Its time once again for the Comets Shootout, one of the great events of our local grassroots season. No shoe company teams showing up except for the Net Gain 15s so the field is very wide open. A shame that we don't get a chance to see D1 and Net Gain as we have in past years. Its also a much bigger field than we've had. There are 48 teams each in 17U and 16U divisions and 44 in 15U. The tourney format is an opening round game to play into the 16 team Platinum championship bracket. For the teams in the last handful of opening round games, sorry, no soup for you. Say hello to the Gold bracket. So with that in mind, many of the opening round games are mismatches so I'm going to skip ahead to my thoughts on bracket play.
3 possible round of 16 games here stick out to me. Let's start with apologies to 3 of my players from last year as I can't pick them in their opener vs Comets North. My team was 0-2 vs Comets teams at the Comets last year, can't go against that here. Comets North is a very nice team but they'll get a stiff challenge from the MN Eagles. They are a group of Apple Valley kids who had great success this year. Also in the bottom half, Fury Johnson looks like they take on Comets Little who had a great season last year. Then the sleeper game and that's the Comets top group against Crossfire Swanson. The Crossfire group was largely together with the Heat last year and have some extra pieces to go with it. The Comets complete the sweep but the game looks to not be a pushover.
Comets Schmidt takes out Select Hermer in a Sanford League game in the quarters. Future Stars vs Lockdown and Fury Johnson vs Net Gain should be high quality quarterfinal games. Comets North is my pick to move thru the last quarter with North Hoops being a major sleeper here if its Minneapolis North kids. Future Stars vs Comets Schmidt in 1 semifinal and Fury Johnson vs Comets North in the other. Fury Johnson and Comets Schmidt move on to the final with Fury Johnson winning a grudge match. Love the matchup of point guards in that game.
15U Players to watch:
Matt Todd - Fury Johnson
Jarvis Thomas - Lockdown
Cam Jackson - Comets Schmidt
Odell Wilson - Future Stars (or North Hoops?)
Comets again get no favors for their top team as I see them drawing Real Athletics Robinson in the round of 16. But I think the Comets are too deep and move on. ECI Prospects move on over WOTN Ewing. Heat Bui and Magic Vatsaas play a tight game with Heat barely moving on. I'll take Fury Jaryan to advance over Heat Gardner to conclude the top half. Heat Nord thru against the MN Swish. Playmakers Streege move on as well. Comets DLR gets the home court edge over WOTN Herber. Then a dynamite game at the bottom with Lockdown and Fury Zurn. Fury moves on in a stiff opening round test.
Comets Stumpf advances over ECI, Heat Bui moves on over Fury Jaryan. Fury Zurn also advances over the Comets. Heat Nord advances over the Playmakers. No Heat vs Heat final as the Comets and Fury knock them out. So again its a Comets vs Fury top team showdown for the title and again I'll take the Fury.
16U Players to watch:
Dedoch Chan, Myles Hanson, Owen Chose - Fury Zurn
Siman Sem - ECI Prospects
Trae Berhow, Mar Mar Hughes- Lockdown
Derek Thompson, Dillon Haider - Comets Stumpf
Kade Hart - Magic Vatsaas
Isaac Johnson - Real Athletics Robinson
Long story short, don't leave before the late games. The best 2 games here are in the 10 PM slot Saturday night. Fury Wilde rums into Heat McKee (all Wayzata kids) and Heat Northwest has a war with Real Athletics Jay. Heat Northwest big but if they can add Xavier Johnson this week, that would be huge to go against the guard strength of Real Athletics. I'll take Real Athletics with their shooting. Also in the bottom half, I'll take ECI Prospects over WI Playmakers Boll. Select Altenhofen continues their nice run with a win over Comets Servaty. In the top half, Comets Lewis over Fury Jordan. Heat Schumann moves on over Red River Heat. Select Ohnstad def WOTN Nicols and Heat Vang knocks off the MN Swish.
Comets Lewis no problem moving on to the semis over Heat Schumann. Select Ohnstad knocks off Heat Vang in a tight one. Select Altenhofen moves on over ECI. Fury Wilde with another stiff test knocking out Real Athletics Jay. They win a rematch with Select Altenhofen in the semis. Select Ohnstad won a title last week and I'll take them to knock off the hosts in the semis. Fury Wilde completes the Fury sweep with a win over Select Ohnstad in the final.
17U Players to watch:
Steffon Mitchell, Dalante Peyton - Fury Wilde
Seth Coatta, Chris Olson, Cedric Boone - Real Athletics Jay
Isaiah Wade, Lucas Walford - Heat Northwest
Ryan Lindberg, Jack Sowada - Heat McKee
Brady Kuchinka - WOTN Nicols
Charlie Irmiger, Carter Brooks, Jack Stensgard - Select Ohnstad
Sam Baker, Nick Dufault - Select Altenhofen
Cole Dahl, Bryce Irsfeld, Ethan Novacinski - Comets Lewis
Samm Jones, Quenton Siebenahler - Heat Vang