No finer time of year than playoff time. Tonight's a 4 vs 5 game to open the section 8AAAA playoffs. Its a rematch of Buffalo at Elk River from November when Elk River won 40-34. Fairly spare crowd on hand but they were vocal. A super late opening to the concession stand means nothing for the beverage counter tonight. The Horror!
Number of Teams I've Seen: 157 (64 courts)
Beverage Consumption Counter: 1545.8 ounces (97 days, 132 games, 2 scrimmages added on)
- Pepsi: 760 ounces
- Coke: 192 ounces
- Dr. Pepper: 48 ounces
- Sprite: 200 ounces
- Sierra Mist: 12 ounces
- Barq's Root Beer: 20 ounces
- A&W Root Beer: 60 ounces
- Red Powerade: 120 ounces
- 0 Calorie Fruit Punch Powerade: 20 ounces
- Red Gatorade: 96.9 ounces
- Water: 500 ml
Song of the Day: Right Now - Van Halen
Its Matt Keller hot early for Elk River. A pull up jumper and a 3. Then whacked on a 3 for 3 free throws and then another 3 out of the secondary break. Then he gets a flare screen, not there so he comes right back to the ball off of the rescreen for his 3rd triple. 15-10 Elk River 5 minutes into the game and we clearly won't have the low scoring affair of early in the year. Jonathan Senger for 2 and a 3 point play from Taylor Spier bring us to 17 all just inside of 10 minutes left in the half. Mitchell Weege, Keller and frosh Jack Burger off the bench with 3s as the Elks go on an 11-4 spurt. Jared High 2 hoops to stop that but Weege hits from deep again. Zach Dahl with a late 3 point play for Buffalo to keep it tight. 33-29 Elk River at the break. The Elks make 7 3s in the half. 17 of the 1st 25 for Elk River from Keller. High with 12 of his own for Buffalo.
Dahl grabs a miss and makes 2 free throws to tie the game at 35 2:20 into the half. Elk River makes the critical run. Weege inside out for 3, a blocked shot leads to a Keller 3 point play. Soph Wyatt Morrell for 3 and a jumper that ends a 15-4 run. 50-39 Elk River with 11:05 left. Burger inside for a 3 point play and a hoop with 8:10 left to push the lead to 12, 55-43. Burger continues his big half with 2 free throws. Senger to High on a beautiful backdoor at the 6:10 mark. But post Trent Pink counters and its still 59-47 Elk River inside of 6 to play.
Buffalo rumbles back into the game. High for 3, Elk River misses 2 front ends and Dahl scores. Burger makes 2 free throws but that's countered by a Cory Thielman putback for a 3 point play. Lead down to 6 inside of 4 minutes left. A steal for 1 Senger free throw, Elk River makes 3-6 free throws before Senger goes coast to coast with 2:31 left. 64-60 Elk River and they are hanging on for dear life. Buffalo can't convert a turnover and a Buffalo 3 gets stuck in the rim and the arrow goes to Elk River. After a dicey call, Dahl makes 2 free throws and the lead is 3 with 1:50 left. Elk River just avoids a 10 second call and turns it over anyway. Senger fouled on a BLOB curl but misses both free throws with 1:32 left. Jump ball goes to Buffalo on the miss but they turn it over for a Keller 3 point play and another dicey call on that foul. High drives and scores and Buffalo not happy with another trip to the line for Keller. He makes 2 to keep the Elk River lead at 6. Dahl goes for a 3 point play to cut the lead in half. Burger on the breakaway scores but gets hit and comes down awkwardly and doesn't return to the game. That'd be a tough injury for the promising freshman. The free throw is taken by Morrell and good and the lead is 6 again. High makes 1 free throw and the miss is grabbed by Dahl for 2 more freebies. Then Keller beating the press and a mysterious carrying call with 26 seconds left. That gives Buffalo a chance. After a timeout, they miss once and Senger takes the offensive board back to the line and his 3 is around and out at the horn. Elk River hangs on 73-70. The 2nd half (41-40 Buffalo) had more scoring than the entire 1st game.
Jared High leads Buffalo with 24 points. Zach Dahl adds 16 and Cory Thielman chips in with 13. Strange to see the Bison go straight 5 out rather than their traditional screening system. But this group doesn't have the shooters of years past. The Bison finish the season 12-15. They had some chances down the stretch but just never got over the top.
Elk River came in losing 6 of 7 and almost gave this one away. They missed 8 free throws in a 2 minute stretch counting 2 front ends of the bonus. But Matt Keller made the last 3. The Elks made 7 of their 9 3s in the 1st half. Freshman Jack Burger with 19 points off the bench. Lets hope his late injury isn't serious. Matt Keller with 17 of his 26 in the 1st half. The Elks move on to play in 8AAAA semifinals at St. Cloud State Saturday afternoon. The likely opponent is St. Michael-Albertville who beat them by 14 at the end of January.