2012 Howard Pulley Invitational Review

MN Comets Lewis 16U Champs!
Another year is in the books at the 2012 Howard Pulley Invitational.  Nice new uniforms from EOTO or should I say E1T1 but confusing.  They look so much like the Florida version that I thought it was that group who once had Duke star Austin Rivers.

No surprise with this being the 1st off week after 2 open period weekends that we'd have plenty of missing bodies.  No Ted Friedman from Kingdom Hoops, No Tory Miller from KC Run GMC, no Tyus Jones or Akolda Manyang from the top Howard Pulley group.  Always something in the spring with weddings (Friedman), injury (Manyang), or illness (Tyus).  We even get the Illinois Warriors not showing up because they thought the tournament was next week.  How does that happen?

Czar not only samples the Little Caesars pizza (I'd rather have Dominos) but because you, the loyal reader, want to know all about food, I also snagged a chocolate chip cookie off a mom that was intended for a player (playing at the time).  Me want cookie!  I prefer to view it as quality control and it was outstanding and gained my seal of approval for eating.  Mmmmm, cookie!!!  

Friday Night
Highlights of Friday night for me were my old Magic guys (down to 3 remaining together) hanging around with tNBA before falling 68-52.  That same group took us behind the woodshed last year at the state tournament.  MN Warriors 16s make a statement by knocking off Comets Lewis 54-52.  That would be the Comets only loss of the tourney.  Warriors are a team that if you let them run their stuff, they can pick you apart.  Anders Broman would fill in at the point some for Tyus Jones as the top Pulley squad would run away midway thru the 1st half on their way to a 76-47 win.  Comets Hanson 17s pulling out their high school warmups on Friday night in a first.  That was a quality look.  The look didn't help as Zach Hanson and the top Schoolers club beat them down to the tune of 46-15 at half and a 55-30 win.  Pulley White 17s would get a steal and layup with less than 10 seconds left to upset Kingdom Hoops Elite 56-54 in a thriller.  That would ultimately decide the winner of pool D.

Saturday Pool Play
A couple of good early games with KC Run GMC 15s pulling away from tNBA 64-47 (foreshadowing) and EOTO knocking off the SW MN Stars 58-55.  Andre Wallace joined EOTO for the weekend and his play down the stretch with a free throw, bucket and assist helped close the game out.  Comets Hanson goes to regular Comets T-Shirts for their 1st warmups of the day but that doesn't help.  KC Run GMC took them out 64-35.  Connor Voss played for the Comets this weekend, but as expected didn't have his legs but had moments where he moved pretty well but others where the lack of stamina showed.  Waiting to see what the next new warmups will be.  Iowa Flight took out All Iowa Attack 58-50 in OT in an entertaining finish.  That allowed them to hang on and win pool D.  KC Gamespeed using the old KC PNR uniforms and going with the smallest 3 guard lineup I'll see all season.

In 16s Pool B, Comets Lewis took care of business beating Lockdown 77-57 to go 2-1 in the pool.  They had to wait for their seed as KC Keys and MN Warriors were still in action.  The Keys bang in a long 3 with 30 seconds left, get an unforced turnover with 20 seconds left and knock down a 3 from the right corner with 0.6 left to steal that game 63-60.  That forces a 3 way tie for the pool tie at 2-1.  Comets easily win the point differential.  Then they stay with point differential so despite the head to head loss, the Warriors will get the 2 seed and the Keys end up with 3 which they would have gotten with a loss.

Pulley Blue 17s put on a shooting clinic vs the Dakota Schoolers 2nd team.  They knock down 17 3s on their way to a 95-52 win and win pool A.  Jake Wright with a handful of those.  He gets his feet set, forget about it.  Renard Suggs with at least 3 of those, everybody knocking it down.  KC Run GMC gets all they want from the Schoolers top 17s as they win 63-56 to win pool C.  Comets Hanson would struggle with MN Lockdown (a group that is run by former Comets) before picking up a 55-45 win.

Saturday Bracket Play
On to the brackets, my old Magic guys gave the top Kingdom Hoops team (eventual champs) all they wanted.  Down 1 with 3:30 to go before Kingdom makes a 3, a bad shot results in a layup and another turnover results in a 3 for a quick 8-0 run to put the game away.  73-65 Kingdom Hoops Elite moves on in the 15U bracket.  Schoolers top team would beat Kingdom Hoops II, Pulley Blue def SW MN Stars, tNBA def Dakota Schoolers II and KC Gamespeed defeated Howard Pulley White.  Those were pigtail games to determine the quarterfinals.

In the 16U bracket, 8 round of 16 games.  Pulley Blue knocked off Lockdown, TVA def KC Keys, Comets Lewis def Schoolers 2nd team, WI Playmakers pull a major upset knocking off MN Warriors.  EOTO def MN Posse, SW MN Stars def Chicago Demons, Schoolers top team def Pulley White.  KC Run GMC gets a bye thanks to the Ill Warriors not making it.

The 17U bracket also had their round of 16 games.  All Iowa Attack knocked off tNBA, Iowa Flight def Schoolers 2nd team, Pulley Blue def SW MN Stars 68-48, Chicago Demons knocked off Kingdom Hoops Red, KC Run GMC def KC Gamespeed 59-47, Schoolers top team def EOTO, Pulley White def Lockdown and Kingdom Hoops Elite def Comets Hanson.

Sunday Championships
In the 15U quarters, Kingdom Hoops Elite def Pulley Blue, Desert Reign def Schoolers top team 57-52 in OT, tNBA def All Iowa Attack, KC Run GMC def KC Gamespeed.  Schoolers knocked down a 3 with 2 seconds left in regulation to send that game with Desert Reign to OT.

In the 15U Semis, Kingdom Hoops Elite would pull away from Desert Reign in the 2nd half for a double figure win.  tNBA would get revenge on KC Run GMC with a pair of clutch 3s late by Evan Nolan (1 to beat the shot clock).  They get the 58-55 win.  They would open the championship vs Kingdom Hoops Elite on an 11-2 run but Kingdom Hoops Elite was too much as they would go on to win the 15U title 74-63.

In the 16U quarters, Pulley Blue def WI Playmakers, Comets Lewis def TVA, Schoolers top team impressive big win over EOTO (up 20 late) and KC Run GMC def SW MN Stars.  KC Run GMC would pull away from the top Schoolers group to win their semifinal 67-49.  Comets Lewis would open up a double figure lead on the top Pulley squad.  Then Pulley would come all the way back to tie with 2:47 left.  Teams trade missed front ends in the last 35 seconds.  Ryan Bruggeman would make a pair of FTs and Austin Poe would close it out with a 3 point play.  Comets win 63-55.

In the 16U final, Comets Lewis opened up a 41-26 halftime lead on KC Run GMC.  The lead was still 15 with 10:19 left before a 7-0 KC run cut the lead to 8.  They would miss 3 of 4 FTs with a chance to cut into the lead further.  Comets see the lead get down to 6 but held on to win the 16U title 67-61.  Austin Poe 16 points, Austin Rund and Brian Goodwin with 12 each.  Ryan Bruggeman 9 points and 6 assists.  Christian Pekarek 10 points.

In the 17U quarters, KC Run GMC def Kingdom Hoops Elite 54-45, Schoolers top team def Pulley White 79-63, Pulley Blue def Chicago Demons 82-39, Iowa Flight get another close win over All Iowa Attack 51-49.  That would set up a KC Run GMC vs Schoolers rematch from pool play.  Zach Hanson would get off to a hot start as the size of the Schoolers bothered KC.  KC Run GMC would hang on again for a 60-51 win.  Pulley Blue had a bunch of guys banged up but was able to fill the roster with guys from their eliminated White squad.  Didn't matter as they blew out Iowa Flight 79-29 in their semifinal.

In the 17U final, Howard Pulley Blue and KC Run GMC in the expected title game.  Pulley would use their hot shooting to go on a 10-0 run to end the 1st half.  34-28 Pulley at half.  KC would open the 2nd half on a 17-4 run with their own hot shooting.  45-38 KC with 11:36 to play.  Big moment late when KC star Connor Frankamp (Kansas commit) fouls out with 1:42 left.  The FTs on the foul tie the game at 58.  Out of a timeout, KC gets a layup against a 1 time 2-3 zone from Pulley.  Then a bad turnover and a great set for a clutch Kyle Smith (Frankamp replacement) 3 with 55 seconds left pushes the lead to 5 and there is your dagger, thank you Wayne Larrivee.  KC Run GMC wins the 17U title 67-60.  Connor Frankamp 7 bombs and 25 points to lead KC.  Power forward George Funtarov comes up huge for KC with 3 3s of his own and 17 points.  Anders Broman 4 3s for Howard Pulley as he leads the way with 17 points.  Quinton Hooker with 12 points.  The game was a shooting gallery as the teams combine for 25 3s from 10 different players.  Pulley makes 12 3s but gives up 13 of them.

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