Woodbury wins New Year's Eve Showdown

It's another New Year's Eve game on my schedule.  That allows me to take the last post of this year and refer to the 1st post of this year (about last year's New Year's Eve game).  A short day trip to Roseville in good weather was much more relaxing than the long trip in a blizzard to the Corn Palace last year.  I skimp on the concessions with only a beverage.  Since it was the only game in the state today, almost every Suburban East and section 4A coach in the building.  It was alumni day too.  All in all a very nice crowd of students and adults on hand.  I've been slacking on songs of the day but a good one from yesterday.

Song of the Day
Run This Town - Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West

Game Time
Connor McKeen working inside for Woodbury inside early but the Royals still trail 15-12 at the 11:16 mark.  Then the shooters get it going, that's Mack Johnson for Roseville and Renard Suggs for Woodbury.  Suggs for 2 and knocks down his 1st 3.  Johnson hangs and gets banged for a 3 point play, buries a 3 and a layup for a personal 8-2 run.  26-19 Roseville at the 7:09 mark.  Ricky Suggs converts a turnover into a layup and Renard buries 3s around that.  Then Renard with the heat check for an NBA 3 for an 11-0 Woodbury run.  30-26 Woodbury at the 5:10 mark.  They stretch the lead to 6 but Johnson buries a couple of 3s and a jumper in a 12-2 run over the last 2 minutes of the half for 43-39 Roseville lead at halftime.

Roseville gets the first bucket of the half for a 14-2 run but Woodbury has their own run.  Renard Suggs still hot with yet another 3, McKeen with a drive for 2, Ricky Suggs drives and goes to the reverse layup after a Renard Suggs block.  The run is 10-0 to force a Roseville timeout.  48-45 Woodbury lead with 14:26 to play.  Renard Suggs another 3, a free throw and finds post Benjamin Rexroth for a layup.  McKeen takes a steal the other way for 2.  58-50 Woodbury with 11:40 left.  Robert Claypool for 3, Renard Suggs for 3, McKeen gets the kind bounce for 3 and Ryan Fritze for 3.  72-60 Woodbury with 6:33 left.  Mack Johnson with a 3 and a jumper in that wave of 3s to keep Roseville close.  McKeen on the post, frosh Kobe Critchley counters for 3, Ricky Suggs with a putback and Tyler Graves for 3.  79-65 Woodbury with 3:50 to go.  Woodbury goes on to win 89-75.

Post Game
For Roseville, Mackenzie Johnson leads the way with 29 and 4 3s.  20 of his points in the first half.  Emeche Wells with 15.  Jordan Burich with 3 big blocks in the game and gives them good energy.  The Raiders fall to 5-2 (other loss was a close home loss to #2AAA Washburn).  They continue Suburban East play on the road at Mounds View and Cretin-Derham Hall this week.

For Woodbury, Renard Suggs with 7 3s and 33 points in a flammable performance.  20 of those points in the first half.  Roseville didn't do a good job of finding him.  Connor McKeen with 20 (I had 23).  Ricky Suggs and Ryan Fritze 10 each (I had 7 for Fritze so a 3 got swapped somewhere).  Woodbury knocks down 12 3s from 5 players.  This squad doesn't have any major inside presence but they have shooters and are mobile.  The Royals improve to 6-2 and 2-0 in the Suburban East with wins over 2 of the big contenders (a home blowout of CDH is the other league win).

2011 Best Buy Holiday Classic Championships

To Augsburg for the title games in the Best Buy Holiday Classic.  I arrive for the end of Durango (Las Vegas, NV) taking out Minneapolis Henry for 7th place.  I pass on the pizza which was a mistake because I ended up with cold Dominos later.  Auggie star Anthony Humphrey getting it done on the public address.  OK but not great crowds for the games.

5th Place: #9AAAA Minnetonka vs Duluth East
East PG Taylor Stafford with a huge tournament of 39 and 40 points in the 1st 2 games (top 2 scoring performances in tourney history).  He gets off to a quick start nails a pair of 3s and a nice coast to coast reverse layup for 10 quick points.  Latrell Love 8 points all inside as East has no answer for him down low.  16-15 East at the 11:30 mark.  Love mysteriously gets lots of rest the remainder of the half but Riley Dearring picks up the slack.  He scores in the post, drives the left baseline for 2 more and a nice give and go for a bucket.  That keeps pace with Stafford's big half.  32 all with 4:15 left.  Stafford with an assist for a layup to end the half.  43-38 East at the half, Stafford with 20.

Andrew Turnblad with a nice spurt midway thru the half  He jumps on the offensive glass for 2 free throws and a putback and then scores inside.  53-49 Tonka with 11:20 to play.  Stafford with another bomb to tie the game at 55 before Tonka goes on a run.  Joe Risinger cuts for 2 and runs out for 2 free throws.  Love inside for 2 and finds Dearring for a layup to conclude an 8-0 run.  Stafford with a pair of freebies, a drive for 2 and a putback.  Then a tough 2 to tie the game at 65 inside of 5 to play.  Dearring with a putback and after a Stafford turnover he feeds Turnblad for a layup.  72-67 Tonka with 3:04 left as East takes a timeout to slow the momentum.  A pair of Greyhounds free throws and Stafford goes coast to coast for 2 more.  72-71 Tonka with 2:22 left.  Another Stafford turnover and Tonka holds for a Malcolm Moore layup with 1:15 left.  Stafford a miss outside of 1 minute to play and Tonka will hold.  Tommy McDermott makes 6-6 FTs in the last 50.3 to seal it.  Minnetonka wins 80-73.  Riley Dearring and Latrell Love with 19 each.  Tommy McDermott with 17.  Taylor Stafford with 35 points to lead the Greyhounds.  He sets a tourney scoring record with 114 points (38 a game).  The 8-2 Skippers host Holy Family before playing #2AA Pelican Rapids in the Timberwolves Shootout next Saturday.  Duluth East falls to 2-6 without star Johnny Woodard.  They also play at the Timberwolves Shootout next week vs Rice Lake, WI.

3rd Place: Chanhassen vs Henry Sibley
This is a rematch of opening Friday where Chanhassen won at home 76-69.  Sibley made the game after knocking off Minnetonka 65-63 in the first round.  Sibley starts out with a Dante Grant layup off THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE.  Adam Huessner adds his 2nd bucket on a nice inbounds cut.  12-9 Chanhassen at the 13:15 mark.  But Sibley would only score 1 more field goal the rest of the half.  Sibley goes ice cold and Chanhassen goes to white hot levels.  PG Brandon Arnold hustles behind a break for a putback and a steal for 2, Steven Gitzen for 3, Cole Otto from Arnold for a layup, Arnold to Joey Stark for 3, Otto for 3.  The run is 30-8 over the last 13 minutes.  42-17 Storm at the half and they roll to a 66-43 win.  Chanhassen led by 14 from Joey Stark.  They improve to 7-3 while Sibley falls to 4-5.

Championship: #2AAAA Hopkins vs St. Paul Johnson
Waylon Johnson with a pair of FTs at the 14:09 mark for a 8-6 Johnson lead.  Zach Stahl then starts to have impact.  He scores in the post and a gets a dunk.  He adds another bucket on a steal.  Johnson star Marcus Marshall keeping the Govs close with a jumper inside the 10 minute mark.  17-15 Hopkins at 9:50.  Waylon Johnson with 2 more inside hoops.  26-22 Hopkins at the 5:45 mark  Stahl with 2 more buckets.  Siyani Chambers for 3.  Hopkins 40-32 at the half.

The second half is all Hopkins.  Nick Jorgenson for 3.  Stahl inside out to Siyani Chambers for 3 and Chambers tacks on another bomb.  Jamal Davis to the basket followed by a Stahl 3.  Chambers with 2 free throws, Stahl 3 of 4 before 2 more freebies from Chambers.  61-40 Hopkins with 13:50 to play.  Demetrius Martin for 2 and then 3.  Chambers for 3 again.  Marshall with a pair of tough 3s as he tried to carry the Johnson offense.  A Johnson turnover and Chambers finds Stahl for a 3 point play. Chambers to Jorgenson for a layup, Martin with a layup.  77-50 with 10:30 to play and the rout is on.  Johnson keeps it from running time but this one is way over.  Hopkins wins the title 100-72.  Zach Stahl 28 points, Siyani Chambers 23.  Marcus Marshall 24 for the Governors.  Hopkins now 9-1 and play Sioux City East in the Timberwolves Shootout.  Johnson falls to 4-3 and they're off until a Saturday trip to Faribault.  They'll rematch with Hopkins in the East Metro Showcase in 3 weeks.

All Tournament Team
Zach Stahl - Hopkins (MVP)
Demetrius Martin - Hopkins
Siyani Chambers - HopkinsTaylor Stafford - Duluth East
Darius Watson - St. Paul Johnson
Marcus Marshall - St. Paul Johnson

Rebelling against a star

To Bethel for the 2nd half of their annual tournament(s).  This is year 30 but the 2nd year of the 4 day, 2 groups of 4 setup that isn't anything like the bigtime 8 team tourney this used to be.  This group of 4 is Centennial, Hutchinson, Champlin Park and Robbinsdale Cooper.  I'm here to get another look at Cooper star Rashad Vaughn.  No concessions except Mug Root Beer for me tonight as I was able to make a quick pit stop at The Czar's Palace before running out for the evening.  Iowa St had an assistant arrive for the early game way before tip and then was joined by another assistant and The Mayor himself, head coach Fred Hoiberg for the late game.

Game 1: Centennial vs Hutchinson
Jared Nelson bombing away with 4 3s in the first 8 minutes as Centennial opens up a 24-15 lead at the 10:23 mark.  Alex Aalfs knocks down a pair of 3s for Hutchinson to keep them around but Mitchell Kuck also has a big half.  38-27 Centennial at the half.  A pair of 3s from Hutch and a layup cut the Centennial lead to 41-35 with 14:21 to play.  Nelson still white hot.  He pulls for 3 and then another bomb but the lead is only 10.  Then Dan Becken runs out for a 2 handed stuff, Kuck with a layup and Becken on the post for 2 more.  56-41 Centennial with 8:25 left.  Hutch would get 6 in a row to cut the lead to 60-52 with 4:38 left.  But Centennial would close it out for a 71-53 win.  Jared Nelson 7 3s and a total of 23 points.  Mitchell Kuck with 15 of his 26 in the first half.

Game 2: Robbinsdale Cooper vs Champlin Park
Rashad Vaughn starts the game with a dunk but his half is quiet.  Only 2 other buckets are bunnies.  Cooper opens a 17-12 lead just inside the 9 minute mark.  Champlin Park claws back to 25-22 down at the half and then score the first 5 of the 2nd half for a 27-25 lead.  All of those by Anthony Hill thanks to a 3 point play and tough finish for 2 more.  Vaughn then starts to heat up.  He dishes for a layup and knocks down a 3 to reclaim the lead.  Ian Smith counters with 2 and then a bomb.  Vaughn slapped on the elbow on a jumper for 2 free throws to slow the momentum. Hill another tough finish, this time lefty.  Vaughn then pulls up and buries a 3.  36-35 Champlin Park with 13:29 to play.  They add 6 in a row out of the timeout with Matt Juneau on the offensive glass and another Hill foray to the basket.  Vaughn pulls up for a long 2.  Smith with 2 more and Juneau steps into a foul line jumper trailing the play.  46-37 Rebels open it up with 9:25 left.  Juneau then with back to back buckets inside countered by 4 from Vaughn.  Time is short though as Cooper takes timeout down 50-43 with 6:50 left.  The Rebels don't help themselves as they miss back to back front ends.  That allows Cooper to score 5 in a row to cut the lead to 2 on an Eric Brown 3 with 5:30 to play.  Champlin Park gets 2 offensive rebounds but it becomes a turnover that Cooper doesn't get points out of.  Juneau makes both ends at the 4:35 mark to break the drought of 3:40.  Vaughn with a putback and then 2 more FT misses from the Rebels.  The Hawks can't capitalize on that either as Vaughn misses.  Juneau with 2 more freebies with 2:45 left to push the lead back to 55-50.  Vaughn finds Brown for an open 3 with 1:55 left but its no good (a shot he made vs DLS).  Rebels hold and make 1 free throw.  Then Cooper comes up empty on 2 FTs just inside a minute to play.  The rest is free throws and rushed shots.  Champlin Park wins 62-52.  Anthony Hill leads Champlin Park with 20 and Matt Juneau with 14.  Most of those points came in the 2nd half when both came up big.  Hill getting to the basic and Juneau on the glass and bullying his way inside.  Though he did have a couple of kick it out moments rather than go up against Vaughn inside.  Rashad Vaughn was the only Hawks player in double figures.  His official line, 22 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks (0 turnovers too).  8-24 FGs with 2-9 from 3 and 4-4 at the foul line.  Champlin Park goes 13-23 from the foul line in the 2nd half (14-27 for the game) compared to 4-7 for Cooper (5-8 overall).  Most of the other stats are pretty even.  The win is big for Champlin Park as they get the head-head nod in the section 5AAAA seedings and finally get a quality win for their resume.  Champlin Park vs Centennial in a NW Suburban clash for the title, Hutchinson vs Cooper for 3rd place.

Blowouts at 2011 Catholic Spirit

To the University of St. Thomas for day 1 of the 2011 Catholic Spirit Tournament.  The $7 admission fee in effect because I didn't check early and its a charity event.  I get it but its a total bunch of nonsense.  No Passes does NOT apply to media (East Metro Showcase this goes for you too charging media for the program, not cool).  We're working and supporting your event.  I've gone to that tournament for years with no issue and now this.  Needless to say I expect to boycott this tournament next season.  Hot Dog with the bad split bun but very good dog makes up for it.  Cans of beverage instead of the fountain plastic cups is an upgrade too.  No leaks in the roof so we're ready to go.  Holy Angels blew out Southwest in the opening game.

Game 2: Wayzata vs Totino-Grace
I arrive midway through the first half (actually working my day job this week for the first time in years so no holiday day games for me this season).  Zach Robertson buries a 3 for a 20-5 lead midway through the half.  TG fights back but a late technical (cheap in my opinion but ref has known quickest trigger around and TG coach was on him for multiple possessions) allows Wayzata to push the margin to 32-15 at the half.  The 2nd half is even worse as we quickly get to running time.  69-28 is your final.  TG with no offense.  Chad Potas goes for 21 for Wayzata.

Game 3: Providence vs Hill-Murray
The beginning is a turnover fest for Providence thanks to a 1-3-1 3/4 trap.  7-0 Hill-Murray at the first Providence timeout (14:30).  Its 12-0 when Providence finally gets on the board.  22-4 Pioneers at the 9:40 mark. Providence would fight back with Nick Schmitz stepping back for 3 to start a run.  He ends the run by banking in a 3 and being fouled and then trip to the bank.  19-8 Providence spurt cuts the lead to 8 at the 3:40 mark.  A Pioneers 3, followed by a Providence turnover.  Cullen Ogren misses the dunk on the break but eventually gets it back for a 3 point play.  18-3 Pioneers run to finish the half for a 49-26 halftime lead.  Dave Simmet scores 12 points in the first 5:18 of the second half and the starters are done for the night.  Hill-Murray wins 80-53.  Cullen Ogren 17 all in first half and inside, Dave Simmet 12 of his 14 in the 2nd half.  4 triples from Ryan Buron in the first half for 12.  Nick Schmitz scores 17 with a pair of 3s to lead Providence.

Game 4: Cretin-Derham Hall vs St. Agnes
CDH in the traditional late game.  No Teddy Chapman for the Raiders as he's out with a broken ankle.  But CDH hopes to have Taylor Montero back within a couple of weeks which will be a big boost.  Frosh Sam Neumann with 3 quick 3s and an assist for a layup to big brother CJ.  That helps CDH jump out to a 18-9 lead at the 12:33 mark.  The lead extends to 17 thanks to a 6 point spurt.  St. Agnes would get no closer than 13 after that.  20 point game in the 2nd half when Dakari Davison misses a breakaway dunk only to see CJ Neumann come back and dunk on somebody on the other end.  The second half is ugly but CDH isn't threatened as they win 81-55.  Cortez Tillman 17 points, Sam Neumann 6 3s for 19.  CJ Neumann with 19 and 9 boards for CDH.  Dakari Davison leads St. Agnes with 18.

Day 2 games are Southwest vs Totino-Grace and Providence vs St. Agnes in the consolation bracket.  Wayzata vs Holy Angels in 1 semifinal and CDH vs Hill-Murray in the late semifinal.

2011 EP Tourney Day 1

Off to Eden Prairie for the semifinals of their tournament.  A pair of concession stands in play.  Including 1 with big slices of pizza, very nice.  OK crowds on hand as well.  Eden Prairie students in blaze orange but no Mike Grant to come down on the illegal thundersticks.  Fortunately they didn't get out of hand, though there were some Skittles that ended up on the playing floor.  Tsk Tsk!

Game 1: #1AAA Benilde St. Margaret's vs Waconia
Isaiah Gray continuing his quality play for the Red Knights.  His bucket and 3 assists for layups help BSM jump out to a 16-8 lead at the 11:15 mark.  Sanjay Lumpkin finishes that spurt with a 1 handed dunk on a nice pass from Gray.  Tommy Gove for 3 followed by Alex Chandler on the post.  Waconia only down 22-19 inside of 8 minutes left in the half.  Then Lumpkin to Isaiah Zierden for 3 and a Lumpkin drive.  Zierden a nice cut for a layup and a pair of free throws.  Lumpkin with a putback and the lead is back to double digits.  Gray on the North Carolina secondary break finds Lumpkin off the backscreen.  Then Zierden to Will Dunn for 3.  Zierden 2 free throws and Gray with another assist, this time to Zierden for 3.  45-30 BSM at the half.

Zierden with a drive and a post turnaround from Dunn.  53-34 Red Knights with 13:20 left.  Waconia cuts into the lead with an Alex Schmitt 3 point play and a nice spin from Josh Lenz.  Wylie Ferron converts a turnover into a layup.  BSM turns it over but Schmitt has an inbounds jumper go in and out.  Looks like a big miss as Lumpkin finds Breion Creer for a layup and then goes coast to coast for another easy bucket. to push the lead back to 18.  Alex Chandler inside out for 3 and a Gove steal for 2.  10:12 to go and BSM wants a timeout up 61-48.  That timeout turns out huge as the Red Knights respond with a 17-0 run and hold the Wildcats without a field goal for the next 6:10.  That run is a layup drill and a pair of nice plays from Zierden.  The lead balloons to 30 and BSM wins 86-63.

Waconia gets 13 from Alex Schmitt, 11 from Wylie Ferron and 10 from Matt Rachey.  BSM gets 28 points, 4 3s from Isaiah Zierden.  Sanjay Lumpkin with 18 of his 26 in the first half.  14 for Will Dunn.  Isaiah Gray 4 points but a handful of assists to go with them.

Game 2: Holy Family at #5AAAA Eden Prairie
The first half of this one was ugly.  EP would open up a 20-8 lead inside of the 8 minute mark.  Then see that cut to 9.  Soph wing Andre Wallace gets the rare opportunity for the 4 point play followed by a Sander Mohn 3 and 2 free throws to push the lead to 15.  Holy Family claws back late in the half thanks to senior guard Jake Dryer.  He makes a lefty runner and knocks down a 3 as the Fire cut the Eden Prairie lead to 34-24 at the half.  Holy Family tries to hang around but Wallace gets loose for 1-2 FTs and then on the break signs a poster with a big 1 handed dunk on the break.  50-32 with 10:29 left.  The lead quickly gets above 20 and EP coasts from there to a 72-51 win.  Jake Dryer 14 as the only double figure scorer for Holy Family . Andre Wallace with 17 to lead the Eagles.  He had 3 3s before I left (may have had another).  Scary with his athleticism if his jumper stays consistent.  Sander Mohn with 12 of his 14 in the first half with a pair of 3s.  Center Jordan Peterson 11 of his 13 in the 2nd half.

Storm rages over Cadets

I close out the pre-holiday portion of my season schedule with game 31 being my 1st ever trip to St. Thomas Academy (after 8 years, I finally get there, last non-charter school in the 494 loop on my list I think).  They took on Chanhassen and much to The Czar's dismay, no 9A game to see one of the kids who played on the 2015 team I helped coach this past spring.  Hot Dog and split bun get a D rating.  Sioux Falls, Concordia and a late appearance from MN Fury director Ben Davis among the dignitaries on hand.

Song of the Day
Riders on the Storm - The Doors

Game Time
Chanhassen goes to a set lob with Brandon Arnold up and over the D to Kevin Jensen for a dunk to start the game.  We'll draw that up below.  Sjoberg for 3, Jensen for 3 and backdoor for 2 more.  Sjoberg long distance 3, Jensen layup, Sjoberg to Harrison Patt for a layup and a Sjoberg jumper.  17-16 Cadets inside of 10 minute mark.  Arnold with the pretty bounce pass on the break to Jensen for a dunk.  Sjoberg on the post for 2 followed by a 3.  Jensen gets loose for a wide open 2 handed flush, another backcut for 2 and left all alone on a double team for an easy layup.  29-22 Storm open up the lead but Sjoberg knocks down back to back bombs followed by a John Gould 3.  9-0 run for the Cadets before Jensen steps off the left block on a drive and knocks down a wing 3.  32-31 Chanhassen at the break.  Sjoberg 19 points on 5 3s.  Jensen 3 dunks and 20 points.  41 of the 63 points in the game from those 2.

Sjoberg starts the second half with another 3 for a 34-32 Cadets lead.  Jensen gets knocked down and has to sit out for 2:34 early in the half.  Arnold comes up big with 3 assists for layups (1 for a 3 point play) in that stretch.  43-37 Chanhassen up with 14:04 left.  The same set that started the game is another dunk for Jensen from Arnold.  Arnold then for 3 followed by a Cole Otto 3 after a St. Thomas timeout.  51-39 Storm with 11:35 left after the 19-5 run.  11-2 over the last 2:30.  Arnold back to back assists for Joey Stark layups, then he hits frosh Joey Witthus for another easy bucket with 8 minutes left.  Sjoberg on the post for 2.  Arnold to Otto for another layup.  Sjoberg fades for 3, Arnold to Jack Kozlowski for a layup.  Gould with a jumper and 2 free throws and a pair of Sjoberg free throws.  66-56 Storm with 4:11 left.  Chanhassen finishes the game with another 11-2 spurt highlighted by Arnold to Jensen for a dunk.  Storm win 77-58.

Post Game
For St. Thomas Academy, Thomas Sjoberg 36 points with 8 triples.  12-25 FGs on my sheet.  Senior John Gould with 12 as the only other Cadet in double figures.  Cadets get a big game from Sjoberg but can't find enough firepower or stop easy buckets.  We'll see if teams really try to box and 1 Sjoberg or similar tactics to put stress on the rest of the Cadets offense during the rest of the season.  The Cadets fall to 2-3 and host St. Paul Central next Wednesday afternoon in a non-conference game.

For Chanhassen, Kevin Jensen scores 20 of his 31 in the first half.  He ends up with a handful of dunks (5) and I only had him missing 1 shot on my sheet.  Cole Otto with 16, Joey Stark with 12.  Brandon Arnold only 5 points but at least 11 assists (just counting the ones I mentioned here).  Great timing on passes and easy passes, nothing fancy, to get buckets.  Took good care of the ball too so an impressive performance from the senior point guard.  Chanhassen is now 5-2.  The 2 losses are close ones to Lakeville North where they had the lead (68-66 loss) and a 5 point OT loss at Buffalo.  They play next week at Augsburg in the Best Buy Holiday Classic.  Hopkins, Minnetonka and Johnson will get the publicity there, but don't sleep on the Storm.

Czar's Note 12/22/11: Post game reports show Arnold with 16 assists for the game.  

Play of the Day
Point guard Arnold starts on the left wing, big sets first ball screen and rolls toward rim, Jensen sets the 2nd ball screen right behind that (staggered) as he comes from the back side block.  Other 2 players space on opposite site.  1st screener instead of continuing his roll to block (where Jensen started) for post up opportunity, reverses and goes back high to set the back screen for Jensen going to the rim.

Metro Charter Showdown

The week of charter schools and mangy mascots continues as I take in FAIR at Prairie Seeds Academy battle in the Metro Charter Conference.  Another make your own walking taco night and very good again.  A very rare moment as both of The Coolest guys in the NSIC were in the building.  Deonte Blakemore in street clothes all night for FAIR, no JV or varsity from him tonight.

Song of the Day
Thriller - Michael Jackson

Game Time
FAIR off to a hot start thanks to Desmond Williams spinning inside for 2 on a putback, Darrion Scott with a putback and a inbounds postup and a Williams postup.  12-4 FAIR at the 13:05 mark.  Trent Pollard with a pair of bombs and a Troy May 3.  Add on a Devin Buckley 3 and a reverse layup.  18-14 Prairie Seeds at the 9:16 mark to force a FAIR timeout.  Its a 14-2 Lycans run in 4 minutes.  Scott with a pair of layups and a John Warren 3 and FAIR is back on top 29-25 with 5:11 left in the half.  Buckley beats the buzzer with another 3 and its 39-37 Prairie Seeds up at half.  7 triples from the Lycans in the half.

The second half is fireworks.  Buckley back to back 3s to start the half countered by a 9-0 FAIR run.  Then Pollard lights it up for PSA and Williams goes to work for FAIR.  Williams with a drive for 2 free throws with Pollard going crossover on the other end for 3.  Pollard driving on a right wing iso but Williams with a 3 point play to counter.  Buckley for 3 but Williams kicks out of the post to Akil England for 3.  Pollard to the rack for 2 more.  61-59 FAIR with 10:37 left, take a breath.

Pollard still going strong with a drive for 2 free throws, hangs and banks one home for 2 more and a jumper.  Williams with a drive for 2 and a pair of free throws.  Pollard shakes his guy for 2 more.  67 all with 9:05 left.  Scott on the post with a favorable matchup for 2.  Pollard counters with a free throw and another step back 3.  72 all with 7:20 left.  A turnover for 1 May layup and another easy 2.  Then Pollard with an assist for 3.  PSA opens it up to 79-73 with 4:45 left.  Scott to the rack and a late whistle after the ball doesn't go in (NBA pet peeve of mine) for 2 free throws.  PSA misses 2 FTs and Williams makes Gage Dies pay for gambling for a steal.  He goes 3/4 court for 2.  Off a Lycans turnover, England called for a controversial travel trying the fake the behind the back pass option on the break.  That wipes the layup off the board.  2:45 left FAIR down 80-77.  Williams spins on the post for 2 more and he earns a free throw off a PSA turnover.  80 all with 1:40 left.  Dies on the offensive glass with 1:10 left for a 82-80 PSA lead.  Scott with 2 free throws with 38.5 left to tie it.  Pollard look liked he walked but his bucket counts with 24.5 to play.  FAIR almost turns it over (maybe a carry) but gets a timeout with 15.1 left.

A great SLOB set out of the timeout gets Williams on the left block (best spot).  We'll draw that up below.  He turns left and gets into the middle of the lane and gets mauled on a jump hook but no call.  Lycans go the other way and are fouled.  Prairie Seeds misses the front end and its tipped out of bounds with 6.4 to play.  FAIR ball down 2.  2nd pass up the floor is tipped but ends up in England's hands.  He drives and gets fouled with 0.8 left.  The first is pure.  2nd is up and short, bounces to the back rim and just rolls off the front iron.  But wait, its a lane violation on PSA, we'll shoot it again.  2nd one is up and short right.  Prairie Seeds wins 84-83 to take control of the Metro Charter race.  A good test for both teams as this was arguably the best opponent each has faced so far this season.

Post Game
For FAIR, Desmond Williams scores 31 points, 19 in the 2nd half.  He thoroughly outplayed PSA star center Gage Dies.  Williams is excessively right hand dominate but works hard and gets good position.  He's having a huge year for FAIR (see also North game) and a great compliment to wing Darrion Scott.  Speaking of Scott he finishes with 19 points and 9 rebounds.  FAIR falls to 4-1, 1-1 in the Metro Charter.  They play in the Trinity holiday tournament next week.

For Prairie Seeds, they get 31 from point guard Trent Pollard with 4 3s.  23 of those points in the last 14:10 (all his 2nd half points).  Devin Buckley 21 points on 6 3s.  Lycans get a total of 13 3s in the game.  Gage Dies finishes with 6 points and 11 rebounds.  They're quick and will spread and kick for 3s with enough shooting to hurt you with those.  Lycans improve to 7-0 and have 3 very winnable games coming up in January before a trip to Washburn.

Play of the Day
Ball is out of bounds on offense's left side at the 28 foot marker.  Best wing (Darrion Scott) on the left block.  Best post in the left corner (Desmond Williams).  Guard at midcourt close to the ball.  Other guard is opposite side of the court on the wing.  Floor is spread.  Simple down screen by Williams for Scott.  Williams pins after the screen and Scott dumps it in to him.  Williams can then go middle to his right hand with the help too far away to get there and you can't leave the guy in the corner, especially in a 2 point game.

Red Knights don't let down

As many of you know, I'm not a big fan of seeing a team back to back or a ton of times in short succession.  However, karma interferes by deciding to make one of its every so often appearances.  That means that instead of Eastview at Spring Lake Park (which was a 20 point game), I end up seeing the boys girls doubledip of Minnetonka at Benilde-St. Margaret's.  Minnetonka girls take a 7 point 2nd half lead after Mrs Dasovich chews out an official and gets a call on the other end (well done).  But they can't finish it and Benilde comes away with a hard fought home win.  Would that be an omen for the boys game?  St. Thomas, River Falls (both talked to Isaiah Gray after the game), Sioux Falls and St. Olaf in the building for the game.  As to music, I've been remiss in selecting songs of the day lately so we'll give you a flurry of them tonight.  That includes a repeat of last year's BSM at Minnetonka song selection.

Song(s) of the day or week
I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - traditional (for the Dasovich clan)
Shine (aka Heaven let your light shine down) - Collective Soul (for Saturday's game at Concordia)
Toad - Cream (Ginger Baker with one of the great drum solos of all time in tribute to the MTS drum line).

Game Time
Minnetonka starts out in some kind of funky junk defense.  I know coach Dasovich won't let me hear the end of it but I never did figure out what it was for sure (I'm saying triangle and 2 or stick and 3).  Benilde carves it up to the tune of a 9-2 lead.  Will Dunn with a jumper and then out of a momentum killer timeout Isaiah Zierden finds him for a layup.  19-6 BSM in control.  Then Latrell Love starts to get some touches.  A 3 point play on the offensive glass.  Then Riley Dearring with a block of Zierden that leads to 2 from Danny Burger.  Love with a jumper and a finish on a nice screen and roll with Tommy McDermott.  Still 25-15 BSM at the 6:20 mark as Sanjay Lumpkin would score a couple of inside buckets in that stretch.  Riley Dearring gets a matchup with Isaiah Gray on the post and scores.  McDermott for 3 trailing the break and steps right into it (one of the prettier shots in basketball).  A turnover for a Love layup and another Dearring bucket.  McDermott with a pullup and drive for a lefty finish to put Tonka up 28-27.  That's a 13-2 run over 5:30.  But Zierden would make a late NBA 3 for a 30-28 BSM lead at the half.

Love with an early post bucket and 2 free throws.  McDermott with another drive and a Love putback.  42-39 Tonka ahead with 11 minutes to play.  Then Breion Creer comes off the BSM bench to guard Love.  He pays dividends on offense too converting a 3 point play on a nice wrap around pass from Sanjay Lumpkin.  Dunn with a drive and a Lumpkin putback in a 7-0 run that has Tonka reeling.  Then Isaiah Gray with 1 bucket and after Lumpkin gets 2 straight helpside blocks on Love, Gray goes to the reverse at the other end to spark the crowd.  50-44 BSM with 8:48 left, the run is 11-2 in just over 2 minutes and Minnetonka takes a much needed timeout. 

Creer with a putback at 6:20 and a pair of Zierden free throws.  58-50 BSM with 5:52 to go and Creer comes out to a well-deserved ovation from the crowd.  Lumpkin with a putback, Dunn with a short jumper and then offensive board for a 3 point play.  65-54 BSM with 3:41 to play.  Minnetonka not quite done.  McDermott pulls up for 3.  Then Malcolm Moore with back to back layups on turnovers including nice hustle and pass from McDermott.  65-61 BSM only by 4 with 2:15 left.  Gray scores but Dearring drains a 3 off an offensive rebound kickout (those always seem to go in don't they?)  Gray misses a front end of the 1 and 1 but McDermott's scoop at the other end is no good.  After Gray comes back with 1 free throw, McDermott has a great look at a 3 spin around and out.  Love grabs the miss and makes 2 freebies with 15 seconds left.  Zierden doubled on the inbounds after a timeout so Lumpkin makes the catch and 2 free throws.  70-66 BSM with 14 ticks remaining.  Malcolmn Moore with a tip at the 5 second mark, Zierden makes 1 of 2 with 3 seconds left.  McDermott takes the rebound to halfcourt and his 3 is off the back iron and no good.  #1AAA Benilde-St. Margaret's hangs on 71-68 over #9AAAA Minnetonka.

Post Game
For Minnetonka, Latrell Love leads the way with 20 points and 7 rebounds.  Tommy McDermott 18 points, Riley Dearring with 15.  I don't see enough junk defense so I liked what Tonka came out in.  That said, I thought we'd see far more of their post sets, especially in the first half.  They had favorable matchups with Dearring and Love in the post.  I thought they could have exploited those matchups more.  All of that knowing that size is the achilles heel for BSM (see Eastview game which I know the Tonka staff had to see some of).  I thought that allowed BSM to save Lumpkin as they kept him off of Love.  On the other end, Minnetonka won't be happy with the rebounding numbers as they should have dominated the backboards with their size and didn't.  Skippers suffer their first loss of the season to fall to 6-1.  They play next at the Best Buy Holiday Classic next week.

For Benilde-St. Margaret's, 4 of their 5 scorers end up in double figures.  Sanjay Lumpkin and Isaiah Gray both with 18. Gray continues to play extremely well for the Red Knights.  He was a matchup that was advantageous on the offensive end.  Will Dunn 16 points and 9 boards.  Isaiah Zierden held to 12 points as Tonka did a nice job on him.  They weren't as physical with him as Eastview was but then again who will be?  But my MVP of the game goes to Breion Creer and his 7 points.  Latrell Love goes the last 11 minutes without a field goal and Creer's bulk and toughness was the main reason why.  It took a while for coach John Moore to hit on that matchup but once he did he stuck with it.  The Red Knights improve to 4-1.  They host section rival (and also undefeated) Holy Angels on Thursday.  Then they're in the loaded Eden Prairie holiday tournament.

Class A champs battle

A quiet night on the schedule but there's always a game somewhere.  Tonight's its a matchup of the last 2 champions in class A with defending champion Springfield visiting 2010 champ Minnesota Transitions.  These teams are very different than a year ago with no 6'8 mountain Tyler Marz (now at Wisconsin for FB) for Springfield and the end of the Noreen era at MTS.  No concessions tonight but no mangy wolf either.  We do get a mini performance from a smaller MTS drum line and step crew.

Game Time
A pair of 3s from MTS gets them off to a 10-2 lead just 2:15 into the game.  Springfield would get their bearings and counter with a 11-3 run to tie the game at 13 at the 12:55 mark.  Another Tyler Davis 3 concludes a 7-0 MTS run but they can't convert 2 turnovers that would have extended the lead further.  MTS center taking up space and getting rebounds but he goes to the bench at the 7:18 mark.  Springfield would score the next 6 points.  Soph Willie Parrish bangs in a pair of 3s to keep MTS ahead 26-21 with 2 minutes left in the half.  Springfield would finish the half strong with a 8-2 run to take the lead 29-28 at the half.  Springfield 11-11 FTs in the half, MTS with 6 3s.

The Wolves own mountain, Tevin Sims, promptly scores on the post to start the 2nd half before Springfield runs off the next 11 points.  Alex Fink, who played more minutes in the state championship game for Springfield than any other Tiger, getting it done with a layup, a nice spin and another layup in the run.  40-30 Tigers with 13:35 left.  Parrish with 2 more threes as MTS hangs around but junior Isaac Kirschstein has the answers with 2 3s of his own.  A Kirschstein layup followed by a nice lob pass from Fink that he finishes.  Fink adds on 2 to keep Springfield ahead 54-44 with 8:55 to play.  David Wallendorf got off to a 1-10 start before knocking down back to back 3s to cut the lead to 4 inside of 8 to play.  Kirschstein with another layup.  Then Fink with a pullup jumper, putback and tough driving fade on the left baseline to withstand another Wallendorf 3.  62-53 Springfield with 5:30 left.  Tyler Davis for 3 countered by a Kirschstein 3. Nate Wilkins for 3 countered by 2 Fink free throws.  That keeps the lead at 10 with 1:15 to play.  Free throws seal it as Springfield gets a 76-66 road win.

Post Game
For Minnesota Transitions, David Wallendorf 19 points (8 in the last 1:05) with 4 3s on 7-23 shooting.  Tevin Sims with a double double of 12 points and 18 rebounds.  Soph Willie Parrish 15 points on 4 3s.  MTS with 9 3s on the night.  On the defensive end, good passing from Springfield to get plenty of easy buckets.  MTS falls to 2-5 on the season.

Springfield has now won 3 in a row to improve to 3-3.  They're in the middle of a stretch where they play 8 of 9 on the road.  The Tigers get 24 points from Alex Fink and 21 on 3 3s from Isaac Kirschstein.  35 of those 45 points coming in the 2nd half.  21-25 from the charity stripe for the Tigers compared to 5-14 for MTS.

Voyaging across the Tri-Metro

Concordia Beacon
With no tournaments or special events on this Saturday, my day consisted of visiting a pair of Tri-Metro buildings.  First it was a 1/3rd pound hot dog and 24 oz Coke for a very reasonable $3.25 at Concordia.  Best of all, I got a chance to see one of the 2015 kids that was on the team this spring that I helped coach.  Then off to Minnehaha for a boys/girls doubleheader.  I didn't get the chili there which is a major mistake (my apologies to the concession stand for that oversight).  The Czar's not a desert guy, after all why have desert when you can have 2nds and 3rds of meat and potatoes instead?  but I was told in the post game that the warm chocolate chip cookies were absolutely outstanding.  3 for a buck very worthwhile.

Game 1: Trinity at Concordia
Both teams coming off on wins last night and having the quick turnaround.  The Beacons still without their star forward Cutler Finneman (hasn't played all year).  Trinity star guard Tony Kuplic with outstanding blue glitter shoes but didn't look 100% in warmups.  Don't know if it affected him today or not.  Neither team filling it up in the first half.  Kuplic 1-14 shooting with 4 points but Trinity only down 20-16 at the break.  Concordia opens up the lead to 7 before Kuplic gets 2 buckets in a row to end an 8-0 run.  26-25 Tri-Hawks inside of 13 to play.  Then leading scorer Josh Falk gets going for the Beacons.  A 3 point play, offensive board for 1 free throw, assist to Jared Schneidermann for a layup.  Kuplic scores inside before Falk with a pretty give and go for a layup.  Kuplic with the running lefty bank, Falk with 2 free throws.  43-31 Concordia inside of 6.  Frosh Jon Lotti (great goggles) nice cut for a layup cuts the lead to 10 inside of 5 to play.  Then Falk with a 3 point play followed by David Paulson with another 3 point play to push the lead to 16.  Concordia wins 57-42.  Josh Falk leads the Beacons with 14 points and all were in the 2nd half.  Zach Osmundson all 9 of his in the 1st half.  Concordia won't be happy with 11 missed free throws in the 2nd half.  Concordia improves to 3-2 with the win.  They play at North Branch (who's having a really rough season) on Tuesday before making the trip north for the tough St. Cloud Cathedral holiday tournament.  Trinity falls to 1-2.  Tony Kuplic 15 points and 5 rebounds.  I had him shooting 5-26.  Trinity is off until they host their holiday tournament with Minnehaha and Bethlehem Academy as notables attending.

Game 2: #10AAA DeLaSalle at Minnehaha
A long day with all the boys and girls games at Minnehaha today.  In the main course, we're tied at 13 at the 10 minute mark.  Then Reid Travis with a putback and 2 free throws to end a 6-0 run.  Minnehaha would counter with the next 9 in just 2:10.  The run ends with a pretty hang and finish for a 3 point play from Redhawks star Gerald McCarver.  22-19 Minnehaha with 6:44 left in the half.  They wouldn't score again the rest of the half.  Jarvis Johnson with back to back 3s.  Travis inside for 2 and then adds on a 3 point play.  Tyler Moore with a putback to just beat the halftime buzzer.  The 13-0 DLS run puts the Islanders up 32-22 at half.

McCarver with an NBA 3 to cut the lead to 6.  Shawn Fitzgibbons starts a hot half with a pullup countered by McCarver going glass.  Then Johnson (after his 3rd 3 earlier in the half) with a pretty no look feed to Travis for a layup.  Fitzgibbons on the baseline hits the jumper and fouled.  Tyler Moore for 3 and the lead is 48-33 with 11:50 to play.  Travis with 2 more buckets and the lead balloons to 57-37 with 9:16 to play after a 24-10 spurt.  McCarver with a big half, a pair of 3s helps cut the lead to 15.  Fitzgibbons runs out for a layup and nails a 3 and another layup to push the lead back to 23.  DeLaSalle wins 80-59.

Shawn Fitzgibbons with all 19 of his points in the 2nd half.  He's showing that light up the scoreboard ability I didn't see last year but did when he was a freshman.  Reid Travis a quality outing with a double double of 19 and 13.  Jarvis Johnson with 11.  The Islanders improve to 4-1.  They have their alumni game on Dec 23rd before a trip to the Mike Miller Classic at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.  Minnehaha gets 27 points and 7 rebounds from Gerald McCarver, 19 points in the 2nd half.  Redhawks with 5 of their 7 rotation players juniors including McCarver so keep an eye on them later in the year and in 2012-13.  They suffer their 1st loss to fall to 4-1.  Next up is the Trinity tournament where they have to be favorite.  They lost in the championship game last year to East Ridge.

Knighting a number 1

To the Haben Center at Benilde-St. Margaret's as the #1AAA Red Knights host #1AAAA Hopkins.  Thankfully the concessions are ready early in anticipation of a full house.  Pepsi, never bad.  Hot dog gets a B-.  The Red Knights students are as good as any and they didn't disappoint.  From starting cheers before warmups began to the entire student section leading the national anthem to "I Believe" at the end, once again they are top shelf.  All the writers, Randy Shaver, and the Mr. Basketball committee all in attendance just to name a few.  Let's get to the action.

Game Time
Will Dunn runs out for a layup, Isaiah Zierden for an easy bucket and then Dunn assists Sanjay Lumpkin on another before scoring again. 8-0 BSM 4 minutes in.  Lumpkin sits with 2 fouls and that allows Hopkins to cut the lead to 16-14 at the 7:15 mark.  Demetrius Martin for 3 and Siyani Chambers with a steal for 2.  Then Nick Jorgenson drives for a 3 point play and a Martin steal for 2.  27-26 Hopkins with 4 minutes left in the half for their 1st lead.  Then Zierden gets going and BSM takes over the last 3:40.  Zierden's scoops at the hoop, Dunn for 3, Lumpkin to Isaiah Gray for a 3 point play.  Then a Lumpkin block leads to a Zierden 3.  Gray with a layup and Zierden dribbles out the last 45 seconds of the half before drilling a 3 at the horn.  43-31 BSM at the half.  Its a 17-4 run over the last 3:40 with Zierden scoring 8 of the points.

Dunn with 2 free throws and another Gray 3 point play.  50-37 BSM with 14:35 left for the biggest lead of the night.  You knew Hopkins had a run and here it comes.  Chambers for 3 off a skip pass and another bucket at 11:55.  54-47 BSM leads.  Zierden looks banged up and tired and he'll take a breather at the 10:03 mark.  Hopkins doesn't let up.  Martin with a 3 point play, Jake Wright for 3.  Then Martin with back to back buckets to cut the lead to 1.  58-57 BSM with the lead and they need a timeout with 8:25 to get Zierden back in the game.  A loose ball ends up in a Jamal Davis layup and a Chambers steal and layup gives Hopkins the lead back 61-60 with 7:05 left.  Its a 24-10 Hopkins run over 7:30.

Then we go back and forth.  Gray to Lumpkin for a layup countered by a Martin jumper.  Zierden twice on the offensive glass and makes 2 free throws.  Andre McDonald counters that with his own putback.  He then draws the 4th foul on Lumpkin with 4:46 left and Hopkins up 65-64.  Lumpkin sits (how long?) and McDonald misses the front end while Siyani Chambers surprisingly goes to the bench for a breather.  Hopkins gets the offensive board on the free throw but can't convert.  Gray finds Breion Creen for another layup to put BSM back on top.  Hopkins takes time with 3:50 left to get Chambers back in the game.  Lumpkin still sitting.  Hopkins had a dunk or layup for Andre McDonald on an inbounds but couldn't convert.  Then Hopkins misses a front end but the stoppage gets Lumpkin back in at the 3:10 mark.  Dunn escapes a double team near halfcourt and goes to the rack for a controversial goaltend call with 2:31 left.  68-65 BSM.  Martin counters but then its Lumpkin to Dunn for another bunny with 1:52 left.  Chambers 2 FTs as he was held on the inbounds.  Both students sections go to the I Believe chant 70-69 BSM leading.  Zierden dribbles out some of the clock and Lumpkin finds him for a layup with 55 seconds left.  Chambers 2 more freebies with 45 seconds left.  72-71 BSM.  Zierden dribbles out 30 seconds before Hopkins finally has to foul him.  Hopkins tries to ice him with 14 seconds left but Zierden clutch as he makes both ends of the 1 and 1.  Hopkins back the other way, BSM switches out on a screen.  Chambers gets a clean right wing look at an NBA 3 with 5 seconds left but its off.  Dunn seals it with 2 free throws and BSM pulls off the big 76-71 upset.

Post Game
For Hopkins, Demetrius Martin leads with 22 points, Siyani Chambers 15 points and a real pest on defense as usual.  Give Hopkins credit for the comeback but once again not good in close games and not a real good look at the end.  Zach Stahl and his toughness rebounding and ability to score against a small BSM lineup was missed in this one.  Hopkins falls to 4-1.  They host Lakeville South and Bloomington Jefferson next week.

For Benilde-St. Margaret's, Sanjay Lumpkin leads with 22,8 and 3 assists on my sheet.  Isaiah Zierden 20 points.  Will Dunn 17, 4 and 4.  Isaiah Gray a major factor with 11 points and a bunch of assists giving the Red Knights something other than their big 3.  BSM with enough guard play to matchup with Hopkins and the lack of size wasn't a factor tonight.  BSM players in the lane all night and dishing for easy buckets.  Unlike the ton of 3s Eden Prairie hit last year to pull off the win, BSM only had 4 tonight and none in the last 17 minutes.  BSM improves to 3-1 and the only loss was a tough one 61-54 to likely new #1AAAA Eastview at the Tipoff Classic.  they have home games with upstarts Minnetonka and Holy Angels next week.  Those teams are a combined 8-0 right now.

Foraging at the Corral

To the Mustangs Corral (Maranatha) where the food is always outstanding.  The previously class A ranked Mustangs take on newly ranked #9AAAA Minnetonka in a non-conference tilt.  Who would have thought that a year ago or even at the start of this season?  I was surprised that there wasn't a better crowd on hand at one of more advantageous home courts you'll find in the metro.  But the concession stand not only had its usual pizza but also added Walking Tacos.  YES!  I like the implementation of just giving the meat and Doritos with the cheese, salsa, lettuce and sour cream on a separate bar for you to make yourself.  Outstanding!  I didn't add quite enough sour cream but after having to crush the Doritos myself (grr!, that's rule 1 people and the 2nd time that's happen this season) it turned out to be well worth it.  Add in the reasonable price and the cut back to a 12 oz Gatorade, my dinner fully justified the $3.50 spent.

Game Time
No Josh Goldschmidt for Maranatha as he's still recovering from a football injury.  Minnetonka on the other hand gets Andrew Grosz and Tommy McDermott back.  Both came off the bench.  Minnetonka gets a 3 point play from Riley Dearring to take a 5-3 lead and Maranatha wants a quick timeout.  After the Mustangs tie it, Latrell Love comes off the bench (didn't start 1st half) for 8 points all in the paint.  That's all part of a 17-4 Minnetonka run over 4:50.  22-11 Skippers at the 7:40 mark of the first half.  A pretty zone possession as the ball goes top to middle to left wing to short corner to Turnblad for an easy layup.  Those are Tonka's only points against the zone in a 7-2 MCA run that cuts the lead to 24-16 at the 3:47 mark.  Tonka takes time to settle down.  MCA would get no closer.  A skip finds Joe Risinger for 3 out of the timeout.  After a Jamey Hammond 3, Tonka would get the last 4 of the half for a 31-19 lead.  They would pour it on in the 2nd half.  Risinger for 3.  Love and Dearring run out for layups.  McDermott to the rack for the lefty finish.  Love at the high post with the pretty dump down for a layup.  A pair of turnovers for Malcolm Moore layups.  49-21 Tonka leads with 9:39 left.  22-2 run over 10:16 and the only MCA points in the run are a pair of FTs from frosh Jeremiah Hanson (yes another member of the Hanson clan for the Mustangs).  Total FG drought is almost 12 minutes at that point.  That's all I can stand to watch.  The rest is garbage time.  Minnetonka wins 73-42.

Post Game
For Maranatha, Isaiah Hanson with 10 of his 14 in the first half.  Jamey Hammond 8 of his 9 in the first half.  The Mustangs fall to 2-3 but all 3 losses are to teams that were ranked at the time.  That's Duluth East, Minnetonka (both 4A) and currently ranked Dawson-Boyd last weekend.  MCA is off until playing Wadena-Deer Creek at the Fergus Falls holiday tournament on Dec 28th.  Then they jump head first into 12 straight MCAA games.

For Minnetonka, they end up with 4 players in double figures.  Latrell Love 15, Tommy McDermott 13, Joe Risinger 3 more 3s for 12, Riley Dearring 11.  Skippers just too physical with love inside and the guards too much pressure on the Maranatha guards.  Amazing to see how far Minnetonka has come on the defensive side of the ball from a year ago.  Minnetonka is now 5-0 with more wins than last year.  The next month's schedule is very tough though so that will give us a very good indication of where the Skippers truly rank.

Titans topple 60 Minutemen

Its another edition of equal time for the east half of the metro as I get another look at the St. Paul City vs ISD 622.  In this case, its St. Paul Central hosting Tartan.  Interesting experience at the pay window as I had to sign in for my media pass but somebody took their pen and after digging for mine (I always use pencils), come to find out its dried up.  Eventually I get signed in and in the door.  Thankfully there's more than water on the drink cart so my smuggling in beverages can wait.  Hot dog was hot off the press (obviously they knew when I was showing up) and a solid B on my scale.  Since we can't write a letter with no pen, we'll have to sing one.

Song of the Day
Plain White Tees - Hey There Delilah

Game Time
Xavier Hall with 3 straight layups early as Tartan jumped out to an 8-2 lead at the 15 minute mark.  They'd extend that lead to 16-8 on an inbounds layup by 6'8 soph Brody Jackson.  Then Central goes to more pressure and Montrell Williams converts a pair of turnovers into layups.  Junior center Malik Durant-Haines with back to back buckets in the post.  That cuts the Tartan lead to 20-16 with 7:50 to play in the half.  Tartan would counter with a 9-2 run thanks to 5 from Mike Hudspeth.  29-18 Titans inside of 4 minutes left in the half.   32-25 Tartan at the break.  2 players from each with 8 points to lead their teams.

Durant-Haines showed early he was going to be a tough matchup for the mostly undersized Titans (outside of Jackson).  He starts the half with a bucket (and fouled), then 2 free throws off a well-executed screen and roll.  34-29 Tartan with 16:31 to play.  Then Kharie Kirkland ignites a run.  He makes a pair of free throws, then a drive to the rack and a great hustle play to grab a loose ball which nets Hall an easy layup much to the delight of the Tartan coaching staff.  40-29 Tartan at the 14:45 mark.  Soph Markus Taylor-Knighten with a block for a Williams layup on the other end.  That's countered by Darrion Strong pulling up and using the window and a drive sandwiched around a putback by frosh Marshawn Wilson.  50-35 Tartan with 9:25 to go and they appear to be pulling away.

Taylor-Knighten in the post for 2 followed by a pair of easy buckets.  Then Williams with a 3 point play and a layup on a turnover.  Tartan needs a timeout with 7:19 left.  The run isn't quite over as its Williams again, this time on the offensive board for 2 after a wild scramble.  That ignites the crowd and he finishes the run with a layup on another Tartan turnover.  Central crowd really in to it after the 15-2 run over 3 minutes.  52-50 Tartan with 6:20 to play and we have a ballgame.  Durant-Haines with a block on 1 end but Central can't convert.  Central forces a turnover and Williams get stuffed on the dunk attempt, holy cow.  Tartan finally a stretch of only 1 bucket in 4:30 with a Jackson putback.  Taylor-Knighten counters with a pretty spin inside for 2.  Then a Hall drive and nice lefty finish inside and Kirkland turns a turnover into a layup.  60-52 with 2:30 left and it must be over now.

Darius Campbell with a right baseline drive and finger roll.  Strong counters with 2 free throws on what look like an awfully clean block by Durant-Haines.  He'd get a layup along with 2 free throws as Tartan on back to back possessions missed a layup and a bonus front end.  Durant-Haines again inside with 18.7 left and Central is only down 2.  Kirkland would make 2 free throws and a Williams charge the other way would seal it.  Same official had called everything a block all night but I think he got that one right.  Tartan hangs on for a 64-60 road win.

Post Game
For Central, center Malik Durant-Haines leads the way with 20 points.  Have to say he's the best post player in the St. Paul City conference.  He got touches, but would have liked to see even more run for him for post looks.  Tartan had to play Brady Jackson lots of minutes to try and matchup with his size.  Montrell Williams with 11 of his 17 in the 2nd half.  Soph star Markus Taylor-Knighten 14 points and 7 boards on my sheet after missing his first 4 shots.  Minutemen fall to 0-3 with the loss in their home opener.  Difficult home games against Wayzata and Edina loom before the Catholic Spirit holiday tournament.

For Tartan, they improve to 2-1 and will host Holy Family next Tuesday.  Nice balance for the Titans with 16 from Darrion Strong.  14 each for Kharie Kirkland and Xavier Hall.  9 points from the big soph Brody Jackson while having to bang with Durant-Haines.  All 64 points on the board come from non-seniors and there were 3 underclassmen in the rotation.  They shot 9-34 from 3 vs Apple Valley last week.  Based on what I saw, this can be a streaky group from the arc.

Play of the Day
Interesting to see Central use a pet play that would be familiar to Titans fans.  If we go back to March of 2010 and look at the epic CDH vs Tartan section semifinal (read about it here), CDH used this same play for Seantrel Henderson on the final play.  Its a 1-4 high with the point guard entering to the wing and then clearing to the strong side corner.  Post screen across and it gets curled to the block.  Central got 1 easy bucket from Taylor-Knighten off of this and tried a couple of other times to get that look too.

Thoughts from Tipoff and Polar Classics

Its a busy 28 and a half hours filled with 9 games from the fringes of Siberia (North St. Paul, White Bear Lake is the real Siberia) to the vacation resort area on the other side of the kingdom (Minnetonka).  Solid pizza at North St. Paul and a first ever sighting of the Minnetonka Skippers mascot wasn't a bad thing.  2 games at North St. Paul Friday night and then I did webcast of all 7 games in the West gym at Minnetonka as part of the Breakdown Tipoff Classic on Saturday.  No trips to the concession stand or the other gym on Saturday.  Busy day with only 15 minute warmup periods.

Song of the Weekend:
Kansas - Carry On My Wayward Son.

5th Annual Polar Tip Off Classic
Game 1: Eagan vs Fridley
Fridley jumped out to a 12-2 lead thanks to their top player Nate Geving running off 7 quick points.  Eagan would get Shea Mandli going and counter with a 13-0 run to take the lead.  Soph guard Michael Murray would knock down back to back 3s as Fridley put up an 8-0 run.  23-17 Fridley 8:25 first half as Mandli was getting a rest. Mandli would come back in and Fridley's small lineup had no good answer.  38-37 Eagan at the half despite Fridley knocking down 7 3s.  Fridley would run a handback lob for Geving to start the half, then the drought began.  A 17-0 Eagan run over the next 4:10 would put the game away.  Eagan wins 83-70.  Nick Sabatke with 25 points and 7 rebounds, Shea Mandli with 25 and 13 for Eagan.  Nate Geving 27 points to lead Fridley.

Game 2: St. Paul Harding at North (St. Paul)
A fun first half to watch as Harding switched between triangle and 2 and 1-3-1 on the defensive end.  Then on offense they went with a very spread dribble drive motion.  A major point was that the Knights didn't have most of their kids looking for 3s out of it.  Their athletic wings would catch and then pass the ball back to the guards on top and reset.  So call it a slow DDM.  North struggled with defending the drive, specifically of David McClain.  That helped Harding jump out to a 28-19 lead at the half.  Then North defended the dribble better and Harding could find a way to score.  North opens the half on an 11-0 run over first 8:50 to regain the lead.  Harding would come back after 5 in a row from Korey Dean to trail 43-42 with 6:25 to play.  Then Hunter Books on the post, a Jacob Steckler layup (frosh starter) off great hustle from soph center Joe Messerole and 2 more buckets from Dean would be an 8-0 run over 3 minutes to put it away.  North wins 58-49.  David McClain 15 for Harding.  Hunter Books 19 and 8 to lead the Polars.  Korey Dean with 15 of his 18 in the second half to put the Polars over the top.

Breakdown Tipoff Classic
Game 1: #4AAA Rocori vs Roseville (click here for my webcast)
Remember Rocori is the 1 team I would actually pay to run the flex so no insults to the offense in this game.  Story of the game was Roseville's pressure defense.  The run and jump traps were just too much and allowed Roseville to end the first half on a 18-5 run over the last 6 minutes.  Roseville would cruise from the there to a surprising 77-52 blowout win.  Mack Johnson outstanding for the Raiders with 20 of his 29 in the first half.  Jonah Eisenschenk 19 of his 25 in the second half for Rocori despite foul trouble.

Game 2: #6AA Braham vs Orono (click here for my webcast)
A very even first half and Orono was able to only lose 2 points in the last 7:32 that Brady Wohler sat with 3 fouls.  Then in the 2nd half, Tyler Vaughan caught fire to break open the close game.  In a 14-2 run, he scores 10 points with an assist for 2 more.  That breaks the game open, 75-59 with 6:30 left.  Braham wins 85-75.  Brady Wohler 25 points for Orono, Anthonie Tholey 17.  Vaughan 28, 9 boards and 8 assists on my sheet.  The supporting cast of Anthony Bias, Shawn Hollenkamp and Sam Stigen came up big with 8 3s and 37 total points.  Cameron Braund 14 points inside.

Game 3: #10AAAA Prior Lake vs #3AAAA Osseo (click here for my webcast)
A very close game with Prior Lake getting a pair of Jack Harrison buckets and Carson Shanks scoring to open up a 47-38 lead with 11:30 left to play.  Osseo having no answers for the Prior Lake 2-3 zone.  Then DJ Hebert would go off for Osseo and the Orioles go on a 14-2 run over the next 9 minutes to take a 52-49 lead.  Osseo had a chance to extend the lead when Hebert was fouled on a 3 but only 1 free throw was good with 1:49 left, Osseo 55-51.  Jack Harrison would score on the post and a crazy pretty spin move from soph point guard Jon Sobaski with 55 seconds left would tie the game.  Osseo had the ball with a chance to win it but couldn't convert.

In the overtime, Hebert would make his 3rd 3 and Bridge Tusler with a 3 point play for a quick 6 point lead.  Sobaski with a pair of freebies countered by a Hebert putback.  Sobaski jumper countered by 1 Ian Theisen FT.  Then Sobaski to Will McPherson for 2.  Tusler counters that before Sobaski nails an NBA 3.  68-67 Osseo with 53.2 left. Prior Lake chooses not to foul and they force an Osseo timeout with 28.4 left.  Then Tusler gets trapped with 22.1 and travels giving the ball back to Prior Lake.  They can't convert but then the team missed front ends.  Hebert makes 2 free throws with 5 seconds left for a 3 point lead.  Prior Lake can't get a good look and Osseo hangs on for a tough 70-67 win in overtime.  Jon Sobaski 19 points, Jack Harrison 14, Matt Dysthe 14 (4 3s).  DJ Hebert 22 all after halftime (3 3s), Bridge Tusler 16 of his 21 after halftime.  In the big man matchup, Osseo's Ian Theisen 7 points (3-7 FG) and 9 rebounds and Prior Lake's Carson Shanks 6 points (3-14 FGs) and 5 rebounds.  Shanks got hit in the head during the overtime but was able to return.

Game 4: #1AAA Benilde-St. Margaret's vs Eastview (click here for my webcast)
Eastview played really physical defense on Isaiah Zierden with Chris Narum getting the initial task.  Zierden able to get loose in the half as Eastview ran into foul trouble.  Darin Haugh came up big with 3 3s in the first half.  1 of them giving Eastview a 7 point lead.  BSM would comeback from 22-15 down in the last 7:20 of the half to lead 31-28 at halftime.  Isaiah Gray would run off 8 points in the first 8 minutes of the second half for a 46-41 lead.  Eastview would counter with a 7-0 run ended by 2 Joey King inside buckets.  Then just outside of 5 minutes to go a critical moment.  A scrum ensues and in the scramble, Eastview picks up a technical.  After the officals get together, it becomes a double technical.  With just the 1 technical, BSM would have had 2 free throws plus the ball.  Instead, no free throws and Eastview retains the jump ball with a 50-48 lead.  Ben Oberfeld would convert a 3 point play and then Chris Narum with a huge 3 with 3:40 left to push the lead to 56-48.  Eastview wins 61-54.  Haugh with 22 (I had 19, I thought Narum hit that big 3 but could have been Haugh).  Joey King with 19 points, Ben Oberfeld with 11 and 10.  Isaiah Zierden 20 points to lead BSM.  Sanjay Lumpkin 12 points and 8 rebounds, Will Dunn 12 points.  Too much Eastview size and they did a nice job keeping Zierden from getting good looks on the sets BSM runs for him.

Game 5: #10AAA DeLaSalle vs Robbinsdale Cooper (click here for my webcast)
Rashad Vaughn off to a quick start in this one for Cooper.  He spins for 2, blocks a shot which leads to 2 more. Add in a 3 and a putback for 7 quick points.  11-6 Cooper at the 9:51 mark to force a DLS timeout.  Cooper extends the lead to 29-17 with a pair of Eric Brown triples with 4:50 left in the half.  Vaughn takes a rest and can't get back in the game as DLS goes on a 16-0 run to end the half.  33-29 DLS at half.  The Hawks don't get on the scoreboard again until a Vaughn 3 with 14:20 to play.  It ends up being 28-0 run across halftime in 8:10.  Vaughn's triple triggers a Cooper run.  He follows with a tough jumper.  Brown for 3 and a monster breakaway dunk on a Vaughn steal.  Vaughn finishes the run with another 3.  14-2 Cooper run in 3:20 gets the Hawks right back in the game.  DLS up 47-43 with 11 minutes to play.  DLS extends the lead back to 10 before Vaughn with a putback and a pullup to cut the lead to 6.  57-51 DLS with 5:20 left.  Leroy Taylor for 2, Vaughn with a dunk and draws a charge.  But DeLaSalle would still be able to maintain a 62-56 lead with 59.2 to play.  Cooper would score and force a turnover that led to a Vaughn 3 with 20 seconds to go.  62-61 DLS.  1 DLS free throw and Cooper couldn't score.  1 more free throw with 2.8 left and Vaughn's heave at the horn is no good.  DLS wins 64-61.  Rashad Vaughn outstanding in front of the Minnesota staff with 30 points and 10 boards.  Eric Brown with 16.  6 DLS players with 8 points or more.  Luke Scott 13 points, Reid Travis with 12 and 7 boards, Sean Fitzgibbons with 11.  Interesting that Vaughn played behind Travis most of the day but on post entries got tons of tips jumping around in front.

Game 6: #1AAAA Hopkins vs #4AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall (click here for my webcast)
CDH frosh Sam Neumann would nail 2 3s and get another bucket to keep CDH within 18-16 at the 8:30 mark of the first half.  Then 6 in a row (3 pt play and 3) from Andre McDonald as CDH PG Cortez Tillman had to sit with 3 fouls.  Another McDonald 3 plus a Siyani Chambers 3 allowed Hopkins to open a 35-26 halftime lead.  CJ Neumann would score 6 quick points for CDH to cut the lead to 38-32.  Then an 11-0 Hopkins run in the next minute finished by another McDonald 3 point play.  Royals roll from there to a 74-45 win.  Andre McDonald 16, Siyani Chambers 14 to lead Hopkins.  CJ Neumann 15 points and 7 rebounds and Sam Neumann 11 points (3 3s) to lead CDH.

Game 7: Buffalo at Minnetonka (click here for my webcast)
Buffalo would jump out to a 16-12 lead.  Then an 11-2 Skippers run finished by a Joe Risinger 3 at the 5:47 mark.  23-18 Minnetonka lead, but 3 3s from Buffalo would allow them to end the half on an 11-0 run.  6 3s in the half give the Bison a 29-23 lead at the break.  Buffalo's motion offense couldn't generate any points in the 2nd half as Minnetonka goes on a 22-4 spurt over the first 12:10 of the half.  The Skippers pound the ball into Latrell Love inside and he has a big 2nd half.  Minnetonka wins 57-45 (34-16 2nd half).  Latrell Love leads with 23 points, 17 in the 2nd half.  Joe Risinger 3 3s on his way to 12 points.  Peter Cassady leads Buffalo with 11 points, Ethan Freer with 10 for Buffalo.

We can play Angry Birds

Its my first trip to Coon Rapids and a quality evening.  Hot dog wasn't up to last night's standard but still average.  First root beer on my tally for the season.  Osseo opens their season in this one.  Coon Rapids on the other hand with a pair of blowout wins over Cambridge-Isanti and Big Lake (Big Lake let the game go from 4 down to 30 down without a timeout I'm told).  Late in warmups, the lights dim and here comes the Coon Rapids Cardinal comes out on a cushman (think mining cart).  My oh my does he look angry.  Great interaction with the fans all night.  Though his crown looked as much like a mohawk as anything else.  One of the best mascot performances I've seen in a long long time.  Music comes from the public address so you can make this your Night at the Roxbury.

Song of the Day
Haddaway - What is Love?

Game Time
Osseo jumps out 7-0 in the first 2 minutes.  Ian Theisen goes to the bench with 2 fouls at the 12:38 mark and that gives Coon Rapids opportunities to get the rim.  Edvonte Hibbler drive for 2 and then a 3.  11-10 Osseo at the 11:20 mark.  Hello Cardinal, how's your evening?  (Mascot meandering thru the crowd visiting).  Omat Okwan with a dunk to finish a 12-4 run for the first Cardinals lead, 12-11 at the 10 minute mark.  Neither team can break out the rest of the half.  Bridge Tusler all over people on defense to generate his own offense.  33-30 Orioles at the half.

Okwan with a pair of layups early in the half. Coon Rapids 36-35 lead with 15:05 to play.  Ian Theisen on the offensive glass for the 2nd time in the half and fouled for free throws.  That was after a Michael Brush putback.  Cal Bloom (a major revelation at the Tonka fall league) with a bunny inside and a drive.  Theisen off an inbounds pin and post.  Tusler finishes the 15-2 run with a layup.  50-38 Osseo with 8:55 left.  Theisen back on the offensive glass for 2 more free throws and he adds 2 for freebies to make the lead 14.  54-40 Orioles with 7:35 left.  EdVonte Hibbler with a layup to cut the lead to 56-48 with 4:35 left.  Theisen would hit 2 more free throws and score again on the post.  That puts the lead back to double digits.  Osseo wins 69-55.

Post Game
For Coon Rapids, they do end up with 4 guys in double figures.  Omot Okwan leads with 12, Edvonte Hibbler 11, Joe Churilla 11, EdDarie Hibbler 10.  No size really hurt the Cardinals in the 2nd half.  They have guards who are quick.  Cardinals fall to 2-1, 0-1 in NW Suburban play.  Irondale visits next Tuesday and then league play continues with a trip to upstart Elk River next Thursday.

For Osseo, they struggled in the season opener but got through it.  Michael Brush took advantage of looks to lead the Orioles with 16 points.  Bridge Tusler 14 points and 6 steals, most of that in the first half.  Ian Theisen with 11 points and 10 rebounds on my sheet.  Most of that in the 2nd half due to 1st half fouls.  He was too much for the small Cardinals lineup to handle on the offensive glass in that time.  DJ Hebert 12 points.  Osseo faces Prior Lake on Saturday in the Tipoff Classic.  Former summer teammates Ian Theisen and Carson Shanks the featured attraction in that game.  Osseo will likely throw a bunch of bodies at Jon Sobaski. Sounds like Will Johnson will be on a football visit this weekend and may not be available which is an important loss against Prior Lake's huge front line.

Millers tame Cougars

A quiet Wednesday on the schedule so I'm at Como Park to see them play #2AAA Washburn.  A quality hot dog which The Czar rates a solid B+.  Washburn brings their cheerleading squad which makes things deafening.  Washburn without point guard Nick Anderson.  Como Park has Johnson transfer Kendarius Latimore.  Song of the day has to temporarily revert to my era.

Song of the Day
John Cougar Mellencamp - Pink Houses

Game Time
Como Park comes out in a 2-3 and packs it in, refusing to come out to the arc.  Washburn's offense early on consists of a pair of powerful dunks and putback from Jerry Pratt.  8-7 Washburn at the 13:40 mark.  Washburn can't make a shot and they have no energy.  All 5 starters sit and Como goes on a 9-0 run.  Dwight Anderson makes his first 3 of the night before Keiron Sauer scores 4 in a row for Como.  20-11 Como Park and Anderson picks up his 2nd foul with 6:07 left.  That stoppage allows Como Park to take a Momentum Killer timeout after the 13-3 run.  Washburn would go to a full court press and get opportunity traps in their halfcourt man defense.  That forces 7 Como Park turnovers which put Washburn on a 19-5 run.  Add in Como Park sagging to the foul line in their zone and leaving Anderson with open stand still 3s from the top of the key which he buried.  Washburn 35-29 lead at the half.  Anderson with 16 in the half on 4 3s.

The pressure continues in the 2nd half leading to more easy points.  Como Park sags the 2-3 zone even further with the guards getting only 1 foot to the free throw line.  The half is mostly ugly and not much to see.  I leave just before the end with the game.  Washburn wins 72-56 and it should not have been that close.

Post Game
For Como Park, Andre Schowalter-Perry leads the way with 18 points.  Keiron Sauer with 12.  A very depleted squad who looks to be in a fight with Harding and Humboldt to stay out of the league cellar.  Very interesting strategy to pack the 2-3 in but not being prepared for Anderson's shooting is not acceptable.  Overall it was very effective for an undermanned squad.  The Cougars fall to 0-2 with the loss.  They have a week off before back to back games next Thursday and Friday at Henry and at Concordia.

For Washburn, Dwight Anderson tops all scorers with 21 points.  Jerry Pratt 3 big dunks in the game for 16 points.  Center Joseph Doby 8 points but a pair of 3s made up most of those points.  Washburn had another kid who I had with 3 3s in the 2nd half (#15 Corey Puterbaugh maybe?  PA guy said Smith, no idea who it was).  The Millers were very lethargic early and settled for way too many 3s against the zone.  But the defense forced turnovers and generated points.  The ability to get surprise traps out of their man to man was fun to watch.  The Millers get through the season opener and start their home schedule on Friday against Hill-Murray.  Hill-Murray played without center Dave Simmet at Holy Angels yesterday so unknown if he'll play Friday.

Czar's Note 12/7/11: #15 for Washburn was North transfer Charles Smith.

Blake makes statement

To a building that might be my least favorite in the metro as I visit Blake to see their Tri-Metro showdown with DeLaSalle.  If you read my weekly Preps column (and if not, shame on you) you'll know there were some good reasons to think an upset could happen.  Only candy at the concession stand but I know this from experience so I manage to wolf down some Arby's before my arrival.  Blake has repainted the floor and updated to some bright lighting so that helps a little but not much.  When I arrive I find Al Harris searching for the entry (which is very confusing) and thanks to all my winter gear I don't recognize him until we're inside.  HA!  So I think that adds up to today's music.

Song of the Day
Jay-Z - 99 Problems.

Game Time
If you arrived late for this one, you didn't miss much.  Blake goes 3-2 zone right from the opening tip and that takes the air out of everything.  Blake's 1st field goal comes at 14:20 for a 4-0 lead.  DLS goes the first 6:10 without a bucket before a James Lawson bucket in the lane.  Blake goes almost 6 minutes before their next field goal.  Timeout DeLaSalle at the 8:45 mark.  6-4 Blake lead and I think you could paint the floor again and watch it dry before these teams get to 60 points.  Reid Travis with his 3rd straight bucket on a short baseline pullup.  10-8 DLS at the 5:15 mark.  Blake would get the next 6 points ending with a Kebu Johnson bucket.  But then he would go to the bench with 2 fouls for the last 2:34.  Luke Scott heats up for DLS as he's finding openings on the wings against the zone.  His pair of triples in the last 3 minutes sends the game to halftime tied at 20.

Major gap in the Blake zone to start the 2nd half as they're running at Tyler Moore which leaves Scott open on the next pass.  That leads to another pair of Scott bombs.  26-22 Islanders with 16:05 left.  Then Paul Blake heats up for Blake (how fitting).  A jumper, a 3 off the world's most famous BLOB (inbounder comes back to corner for 3) and another 3 after a big Bears block on defense.  DLS turns it over for a free throw, then another block and Kebu Johnson turns that into a bucket (misses and 1 free throw). Timeout Islanders with 9:51 left.  34-28 Blake with the lead.  Then a great tweak by Blake coach Nick Rathmann in the timeout.  He flops spots to run his favorite set (more later on that) for Paul Blake and he buries the 3.  37-28 Bears with 9:20 left, wow.  Jarvis Johnson for 3 to keep DLS hanging around.  Blake timeout with 7:24 left up 6 and they show 1 possession of THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE (a Bears favorite but not tonight).  They turned it over on that possession, boo hoo.  But John Veil grabs a loose rebounds and takes it the distance for 2 and a Kebu Johnson free throw after another Islander turnover.  40-31 Bears with 4:37 left.

Jarvis Johnson buries another 3 but Veil with a nice cut and converts a floater to counter it.  Travis was quiet all half but his 3 point play with 3:47 left cuts the lead to 42-37.  Veil with 2 free throws with 1:45 left and the Blake students pull out the "I Believe" chant.  One of the few times you'll actually see it used properly.  Down 6 with a minute left, DLS would force a Kebu Johnson turnover but he would get a block on the other end.  Veil would make 3 of 4 FTs and that would be enough.  Blake pulls the upset over #5AAA DeLaSalle 50-44.

Post Game
For DeLaSalle, just no answers vs the 3-2 zone.  They did have some good looks that didn't fall but this young squad will learn to show more patience.  Reid Travis was effective inside in the first half, then didn't see the ball inside in the 2nd half.  Reid Travis and Luke Scott each with 15 points.  4 3s for Scott and 2 of his 3 free throws were when he was fouled on a 3.  Travis with 4 rebounds on my sheet.  Providence Academy comes to the island on Fri before the Islanders take on Rashad Vaughn and Cooper in the Tipoff Classic.  Cooper coach Dave Johnson was in the building tonight so expect some zone from the Hawks in that one.

For Blake, John Veil leads the way with 17 points, 11 of 12 from the charity stripe.  He did well not turning it over against the DLS pressure.  Paul Blake came up huge with 12 of his 16 in the 2nd half.  Kebu Johnson held to 7 points with 6 rebounds.  Credit the DLS defense.  Blake ran lots of ball screens (single or double) with Veil and Johnson and really didn't get much out of it against a hard showing defense.  Blake continues play with a rivalry game at Breck on Friday.  Tough followup game for the Bears but the rest of the month's schedule is favorable before a tough first half of January (though that is mostly at home).  They won't see DeLaSalle again until February 2nd.
Play of the Day
Blake ran this a ton, including for the huge Paul Blake 3 for the 9 point lead mid-second half.  We'll start in a horns set.  Kebu Johnson in right corner. Normally Veil will dribble handoff to Johnson who will then come off a high double ball screen set by the 2 posts.  Those posts will then pin down for Veil for a throwback 3.  The screeners continue to the block where the other corner (Blake usually) can come across the baseline off the double for another look.  For Paul Blake's big 3, they ran the handoff and throw back to him instead of Veil.  Great move to go to the hot guy, something most high school coaches don't do.

Falcons win section 4A clash

The first full week of the 2011-2012 season begins with a trip to Minneapolis North for their opener with FAIR.  A tumultuous offseason at North with a pair of coaching changes and the drop from section 6AAAA to 4A.  That leads to former coach Brett McNeal returning to the bench.  These teams both with athletes to make a run in section 4A.  No hotdogs so my options are candy (which I did last week) so I'll try the popcorn.  Healthy without the butter but not running back for more.  Really strange JV game where FAIR's Deonte Blakemore (formerly of Mpls Henry) goes nuts in the scorebook in the 2nd half.  He pulls up from halfcourt on not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 occasions.  He buries 1 and is fouled by the North 2-3 trap on another.  Over a point per possession which is outstanding.  He throws in a bunch of other really tough 3s during the half but North wins by 22.  Not a single word or movement from the coaching staff on all the tough shots, specifically the halfcourt ones.  Really makes you wonder what they're trying to accomplish.

Song of the Day
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy

Game Time
To the varsity game and North top player Jaylin Dubose picks up 2 quick fouls and sits the last 14:38 of the half.  Low scoring and even early.  Thanks to a triplicate of 3s, 13-8 North at the 9:17 mark.  Then FAIR goes to a 1-3-1 and North never did find an answer.  A 14-2 run culimating with Darrion Scott converting a turnover into a layup puts FAIR up 22-15 at the 4:25 mark.  That bucket would start a run of 10 straight points for Scott to end the half.  A late North 3 would keep them within 30-24 at halftime.

Scott comes out with the 1st 5 Falcons points of the second half for a total of 15 in a row. His 3 point play to end that personal spurt sends Dubose right back to the bench with his 3rd foul.  35-26 FAIR with 16:32 to play.  Lee Gaines would score back to back buckets to cut the lead to 7 before a 9-0 FAIR run pushes the lead to 16.  Dubose comes back in with 12:33 left just before John Warren ends the run off a double screen for a triple from the left corner.  Dubose makes a difference with a great block hustling back after a turnover and North hustles to track down the loose ball.  Out of a timeout, Dubose converts the effort into a 3.  He follows up with a steal for a free throw and an assist to Corey Jones.  Lead is cut to 10 and North switches from 2-3 to 3-2 zone and extends it to good effect.  Jones with a putback with 5:35 to cut the lead to 46-39.  That's a 9-2 North run.  Interestingly enough Dubose comes out with 5:03 left with North down 9and didn't return (don't think he fouled out).  Desmond Williams controls the paint down the stretch for FAIR with back to back layups and a pair of trips to the line (1-4 FTs though).  FAIR wins 54-45.

Post Game
For North, post Corey Jones leads the way with 14 points.  Lee Gaines 13 points.  Jaylin Dubose held to 6 with the foul trouble.  North was a very different team when he was on the floor.  He showed a real burst with the ball that FAIR didn't have a match for.  Add in the hustle and a full game from him would have been a difference.  North is off until next Friday when they travel to St. Paul Johnson.

For FAIR, Darrion Scott leads the way with 22 points on 9-24 shooting as his shot wasn't falling in the 2nd half.  But he's still their difference maker.  Desmond Williams very effective inside as he reached double figures with 12 or 13 points.  A definite presence for the Falcons down lown.  Akil England 15 points.  The 1-3-1 for the Falcons was the difference in the game as it generated offense.  The Falcons host St. Croix Prep in their Metro Charter Conference opener on Thursday.

2011-12 Opening Saturday

A busy opening Saturday of the 2011-12 season.  3 games on my schedule plus the 7 session round robin Jefferson scrimmage.  A good day for food as I had cheese pizza at Richfield and despite the bad traffic getting over to Hopkins for the other 2 games, I did manage to get another outstanding Walking Taco at Hopkins.  But the Doritos weren't smashed.  That's a very important step 1 that was overlooked.  The parking lot was packed at Hopkins so nice crowds but thanks to the media entrance being in the back I ended up walking all the way around the building in the snow.  At least I need the exercise.  I forgot song of the day yesterday so you get 2 songs today.  We'll go with the colors of the winners at Hopkins and an injury reference which will be explained later.

Songs of the Day
Eiffel 65 - Blue
Pat Benetar - Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Jefferson Scrimmage
Props to Tom Critchley for the scheduling.  7 teams on my court all played twice and no Jefferson.  That means I don't get to see Jefferson's unwatchable style, the pity.  That included Pelican Rapids, Grand Rapids, Marshall, Spring Lake Park, Eden Prairie, Roseville and Blaine.  Teams played 7 straight running time halves in a row (20 minutes each) so the play got more ragged as they went on.  Alex Illikainen played well for Grand Rapids and Austin Pohlen showed some flashes.  I liked Casey Bruggeman from Pelican Rapids as well.  Sean Scott lit up Roseville during their session.

Game 1: Waconia at Richfield
To start this one looked to be all Richfield.  Eric Jimson with a drive for a 3 point play.  Shawn Bear for 3 and Jared Noonan gets the bounce for another 3 point play.  Timeout Waconia.  Noonan with a tough shot for 2 more and Deshawn Jones with a steal for a dunk.  13-0 Richfield and another Waconia timeout.  Noonan to Jones for a layup and a Jimson putback.  19-4 Richfield at the 13:25 mark and the rout appears to be on.  But Waconia wakes up.  The rest of the half is all Wildcats as Alex Schmitt scores 14 in the half and Waconia leads 43-32 at half after a 39-13 run of their own.

Richfield greatly improves their defense in the second half and that leads to a run off of turnovers that forces a Waconia timeout.  Its a 10-0 Richfield run off of 4 straight Wildcat turnovers.  Noonan with a drive at 12:45 and Richfield takes the lead back 50-48 (18-5 Richfield spurt).  Waconia would see Wiley Ferron sit with 4 fouls and 7:50 left but they would still go on a 6-0 run to push the lead to 7.  Fast forward to 2:27 left 67-61 Waconia, Richfield ball and Noonan goes to the bench.  Waconia would miss a layup and 2 free throws to give Richfield a chance.  54 seconds left down 69-66 when Richfield takes timeout with the ball and here comes Noonan back into the game.  Richfield would get a layup and then force a turnover to get the ball back.  On the inbounds, a scrum ensues and Richfield gets another timeout with 28.5 seconds left.  In the process, Waconia's Josh Lenz would hit his chin on the floor and we have a long delay to get him stitched up right on the court.  He was also cut above the eye earlier in the game and was taped up.  Rough day but he was OK.  After the delay, Richfield's initial set would get them nothing.  Noonan got the ball back on top with 16 seconds left and called for a clearout.  He drove to the lane and went up and under, no good.  Lorenzo Evans with 1 tip, 2 tips and a 3rd tip just falls off the rim at the horn and Waconia wins 69-68. 

Waconia's guard duo gets it done with Alex Schmitt scoring 19 and Matt Rachey 18.  Schmitt is the only senior on the Wildcats roster.  Despite losing last year's guards and star Shelby Moats, the Wildcats appear to be a team that won't drop off much from last year's trip to the state semis.  Eric Jimson and Deshawn Jones 14 each for Richfield.  Jared Noonan 12 points, 4 boards, 3 assists on 4-15 shooting.  Deshawn Jones impressive getting after it and very athletic.  I didn't get the move to sit Noonan and then bring him back late.  If his play meant he needed to sit down 6, then why bring him back down 3 later?  Conversely, if he was important enough to have on the floor down 3 in the last minute, then why have him sit down 6 with 2:30 left?  That coaching move just didn't add up for me.  Seems to me you'd keep him in the entire way or sit him down the rest of the game.

Game 2: #1AAAA Hopkins vs #3AA Braham
Thanks to the injury, traffic and walking all the way around the building at Hopkins, I was looking forward to a relaxed game and Walking Taco.  But the girls tipoff classic was far enough behind that I made it in time for tip.  That's great but with another game, when can I do the Walking Taco?  Hopkins jumps out to an 18-3 lead as the defense is too much.  Braham would settle down and go on a 11-2 run of their own thanks to Sam Stigen knocking down a pair of 3s.  Cameron Braund gets loose inside and a Tyler Vaughan drive.  37-31 Hopkins with 4 minutes left in the half.  Hopkins would put this one away with a 26-4 run across halftime (including 15-0 to start 2nd half).  Tyler Vaughan would knock down 5 3s in the second half to make it interesting but that was after the big run.  Braham would get no closer than 14 the rest of the way.  102-67 Hopkins rolls.  Siyani Chambers 22 points for Hopkins.  Tyler Vaughan 27 points, Cameron Braund 15 points for Braham.  I did manage to get the Walking Taco in at halftime.

Game 3: Minnetonka vs Rogers
A depleted backcourt for Minnetonka as they played without Andrew Grosz (wrist injury) and Tommy McDermott.  The first half was a story of runs.  9-0 for Minnetonka for a quick 11-3 lead.  Joe Risinger's 2nd 3 would push the lead to 10 before a 11-2 Rogers run thanks to 6 from center Mike Schreiber.  25-24 Minnetonka at the 7:31 mark.  Minnetonka immediately countered with an 10-0 run.  Chase Cleveland outstanding off the Rogers bench.  His pair of 3 point plays cut the lead 4.  44-38 Minnetonka at half.

Schreiber still going inside as his 3 buckets allow Rogers to tie the game at 58.  Careino Gurley with a jumper and then forces a jump ball for Tonka as the Skippers getting the bench to give them plays.  Risinger would add a pair of free throws.  73-64 Minnetonka with 6:47 left and Schreiber goes to the bench with 4 fouls.  Rogers rallies with a 7-0 run ending with an Austin Barbeln 3.  73-71 Minnetonka with 5 minutes left.  Risinger would counter with another 3 off a nice set drawn up in a timeout.  Rogers counters with another 3 to keep the lead at 3.  Then another Tonka bench player, Bennett Celichowski, with a huge 3 to push the lead back to 6 with 3:25 left.  Back to back Rogers turnovers result in a free throw and Risinger's 6 3 of the night on a nice flare to the left corner.  84-74 Tonka with 2:50 left and that's too much to overcome.  Minnetonka makes their free throws and wins 93-83.  Joe Risinger 6 3s and 26 points to lead the Skippers.  Riley Dearring and Latrell Love 19 points each.  Celichowski and Gurley not huge numbers on the stat sheet but really gave the Skippers solid minutes to replace the missing pieces.  11 3s for Minnetonka plus 16 inside points from Latrell Love (he hit 1 of the 3s).  Skippers get that balance on a nightly basis and that's tough to beat.  Michael Schreiber 29 points to lead Rogers. Nick Runge 16.  Chase Cleveland off the bench with 14 points, 12 in the first half.

Lakeville North at Edina thoughts

Its a battle of preseason top 10s with #8AAAA Lakeville North visiting #9AAAA Edina.  The soph game goes to sudden death OT and afterwards the hot dogs still aren't ready.  We know this because of the meat thermometer.  Hungry?  Why wait?  So I'll go with Snickers and Twix.  Its Lakeville North on hand so look around and what do I see, is that who I think it is?  Oh my it is!  Its the one and only HAT LADY!!!!  Red is the day's color with a purple jacket.  Tyler Flack and Devon Shockley out for Lakeville North.  Flack with a broken arm suffered at the Edina scrimmage on Tuesday.  He may be out 6 weeks.  Reggie Lynch playing  JV for Edina as his transfer from Jefferson not yet approved.  Somebody must have seriously bonked that.  The public address system is broken with multiple squeals during pregame and we're way late for tip so we'll go straight to tip with no national anthem.

Game Time
Mark Handberg in early foul trouble for Edina but Dane Tueteberg relieves him off the bench with 4 quick points.  Add in a Nick Boone bucket inside for a 11-8 Edina lead at the 13:49 mark.  Lakeville North counters with 7 in a row and then gets a Ryan Saarela 3 point play.  Graham Woodward with a jumper and the foul to cut the Lakeville North lead to 18-17 at 10:09.  Saarela with another inside bucket before picking up foul #2 and sitting for the remainder of the half.  22-17 North at 8:35.  North extends the lead to 7 but Graham Woodward keeps it going with a pair of buckets to cut the lead to 4.  The PA system comes to life with Smoke On The Water (always a Czar pep band favorite).  Woodward with a late floater and Boone goes for a pair of late buckets in the half to keep Edina close.  33-29 Lakeville North at the half.  Woodward with 12.  Saarela with 9.

Brett Rasmussen fires up to start the 2nd half with 2 buckets on the post and on a break out he drains a right corner 3 after an Edina timeout.  9-0 Lakeville North run for a 42-29 Panthers lead.  Saarela with 3 of 4 free throws and the lead balloons to 16.  49-33 Panthers with 10:49 to play.  Like last night's game at Park Center the lead doesn't stay.  Derek Hill for 3, Boone inside and a Lakeville North turnover turns into a Woodward drive for 2 free throws.  52-43 Lakeville North with 6:12 to play but Edina on a 7-0 run.  The Hornets would get no closer as they would turn it over on the next 3 possessions allows Lakeville North to score the next 6 and push the lead back to double digits.  Lakeville North goes on to win 63-49.

Post Game
For Edina, Graham Woodward leads with way with 14 points.  12 of those in the first half and almost no looks in the second half.  Nick Boone 11 points.  Flip Deberg held to 7 points.  Edina's 5 out offense didn't run anything for Woodward or Deberg.  Lakeville North's group of guards able to switch the screens on the perimeter to help stifle the offense.  Lynch would have helped some on defense as they got beat up inside.  They aren't a bad team but I certainly don't see them as a top 10 team.  The schedule gives them a rough trip to #2AAAA Eastview (92-55 win at Duluth East tonight) on Tuesday.

For Lakeville North, the interior play did it even without Tyler Flack.  16 points each for Ryan Saarela and Brett Rasmussen (12 in 2nd half).  But they have a ton of guards too even without Shockley or soph JP Macura who only saw garbage seconds tonight.  Joel Oxton a pair of 3s for 12 points. Zach Creighton off the bench with a pair of 3s. Grant Erickson and Trey Heid give them a pair of solid ball handlers.  Tyler David and Kyrell Newell get after it on defense.  They took advantage of their pieces with lots of switching on defense.  2 significant pieces out of the lineup and they still won by double digits.  This is a very underrated squad that will be really scary when they have everybody late in the season.  Expect them to be in the top 5 before long.  The upcoming road schedule will challenge them with a trip to my Missota favorite Chanhassen next Friday and then against Champlin Park in the Tipoff Classic next Saturday

Play of the Day
Side out of bounds concept that I first saw from the Hopkins girls a few years ago but tonight it was used by Edina.  Guys on both blocks with the other 2 up high at foul line and center circle.  Ball side post cross screens partner to the strong side corner.  Then screener flashes back to ball side elbow.  Meanwhile on top its a basic down screen.  But on the pass to the elbow against pressure, the backside is clear for that top screener to continue hard to the rim for an easy layup and Edina got it for a bucket tonight.