A president, a rivalry and a road trip at home

A fun weekend of hoops on the St. Paul side of the metro (excluding the miserable walk to Concordia on Thursday).  Plenty of cola on the menu with Pepsi at Como Park and a double dose of battery acid and pizza at North St. Paul.  A doubleheader so why not eat twice.  After all with the JV game it is an all day adventure.  Then back to Dacha De Czar to watch the final pair of games from my hometown event, the Midwest Players Classic.  The metro as always is represented and they get the nightcap so some thoughts on that as well.

Friday:  St. Paul Como Park 65 St. Paul Harding 46
Since we have a presidential school (Harding) represented, I'll pick a presidential debate to sum this game up.   In fact, like Saturday Night Live, I'll do it in 1 word.  Strategery.  Or you could pick Lockbox if you wanted.  Como Park with a great strategic move to go box and 1 on Harding PG Jovan Christian.  On a catch or ball screen they would trap out of it (a variation I absolutely love).  Then they went simple man and just faceguarded him in the 2nd half.  That locked Christian up holding him to 8 points on the night.  None in the 2nd half.  All of those were on mental breakdowns in the scheme.  But without Christian on the floor Harding fell apart.  A 1 point game becomes 7 when Christian sits early in the half.  A 9 point game inside of 5 minutes and Christian doesn't return and the game gets really out of hand.  Devonte Bolton with 11 points off the Harding bench to lead the Knights.  Donn Ward with 14 to lead Como Park.  Donzello Barros with 3 triples and 13 points.  Timitrius Simmons with 11 points off the Cougars bench.  Harding will need to come up with an answer for that Christian denial option as they really struggled without him being a factor.

Saturday Game 1: North St. Paul 76 Tartan 72
Full house on hand for this one along with the Polars band for a proper rivalry atmosphere.  This one was a battle the entire way as no team held a double digit lead.  Goodnews Kpegeol picks up 2 quick fouls and sits for about 8 minutes of the first half.  That helps Tartan build a 21-13 lead.  The Titans side ball screen offensive look really grinding things to a halt.  Dajuan Carter would bring the Polars back.  But Antawn Kimmons with the answers for a 33-29 Tartan lead at the break.

The 2nd half is the Kimmons vs Kpegeol show.  Kpegeol scores 9 straight Polars points as North reclaims the lead 40-38.  Kimmons then scores 9 straight Tartan points as the Titans take a 51-50 lead.  Then a critical stretch with the Polars scoring 8 of the next 9 for a 58-52 lead.  Post Yao Dumenya cold off the bench with a big 3 during that run.  Then Kpegeol with 6 in a row and then a kickout to soph forward Brenden Lankford-Johnson for a crushing 3 with 2:45 left.  That puts North St. Paul up 65-60.  That was the answer to a couple of Kimmons hoops.  After a couple of missed free throws, Brady Hartman buries a 3 with 3.5 left to pull Tartan within 1.  Tartan gets 1 last chance down 3 but throws the pass away.  A free throw seals the final margin.  Antawn Kimmons with 23 of his 38 in the 2nd half for Tartan to lead all scorers.  That included 16-19 from the charity stripe as he got to the lane at will.  Brady Hartman with a couple of 3s and 11 points.  Andre Jenkins-Whitmore adds 10 for the Titans.   North St. Paul's size was a problem for Tartan on the glass.  Tartan rightfully lets Antawn Kimmons carry the offense but he'll need more help.  Goodnews Kpegeol had to sit a big chunk of the 1st half with foul trouble.  He scored 6 quick points before that and then 17 in the 2nd half plus a critical assist to lead the Polars.  Dajuan Carter with 14 points off the North St. Paul bench and some critical offense late in the 1st half.  He'll get and take a ton of shots next year.  Bryce Phillips with 12 including the final free throws.  Cahlil Golden with 10.

Saturday Game 2: La Crosse Central 57 Woodbury 51
So missing the Big Boar BBQ at the La Crosse Center as part of the Midwest Players Classic.  This is the once beaten and 4th ranked in D2 defending state champion (and Czar's alma mater) La Crosse Central Red Raiders taking on Woodbury.  A snoozefest of a 1st half.  Woodbury goes 2-3 zone the entire way and Central has no plan.  Central goes diamond and 1 all half and Woodbury has no plan.  Michael Jones 1 FG in the half.  Central star soph Johnny Davis (WI offer) with only 2 FG.  Both held to 6 points in the half.  DJ Fleming stepping up with 10 of the 1st 16 Woodbury points.  23-22 Central at the break.  Woodbury with only 1 field goal for about the 9 minutes of the half.

Drew Bramlett off the Woodbury bench with a pair of critical triples.  That puts the Royals up 38-34 with 11:10 left.  Then an away from the play double foul with the ball way out around halfcourt.  That's the 4th foul on Michael Jones with about 9 minutes left.  That will send him to the bench.  UNLV offered Terrance Thompson with 2 putbacks and that puts Central up 44-41 with 6:43 left.  Its part of a 9-0 run.  Jones returns and gets Woodbury back to even at 46 inside of 5 minutes left with 5 in a row.  Central scores, Woodbury misses and Central spreads for a layup with 1:20 left to go up 4.  Its free throws from there.  Central hangs on.  Johnny Davis with 12 points for Central.  DJ Fleming with 4 triples and 18 points to lead Woodbury.  Michael Jones with 16 points, 7-7 FTs with 1 3.

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