2018 4AA Semifinals

Since I was told concessions were supplied, I had to make the trip to St. Paul Washington for the 4AA semifinals.  For the record, the concessions were wonderful.  A shoutout for the great hospitality.  I saw a couple of games early in section 4AA play but none of these teams.

Game 1: 1 Minnehaha vs 4 Trinity
Terry Lockett out of the Minnehaha lineup.  He's replaced by frosh Chet Holmgren.  Trinity incredibly patient with their possessions and taking care of the ball for the most part.  But if you could draw up a more poorly played half for Minnehaha, I'd like to see it.  Ben Maslow 2 3s and its 8-5 Trinity at the 12:47 mark.  Jalen Suggs to Prince Aligbe for 3 to tie before the offenses go really quiet.  10-8 Trinity at 11:24.  Suggs sits with his 2nd foul and Minnehaha goes 1-3-1 to try and up their energy level.  Trinity goes scoreless for 7 minutes with that lead but when its broken they go up 12-10 at the 4:21 mark.  4 straight Trinity turnovers change the momentum.  Suggs with 2 hoops but then a technical for his 3rd foul late in the half.  The Redhawks still manage a 13-4 run over the last 3:25 for a 23-17 lead.

They'll quickly stretch that lead to 27-17 with Suggs on the bench to start the 2nd half.  But Trinity   rallies with a 10-2 run.  Oliver Waldron with a nice up and under move for a 3 point play and a Aaron Wessel triple in the run.  29-27 Minnehaha with 12:40 left and they take timeout.  Suggs with a steal for a dunk countered by another Masek hoop.  That would be the end of Trinity's scoring for the night with 11:05 left.  Suggs again, Bickham with a putback and then a kickout to Kaden Johnson for 3. Then its Suggs on the break with an angry dunk and Bickham in the post again.  Etc etc etc.  Trinity can't throw it in the ocean and its a runaway.  Minnehaha scores the last 31 points of the game in the last 10:55.  That takes a 2 point game to a 62-29 Minnehaha win.  Jalen Suggs 14 points and 5 steals.  JaVonni Bickham 14 points.  Aaron Wessel 7 for Trinity.  Minnehaha finally woke up but everything that could go wrong in the 1st half did.  Missing bunnies, silly fouls, silly gambling on defense etc etc.

Game 2: 3 New Life Academy vs 7 St. Paul Academy
St. Paul Academy coming in on a 9 game winning streak including a win over New Life so this looked very interesting.  But speaking of difficult offense, SPA couldn't get anything to go their way early on.  In the 1st 14+, they get a turnover for a layup and an offensive rebound bucket.  That's it.  I liked the idea of the packed in flat 3-2 zone.  Mark Rygh with a couple of 3s against that early on.  Big man Zach Thor's hammer strikes from 3 as well as the Eagles build a 20-4 lead.  The SPA offense would finally come to life and they pull to within 25-13 at the break.

Post Ryan Moore productive for SPA out of the Princeton Offense.  His early bucket cuts the margin to 10.  But then the Spartans miss a layup on a turnover and Rygh turns that into a 3 point play on the other end and then cuts vs the zone for another bucket.  So instead of being single digits, New Life has the lead back to 30-15 with 12:33 left.  Moore puts back his own miss and adds 2 free throws as SPA tries to stay close.  Thor's hammer strikes again from deep, Rygh with 2 more free throws and Drew Wynia's 1st hoop of the night.  Gus Grunau 4 straight but SPA has to extend down 14 inside of 10 left.  It gets out of hand from there and New Life wins 58-30.  Mark Rygh with 18 points to lead the Eagles in the victory.  Zach Thor adds 12.  Gus Grunau 11, Ryan Moore 10 for SPA.  SPA was patient and ran some solid Princeton stuff but they weren't going to get much inside against the New Life size. 

The section final is Friday at Washington.  Maranatha forced New Life to turn it over a truckload in the MCAA championship game and it became blowout material.  This Minnehaha roster is like that only on steroids (figuratively, that's not a cheap shot people).  Plus Minnehaha really likes to gamble for steals.  New Life's size can bother JaVonni Bickham inside where he can struggle to finish against fellow bigs his size.  Plus the bigs are mobile enough to not be totally mismatched when he steps away.  Minnehaha is a heavy favorite if they come to play.  But tonight for almost 3/4 of the game they didn't.  That's the big wildcard.

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