An Outstate Playoff Weekend

What a weekend.  2AA Quarterfinals in New Prague Friday night then the northwest corner of the state invades St. Cloud with 8AAA and 8AAAA semifinals but 5AAA kicking it off.  Plenty of pizza on the schedule.  The Dominos pizza at Halenback always worthwhile.  Also plenty of Pepsi to get me through it.  56 more ounces of that in all.  The miles, too many to count.

Friday Night
Full house at New Prague for the 2AA quarters and no cheating by watching the girls game in the auxillary gym (who looks identical to the main gym).  Its the top 3 teams in the Minnesota River plus St. Peter (co-champ of the Big South-East division).  Belle Plaine and Jordan split their 2 regular season meetings.  Nice strategy from Jordan to faceguard Luke Narveson (league MVP and SMSU FB commit) and Mitchel Stier.  Big night from Jordan's Jimmy Volbrecht with 27 and 15.  But Belle Plaine goes on a late 14-0 run to break a 53 all tie down the stretch.  68-58 Belle Plaine advances.  Clutch nights from Brandon Schulz and Brody Curtiss to put Belle Plaine over the top.

In the late game Norwood-Young America saw the same faceguard idea from St. Peter.  Kellen Erpenbach would still control the game for NYA despite that.  St. Peter gets 1 FG in the last 8 minutes of the 1st half.  NYA goes on a 18-2 run with that.  Then 1 FG in the last 9 minutes of the 2nd half.  NYA runs away for a 56-39 win.  Erpenbach with 16, Brice Panning with a big night of 21 for NYA.  Colton Lusty 9 for the Saints.

Saturday at Halenbeck
Then its off to St. Cloud State for 3 sets of semifinals.  We begin with the closest group of 5AAA.  Monticello no trouble with Becker in the 1st game of the day.  Matt Todd 22 pts, 10 rebs, 3 ast and 6 steals.  Becker 22 turnovers and they shoot 30.6% for the game.  Todd went over 1000 career points in the game.  The 2nd game also looked like it was going to get out of hand.  Rocori held a 56-41 lead but gave up a late 18-1 run to allow Apollo take the lead.  Apollo had the ball at the end of regulation to win it but couldn't score.  Rocori would win 74-68 in overtime.  Ethan Novacinski with 25 pts and 11 rebs for Apollo before fouling out in OT.  Austin Overman played a stabalizing point power forward role for Rocori.  He ended up with 11 pts, 6 rbs and 8 ast.  Apollo 34.8% shooting for the game and still hung around thanks to 52% in the 2nd half.  Their scrambling pressure triggered the big run.

Then its the 8AAA semis.  Ugly start to Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls.  Detroit Lakes 11 turnovers while Fergus Falls started 1-10 from 3.  Fergus Falls would make 4 straight 3s to end the half but Detroit Lakes was 9-12 (with 11 TO) to stay close.  Fergus Falls would make their 1st 2 3s of the 2nd half.  Then it was a clinic.  Cut and move and it was layup after layup after layup.  2-3 from 3 right away in the half, the rest of the half 15-18 from the floor.  Fergus Falls rolls 67-45.  21 assists on 27 field goals for the Otters.  Alexandria no problem with Sauk Rapids-Rice in the other semifinal.  Jaran Roste 19 points and 8 assists controlling the pace.  Alec Wensman adds 17 points and 14 rebounds for Alexandria.  Kobe Boraas 19 points as he tried to rally the Storm in the 2nd half.  Soph PG Camden Jackson 14 pts, 6 rebs, 7 ast for the Storm.  But too much 1 on 1 offense from Sauk Rapids.

Now to the big boys as 8AAAA finishes the night.  Both of these games are rematches of regular season blowouts.  Rogers would hang around vs Maple Grove but ultimately the Crimson were in no major danger.  Brad Davison another huge night of 32 points, 6 boards and 6 assists with a pair of steals.  Steffan Musoke all 11 of his points in the 1st half for Rogers.  He went over the 1000 career points plateau with that.  Maple Grove wins 74-61.  Brainerd gave up 36 to Matt Keller and got pounded by 28 in the 1st meeting vs Elk River.  Keller would be very quiet to start and Brainerd stayed within 2 at half  Trent Pink with the 1st 10 of the half for Elk River taking over inside.  Then Keller would heat up and that's too much for Brainerd.  Elk River wins 65-51.  Matt Keller with 5 3s and 24 points. He also added 7 rebounds.  Trent Pink 16 and 6.  Kobe Ahonen 14 points and 12 boards for Brainerd.  Michael Russell 17 points to lead the Warriors.  Brainerd only shot 21.7% in the 2nd half.

Maple Grove will play Elk River in the 8AAAA final on Thursday (site TBD).  I could only wish they'd move the game to Friday night and make it a doubleheader with 5AAAA's final at Rogers.  What a night of getting the top 4 in the NW Suburban together that would be (unless Mounds View would crash the party).  Maple Grove won the regular season meeting 81-49 in early December.  But Tywhon Pickford had 19 in that game and he's now out.   That makes Maple Grove a very different team. 

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