AA Stars explode

St. Croix Prep Coach Matt McCollister
Plenty of big school action over the last week so let's switch to some small school ball.  There are 5 local AA teams that are ranked and I'm at the one that isn't ranked but is plenty talented to be in that discussion.  Its St. Paul Academy hosting St. Croix Prep in a section 4AA clash.  A very good crowd makes it hard to find a seat but nothing wrong with a cozy atmosphere.  Halftime sees a bunch of 3U kids taking over the court for some impressive sprinting.  St. Croix Prep PG Michael Gutierrez coming in averaging 32.4 PPG.    St. Croix Prep coach Matt McCollister always one of the more dapper head coaches on the circuit but thanks to a little twitter banter from me before the game and some serious harassment from his players, we get the outstanding white suit coat with purple bow tie and matching pocket square.  20 oz of Coke washes down the condiment free hot dog.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 97 (28 courts)

Beverage Consumption Counter: 704.9 ounces (44 days, 63 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
Pepsi: 432 ounces
Coke: 100 ounces
Dr. Pepper: 12 ounces
Sprite: 32 ounces
Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
A&W Root Beer: 12 ounces
Red Powerade: 60 ounces
Red Gatorade: 20 ounces
Water: 500 ml

Hot Dog Counter: 7

Song of the Day
Deep in the Heart of Texas

Game Time
A solid start for St. Paul Academy with Abdul Osman scoring 6 quick points.  That included a nice spin and jumping a pass and taking it the distance.  That was with regular starters Dalante Peyton and Emerson Egly coming off the bench to start the game.  Kent Hanson buries a 3 and its 13-5 SPA at 11:33.  SCPA would claw their way back behind their star PG Michael Gutierrez.  A pair of bombs from him ties the game and then gives the Lions a 22-20 lead at the 5:20 mark.  Fouls mounting for SPA with Hanson and Osman sitting with 2,  Egly would also get his 2nd and Peyton would end up with 3.  But the Spartans finish the half on a 10-3 run for a 34-28 halftime lead.  Guterriez with 15 on 4 triples.  Peyton and Osman with 8, Hanson with 5 for SPA.

The stars were big and bright in the 2nd half.  Hanson spins for 2 and converts a turnover for 2 more.  That's a 16-4 SPA run across halftime.  Gutierrez counters with a 3 point play on a Spartans turnover.  Hanson 2 free throws and another bucket as he's doing whatever he wants.  Gutierrez drives for a pair of free throws and turns a steal into an NBA 3.  Those sandwich Hanson running for a reverse layup.  48-43 SPA with 11:20 left and the Lions charging.  Hanson for 3 and runs for another layup as the lead grows to 10.  A kickout for 3 and off a Lions miss Peyton runs out for a breakaway 2 handed smash.  The Spartans run is 11-3 and now the Lions are reeling.  59-46 SPA with 8:06 left.  Peyton adds a right corner 3 to push the lead to 62-48 with 7 minutes left.  Gutierrez with a 3 off the SLOB.  Hanson trailing the break for 3 and a reverse layup for a 67-52 SPA lead with 5:27 left.  Now Gutierrez really gets going.  Same SLOB and he steps back in the left corner for 3.  Peyton counters again from the right corner.  Gutierrez from deep again.  Hanson with a tip dunk before Gutierrez takes a turnover for 2.  Hanson slices to the hoop for 2.  SPA now trying to faceguard Gutierrez but who cares.  He drives for 2 free throws before Peyton drills another 3, this time from the left corner.  SPA by 12 with 2:17 left.  Gutierrez would add 3 more bombs to the delight of the crowd and a bucket as the game got down to 4 late but the outcome wasn't in any danger.  SPA wins 86-80.

Post Game
Michael Gutierrez goes absolutely bonkers for St. Croix Prep.  He knocks down 11 triples and finishes with 47 points on my sheet (45 from The Red Star surprises me).  7 of those triples and 32 of those points in the 2nd half.  With the full Mclaster Macalaster staff and Hamline head coach Jim Hayes looking on, they were marveling at the outburst.  Jared Shea adds 16 for the Lions.  Guards Quinn Fisher and Jayton Metcalf were out of the Lions lineup.  St. Croix Prep falls to 6-6 overall.  4 of those losses are high quality losses (Maranatha, SPA, Brooklyn Center and Roosevelt).  They host Spectrum next Thursday before visiting St. Paul Harding next Saturday afternoon.  That's a rematch of a double OT classic at the Trinity holiday tourney that the Lions won 92-88 with Gutierrez going off for 53.

St. Paul Academy improves to 4-5 with the win.  This game ended a stretch of only 1 game in 3 weeks for the Spartans (finals and no holiday tourney).  Kent Hanson was in 1st half foul trouble but exploded for 26 of his 31 points in the 2nd half.  He rebounded, hit shots, ran the floor, scored inside and added the tip dunk which came out of nowhere.  Dalante Peyton buries 3 big triples in the 2nd half on his way to 21 points.  Good job by the Spartans of getting the ball moving and taking advantage of the low man in the 2-3 zone coming out to guard the wing.  1 more to the corner and that 3 was available all night.  Center Abdul Osman chips in with 13 points.  The Spartans jump into IMAC play next week by hosting Providence on Tuesday and then a critical trip to Breck on Friday.

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