A dynamic duo of section semifinals

What a day on the schedule with the 2AAAA semis in the afternoon.  That followed by the 4AAAA semis at night.  On paper this promised to be big time games and they did not disappoint.  Excellent crowds on the whole.  Plenty of miles to go and plenty of Pepsi to drink.  Let's get to the details.

2AAAA: 1 Eden Prairie vs 4 Chaska
Quick 6-0 start for Eden Prairie thanks to a turnover and blocked shot.  Chaska with a timeout 1:02 into the game after that.  They respond with an 11-2 run.  Connor Christensen with a pair of 3s and a jumper, Austin Andrews 4 late FTs for a 38-30 EP lead at the break.  The 2nd half was a defensive struggle.  Both teams cranked it up on that end.  But in particular it was the Eden Prairie defense that held Chaska to 4 2nd half field goals.  Eden Prairie would pull alway thanks to that and win 67-48.  Great balance for Eden Prairie with 5 of their 6 scorers in double figures,  Kyler Kluge leads with 16 points.  Cole Nicholson 15 points and Parker Bjorklund 13 points to lead Chaska but they didn't get any help.

2AAAA: 2 Prior Lake vs 3 Edina
Edina would use an early 13-2 run to take a 17-9 lead.  Jacob Hutson doing work inside with 9 early points.  Dawson Garcia with 3 FTs and a triple as he was the only major 1st half offense for Prior Lake.  Jack Middleton with a couple of 3s in the half and 10 points for a 30-21 Edina halftime lead.  Edina opens the half on a 9-0 run with 4 different players scoring.  Robert Jones stops that with an emphatic dunk but the Edina lead is 16.  Jones with 2 more buckets as Garcia has to sit with 4 fouls at the 10:53 mark.  Jones 3 more hoops in a 12-2 Prior Lake run after the lead got to 20.  55-45 Edina with 5 minutes left.  Then its Sam Nissen and Brandon Collins for 3 and the Lakers are within 57-51 with 3 minutes left.  That's a 20-6 run for Prior Lake.  But Edina's guards too good with a lead late.  Middleton with a layup and 3 free throws to push the lead back to double digits.  8-8 Edina FTs in the last 1:15 seal it.  Edina advances with a 70-62 win.  They'll play at Eden Prairie on Friday.  They lost at EP 72-63 in the regular season.  Jack Middleton 23 points for Edina.  Jacob Hutson 13 of his 19 in the 1st half.  Anders Nelson 10 of his 15 in the 2nd half.  Dawson Garcia with 13 points and 11 boards on my sheet.  Robert Jones 13 points, 10 boards and 5 blocks unofficially.  He was passive offensively in the 1st half but transformed to be a force in the 2nd half.  After pounding Edina inside in the 1st meeting, I was surprised at the lack of post touches or a post plan for Prior Lake.  Edina fantastic job of spreading the floor and moving the ball for great looks.  That was in spite of not wanting to challenge the bigs at the rim.

4AAAA: 3 Woodbury vs 2 East Ridge
This was the best game of the day with no team up by more than 6 during the game.  No DJ Fleming for Woodbury or Kendall Brown for East Ridge.  Michael Jones sets the tone with the 1st 12 for Woodbury.  Courtney Brown counters that with 8 early points of his own.  But its the role guys who score the points in a 10-0 run for a 18-12 Woodbury lead inside the 8 minute mark.  Woodbury not guarding the 2 starting defenders for East Ridge making offense really hard to come by.  So Patrick Lynott comes off the Raptors bench and hits a 3.  That helps rally East Ridge but they still trail 23-21 at the half.

TJ Kelly with 3 early buckets.  Ben Carlson with a triple, a FT and putback for a 35-31 East Ridge lead at 10:34.  Momentum shift immediately killed by a Jones 3 point play before you can blink.  Carlson and Brown buckets for a 39-34 East Ridge lead with under 9 left.  Timeout Woodbury to regroup.  Jones to the rack for 2 and then an NBA 3.  East Ridge misses after a timeout and Jones isn't giving it up.  He feels it and buries a cold blooded 3.  44-39 Woodbury with 5:10 left and their crowd erupts after the 10-0 run.  East Ridge counters with their own 9-0 run with a scoop for 2 and 2 FTs from Brown. 48-44 East Ridge with 1:44 left and that 2nd possession hurdle looks huge.  Jones scores and then East Ridge turns it over 3 straight times.  Jones makes a free throw on 1 and Woodbury converts another one.  Woodbury has it down 1 with 24.1 left and Jones can't get his attempt to go.  Carlson makes 1 of 2 FTs with 15.3 left and Woodbury has 1 last chance.  Its Jones attacking and he's fouled with 1.1 left down 2.  He steps up and makes the 1st.  But the 2nd is no good.  East Ridge wins 49-48.  Michael Jones fantastic with 31 points for Woodbury.  Knowing his clutch play, its hard to fathom that he would miss 2 late free throws and a shot to tie in the last 1:06.  But he left it all out there and that's something you have to respect.  Ben Carlson with 18 and Courtney Brown 17 for East Ridge.

4AAAA: 4 North St. Paul  vs 1 Cretin-Derham Hall
CDH jumps out to a 14-2 lead with Daniel Oturu dominating inside.  But its not blowout city.  North St. Paul comes back with an 11-1 run.  Goodnews Kpegeol a 3 and a 2 in that run.  Dajuan Carter off the NSP bench with a steal for 2 and another bucket . Kpegeol scores on a lob to tie the game at 23.  CDH goes to the break with a 29-25 lead.  Oturu continues his great play in the 2nd half.  He puts in an inbound lob.  Blocks a shot on 1 end, grabs it and then scores in the post on the other end.  Ryan Larson for 2, Jaeden King for 3 and Oturu with a steal that he converts.  53-38 CDH pulling away inside 10:30 to play.  Oturu dunks a miss and converts a high low feed for 2 more.  61-44 inside 7.  No danger the rest of the way.  CDH wins 77-63.  Daniel Oturu with a monster performance and the numbers show it.  He ends up on my sheet with 30 points, 19 rebounds and gets the 10th block late for a triple double.  Ryan Larson with a solid night of 18 points.  Jacob Prince with his usual lunch pail performance and he ends up with 14.  Goodnews Kpegeol with 17 points to lead North St. Paul.  Dajuan Carter with 15 points off the Polars bench.  He'll be a major key for the Polars next season.

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