An amazing year at state

The 2013-2014 season came to a close over the weekend . What a finish to the AAAA season with a pair of amazing semifinals and a championship game.  The Hopkins vs Shakopee semifinal will be memorable for more than 1 reason.  The chess match at the end of regulation and through the 4 overtimes may not have pleased the fans but both strategies made sense.  Why not hold for the last shot and not even give Shakopee a chance to win if you're Hopkins?  If you're Shakopee, why make your defense more vulnerable by extending, get a stop and move on.  If roles were reversed there would be no uproar but since Hopkins was the more talented and favored team, I was surprised they didn't play it out.  Will that game cause enough uproar for a shot clock?  Maybe, but most folks don't understand that we already have the shot clock and choose not to use it.  Personally I love the chess match and the option for the underdog.  A shot clock would have given St. Cloud Tech no chance vs Hopkins in 2009.  Instead, we had extremely compelling theater until Nate Wolters rolled an ankle.  Add in the cost and lower quality of basketball at small schools and I'm still firmly opposed.  A very under-appreciated part of the ending was the last draw up by Shakopee.  It appeared the Sabers had a layup for the win but the pass was late and the steal allowed Hopkins to get the ball back for the memorable final Coffey heave from 57 feet.

Then what more can we say about JP Macura.  He goes for 31 in the semi including a 30 foot buzzer beater to beat CDH.  Then 43 and 9 with a critical assist late as Lakeville North came back late to shock Hopkins and win the title.  Long 3s, drives to the bucket and movement without the basketball for layups all part of the display.  Lakeville North was very beatable when it was just Macura, but Bronson Bruneau, soph Drew Stewart and Connor Flack also made big plays and that was the difference.  Lakeville North couldn't get a stop for a long time down the stretch but managed to steal away the game late.  Hopkins with their 1st loss in a final since 1994 and it was disappointing that some members of the team didn't handle it well.  While some of the fan criticism online is ridiculous (calling the kids thugs etc), seeing parents trying to write it off as just being kids or it can't be criticized because they are kids is also ridiculous.  These kids have played enough games at all levels throughout the years and been at state enough to know better.  Win with class, lose with class is something all players learn very early on.  Great teaching moment for those kids in how to deal with adversity.  Life is full of disappointments, losing 1 game is a minor one in the big scheme of things.

In the rest of the tournament, impressed with Kory Deadrick of Esko and what he did to lead to Eskomos to a title.  Soph Jaxson Turner didn't make all tourney but showed he'll be a very good player for them the next 2 years.  Matt Miller of Annandale did a bit of everything for the Cardinals and Chase Knickerbocker really helped his stock.  Biggest breakout star of the tourney may have been 8th grader Owen King of Caledonia.  Expect Caledonia forward Kyle Sorenson's stock to go up this spring.  De La Salle with a thoroughly dominating season as they weren't challenged on their way to the AAA title.  Outside of AJ Nywesh, Austin shot 6-31 in the championship game. 

Refecting back on this year's playoffs in general, it may be the craziest season I've seen in the 7 seasons that I've written here.  Apple Valley out in OT, Buffalo makes state in 5 OT, Simley/Hill-Murray double OT etc etc  What a fun season

Next up is #AAUBingo 2014.  Year 2 of AAUBingo is a special Czar is a Head Coach edition.  Let's just say its been an adventure already and we're still 2 weeks away from the 1st games for local teams.

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