It the 5th annual Midwest Players Classic in La Crosse, WI. Always great to return to the Old Kingdom and support a hometown event. The day highlighted by a matchup of teams ranked #1 and a pair of high profile forwards matching up. The Emperor joins me for the 2 of the 3 games. His wisdom keeps the beverage counter at only 1 bottle of Pepsi.
Beverage Consumption Counter: 972.9 ounces (59 days, 85 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
- Pepsi: 536 ounces
- Coke: 132 ounces
- Dr. Pepper: 36 ounces
- Sprite: 76 ounces
- Sierra Mist: 12 ounces
- Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
- A&W Root Beer: 24 ounces
- Red Powerade: 60 ounces
- Red Gatorade: 60 ounces
- Water: 500 ml
Song of the Day
Maroon 5 - Won't go home without you
I missed the opening game thanks to travel battles with ice but not much was missed as #7AA St Croix Lutheran steamrolled La Crosse Aquinas 58-21. The Crusaders are seriously underranked at #7.
Game 2: #8AAAA East Ridge vs West Salem (WI)
The Emperor and I had a chance to see West Salem over the holidays. They gave up 41 to a post player in that game and East Ridge has size and athletes. Major problem brewing. East Ridge with a very good strategy of taking Seth Green and having him faceguard Mankato commit Bailey Williams. West Salem would score the 1st 4 points of the game and it was all East Ridge after that. Freddie Gillespie and Kyle Junker would towers inside against the West Salem guards at the rim. That led to a bunch of easy East Ridge buckets. After those 1st 4 points, East Ridge would go on a 19-2 run that went into the 2nd quarter Sid Tomes would scoop for 2 and a steal for 2 more to extend the run to 34-9. Green would score the 1st 6 of the 2nd half. Tomes with a couple of nice assists out of the post to Bobby Remke for layups. The rout is on. East Ridge rolls 66-33. They hold Bailey Williams to 1 halfcourt field goal and 9 points. His only other field goal was a steal. Bobby Remke and Seth Green with 16 each. Sid Tomes with a well-rounded game of 14.
Game 3: #1AA Caledonia vs #1AAA Waverly-Shell Rock (IA)
This matchup of top ranked teams did not disappoint. 15 all after 1 quarter. WSR's leading scorer Jake Velky would pick up his 3rd foul at the 4:34 mark of the 2nd quarter and have to sit. Caledonia would finish the half on an 8-0 run to take a 33-25 halftime lead. Post Austin Phyfe is one of the top sophomores in Iowa. He had a quiet 1st half. But he would be the catalyst behind a 17-4 WSR run that would give them control. WSR up 54-48 late before the fireworks started. Caledonia makes 1 free throw, then misses the 2nd but gets it back for 3 and the lead is 2. Then a pass to the nail goes right through the legs of the offensive player. The turnover is converted by Kyle Sorenson into a post hoop. 54 all 36.8 left. WSR holds and takes a pair of timeouts. Then its a left wing iso for Velky and cold as ice he drills the step back 3 with 0.4 left to win it. Waverly-Shell Rock wins 57-54. Velky 16 points and big in crunch time. Great footwork from the lefty post Phyfe on his way to 14 points. Bemidji State commit Kyle Sorenson 13 points, frosh Owen King 8 for Caledonia (cold shooting). Colton Lampert and Justin Burg with great role performances combining for 18. They get a state tourney rematch with St. Paul Academy Monday night at Roosevelt.
Game 4: Rochester John Marshall vs #6 D2 Rice Lake (WI)
The highlight here was new Minnesota commit Michael Hurt taking on Marquette signee Henry Ellenson. The game itself didn't live up to the hype. Rochester John Marshall turned the ball over all day. That turned into a 15-9 Rice Lake lead after 1 quarter and then a 16-2 run to open the 2nd quarter. Rice Lake by 16 at half, 23 after 3. They win 62-51 and it wasn't that close. The Hurt brothers don't have as much help as I thought they did. Rice Lake was hurt by guard play in their 2 metro losses, JM didn't have that. Henry Ellenson didn't put up the ridiculous numbers we saw in 2 metro trips but still ended up with 25 and 4 blocks. He had a sequence where he swatted both Hurt brothers on the same possession. Michael Hurt finished with 21 and 8 with 5 of that bevy of Rockets turnovers. Most of that offensive production was in the 4th quarter after the game was out of hand. Matthew Hurt is already a nightmare 3 man and I like his ceiling much more than Michael's. Gopher fans, I think you'll see a guy similar to Joey King. Both very skilled but fair questions about their athleticism at the highest level. Great for Minnesota to keep an instate kid home. In terms of basketball fit with coach Pitino, I think the jury is out on that one.
I skipped the 2 games of my alma mater (shameful) to take in the Minot State at Winona State game. Many players in that game that I saw on the AAU circuit. Riley Bambenek big down the stretch for Winona State to finally put the game away. Isaiah Gray from those top Benilde-St. Margaret's teams with a very solid career for the Warriors. St. Cloud Tech's Thomas Korf has turned into a knockdown shooter for Minot State.