City talent showcased

A big Friday and Saturday night of games.  Fun matchups of city teams from St. Paul and Minneapolis, an outstate game and an old school coaching matchup.  Here's some of what I saw.

Friday: #1AAA Johnson at Central
A thoroughly ugly game for the top spot in the St. Paul City (except for the always outstanding and huge Central pepband).  56 fouls, 35-77 combined free throw shooting unofficially on my stat sheet.  Chop, hack, clank, putback, jack, rinse, repeat, do it again.  Absolutely no flow on either end due to all of the fouls and enough sloppy play to make a 6th grade game proud.  Central would control the 1st half for a 35-30 lead.  Johnson would go on a 9-0 run early in the 2nd half (turnovers a big key) to take the lead.  Big moment when Johnson star Jalen Mobley picks up his 4th foul with 8:35 left and Vern Simmons leaves him in.  That huge gamble ends up paying off despite it failing with Peirre Conwell just a minute later.  Soph Sam Gubbrud takes an extra pass and buries a 3 to tie the game at 55 with 7 minutes left.  Meanwhile Scott Howell has his own issues as Kalu Abosi sat over 9 minutes in the 2nd half due to 4 fouls.  He comes back with 5 minutes left.  Mobley with his 3rd weakside duck in on a BLOB for a big hoop and an assist for a layup to push the lead to 6.  He adds 2 free throws on Abosi's 5th foul with 2:23 left and another bucket to push the lead to 10 inside of 2 minutes.  Johnson wins 75-67.  Jalen Mobley with 25 points to lead Johnson.  Rayeon Williams leads Central with 20.

Saturday: North at Minneahaha
A great showcase of a ton of young talent on the Minneapolis side.  Sophs Tyler Johnson and Jamil Jackson for North.  North's freshmen group and Simeon Davis with Joevon Walker for Minnehaha and then the 8th grade battle of JoVonni Bickham and Odell Wilson Jr (North).  A Bickham putback puts Minnehaha up 9-6 before the roof caves in.  Turnovers take North on a 24-6 run to take complete control.  30-15 North at the 9:30 mark.  Frosh DJ Hunter for 3 and its 40-20.  53-30 at half.  Game gets a bit chippy.  North knocks down a couple late 3s for a 101-60 win though we didn't hit running time until very late when it could have come right at 9 minutes.  Tyler Johnson 23 points to lead 5 Polars in double figures.  Joevon Walker with 18 to lead the Redhawks.

Very strange situation during the game.  Minnehaha guard Trenton McCarthy goes to inbound the ball at the North bench.  Something somewhere got said and we get McCarthy and coach Larry McKenzie jawing to the point where the site supervisor came speeding down to the bench to get involved.  Then McKenzie goes after McCarthy with a boatload of iso calls for Tyler Johnson in a game that was already out of hand.  Pretty clear it was a decision to humiliate the kid after the earlier bench incident.  That gets the last 3 fouls on McCarthy which generates cheers from the North bench (McKenzie did tell them to sit down for that).  Plus there's the incitement of the crowd at the Henry vs North game this year, the "This is the house I built" comments afterwards and the post game comments to the crowd a couple of years ago at Holy Angels after Farmington had just clinched the league title at AHA in the last game of the year.  Those were all games that were wins.  Coach McKenzie does a heck of a job, is a quality person and a coach that I greatly respect.  This continued pattern of poor sportsmanship in the heat of battle bothers me.  The comments are one issue (talk is cheap) but today's instance of going after a player takes it to another level for me.  I find that especially disturbing and unbecoming of the coaching profession.  A coach is expected to set an example and be the voice of reason in times of chaos.  In this instance I don't feel coach McKenzie met that expectation.

Saturday: St. Cloud Tech at Stillwater
We'll skip ahead to the night session for a battle between Stillwater coach Randy Jordan and his former school St. Cloud Tech (he was there in the Nate Wolters era for those who forgot).  Tech plays 2-3 zone all game.  Stillwater comes out in a diamond and 1 against Tech's star guard Andy Foley.  That holds Foley down to 5 points in the half.  Stillwater has no answer for the 2-3 and they trail 25-17 at the half.  The Ponies stay diamond and 1 to start the 2nd half and 3 other Tech players knock down 3s in the 1st 2 minutes of the half to push the lead to 34-19.  That gets Stillwater back to their standard man to man.  Not long after Foley proceeds to score 10 straight Tech points in a variety of ways (BLOB, post, jumper, steal etc).  Stillwater tries to make a late run as they knock down some 3s that almost make it interesting.  Tech wins 70-62.  Andy Foley leads Tech with 21 and 8 boards on my sheet.  16 of those vs the man defense in the 2nd half.  Connor Gamble 5 bombs on his way to 23 points.  Matt Anderson with 13 of his 17 in the 2nd half as Stillwater did a better job of getting inside the zone.

I also did a quiet outstate game mid-afternoon at Target Center between St. Peter and Hayfield.  Hayfield was up 10 with 7 minutes left when I had to leave for the late game.  Another solid game from Hayfield guard Cole Kruger.  St. Peter post Kolin Bartlett had such upside as a freshman but has endured 2 major knee injuries since.  Now as a senior, he's got the knee brace on and just isn't the same player that had such promise.

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