Don't twist a Lion's tail

Prologue
To Hope Academy where the Lions take on #8A Cleveland in an interesting non-conference showdown.  Cleveland coming in undefeated against the 2nd worst schedule in class A according to the CzarPI.  Hope coming off a tough loss to Cristo Rey in TCAC play.  Great turnout from the Cleveland fans and its a full house on the south side.  The crowd would be treated to one of the better games I've seen all season.

Number of Teams I've Seen: 132 (44 courts + 2 online).  21 out of state, 9 girls

Beverage Ticker: 803.6 ounces (8845 Calories)
75 days, 97 games, 2 scrimmages added on
  • Pepsi: 252.9 ounces (3160 calories)
  • Coke: 164 ounces (1960 calories)
  • Dr. Pepper: 24 ounces (300 calories)
  • Sprite: 52 ounces (620 calories)
  • A&W Root Beer : 28.9 ounces (410 calories)
  • Mug Root Beer: 20 ounces (260 calories) 
  • Barq's Root Beer: 32 ounces (430 calories)
  • Red Gatorade/Powerade: 201.8 ounces (1425 calories)
Hot Dog Ticker: 13
Pizza Ticker: 8
Walking Taco Ticker: 6

Game Time:
Amusing listening to Cleveland head coach Dan Fredrickson as he sounds like Orono coach Barry Wohler on the sidelines.  Cleveland running Hope out of their own building early on.  Senior Jaiden Zishka goes over the 1000 career points mark as he's running for layups.  That's thanks to Hope turning it over vs a 2-3 zone trap.   Austin Plonsky also contributing to the early spurt.  Zishka finishes by converting 2 Lions turnovers into a 3 point play and another bucket.  33-11 Clippers at 6:51.  Hope counters with a 20-4 run over the last 5:20 of the half as they figure out the pressure.  Johnny Erickson 3 hoops and Ethan Reed 2 bombs in that run.  Cleveland lead is down to 42-36 at the half.

Cleveland right back to where they started.  Plonsky scores 7 straight Clippers points.  Mitch McCabe adds 2 bombs.  Zishka and Plonsky convert turnovers.  63-42 Cleveland inside of 12 minutes left.  Nate Elifson with a free throw and a blocked shot that turns into a Johnny Erickson layup.  Lead down to 15.  Zishka converts another turnover and runs for another layup.  72-52 Cleveland clipping along inside 7 minutes.  But they decide to play not to lose from there.  The Lions pounce.  Reed for 2 and Elifson with a 3 point play on a turnover.  Reed from deep.  Lead down to 12 with 5 minutes left as Cleveland takes time.  Elifson another 3 point play and a drive then a triple a couple of possessions later.  Zishka scores with 1:13 left to break the scoreless streak and extend the lead to 6.  Reed with another trey and the lead is down to 3.  Then a turnover that he turns into 1-2 free throws with 36 ticks left.  Another Cleveland turnover and its the lefty Erickson finishing on a right side drive with 13 seconds left to tie it. 

Cleveland takes time at halfcourt and almost turns it over getting it in.  Then another struggle to maintain possession and they save possession via a timeout with 6 seconds left.  They inbound to the corner and a last attempt is no good.  The buzzer sounds but the officials correctly decide to put 1 second back on the clock.  Everybody is thinking free basketball but Johnny Erickson catches from just beyond halfcourt and his heave is off the glass and good!  Here's Ryan James' video of the game winner.  Hope Academy wins in a miraculous finish 77-74.  They outscore Cleveland 25-2 in the final 6:30 after trailing by 20. Biggest margin was 22 in the 1st half.

Post Game
Jaiden Zishka and his outstanding hair lead Cleveland with 28 points.  Austin Plonsky with 3 triples and 19 points.  Mitch McCabe with 4 triples for 12 points.  All of this playing without star Carter Kopet who's out with a knee injury.  The passive play down the stretch killed the Clippers.  When they were aggressive and running, they got out to the big lead.  When it got to the halfcourt, it was trouble with turnovers particularly late.   The #8A Clippers fall to 18-1 overall, 10-0 in the Valley Conference.  They have a big game next Friday at #9A Spring Grove.

Hope Academy improves to 14-4 overall, 5-3 in the top division of the TCAC.  4 starters score all but 1 3 point basket for the Lions.  Nate Elifson and Ethan Reed with 23 points each to lead Hope.  Elifson with 11 of those in the final run . He had a handful of blocks in the game as well.  Reed with 9 in that run.  Johnny Erickson with the final 5 of that run to end a night that had been quiet for him with 18 points.  Joey Erickson chips in with 10.  They have road games at St. Paul Prep/HSRA and Prairie Seeds Academy next week after a quick turnaround game vs International School.  A win over Prairie Seeds and a PSA win over Cristo Rey would give them a tie for 2nd in the division with PSA assuming all else holds.  If PSA runs the table in league they can share with Cristo Rey.

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