Off to Rogers for the 5AAAA semifinals which showcased 4 of the better teams in the Northwest Suburban. Very good crowd on hand after all though it was slow arriving. Mr. Basketball and Director of Officials Jim Robinson in the building. We also get John Lithgow working the late game. Needless to say, Mr. Robinson's neighborhood was in absolute chaos. The officiating was a mess in both games and Lithgow once again in big game was bad. As a fan, its a a crying shame that the kids don't get better crews for these games. Jim Robinson continues to see this night in and night out and yet absolutely nothing changes. Off my soapbox and on to the games.
Game 1: Champlin Park vs Park Center
3 different Rebels knock down 3s and Champlin Park jumps out to an 11-1 lead. Its 15-6 Champlin Park at the 13:30 mark when they decide to change to a 1-3-1 zone. Not only does the zone not make sense in the given context, but you also have a little guy in Ian Smith at the top of it which totally defeats the purpose of an odd front zone. Flip him to the back to run the baseline and move Jeremy Johnson up to the top to play havoc with his length. Park Center makes their comeback. Amani Hooker drives, Isaiah McKay for 3 in transition and a block leads to an Arione Farrar 3 that gives Park Center their 1st lead. Pirates run is 14-4 in just under 8 minutes, but 8-0 in the last minute of the run. Park Center using their own zone with effectiveness. 34-32 Champlin Park at the break.
The Rebels attempt to break the game open with a 10-2 run early in the 2nd half. Alec Leabo for 3, Ian Smith converts a turnover, another turnover for 2 Johnson free throws and he adds a 3 to cap it. 52-43 Champlin Park with 12:46 left as the Pirates regroup with a timeout. Isaac Matthews doing work for the Pirates. He scoops for 2 and puts back a free throw miss as Champlin Park just stood and watched. Champlin Park inexplicably goes back to the 1-3-1 and its Matthews with a 3 point play to cut the lead to 1 with just over 7 minutes left. Then Matthews called for his 4th foul on a charge with 6:42 left. Bo Powell doesn't get him out of the game. JT Gibson blows by him for 2 as he's helpless to defend. Gibson takes Matthews off the bounce again and its a layup for Johnson off the assist. Farrar buries a 3 and Smith hits a free throw for a 59-58 Champlin Park lead at the 5:02 mark. That foul appeared to be on Matthews but it somehow got switched which was a huge break as he would have been gone. Smith comes up clutch late. He drives and goes to the left hand for 2 and then pulls up in the lane for 2 more. Smith with a bunny at the 2:37 mark to push the Rebels lead to 69-63. Champlin Park with 2 misses on shots that were decent looks and some missed free throws but never anymore real danger. Frosh McKinley Wright goes 4-4 from the stripe late to seal it. Champlin Park wins 79-71 Ian Smith leads with 24 points. Isaiah McKay ends his career with 21 for Park Center
Game 2: Osseo vs Maple Grove
Osseo jumps out to an 8-0 lead with a bucket, 2 free throws and assist from Ian Theisen. Maple Grove's post, soph Reed Nikko, was a worthy matchup. He finishes a 3 point play, slams home a pass from frosh PG Brad Davison and scores again for another chance at a 3 point play. Matt Lindgren with back to back 3s and that ends a 10-1 Crimson run and they take a 17-14 lead at the 7:30 mark. 20-19 Maple Grove after Wheeler Baker's first hoop. Then a horrendous charge call on Davison by Lithgow sends Davison to the bench with 2 fouls for the last 4:37 of the half. Nikko dunks on Theisen for a 3 point play to reach double figures. That's Theisen's 2nd foul at the 2:02 mark. Tyler Barker beats the buzzer for a 25-21 Maple Grove lead at half.
Davison makes a tough shot that banks home just under a minute into the half. But the Maple Grove offense disappears from there. Theisen pops for 3 and Elliot Kane buries a 3 as Osseo reclaims the lead. Baker spins in the post for 2, Kane hits another bomb and Baker pulls up for 2 more. That's an 18-2 Osseo run over 7 minutes and no Maple Grove field goals. Nikko finally gets a bucket for the Crimson at the 5:59 mark. We get the MoKiller timeout as somehow Maple Grove is only down 39-35 after scoring the last 6 points. Then a Maple Grove wing falls down on the entry and Jordan Dembley takes that for a 3 point play, Baker drives for another 3 point play and buries a 3 after a turnover. Kane again from the deep end of the pool. That 12-2 run slams the door shut. 51-37 with 3:02 left. Osseo goes onto win 55-43. Maple Grove held to 18 points and 4 field goals in the 2nd half, 1 of those field goals in garbage time. Elliot Kane with 14 points and 4 3s off the bench to lead the Orioles. Ian Thiesen 13 points. Reed Nikko and Matt Lindgren lead Maple Grove with 14 points each. Nikko still developing on the offensive end but you can see he's got big time upside.