Monday night NWS Madness

Monday is usually a quiet day especially in February but its a full slate of  7 league games in the Northwest Suburban.  I watched Blaine at Park Center in person and then a late night snack of #1 Champlin Park at #2 Maple Grove.  Here are some rapid fire thoughts from both games.

Park Center 72 Blaine 64
  • No Byrun Bynum for Blaine was a big missing piece for them.  Add in some Sam Gerrity foul trouble and that caused the Bengals grief all night.
  • Good battle inside between Blaine senior Tim Leo and Park Center freshman Dain Dainja.  Dainja with 5 1st half hoops, 3 via pretty footwork, 1 via offensive rebound and 1 on a lefty post finish.  Leo would counter with 12 in the 2nd half including a pretty pivot around Dainja and reverse finish on the other side.
  • Idaho commit Losini Kamara didn't start and didn't score in the 1st half.  But he was pivotal late.  Blaine went on an 18-4 run to cut a 16 point lead to 2 with under 8 minutes left.  But Kamara would score 12 points and add an assist on a 3 in the next 3:30 to push the lead back to double figures.  He adds 4 free throws late to lead all scorers with 16 points.
  • Great balance from Park Center as Dainja scores 15, Jarius Cook with 4 triples and 15 points.  
  • Jet's pizza isn't a bad thing, I like the individual boxes.  Rocky Rococo's is right up the street though.  The Rocky's Sausage and Mushroom, high quality and a Wisconsin institution.
#1AAAA Champlin Park 70 #2AAAA Maple Grove 60
  • I was very surprised that Champlin Park put McKinley Wright on Brad Davison.  I thought using DJ Hunter or Marcus would have made far more sense.  Keep McKinley fresh and out of foul trouble.  Neither of those became an issue though.
  • I feel about Champlin Park's zones much like Kevin Garnett feels about a certain Craig Sager suit.  Burn it, burn it to a crisp, burn the ashes.  It is mystifying how many times the Rebels are in total control and they change to a zone just because they can.   The 2-3 zone kept Maple Grove in it late and the 1-3-1 wasn't much better.  But more disturbing is that they were completely and totally unnecessary.  They have proven they are good enough to play with and beat anybody with their man defense.  Why change if not needed?
  • Theo John was a major difference.  His shotblocking kept Maple Grove from attacking on 1 end (more on that to follow).  On offense, you could throw it to him and he had a least a couple of nice feeds from there that turned into points.  That passing is an area where he's gotten much much better.
  • Maple Grove settled for way too many jump shots.  Davison and Pickford were very effective when they attacked but didn't do it nearly enough.  Davison in the post was also effective but after a 1st half score, we never saw it again.
  • Maple Grove's stars need help.  Pickford and Davison had 75% of their scoring and nobody else had more than 4 points.  That won't be good enough to win the big prize.
  • Transition defense also a problem for Maple Grove.  Champlin Park turned those jump shots into run outs for easy buckets, especially in the 1st half.
  • The battle for Mr Basketball was definitely apparent.  I thought Brad Davison pressed too much.  McKinley Wright definitely looked to score more than he did in the Hopkins game.  Wright definitely takes the lead on my ballot.  But Davison still has a fantastic resume should anything change.  Big night tonight vs Eden Prairie in 2OT from Nate Reuvers (and he has a critical rematch vs Apple Valley) to stay in the discussion.

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