 2 on 1 that leads to a layup.  42-40 Highland Park inside of 13 minutes to play.  Johnson reclaims the lead with 5 in a row.  Then a kick to the weakside corner for 3, Bradley kicks out for another 3 and then drives for 2 of his own.  8-0 run and Johnson needs a timeout with 10:11 remaining.  50-45 Highland Park in the lead.

Johnson ties it at 50 and we go back and forth.  The Govs doubling Bradley now on each touch.  Its a Scots 3 and then Moore goes coast to coast for a tough finish.  Biggest Scots lead of the night 62-55 with 5:40 left.  Johnson quickly back with 7 in a row.  Mobley gets the kick out and knocks down a big 3 from the top during that run.  Another Highland 3 but Quashingm Smith-Pugh with a steal and pull for 2 after a Peirre Conwell putback.  66 all with 3:25 left.  Highland Park gets a pair of good looks at 3s but no good, Johnson a pair of turnovers.  We get down to 1:10 left still tied.  Johnson will hold against the Scots 2-3 zone.  Smith-Pugh gets it and drives.  Its no good with about 6 seconds left.  Highland Park will push it back and Bradley gets a rushed shot from the left elbow at the buzzer and its no good.  66 all and we'll play over time.

Johnson gets a 3 point play to start the overtime.  That's all the offense they need as 1 Bradley free throw is all of the Scots offense for the OT.  Johnson up 4 with about a minute left when they put up a bad layup attempt, miss the putback but Smith-Pugh grabs the offensive board. Better than that, he pulls the ball out to kill clock.  The Govs add a free throw and a layup to end it.  74-67 Johnson wins the St. Paul City.

Post Game
For Highland Park, Dion Bradley leads with 25 points.  After Johnson decided to get the ball out of his hands, he had no field goals in the last 7:30 of regulation and overtime.  Isaiah Brower 3 triples for 11.  Aaron Moore with 11 of his 13 in the 2nd half.  Highland Park much tougher inside on the defensive glass than in the 1st meeting.  They also did a great job of pushing the ball back hard at Johnson and it was very successful.  Highland Park finishes the regular season 16-10 overall, 10-2 (2nd) in the St. Paul City.  They're looking at the #2 seed in section 4AAA.  That most likely means a 3rd meeting with Harding.  Highland Park won both meetings by 17 and 24 respectively.

Johnson clinches the St. Paul City at 11-1, 17-7 overall.  Its the 10th straight year that Johnson has won or shared the city title.  They'll play Saturday in the Twin Cities Game.  That will be hosted by Minneapolis Southwest who beat Roosevelt tonight and because of their 30 year absence from the game, they will get the nod out of the tiebreaker on the Minneapolis side.  Jalen Mobley 26 points to lead the Governors.  Quashingm Smith-Pugh with 15 points and 12 boards.  That was after a struggle in the 1st half.  But in the 2nd half, he came up big.   Johnson locks up the top seed in 4AAA.  That means a home game next Friday with South St. Paul.

Play of the Day
An interesting zone set today courtesy of Vern Simmons and Johnson.  Double stack a pair of guards on the left elbow.  Stack 2 bigs on the right block.  Point guard comes off the double high to the left wing.  Those guys then pop to the top and the right wing.  In this case it was Quashingm Smith-Pugh cutting opposite to that right wing.  With the top 2 guys occupied, if the bottom guy in the 2-3 zone doesn't come get it, knock it down.  If the low guy does come out, now 1 guy in the bottom stack pins the middle guy in the zone and you have a wide open post on the strong side block.

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