Day 3 of my 2016 holiday travels takes me to day 1 of the 29th annual Rochester Rotary Holiday Classic. 10 metro teams making the trip south and I had the chance to take in 6 of them. Outstanding walking taco at the concession stand. Just wish concessions stands would learn to crush the chips. Key overlooked element. 2 bottles of Pepsi keep the beverage counter rolling. Halftime entertainment for 2 early games, belly dancers. Yes that's not a joke. The 1st set had swords and were balancing them on their heads. That's entertainment!
Game 1: St. Thomas Academy vs White Bear Lake
St. Thomas replaces their whole starting lineup less than 2 minutes into the game. That bench mob scores the 1st 14 points for the Cadets. Sam Vascellaro was the main guy in that crew. He scores 4 free throws and a bucket in a 13-0 first half run. That blows the game open to 30-12 at the 4:14 mark. That lead grows to 40-20 at the half. I miss the 2nd half to see all of Game 2 across the hall. St. Thomas Academy wins 82-65. Sam Vascellaro with 16 in the 1st half for the Cadets. Josh Griefenhagen with 7 off the White Bear Lake in the first half.
Game 2: Mahtomedi vs Burnsville
Mahtomedi totally out of sorts in the 1st half of this one. Matt Baisch with 3 bombs in the half for Burnsville, his 2nd one opens up a 24-18 Blaze lead. Parker Fox with a drive and a putback as Mahtomedi rallies. Evan Reyes and Trey Newman off the bench for 3 as the Zephrys struggle with fouls. Baisch makes a late 3 for a 33-30 Burnsville lead at the break. Mahtomedi comes out on a 11-4 run to start the 2nd half. Reyes with a couple of more critical 3s to keep the Mahtomedi lead at 4. Fox rises for a follow dunk to put Mahtomedi up 8 inside 7 left. Burnsville rallies to within 4 but a late Mahtomedi run puts it out of reach. Mahtomedi wins 71-59. Parker Fox 23 points to lead Mahtomedi. Evan Reyes with a great game of 4 3s and 14 points off the Zephyrs bench. Jackson Martens 12 points, 10 in the 2nd half for Burnsville. Matt Baisch with 4 3s and 16 points to lead the Blaze.
Game 3: #10AAAA Rosemount vs Lake City
A battle of 6-0 undefeated teams in this one. Lake City with 3 guards at 5'10" or under going against the Loehr twin towers of Rosemount. 2 quick 3s propel Lake City to a 8-2 lead. Then the twins get going and its a 15-2 Irish run to take the lead. Lake City goes almost 12 minutes with just 1 field goal. Its sandwiched between 2 Marc Kjos bombs and Lake City is still within 3. Rosemount scores the next 10 before a Lake City buzzer beater. 32-21 Rosemount at the break with the Loehr twins scoring 17.
Lake City comes out for the 2nd half on fire. Frosh Nate Heise with an NBA 3, turnover for a Mitch Marien triple, frosh Reid Gastner from deep plus a spin move for 2 more, Marien drives for the lead and Kjos adds a 3 point play. Plus a technical on Rosemount to boot. Lake City misses the technicals but gets a Heise hoop on the possession. That finally forces a Rosemount timeout. The Tigers run is 22-4 and they take a 43-36 lead with 12:15 left. Heise another 3 and Gastner runs for a layup and the lead is double digits with 6 minutes left. Lake City makes 13-14 free throws in the last 1:51 and they hang on to win 70-64. Luke Loehr with 27 to lead Rosemount. Lake City has 4 of their 5 starters with 13 points or more and they combine for 8 3s. 7 guys in the young lineup are back next year for a group that will be very dangerous.
Lake City was the tougher team in this one and definitely deserved to win. But its hard to look at Rosemount game plan. Not a single high/low possession. Their 2 big guys floating outside and not pounding the ball inside enough. Leaving shooters to help when the tiny Tigers guard would drive at the bigs. It just screamed of lack of preparation and/or lack of caring. Have to think this is a game that the Irish would want back and consider a bad loss.
Game 4: Minneapolis Washburn vs Rochester Mayo
Sadly the belly dancers had gone home by this point. Isaac Lotz corner 3 vs the Mayo 2-3 zone, nice set play that worked on a pair of occasions. (Note: Washburn program numbers were sketchy so I think it was Lotz from memory). Albert Demmings with 9 points in the half as Washburn would lead 25-19 at the half. They run away in the 2nd half. Brandon Charles with a couple of mean dunks as the lead blew up to 21 midway through the 2nd half. The Millers would get sloppy and see the lead cut to 11. But again, there's no danger. Washburn wins 62-48. Isaac Lotz with 4 3s and 14 points for Washburn. Peter Lundquist with 17 inside for Mayo.