2019 Augsburg Championships

I end my holiday travels with a snowy trip to Augsburg for the finals of their 3 day holiday tourney.  Here are some of the highlights.

Game 1: Southwest 66 Roosevelt 55
Thanks to Southwest beating Central on opening day we get the 1st of 2 extra meetings between teams on the day.  This one is a Minneapolis City Conference battle.  Christo Polydorou 2 early 3s including a trip to the bank to start the day.  The Lakers never trail in this one.  A 13-0 2nd half run pushes their lead to 20 and no problems from there.  Christo Polydorou with 18 to lead the Lakers.  Marcus Mattox adds 13.  Montgomery Booth with 12 of his game high 22 in the 2nd half to help Roosevelt keep it manageable.  Nelson Ladd adds 13.

Game 2: South St. Paul 82 St. Paul Central 76
Both of these squads featuring a ton of youngsters.  Back and forth game before South St. Paul goes on a 14-3 run midway thru the 2nd half.  65-52 Packers with 7:39 left.  Central rallies behind Kaden Doram and Caron Crowe.  Doram with a bucket, 2 free throws and then a tip dunk in their run.  Crowe's pressure defense a major factor in that as well. 73-70 SSP just under 2 minutes left.  But South St. Paul makes their free throws from there and hangs on.  Alonzo Dodd with a high level game of 22 points and creating for others off the bounce in the SSP dribble drive.  Marquis Gleb adds 16 and Max Wilson 13.  Kaden Doram with 20 points to lead Central.  Caron Crowe with 18, Gavin Gothard 15 and Billy Preston adds 13 off the bench.

Game 3: #7AAAA Hopkins 70 #6AA Minneapolis North 62
North took it to Hopkins early in this championship game.  De'Meiko Anderson for 3 and adds a bucket.  Willie Wilson with a bucket and a deep 3.  Anderson adds another bomb and Mario Sanders with a 3 point play.  34-25 North with just over 5 minutes to go in the 1st half.  North in a box and 1 on Kerwin Walton out of their 2nd timeout of the 1st half.  Then an early timeout in the 2nd half to prevent a jump ball (a very overused play).  That comes back to bite North as their offense just can't make a shot.  Hopkins goes on a 10-0 run to end the 1st half and then only 1 putback for North in the 1st 8 minutes of the 2nd half.  North finally takes their 4th timeout at the 10:06 mark.  44-36 Hopkins at that point after a 19-2 run.  You have to think they would have tried to stop the bleeding sooner had they had 1 of those early timeouts still available.

Willie Wilson breaks the run with a 3 point play then a big momentum sequence.  North misses 5 of 6 free throws.  Andrew Chisley scores, then blocks Davon Townley on 1 end and scores with the 4th foul on Townley on the other.  Hopkins picks up a T on a foul but North only makes 2 of 4 FTs and turns it over on the possession.  Hopkins counters with triples from Jalen Treml and Xavier White and the lead is 55-41 Hopkins with 6:25 left.  North goes 18 minutes with just 2 field goals but after 2 Townley free throws and a putback, they're somehow still within 55-45 with 5:11 left.  North's pressure does force a couple of turnovers to keep the final interesting.  But Kerwin Walton makes 6-6 FTs down the stretch and Hopkins wins.  Kerwin Walton 24 points but I thought North did a good job defending him.  Plus they largely held everyone else down (no one else in double figures for Hopkins).  Davon Townley even got the individual task of defending Walton.  Willie Wilson leads North with 19 points.  Davon Townley adds 12.  North missed 8 second half chances at the charity stripe.  The teams meet again at North on Monday, Feb 24th.

All-Tournament Team
Hopkins- Kerwin Walton (MVP) 
Hopkins - Cornell Richardson 
Mpls North - Willie Wilson 
Mpls North - Davin Townley 
South St Paul - Alonzo Dodd 
Mpls Southwest - Christo Polydorou

2019 UST Classic Day 2

For Day 2 of my 2019 holiday viewing I made the damp but thankfully not icy trek to the University of St. Thomas.  No tournament format here just 2 games for each of the 8 teams.

Game 1: #7AAA Waconia 73 Holy Angels 57
Holy Angels with an early 10-0 run thanks to a couple of Matt Banovetz 3s.  Waconia right back in it with a 16-4 run of their own for a 20-16 lead at the 8:17 mark.  Forward Spencer Swanson with a couple of putbacks in that run.  Banovetz then draws the 2nd foul on Waconia star PJ Hayes for 2 free throws.  Then a really smart play in the backcourt to get his body into Hayes for the 3rd.  He'll make both ends of the bonus plus the technical on the Waconia bench.  Nate Kesti with a triple to complete the 7 point possession.  14-0 AHA run over 4 minutes for a 30-20 lead.  But Waconia responds with an 11-2 run to close the half without Hayes.  Connor Schwob 4 free throws in the run.  Banovetz picks up 2 charges during the spurt and he'll also end up with 3 fouls in the half.  32-31 AHA at the break.

Banovetz a putback and triple in a 9-0 run for a 41-33 AHA lead.  45-40 AHA when Banovetz picks up his 4th with 12:48 left.  2 minutes later Emmett Johnson has his 4th foul as well.  AHA goes a stretch of 10:40 with only 1 field goal, much of that with the stars sitting.  Schwob with a big 3 with just under 7 minutes to push the Waconia lead to 10 and force AHA to bring the stars back in.  But there's no danger, Waconia cruises from there.  Spencer Swanson 21 points with very effective inside work.  PJ Hayes held to 15.  Connor Schwob 12 and Connor Behrens adds 10 off the bench.  Matt Banovetz 18 points.  Junior wing Bryce Boyd adds 10 for Holy Angels.

Game 2: Eagan 50 Benilde-St. Margaret's 48
Nick Peterson with the 1st 7 points for BSM.  Derric Standifer gives them a couple of 3s off the bench as well.  28-21 BSM at the break.  Sammuel Davis with back to back 3s to pull Eagan within 2 but Peterson goes glass for 2 and buries a 3 in a 7-0 run to keep BSM up 40-31 with 10:25 left.  Eagan defense clamps down and Kurt Ohlhues heats up.  Ohlhues with a transition 3 off a turnover and Matthew Verbeke adds 2 hoops in a 12-0 run to give Eagan their 1st lead with under 8 minutes left.  Ohlhues and Dan Ijadimbola trade triples.  Standifer adds a free throw to tie it a 46 with 4:19 left.  BSM patient offense down the stretch.  A mess of a pass bounces right back to Zai Smith and he'll finish that with 40 seconds left for a 2 point lead.  Davis on the other end with a bomb and its Eagan by 1 with 31 seconds left.  BSM turns it over out of a timeout and Eagan adds 1 final free throw.  BSM can't get a good look at the end.  Kurt Ohlhues with 13 of his 19 in the 2nd half to bring the Wildcats back.  Sammuel Davis 4 3s, 3 of them in the 2nd half and the go-ahead one late, for 12 points.  Nick Peterson with 21 points carrying the BSM offense again.  Derric Standifer 8 of his 9 off the bench in the 1st half.  Peterson had 12 of the 20 2nd half Red Knights points.

Game 3: Wayzata 91 St. Thomas Academy 47
The young St. Thomas Academy roster would try to hang around but a 14-2 run over the last 4 minutes of the 1st half would blow the game open and the Trojans cruise from there.  Blowout city.  Cam Heide with 14 of his 20 in the 1st half.  Carter Bjerke adds 13.  3 other bench guys also reach double figures for Wayzata.  Frosh guard Michael Kirchner leads the Cadets with 16 points.  Frosh guard Jack Chamberlain adds 3 triples in the 1st half and 11 total points.  Coach Bryan Schnettler not entirely pleased with his team's defense in the 1st half as he used a couple of timeouts after STA buckets.

Game 4: #2AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall 64 #4AAA Totino-Grace 54
This game makes me think back to the old days of the 3 day Catholic Spirit tournament at UST. A very fitting way to end the event.  Offense was really hard to come by for Totino-Grace in this one. It took TG almost 11 minutes to get their 2nd FG and the 1st was a putback.  Tre Holloman goes FT line jumper off their under-utilized pick and roll.  J'Vonne Hadley with a 3 point play off a turnover.  Curtis Jones nice cut for a hoop.  23-7 CDH as we go under 5:30 left in the half.  TG claws their way back with a Taison Chatman 3 point play and triple to cut the margin to 10.  He'll add another jumper to end the half after a Hadley 3.  That keeps the margin at 10 going to halftime.

CDH comes out of the break with a 11-0 run.  Amari Carter runs the floor for layup.  Hadley from deep and a dunk to go with a couple of Jack Tauer buckets. 46-25 CDH in control with 11 minutes left.  CDH coasts from there and TG tries to make it interesting.  CJ O'Hara 4 FTs plus a bucket and another And 1 from Joe Alt.  58-49 CDH with 3:31 left after a 12-2 Eagles run.  But the margin doesn't get any closer than that.  J'Vonne Hadley with 23 points and 3 triples to lead all scorers.  Tre Holloman with 12 and Curtis Jones with 11 for CDH.  Freshmen CJ O'Hara and Taison Chatman lead TG with 13 points each.  O'Hara 9 of his points from the charity stripe.  Chatman with a couple of 3s.  Joe Alt another effective outing inside for the Eagles with 11 points.

2019 Tartan Tourney Day 1

Its the annual trek to the eastern edge of the kingdom for the Tartan Holiday Tournament.  As in recent years, we get the 8 teams in 2 groups of 4 format.  Here's what I saw

Game 1: Farmington 63 Fridley 44
This was a close game for the 1st 11 minutes.  Then Isaac Burns picked up his 2nd foul for Fridley.  He sat and combined with Farmington's 1-1-3 zone, Fridley only scored 1 basket for the last 7 minutes of the half.  That allowed Farmington to extend a 1 point lead to 16 at the half.  Fridley would extend their defense early in the 2nd half and get 9 quick points from Burns to cut the margin to 6 with under 13 minutes left.  Farmington stops the bleeding with Isaac Ask scoring 4 buckets in an 11-0 run.  This time it's the man to man defense that holds Fridley without a FG for over 8 minutes.  The lead grows to over 20 and benches empty just under the 5 minute mark.  Isaac Ask leads Farmington with 15 points.  Soph forward Kyle Hrncir very productive with 12 points off the bench.  Farmington also fun to see push the ball out in transition which hurt Fridley.  Isaac Burns leads Fridley with 11 of his 13 in the 2nd half.  Micah Niewald adds 3 triples for 9.

Game 2: Superior (WI) 67 Park 66
Only 1 senior on the floor to start the game between the 2 teams.  Superior's shooting would see them build a 36-25 halftime lead with 7 3s.  Park rallies with a bucket, putback and 2 triples from soph guard Jack Blumberg to cut the lead to 2 with under 12 minutes left.  Superior with a couple more 3s and a 7-0 run to keep the lead.  Ethan Townsend 5 in a row, Jayden Lane for 2 and a kick to Evan Bearth for 3.  Park regains the lead 58-57 with 4 minutes left.  Great ball movement with Bearth sending drift pass to him in the corner to the wing and top and he gets it back for another big triple.  64 all with 1:25 left.  The teams trade misses and post Pharell Payne puts back a miss with 11.3 left for a 2 point Park lead.  Out of a timeout, its a baseline drive and drift pass to Johnny Rhodes.  He buries the corner 3 with 1.8 left for the win. Joey Barker 18 points to lead Superior.  They knock down 12 treys.  Ethan Townsend 17 to lead Park.  Pharell Payne 12 inside, Jack Blumberg 12 outside and 11 from Jayden Lane.  Payne is a forward to keep an eye on.  The 6'6" soph played freshman ball last year and has come a long way.  Still fairly raw but there's plenty of upside for Park to be excited about to go with their perimeter crew.

Game 3: Simley 65 White Bear Lake 48
I also saw Simley last Friday against Hill-Murray and in both games Simley's defense was the story.  Last Friday it was Simley's 1-2-2 zone that held the Pioneers down.  Against White Bear Lake, they pulled RJ Jioklow out of it and went box and 1 on frosh Jack Janicki.  That totally took White Bear Lake out of any offensive flow.  Simley ends the 1st half on an 8-0 run to lead by 10.  Then a 16-1 run early in the 2nd half blows the game open as the Bears go 6 minutes between field goals.  Breyton Buysman leads Simley with 19 points.  RJ Jioklow with 14.  Frosh Jack Janicki with 14 and Kenye Raheem with 11 for White Bear Lake.

Game 4: #9AAAA Tartan 59 Henry Sibley 41
The tone was set right away as Tartan got 2 quick steals for buckets in a 10-0 run in the 1st 1:35 of the game.  Joe Kearney flammable with all 22 (possibly 24) of his points in the 1st half with 4 3s.  23 point game at the break.  Curtis Favors with a monster dunk after the red sea of Sibley defense parted and the lead got to 31 with 9:22 left.  But Sibley dug in from there to not see the running time marker.  Joe Kearney 24 points to lead all scorers.  Langston Binns adds 11.  Dewayne Thompson 10 points, soph Edward Michaels with 11 for Sibley.  Center MJ Davis also with 10 for Sibley.  Davis the only senior on the young Sibley roster.

Fulfulling Fridley Fun

To friendly Fridley where the schedule and a nice conversation with Heat boss Willie Vang leads me to an evening doubleheader.  We get the hot dog and Mug Root Beer (no Killebrew Root Beer even though it was listed was unfortunate, love Killebrew) at Fridley for their non-conference game with Stillwater.  That's the usual 6 PM early start at Fridley so that means we have time afterwards to cross Rice Creek to the classic EMAC venue at Avail.  Avail welcoming Hiawatha for a showdown of EMAC contenders there.  This also means we see all 4 classes in 1 night.  To be fair to the concession stand, I do pick up 210 Calories from Reese's at halftime.  I even get an apology for the rhino not showing up again.  Love me a good fan with that kind of attention to detail.  No basketball in the nachos so no payout for those with that prop bet (entertainment purposes only kids, don't gamble!)

Game 1: Stillwater 61 Fridley 55
Max Richardson 7 points for Stillwater as the Ponies jump out to a 15-3 lead just over 5 minutes into the game.  Micah Niewald with 3 consecutive triples and Fridley is right back in the game.  Christian Crockett giving Fridley good minutes off the bench by pushing the ball and with deft passing.  Stillwater decides to let him shoot and he knocks down a couple of threes just for good measure.  Ben Smalley with 10 first half points of his own to keep Stillwater ahead. They lead by 3 at the break.

Fridley gets Yoal Ruei and Isaac Burns into the lineup early in the 2nd half after they sat out the 1st half.  Smalley with a jumper and then Sam Shikenjanski with the nice feed out of the post to a cutting Smalley for 2 more.  50-36 Stillwater with just under 10 minutes left.  Burns heats up for Fridley with 9 points in about 3 and a half minutes.  But the margin is still 55-40 Stillwater with 5:28 left.  The Ponies go 4 corners and its a disaster.  Fridley cuts the lead to 4 with 1:45 left and they'll miss 3 different chances to cut the margin further.  Stillwater goes 6-6 from charity stripe in the last 28 seconds to close it out.  The Ponies win despite no field goals in the last 8:25.  Ben Smalley 16 pts, Max Richardson 15 to lead Stillwater.  Frosh PG Max Shikenjanski (like brother Nate, not like dad or brother Sam) very solid 12 points as well.  Micah Niewald 11 of his 14 points in the 1st half for Fridley.  Isaac Burns with all 13 of his points in the last 9:15.   Christian Crockett 10 of his 12 in the 1st half in a productive night off the Tigers bench.

Game 2: Avail 87 Hiawatha 85
Avail jumps out to a 19-5 lead with Josiah Loge and Josiah Schaap leading the offense.  Hiawatha not making anything early.  But their stars Jessye Lewis and Jaheim Houts do get it going to bring the Wolves back.  Houts knocks down a couple of 3s and Lewis taking advantage of no help defense all night.  That pulls Hiawatha within 5 at the half.

Avail decides to have Joey Ritzema faceguard Houts for the 2nd half but interestingly enough no strategy on Lewis who had 18 points in the 1st half.  Hiawatha with numerous runs in the 2nd half but Avail had an answer for everyone of them to not give up the lead.  Lewis puts back 2 of his own misses and Houts puts back another to cut the lead to 3 but Loge answers with a 3 point play to keep the lead at 6 with 7:58 left.  Houts with a bucket off a nicely called backscreen followed by a Lewis bucket to cut it to 2 with 4:45 left.  Houts goes end to end (1 way to beat a faceguard just go get the board and take it from there) and the lead is down to 1 with 3:15 left. Loge with a nice cut for a bucket on the next possession.  Mitchell Pfeiffer with 2 layups and the lead is 5 with 1:30 left.

After a Hiawatha miss and Avail missed front end, Houts scores underneath off a BLOB on a strong move.  Under a minute left, Avail up 3.  Schaap with the oh no why shoot that 3, great shot with 30 seconds left.  Hiawatha immediately hits one of their own.  Avail makes 1 free throw, then a backscreen for Lewis on a SLOB for a quick and easy bucket with 7 seconds left.  Joey Ritzema makes 2 free throws to seal it.  A foul at the buzzer for 2-3 FTs is meaningless.  Jessye Lewis leads Hiawatha with 36 points on my sheet.  Jaheim Houts with 25 from his forward spot.  Mitchell Pfeiffer leads Avail with 23 points and he hit big 2nd half shots.  Josiah Schaap with 19.  Josiah Loge and Joey Ritzema each add 18.  Ritzema is a player that I've really enjoyed watching the last 2 games.  Does all the dirty work and makes plays.  That's an important home win for Avail as they keep pace with Hiawatha and Twin Cities Academy/Great River in the EMAC race.

Green is the season's color

A couple of small school games lead my week into the holiday season.  Its a EMAC swap as they get the rare Tuesday time slot on my schedule.  That's because I wanted to see Rockford and 7-footer Calvin Sisk in their Monday trip to Concordia.  Excellent Nathan's quarter pound hot dog.  Must be something about Skyline schools near Dale St.

Then the EMAC gets its time on Tuesday for Avail Academy visiting United Christian Academy.  UCA is the former Bethany Academy who has now merged with Christian Life of Farmington.  Weird not seeing the old MCAA banners on the wall including the long outdated Holy Trinity banner.  UCA colors have changed to purple and black but they still have the bright blue and yellow all over the gym and haven't repainted the floor.  No rhino mascot in attendance for Avail.  That's always a cool mascot to see.

Monday: Rockford 84 Concordia 50
No Aaron TerHaar for the Beacons in this one.  His shooting would have made a world of difference as Concordia had no real answer for the Rockford flat 3-2 zone.  After trying some early zone offense that didn't generate anything Concordia just ran their motion which was a little better off but not much.  Sloppy offense turning it over and they couldn't make shots.  Rockford too big inside with Carter Kulavik and Calvin Sisk.  Todd Traen and Ryan Boysen knock down 9 3s between them to provide the balance.  Rockets fly away to an easy win.  Essay Hagos gets his 23 for Concordia but only got a little help from Gary Legvold with 10 points.  Ryan Boysen 5 3s and 19 points to lead Rockford.  Todd Traen and Luke Pepin 12 each and Calvin Sisk with all 11 of his in the 2nd half.  Carter Kulavik a bigger impact than his 7 points.  Rockford will be very dangerous in section 5AA.  They have experience, size, toughness and shooting which should allow them to be a challenger for the trip to state.

Tuesday: United Christian Academy 79 Avail Academy 65
This one was an early boys/girls doubleheader with the boys going first so I'll skip the girls to write this.  United Christian would jump out to a 12-2 lead and never look back.  Zach Corley controlling the paint for UCA.  Taylor Prip provides 13 1st half points off the bench and its UCA by 23 at the break.  Joey Ritzema would try to lead an Avail rally in the 2nd half.  He scores a couple of buckets in a 10-2 Valor run, FEAR THE RHINO!  That cuts the margin to 63-49 with over 7 minutes left.  An open 3 that would have cut the margin further goes just long.  Jacob Kyllo with 2 hoops in an 8-0 run that pushes the lead back to 20 to 3:25 left and its over from there.  Zach Corley leads all scorers with 20 points from his starting center spot for UCA.  Avail's lack of size had no match for him.  Chase Bixel with a very nice outing from his guard spot as he adds on 16 points.  Taylor Prip with all 13 of his bench points in the 1st half.  Joey Ritzema with 14 of his 18 points in the 2nd half to keep the game somewhat interesting.  Josiah Schaap with 15 and 3 triples.  Mitchell Pfeifer with 12.  Avail with no seniors on the roster.

2019 Southside Showcase Review

The December Saturday marathons continue with 8 games in the Southside Showcase at Minnehaha Academy.  There was also a small school section of the event at Hiawatha Academy down the street that I didn't attend.  Overall a great mix of urban, suburban and outstate teams of all different styles.

Game 1: St. Paul Central 65 Roseville 51
Central jumped out to a 16-0 lead in this one.  Kadem Doram with a nasty dunk early on to set the tone.  Central's quickness caused problems all day.  Keyshawn Payne with 5 points in a 2nd half run that would cut the lead to 5.  But Doram cuts for a dunk and adds 5 more in a row late to push the lead back to double digits.  Doram finishes with 25 points on my sheet in a breakout performance.  Keyshawn Payne leads Roseville with 19.

Game 2: Bloomington Kennedy 77 St. Paul Johnson 65
Early on the offense was all from the 3 point line.  Kennedy would stretch the lead to 8 before Julian Hodges scored the last 7 of the 1st half to cut the lead to 31-30 at the break.  Eric Dums outside and Jacob Husting inside have big second halves for Kennedy.  An 11-2 run late opens the game up and is the difference.  Dums with 5 in that run.  Dums with 18 points on my sheet, Amarion Hanspard with 19 for Kennedy.  Hodges leads Johnson with 25.  Kennedy now 5-0 on the season with wins over Holy Angels and Mayer Lutheran.

Game 3: Tartan 74 Robbinsdale Cooper 71
Lots of guard play in this one.  Back and forth in the 2nd half.  Tartan with 6 free throws in a 6-0 run to give them a 69-64 lead with 1:45 left.  Cooper with a bucket and fouled for a chance to cut the lead to 1.  They miss the free throw but get it back.  Their attempt to tie is swatted away with 35 seconds left.   3 point game with under 10 seconds to go and Tartan chooses to foul to prevent a 3 to tie. The first is good and 2nd is missed and after a scramble its a jump ball.  The arrow favors Tartan.  They make a free throw and a late heave from Cooper is no good.  Langston Binns leads all scorers with 18 points despite foul trouble all day.  Joe Kearney with 16 and Dorian Singer adds 14 for Tartan.  Davion Evans leads Cooper with 16 points off the bench.  Bo Powell with 13 despite missing a large chunk of the 1st half with foul trouble of his own.

Game 4: Cambridge-Isanti 85 Chanhassen 70
Story of this one was Cambridge-Isanti guard Henry Abraham.  He goes for 8 quick points and 2 assists for 3s (plus a screen for another layup).  Bluejackets jump on Chanhassen 19-3.  But the C-I rotation is thin with only 1 bench guy.  Plus Chanhassen started to be patient and use their strength inside.  So like last week the big lead evaporates.  Luke Gitzen with 5 points in a late run to cut the lead to 7. Ben Giles with a drive for 2 and a 3 of his own and the lead is down to 52-51 with 12:30 left.  Abraham already with 8 3s at this point.  He knocks down 2 more bombs and has a steal for an assist on another bucket.  That 10-0 run pushes the lead back to 11 with 10:16 left.  That lead holds for 5 minutes but here comes Chanhassen again.  A 3 point play inside, then Mike Shea adds 2 bunnies including a nice scoop.  Storm with a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 4 with 2:30 left.  Abraham with his last bomb of the day to kill the momentum and they make 8-8 FTs to close it out as Chanhassen doesn't score again.  Henry Abraham goes for 13 triples and 50 points in a monster performance.  Micah Ladd adds 15 despite cold shooting.  Luke Gitzen leads Chanhassen with 18 points.  Mike Shea 12 points in really good inside minutes off the bench.

Game 5: Columbia Heights 62 #10AAA Hibbing 60
Jordan Jones outstanding for Heights in this one.  2 free throws and a steal for 2 more plus Muja Burton converting the bonus give Heights a 54-47 lead with 5 minutes left.  Mayson Brown with a hoop and 3 free throws cut the Heights lead to 1 with 22.6 left.  Heights make 2 free throws and Brown goes quick to the rim for 2 more.  1 free throw for Heights with 3.9 left and Hibbing can't convert a late chance to tie.  Jordan Jones finishes with 25 points on my sheet.  Heights holds Hibbing star Ayden McDonald to 7 points but you can see the talent there with his ability to get shots off and pass.

Game 6: #1AAA Minnehaha 69 Benilde-St. Margaret's 49
BSM playing without Isaiah Smith, Walker Johnson and Zach Carden.  Chet Holmgren sitting this one out for Minnehaha.  He took a mean spill in the North St. Paul game on Wednesday so that might be part of the reason why.  Minnehaha jumps out to a 15-2 lead with 5 3s.  Nick Peterson helps bring BSM all the way back.  He knocks down 3 triples and adds a couple more buckets in a 20-6 Red Knights run.  Soph forward Jack Kinsey finishes that run with a 3.  22-21 BSM at the 7:30 mark.  Minnehaha tries to pull away but even with a Suggs 3 point play just before the half, the margin is only 11.  Too much defense from Minnehaha in the 2nd half. They score the 1st 8 points of the half with 2 dunks on turnovers..  Cruise control from there.  Jalen Suggs and Prince Aligbe with 16 each on my sheet to lead Minnehaha.  Nick Peterson with 25 to lead the Red Knights.

Game 7: #7AAAA Hopkins 78 Nicolet (WI) 67
Yes that spelling is correct. Its 1 L and Nick-O-Lay for Wisconsin folks instead of 2 Ls and Nick-O-Let in Minnesotan.  Now this isn't the Jalen Johnson (Duke commit, top 10 player in nation) squad.  But they have his younger brother Kobe and D1 recruit James Graham on the roster.  Hopkins would open a 15 point 1st half lead. Kerwin Walton sat the last 9:08 with 2 fouls. That helped Nicolet cut the lead to 4 at the break. A pair of 3s sandwich a Walton bucket in an 8-0 run that pushes the lead to 61-48 with 7:30 left.  Hopkins no problems from there.  Kerwin Walton with 22 points on my sheet.  Elvis Nnaji got off to a hot start and played as well as I've seen.  15 points for the rapidly improving sophomore forward.  Graham and Johnson get theirs but don't get much help.

Game 8: #2AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall 87 Spring Lake Park 56
Spring Lake Park ran into a buzzsaw in this one.  CDH jumps out to a 22-9 lead, 40-19 at the break and its 68-38 with over 7 minutes left.  Tre Holloman with 20 points to lead Cretin-Derham Hall but he would also have a great day distributing.  The Raiders get 18 from Amari Carter, 12 from J'Vonne Hadley along with 5 triples and 19 points from Curtis Jones. With that kind of production from the top 4 guys, CDH is not going to lose very often.  Gabe Myren with 24 points to lead Spring Lake Park but nobody else in double figures.  CDH defense took everybody else away.

A Crusade to the Final Buzzer

To St. Croix Lutheran for a very intriguing non-conference AAA matchup between the Crusaders and Delano.  Its a chance to see Trey Longstreet who had a very good summer with the Heat Tauer 16s.  Delano 11th in this week's AAA poll and St. Croix Lutheran with enough talent to make a run at the poll as well.  Augsburg in the building looking on.  Quality hot dog goes with Coke tonight.  Quality performance from the SCL pep band plus the best introductions around with Soul Bossa Nova for the visitors (Austin Powers theme) and In Da Club by 50 Cent for the home team.

Season Ticker:
  • Number of Games: 35
    • In Person: 28
    • Online: 7
  • Number of Teams: 55
    • 4A: 23
    • 3A: 14
    • 2A: 8
    • 1A: 4
    • Wisconsin: 2
    • Girls: 4
  • Number of Buildings:13
  • Number of Bands: 1
Beverage Ticker: 202.7 ounces (2350 calories)
  • Coke: 48.9 ounces (580 calories) 
  • Dr. Pepper: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Pepsi: 69.8 ounces (880 calories)
  • 7-Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Sprite: 32 ounces (370 calories) 
  • Fruit Punch Gatorade: 20 ounces (140 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs: 4
  • Pizza: 2
  • Walking Tacos: 1
  • Extra: 1
    • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: 1 (175 calories)
    • Lays Sour Cream and Onion chips (160 calories)
Game Time:
Delano starts with 2 free throws before St. Croix Lutheran goes on a 10-0 run.  PG Zach Longueville knocking down a 3 after Tigers turnover to complete the run.  Delano finally gets their first field at the 8:48 mark with Max Otto scoring inside.  St. Croix Lutheran's offense finds its own trouble scoring.  Terron O'Neill with a post bucket and then crashing the glass for 2 more.  15-14 St. Croix Lutheran needs a timeout at the 3:52 mark.  Longueville with a late stop and fade in the lane to put St. Croix Lutheran up 17-15 at the break.  Both offenses very patient against really solid defense.

Keagan Smith came in averaging over 21 a night for Delano.  He knocks down a 3 with 15:17 left for his 1st FG of the night.  That puts Delano up 20-19 for their 1st lead since 2-0.  They take a timeout and St Croix Lutheran responds with a 13-2 run.  Xavier Garcia 5 in a row during the run with Longueville going for a 5 in a row to finish it.  32-22 SCL with 12 minutes left.  Smith keeps it going for Delano with back to back treys and he'll attack for 2 more.  Longstreet with a floater and we're back to even at 32 with just under 9 minutes left.  That's a 10-0 Delano run.

Next 6 go to St. Croix Lutheran before Longstreet spins to stop that spurt with 6:29 left.  Delano goes 1-3-1 out of the timeout for a few possessions.  Garcia beats that for a bunny.  Then there's a baseline drive, nutmeg on the drift pass to the weakside corner and the extra pass for a Connor Mielke triple.  43-36 SCL with 3:45 left.  Smith on the offensive board for 2 free throws and then trailing the break he hits a straight away 3 to cut the SCL lead to 2 with 2:07 left.

SCL misses a front end and a layup, Delano can't convert.   Then another SCL miss and Delano can't convert 2 chances on their end.  Garcia makes a couple of FTs with 42.7 left to make it a 2 possession game.  Delano misses 2 FTs on their end but SCL misses a bunny on the other end.  Longstreet scores but Longueville makes 2 FTs with 12.9 left.  49-45 SCL and Delano is out of timeouts.  Longstreet attacks, scores and gets fouled with 9.4 left.  He misses the free throw but its out of bounds to Delano.  Nothing on the initial BLOB action but Otto cuts hard to the rim late and its a wide open layup to tie it.  Long heave is no good and we'll go to OT tied at 49.

Longstreet scores to give Delano the lead but then fouls out with 3:17 left.  The teams trade hoops and Bushaw fouls out with 2:32 left but Delano can't convert the And 1.  2 Mielke free throws tie it at 53.  After a SCL miss, Delano turns it over with 1:15 left.  SCL run offense and then hold for a timeout with 11.3 left.  They had what looked like a ready made 1-4 low iso for Longueville but turned it down for the timeout.  Or did they?  That's exactly what they go to out and Longueville gets a floater to roll around and go in at the buzzer.  St. Croix Lutheran wins 55-53 in OT.

Post Game:
Keagan Smith leads Delano with all 16 of his points in the 2nd half.  That included 4 threes. Trey Longstreet adds 15.  Delano suffers their 1st loss to fall to 4-1 on the season.  No bench players were used in the 1st half and only 1 true reserve all night until fouls kicked in.  They'll visit New Ulm on Tuesday.  Then a really fun cross division game at home against Mound-Westonka next Thursday.

PG Zach Longueville leads the Crusaders with 21 points and 3 triples.  Xavier Garcia with all 11 of his points in the 2nd half.  Owen Bushaw effective off the dribble attacking the rim for 11 points of his own.  No bench points for either team in this one.  The Crusaders improve to 2-2 on the season.  They host Brooklyn Center on Tuesday to end their pre-holiday schedule.

Strategy Session
The chess match in this game was really fun and worth calling out separately.  St Croix Lutheran's offense in the 1st half got bogged down by Delano's switching man to man defense.  So the Crusaders came out in the 2nd half and started to immediately slip their downscreens to the rim.  Longueville was open but not found on this numerous times.  Delano has a ton of length in their lineup and they went to a 1-3-1 in the 2nd half.  I think that fits them well and would expect to see more of it as the year goes on.  Both teams really solid on the defensive end which made the scoring drought understandable.  No cries of shot clock despite the patience both teams showed.  St. Croix Lutheran's discipline and attention to getting in gaps to cut off drives (even to point of over helping) really stuck out, particularly in the 1st half.   That caused Delano's desired attack and kick idea to get bogged down.

Stars road rally

To the Colin Powell Center for a matchup between Holy Angels and #7AA Cristo Rey Jesuit.  Once I again I miss out on the concessions, didn't even bother to look.  Major oversight.  One of the AAU All-Stars is on the whistle again.  Carleton staff on hand taking a look as well.

Season Ticker:
  • Number of Games: 34
    • In Person: 27
    • Online: 7
  • Number of Teams: 53
    • 4A: 23
    • 3A: 12
    • 2A: 8
    • 1A: 4
    • Wisconsin: 2
    • Girls: 4
  • Number of Buildings:12
  • Number of Bands: 1
Beverage Ticker: 182.7 ounces (2110 calories)
  • Coke: 28.9 ounces (340 calories) 
  • Dr. Pepper: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Pepsi: 69.8 ounces (880 calories)
  • 7-Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Sprite: 32 ounces (370 calories) 
  • Fruit Punch Gatorade: 20 ounces (140 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs: 3
  • Pizza: 2
  • Walking Tacos: 1
  • Extra: 1
    • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: 1 (175 calories)
    • Lays Sour Cream and Onion chips (160 calories)
Game Time:
Quick start for CRJ guard James Sommer.  A drive for 2, 2 off a turnover, a triple and a steal for a 3 point play.  He goes for 10 in an opening 12-0 Pumas run.  Holy Angels stops the bleeding with a pair of free throws and bucket from their go to guy up front Matt Banovetz.  Derek Burgess a triple and a 3 point play for a 22-12 CRJ lead at 9:28.  Banovetz with his 2nd foul on a charge at the 8:02 mark and he'll sit the rest of the half.

Cristo Rey can't expand the lead with Banovetz on the bench.  Bryce Boyd off the AHA bench with a couple of bunnies  5 more points from the AHA bench countered by a Sommer 3 for a 29-22 CRJ lead with 3 minutes left in the half.  But that would be Sommer's last FG of the night.  CRJ goes to the break with a 37-27 lead.

The Pumas get the 1st 5 points of the 2nd half from Derek Burgess for a 42-27 lead with 16:37 left.  Holy Angels right back with a Banovetz triple, then a drive and lefty finish and another bomb after Derek Burgess picks up his 4th foul.  Over 13 minutes left and the lead is down to 4, 44-40.  Erick Burgess 2 hoops to maintain the lead.  Its a 6 point game with 8:18 left when he picks up his 4th foul. 

AHA destroyed CRJ on the offensive board all night and it was no more apparent than this critical sequence.  2 offense boards lead to a Banovetz triple.  Then Banovetz converts after 3 more Stars offensive boards on a possession.  That will bring Erick Burgess back into the game with 6:21 left and a 56 all tie.  Derek Burgess scores but that's countered by bench guard Terrence Roberts going for the And 1.  59-58 AHA has their 1st lead with 5:18 to play.

A turnover for a Emmett Johnson layup, CRJ misses 2 free throws and Banovetz just rips away an offensive board from a Pumas player for a bucket.  63-58 AHA leading with 4:12 left.  Derek Burgess with a steal for a hoop to keep it a 1 possession game.  Then Erick Burgess and James Sommer foul out within 22 seconds of each other.  Boyd converts a 3 point play on Sommer's 5th with 2:01 left and that will seal it.  Holy Angels comes from 15 down in the 2nd half to win 69-60.

Post Game:
James Sommer leads Cristo Rey with 17 points.  15 of those in the 1st half and only 2 2nd half free throws.  Derek Burgess with 15, Erick Burgess with 12.  The Pumas only play 6 guys and have no real interior guy.  Erick Burgess and Sommer are their 2 best interior guys  Granted they play bigger than their size but that's definitely a long term concern.  The Pumas are now 1-1.  They'll play Edison in the 2nd game of the Southside Showcase on Saturday.  That game is part of the small school section of the event and will be at Hiawatha Collegiate Academy.

Matt Banovetz overcomes 1st half foul trouble and goes for 16 of his 22 in the 2nd half.  He was all over the glass too.  Too big inside plus he hit 3 bombs.  Soph guard Emmett Johnson chips in with 15 points from his guard spot.  Bryce Boyd with 11 important points off the bench and he was rewarded with a 2nd half start.  This was an important bounce back win for Holy Angels.  They improve to 2-2 after a surprising loss to Kennedy on Tuesday.  They go in the break with home games next week against Holy Family and St. Paul Highland Park.  Banovetz and Johnson give the Stars a nice 1-2 punch and they have quality role guys.  I won't be surprised if they make their way into the state poll at some point.

One for the Polar-oid Camera

During a polar vortex its only fitting to go see a team named Polars.  So fittingly, one of the only 2 games on the schedule is Minnehaha visiting North St. Paul.  An quality pizza deal nets me Domino's pizza, gatorade and what amounts to free chips as a side.  Solid.  The NSP band director in the stands but sadly without his band.  NSP band is one of the better pep bands that I see.  Not a crazy packed crowd but because its Minnehaha they are hyped.  Stoney and 1 of the AAU All-Stars working the whistles.  And as if the crowd needed more hyping, we get this from the music selection.

Song of the Day: Right Now - Van Halen

Season Ticker:
  • Number of Games: 33
    • In Person: 26
    • Online: 7
  • Number of Teams:51
    • 4A: 23
    • 3A: 11
    • 2A: 7
    • 1A: 4
    • Wisconsin: 2
    • Girls: 4
  • Number of Buildings:11
  • Number of Bands: 1
Beverage Ticker: 182.7 ounces (2110 calories)
  • Coke: 28.9 ounces (340 calories) 
  • Dr. Pepper: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Pepsi: 69.8 ounces (880 calories)
  • 7-Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Sprite: 32 ounces (370 calories) 
  • Fruit Punch Gatorade: 20 ounces (140 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs: 3
  • Pizza: 2
  • Walking Tacos: 1
  • Extra: 1
    • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: 1 (175 calories)
    • Lays Sour Cream and Onion chips (160 calories)
Game Time:
North St. Paul down a couple of important pieces with LaRon Thomas and Shawn West-Zimpel out of the lineup.  Chet Holmgren puts back a miss and Jalen Suggs with a steal for a 3 point play and its quickly 7-0 Redhawks under 3 minutes in.  A fun sequence with Suggs and NSP star Shaheed Muhammad going back and forth from deep.  They trade a trio of triples.  Donovan Smith with one of his own bombs countered by 2 bombs from Brandon Hickman of NSP.  28-19 Minnehaha at 7:19.  Minnehaha responds out of a timeout with a 10-0 run.  A nasty Prince Aligbe poster dunk that is all over the web and the foul gets it started.  Holmgren with a dunk for a 3 point play to finish it.  38-19 Redhawks at the 3:30 mark.  We go to the break with Minnehaha leading 42-26.

Holmgren dunks a lob and then runs the floor for 5 more points in a personal 7-0 run to start the 2nd half.  But just as the blowout sirens are about to go off, Muhammad wants no part of it.  He buries 2 long triples and another jumper in a 12-2 Polars run.  Emmanuel Ajayi off the bench and he actually  goes at Holmgren with success for a couple of hoops as well in the half.  Suggs 4 FTs to counter another Muhammad trey and jumper.  59-45 Minnehaha with 9:50 left.  Donovan Smith with back to back bombs to push the lead back to 20.  Hickman another from the deep beyond.  Holmgren with a putback and Suggs with another of his many steals and dunks that.  69-48 Minnehaha with 7:25 left.

Muhammad feeling it from deep as he knocks down another pair of threes.  Holmgren beats the 1-2-2 zone with a high post pass to the cutting Suggs for a windmill dunk.  Hickman another three.  Holmgren with a putback dunk and 1 plus a tip in.  Muhammed 2 more 3s and Holmgren another bucket and 2 free throws.  After a 19-4 start, the outcome really was never in doubt.  Minnehaha wins 86-69

Post Game:
For North St. Paul, Shaheed Muhammad leads all scorers with 27 of his 37 points in the 2nd half.  He buried 7 of his 10 3s in that 2nd half.  Brandon Hickman with 5 3s of his own and 19 points in a nice outing as well.  But only 13 points from the rest of the depleted roster. Give the Polars credit for not folding when it got to 19-4.  This easily could have been a running time blowout.  They tried both man and 1-2-2 to try to slow down the Redhawks.  North St. Paul now 0-4 and its no easier coming up.  They visit Edina on Saturday and then host Eden Prairie next Tuesday before entering the holiday break with their league opener vs Hastings.

Minnehaha improves to 2-1 with the win.  They will host Benilde-St. Margaret's on Saturday in the Southside Showcase.  I'll be there for that.  Then a grudge match at Hopkins next Tuesday to end their pre-holiday schedule.  Chet Holmgren outstanding with 25 points, 19 rebounds and 8 blocks on my sheet.  He was used much more in the post tonight.  Despite a lack of strength, he does really battle inside.  Jalen Suggs with 22 points and I had him for 6 steals on my sheet.  Donovan Smith with 4 3s and 14 points.  Prince Aligbe 10 points and 1 poster for all the mixtape guys to sign.

East Side to the West Side

Pushing my fat hide.  Its no surprise.  I got tricks in the stash, stacking up the cash.  OK, enough hip hop for the day, Czar keep your day job.  I'm off to St. Paul for a pair of nights this week.  Monday its a full house on the east side for the Liberty Classical at Twin Cities Academy/Great River doubleheader in the EMAC.  Then its to the "west" side of St. Paul on Tuesday for a non-conference affair between Trinity and Humboldt.

Season Ticker:
  • Number of Games: 31
    • In Person: 25
    • Online: 6
  • Number of Teams: 48
    • 4A: 22
    • 3A: 11
    • 2A: 5
    • 1A: 4
    • Wisconsin: 2
    • Girls: 4
  • Number of Buildings:10
  • Number of Bands: 1
Beverage Ticker: 162.7 ounces (1970 calories)
  • Coke: 28.9 ounces (340 calories) 
  • Dr. Pepper: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Pepsi: 69.8 ounces (880 calories)
  • 7-Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Sprite: 32 ounces (370 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs: 3
  • Pizza: 1
  • Walking Tacos: 1
  • Extra: 1
    • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: 1 (175 calories)
Monday: Twin Cities Academy/Great River 81 Liberty Classical Academy 68
Looks like I may have missed out on some good concessions by the looks of what I saw laying out afterwards.  TCA/GR would stretch this out to a 22 point halftime lead and it looks like a 3rd straight blowout loss for Liberty.  But Liberty comes back in the 2nd half.  TCA missing quick shots and the Lions taking advantage.  They go on a 14-2 run to cut the lead to 9 with under 10 minutes left.  But Carmello McNeal carries the TCA/GR offense home and the Tigers avoid any serious danger after that.  Thanks to the extended 2-3 zone of Liberty, star center AK Avwunuma was held to just 9 points.  The guard twins Carmello and Carrington McNeal account for half the offense.  Carmello with 13 points in each half on his way to 26.  Carrington with 7 in each half for 14.  Carmello attacking the basket down the stretch and hitting important shots.  Thomas Conroy did his part for Liberty with 29 points and his usual strong rebounding.  Ben Horn was quiet in the 1st half but finished with 16.  But they didn't have as much help and they struggled turning the ball over and in transition.

Tuesday: St. Paul Humboldt 51 Trinity 34
Trinity younger than I had expected with 4 sophomores in the 8 man rotation (only 8 dressed).  This was an even struggle to score for most of the 1st half.  Then Humboldt's shooting kicked in.  Tom Hobday from deep for a 15-14 Hawks lead at the 7 min mark.  Khalil Parker from deep to push the lead to 4 with just over 4 min left in the half.  A'Kei Pippens beats the halftime buzzer from deep for a nice momentum swing.  27-16 Humboldt at the break as those last 2 triples bookend a 10-0 run.  6 of Humboldt's 9 field goals in the 2nd half are from the great beyond as well.  Desmond Lugo with 2 bombs around another Hobday 3 to push the lead to 16 just under 13 minutes left.  Soph Kip Knippel's triple with 7:20 left would cut the lead to 9.  But a 7-0 Humboldt run slams the door.  Desmond Lugo with 4 of the 11 triples for the Hawks.  He leads all scorers with 14 points.  Ben Erickson with 10 points for Trinity as he worked inside.  Trinity really struggling to score with a young and inexperience lineup after losing major pieces from last year's squad.  That's tough when you go against a team that played 8 seniors and a couple of experienced juniors. 

2019 Tipoff Classic Review

Hopkins hosted the 16th annual Breakdown Tipoff Classic.  As usual we had 16 games split between 2 courts.  I took in the main court with between game glances at the east court.  Here are some highlights.

Game 1: Lakeville North 59 #4AAA Totino-Grace 56
Totino-Grace went 13 straight minutes across halftime without their halfcourt offense generating a field goal.  Game could have been a blowout but Lakeville North missed a bunch of good looks.  TG finally saw some success by going to Joe Alt in the post.  TG would twice cut a 12 point margin in the 2nd half down to 4.  Lakeville North makes 7 FTs to put it away.  Joe Alt leads TG with 16, freshman CJ O'Hara with 14.   All of those points for both players in the 2nd half.  Carter Patterson leads Lakeville North with 19.  Josh Kamara with 15.  Great defensive effort from Lakeville North.  They held star frosh PG Taison Chatman without a 2nd half field goal.

Game 2: Champlin Park 63 #1AA Waseca 41
This was a tied game at the half.  Then all Champlin Park after that as they run away with a 28-5 run over 11:15.  Waseca unable to get anything on the offensive end in the half.  Another outstanding game for Champlin's Francis Nwaokorie inside with 17 points.  Waseca's Andrew Morgan held to 8 by a smothering defense. Ryan Dufault with 13 to lead Waseca.

Game 3: #2AAA De La Salle 67 #3AAA Mankato East 63
De La Salle playing without center Jalen Travis due to the all-star football game.  Mankato East jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held the lead for the majority of the game.  In the 1st half, they were able to get out and run for easy buckets.  Plus their center Jordan Merseth was able to get buckets against the small Islanders lineup.  But De La Salle would apply the defensive clamps and take the game over midway thru the 2nd half.  Jax Madson would score the last 9 for Mankato East to keep them in it.  But a late missed front end was a killer.  Madson leads all scorers with 18 of his 23 in the 2nd half.  Jordan Merseth with 15.  Great balance for De La Salle.  Amir Whitlock with 16, Cade Haskins with 14, Semaj Hart with 14.  Haskins had to spend more time playing inside with Travis out.

Game 4: #9AAAA Eastview 98 #8AAAA Wayzata 82
No Camden Heide for Wayzata in this one due to injury.  Jaylen James hot early and often for Eastview with 7 of his 8 3s in the 1st half.  The more hot shooting in the 2nd half for Eastview plus Steven Crowl doing his thing inside.  They break open a close game mid-1st half and turn it into a 29 point 2nd half lead.  The teams combine for 30 total triples (16 Wayzata, 14 Eastview).  Jaylen James 28 points 8 3s for Eastview, Steven Crowl with 27.  Carter Bjerke 6 3s from his big man spot for 18 points to lead Wayzata. Kody Williams adds 17.  Good minutes from Connor Yarbrough as well for the Trojans.

Game 5: #7AAAA Shakopee 85 #6AAAA Hopkins 82
This was one of the better main court games of the day.  An early 7-0 run in the 2nd half would see Shakopee stretch their lead to 12.  That lead would stay at 11 with 7 minutes left.  Hopkins would roar back behind Tristan Lee scoring 7 points in an 11-0 run.  71 all with 4:15 left.  Caleb Druvenga scores the last 6 with a nice cut and 4 free throws to close it out.  Will Cordes with big shots all day and he finishes with 23 points.  Druvenga ends with 21.  Charlie Katona with 11 points and foul trouble all day.  Kerwin Walton 23, Cornell Richardson 17 for Hopkins.  Regan Merritt and Tristan Lee each with 11 points in very good bench minutes.

Game 6: #1AAAA Eden Prairie 79 #4AAAA Prior Lake 58
This was a rematch of last year's section final and it had similar results.  Eden Prairie takes the game over with a 20-2 first half run.  3 straight 3s to start the 2nd half doubles the lead to 18 points and its over from there.  Austin Andrews with 17 of his 21 points in the 1st half inside.  Drake Dobbs with 17.  Connor Christensen and John Henry 14 pts and 3 3s each.  Dawson Garcia had to really work to get his 26.  Christensen really battled him on the defensive end, but nobody else had any luck there.  Tyree Ihenacho adds 16.

Game 7: #5AAAA East Ridge 62 #2AAAA Park Center 57
Lots of highlights here.  Kendall Blue with a post dunk on Dain Dainja during the game.  Dainja replies later with a wicked poster dunk of his own.  Dainja with 24 points for the Pirates.  Ben Carlson gets the better of the individual matchup as he goes for 25 of his 40 points in the 2nd half.  After Dainja's poster helped Park Center pull within 4 with 3 minutes left, its was a Carlson 3 point play, followed by another post bucket and a dunk to keep the game out of reach.  He had 15 of the last 17 Raptors points.

Game 8: #3AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall 75 #1AAA Minnehaha 66
Full house on hand for this one.  It was Jalen Suggs 1st game of the year and you could tell he still had football legs.  CDH would lead this one for almost the entire game.  Curtis Jones with 3 early 3s as CDH would build a 19-12 lead inside the 8 minute mark.  Minnehaha with an 8-0 run for their only lead of the game 20-19 thanks to a Suggs hoop and 3.  Tre Holloman for 3 and an assist to Jack Clipper as the Raiders build the lead to 9 at the half. 

Suggs for 3 as here comes Minnehaha with the 1st 6 of the 2nd half.  Amari Carter for 3 and back to back bombs from J'Vonne Hadley kill that momentum as the lead grows to 14.  Suggs trying to keep Minnehaha close with 6 in a row for the Redhawks.  But a turnover leads to another Jones 3.  Hadley blocks Chet Holmgren and they find him for 3 on the other end.  Huge momentum play to keep the lead at 57-43 outside of 7 minutes left.  It stays at 14 until under 4 left.  But Suggs isn't done. He has an assist for 3, kicks his legs out and Cheadle gives him the flop call for 3 free throws.  CDH misses a front end and Suggs with a steal that he immediately turns into a 3 with 2:25 left.  CDH lead down to 5.  CDH adds a layup under 2 minutes to keep the lead at 7.  Its free throws from there.

Jalen Suggs with 20 of his 30 points in the 2nd half for Minnehaha.  Prince Aligbe and Chet Holmgren with 10 each.  Aligbe's defense on Holloman was really fun to watch.  He emerged as a defensive star last year and it shows.  Holmgren with a handful of blocks and an even bigger list of "No way do I want to see him send my shot 18 rows up into the bleachers" plays that won't show up in the box.  Curtis Jones with 5 big triples and 19 points to lead CDH.  Tre Holloman with 17 points.  J'Vonne Hadley with 16.  CDH really tough to deal with when all 3 weapons get going.

East Court Quick Hits
  • Minnetonka's Cam Steele must love this event.  He had 44 points last year on the east court.  This year he goes for 38 points and 8 rebounds in a win over Mahtomedi.
  • Nate Heise answers the bell big time with 39 points and 11 rebounds for #2AA Lake City in their win over #4AA Minneapolis North.  UNI staff on hand to watch him in that one.
  • The King brothers do it again for Caledonia.  The #3AA Warriors come from 5 down at half to run away from Maranatha in the 2nd half.  Caledonia vs Lake City next Saturday night in Rochester should be a great game in a possible section final preview.
  • Reid Patterson's 28 points helps Lakeville South hold off 25 points from Buffalo's Matt Willert in a 70-58 win.
  • #2A BOLD runs away from #3A Minneota in the 2nd half.  2 point game at half becomes a 78-53 BOLD win.  Drew Sagedahl 34 and Gavin Voiska with 30 for Warriors.  
  • Wildest game of the day was the 99-82 St. Cloud Apollo win over Cambridge-Isanti.  Apollo was down 59-38 with 14 minutes left and then went on a 43-4 run to turn the game completely around.  Henry Abraham goes off for 47 for Cambridge-Isanti.  Michael Gravelle with 31 for Apollo.
  • Blake Remme passed the 1000 career points mark for Spring Lake Park in their 66-51 win over North St. Paul.  Teammate Gabe Myren just did that earlier in the week.  North St. Paul now 0-3 and Minnehaha comes calling on Wednesday followed by games against Edina and Eden Prairie.  Yikes

No Stair Climbing Agony

Since I'm going to see the local 4A teams during the season and a boatload of them again at the tipoff classic, a late schedule change is in order.  I visit St. Agnes for their boys/girls doubleheader with Heritage.  The #5A Heritage girls give me the privilege of seeing a blowout, drinking Coke and watching THE WORLD'S WORST OFFENSE.  Gives me a great appreciation for tomorrow.  The jumbo Nathan's hot dog is one of top hot dogs I have all year and didn't disappoint tonight.  Tonight's title is a reference to coach Hopkins comically noting on twitter my distaste for the incredibly steep bleachers in the new gym.  Its a rare gym where Czar seating rules don't apply.

Season Ticker:
  • Number of Games: 17
    • In Person: 14
    • Online: 3
  • Number of Teams: 32
    • 4A: 17
    • 3A: 6
    • 2A: 3
    • 1A: 2
    • Wisconsin: 2
    • Girls: 2
  • Number of Buildings:7
Beverage Ticker: 114.7 ounces (1380 calories)
  • Coke: 28.9 ounces (340 calories) 
  • Dr. Pepper: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Pepsi: 33.8 ounces (430 calories)
  • 7-Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Sprite: 20 ounces (230 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs:2
  • Pizza:1
  • Walking Tacos: 1
  • Extra: 1
    • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: 1 (175 calories)
Game Time:
Andrew Brownell banks in a 3 and Jacob Brezny buries one as well for St. Agnes.  That leads them on an 8-0 run to start the game.  But then they'll go on a scoring drought for 8:25.  Heritage takes advantage of that to go on an 11-2 run. TJ Guggenberger back in with 2 fouls to bury a 3 for an 11-10 lead.  Then he'll go right back to the bench after his 3rd foul at the 5:25 mark.  Sam Masek with a 3 to put St. Agnes back ahead.  Brezny hits from deep again and why not another to beat the halftime buzzer.  23-15 St. Agnes at the break.  Only 2 FG for Heritage in the last 9+ minutes and 1 of those was by Guggenberger during the brief stint he played in that time.

Guggenberger gets his game going to start the 2nd half.  Heritage using a nice set to get him a big middle gap from the left wing.  That leads to a pair of free throws.  He'll add a triple off a scrum as well.  Guggenberger with another driving bucket and the lead is down to 4.  28-24 St. Agnes with 12:25 left.  St. Agnes looks to pull away from there.  Masek with a BLOB layup and spins for 2 free throws.  That draws the 4th foul on Guggenberger with 10:49 left.  A pair of Heritage turnovers follows.  Then they give up the always criminal offensive rebound of a free throw and that leads to a bucket.  Another turnover, another layup.  Coach Tim Herman tries to hold off on the timeout but finally takes one with 9:26 left.  38-27 St. Agnes.

Guggenberger comes back in but it doesn't help.  Brezny feels it and hits back to back 3s.  Masek puts back a miss off another Heritage turnover.  That's part of a 10-0 that pushes the lead to 19.  It stays at 19, 50-31 with 5:40 left and the game should be done.  But Heritage rallies with a 12-0 run to make it interesting.  Alex Edstrom with a 3 easy buckets during the run.  St. Agnes gets a break with 1:25 left as Heritage misses a free throw and the possession goes to the Aggies.  St. Agnes shooting quickly late and not getting anything to go in fueling that run.  But there's not enough time left to finish the rally.  St. Agnes wins 52-45.

Post Game:
TJ Guggenberger leads Heritage with 13 points.  10 of those in the 2nd half as he had 1st half foul trouble. Alex Edstrom using the late buckets to push his total to 12 points.  With Guggenberger out, Heritage really struggled to generate any offense.  Heritage falls to 1-1 overall.  They have a quick back to back turnaround thanks to an afternoon home game with Central MN Christian.  Then its off to Legacy on Tuesday to start MCAA play.

Jacob Brenzy feeling it for St. Agnes with 6 3s and 20 points to lead the Aggies.  Sam Masek adds 12 points.  Luke Plamann productive inside with 10 points.  Not a pretty win, but they took advantage of the Heritage turnovers and hit some shots.  The Aggies have a couple of section games next week as they visit Twin Cities Academy/Great River on Tuesday and then host Mounds Park Academy on Friday.

Culver(s), For the Win

Sadly I'm not talking about the great Wisconsin institution Culvers (butter burger?  yes please!).  I'm off to Roseville to see the home debut of new coach Zander Culver.   The Raiders hosting new Lake Conference member St. Michael-Albertville in this one.  Good Roseville student section on hand.  D3 schools well represented with Augsburg, St. Olaf, Hamline and UW-River Falls all looking on.  With the new season I make a rookie mistake and try to get a hot dog before the JV game.  Of course they aren't ready yet and I'm too out of shape to hike the bleachers more than I have to.  So that means its Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to snack on.  Dinner will have to wait.  Awful pregame music for the 1st 10 minutes.  Some hideous Buffalo Springfield remake almost makes me nauseous.  But then we get today's tune to make up for it.

Song of the Day: The Joker - Steve Miller Band

Season Ticker:
  • Number of Games: 15 
    • In Person: 12
    • Online: 3
  • Number of Teams: 28
    • 4A: 17
    • 3A: 6
    • 2A: 2
    • 1A: 1
    • Wisconsin: 2 
  • Number of Buildings: 6
Beverage Ticker: 102.7 ounces (1240 calories)
  • Coke: 16.9 ounces (200 calories) 
  • Dr. Pepper: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Pepsi: 33.8 ounces (430 calories)
  • 7-Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
  • Sprite: 20 ounces (230 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs:1
  • Pizza:1
  • Walking Tacos: 1
  • Extra: 1
    • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: 1 (175 calories)
Game Time:
STMA playing short handed without Kale Hoselton and Peyton McLean due to injury.  So they'll only go 7 deep on this night.  Tight game early on.  Good work by Roseville center Spencer Nath running the floor for a couple of layups.  Evan Wieker 5 of 6 early free throws on the other end for STMA.  14-12 Roseville at 11:08.  Nath working in the post with a couple of pretty scoop finishes.  Plus he'll grab his own miss for a free throw.  Wieker trying to keep things close with a kickout triple.  Roseville answers with Keyshawn Payne knocking down a 3 and a drive from Treygan Adams.  That pushes the Roseville lead to 28-18 and STMA needs a timeout with 5:09 left in the half.  After the timeout, Nath goes diving and crashing into the Roseville bench.  He appears to turn an ankle and he's done for the night.  4 STMA free throws end the half and keep the Knights within 35-31 at the break.

Forward Elijah Burns was a frontline factor for Roseville.  He turns a turnover into a bucket and then adds a 3 point play on a BLOB.  Roseville lead quickly up to 9 and they are going right at STMA.  Payne with 2 drives for hoops as he's too quick for STMA to contian off the bounce from the slot.  Wieker with a bucket and a 3 point play to answer.  Then Payne picks up his 4th foul with 14:19 left and you wonder how long he can be left on the bench.  Wieker a drive for 2 more and then a steal and assist to Jack Carroll.  Roseville's lead down to 50-46 with 12:25 left.

Wieker with the DDM assist to Carroll for a layup and then its Wieker making both ends of the bonus.  Carroll scores another dumpoff and then runs the floor for a layup from Wieker.  Lead is down to 1 with 8:25 left and no messing around from coach Culver.  Payne and Burns both come back in with 4 fouls.  Roseville gets 2 buckets and they'll push the lead to 5 with 6:23 left. 

Roseville misses 4 straight free throws and PG Nick Olson hits the short jumper to bring the game to even at 65 with 3:25 left and the crowd comes to life.  Its Payne on the other end off the bounce for the And 1.  Wieker counters with a putback on the other end.  Adams off the bounce for a free throw with 2:05 left to keep Roseville up 2.  Burns fouls out with 1:41 left but STMA only makes 1 of the 2 freebies.  Payne goes strong for the lefty layup with 1:25 left.  Adams will seal it with a steal for a bucket with 26 seconds left.  Roseville wins 76-69.

Post Game:
Evan Wieker with a game high 32 points for St. Michael-Albertville.  Jack Carroll adds 15 scoring dumpoffs inside and running the floor.  A very simple DDM look putting Wieker in the weak slot and going dribble flip to his strong right hand and then generated countless good looks for him and for Carroll on dumpoffs from the weakside post spot in DDM.  STMA falls to 1-1 overall.  Its a quick turnaround for STMA as they get no time off with a back to back at Elk River.  Their home opener is Tuesday against Andover.

Coach Zander Culver gets his 1st career varsity win as Roseville improves to 1-1.  They jump right into Suburban East play next week at White Bear Lake and hosting Stillwater before a Southside Showcase showdown with St. Paul Central.  Keyshawn Payne leads the Raiders with 23 points.  He was able to get to the paint at will.  Treygan Adams with 16, Spencer Nath with 12 before his injury.  Teris Watson chips in with 11 off the bench. 

Payne, Adams and Watson give them a quick permeter trio to attack the paint.  Elijah Burns moved over to the center spot after Spencer Nath's injury and gave nice minutes there.  Nath's injury may be a blessing for him as he's more effective inside than playing outside in a 4 out.  No knockdown shooters may hinder them, but there's enough guard quickness to still generate offense.  Plus Nath can give them a post presence.  Hopefully his injury isn't too serious.  He was on crutches with a brace on during the 2nd half.

Prepping for another run

We stick with a St. Paul theme for the early part of the week with a trip to St. Paul Johnson.  The Govs hosting one of favorites in section 4AA, St. Croix Prep, in the season opener for both teams.  It was in this game 2 years ago where Daniel McCarrell broke out with 10 3s.  Now last night I was cheated out of a walking taco at Edison (concession stand wasn't open), so I was all over it tonight.  The salsa bottle was too stubborn so I didn't give the meal enough kick.  But high grade none the less.  A friendly AAU referee crew on hand as well.

Song of the Day: Walking in Memphis - Marc Cohn

Number of Teams I've Seen: 20 (10 games, 5 buildings, 0 online)

Beverage Ticker: 82.7 ounces (1010 calories)
  • Coke: 16.9 ounces (200 calories)
  • Dr. Pepper: 20 ounces (240 calories)
  • Pepsi: 1 Liter (430 Calories)
  • 7-Up: 12 ounces (140 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs:1
  • Pizza:1
  • Walking Tacos: 1
  • Extras: 0
Game Time:
Season opening jitters were abundant early on with very sloppy play from both teams.  Addison Metcalf finally breaks the ice by putting back his own miss.  Andrew Howard knocks down 3 on a skip pass plus another a jumper.  St Croix Prep out to a 10-2 lead just over 5 minutes in.  Metcalf and Howard each add another bucket and the margin grows to 19-5 at the 8:08 mark.  Johnson cuts the margin to 6 thanks to a couple of Jesse Foster hoops.  Metcalf with a putback and a triple on the weakside thanks to hi/low action. Then his 2nd nasty block of the night leads to 2 Daniel McCarrell free throws.  Metcalf finishes the run by dunking a turnover.   SCPA 33-17.  But Johnson rallies with 3 late bombs. They also add 2 free throws as SCPA hangs on the rim on a missed dunk which results in a technical.  35-30 SCPA at the break, or so we thought.  An extra bucket given to Johnson and the table misses a SCPA FT.  So we get a correction during the break for 36-28 Lions.

Larry Harris with a hoop and a Foster putback and all of a sudden its a 4 point game.  So in just 3 minutes, 12 come off the margin.  Prep responds with a McCarrell triple, Metcalf with a free throw and a pair of 3 point plays. Then a major blood delay with 10:19 left and Prep leading 49-38.  Foster runs the floor and Johnson finds him for a dunk.  Johnson within 57-48 with 7:30 left.  They would try to turn up the defensive pressure but St. Croix Prep doesn't fold. St. Croix Prep wins 68-54.

Post Game:
St. Paul Johnson falls to 0-1 with the loss.  They'll get another stiff home AA test on Saturday vs #5AA Esko.  The Govs get 3 in double figures with Larry Harris leading the way with 13.  Jesse Foster good work inside to end up with 12.  Soph Rickhi Graham adds 11 off the bench.  As has been the case in recent years, you wonder how they'll score in a half court scenario if teams make them knock down shots.

For St. Croix Prep, Addison Metcalf leads the way with 26 points.  He also added a couple of really athletic blocks.  He's got some surprising bounce.  Daniel McCarrell with a quiet night of 13 but did hit a couple momentum busting shots.  Andrew Howard adds 14 running the show.  But with the exception of some blocked shots (4 on the last Johnson possession), the bigs struggled all night which was a surprise.  Loose balls and rebounds were also a problem as Johnson was just tougher on those.  So a W is good, but they'll look at plenty to build on.  The Lions host White Bear Lake this Friday.  On the horizon, they have a big test against #4AA Minneapolis North 1 week after that.

2019 Big 12 Classic Review

The 2nd annual Big 12 Classic was held at Champlin Park.  9 ranked teams participated in the 6 games.  Here are some of the highlights.

Game 1: Edina 61 Osseo 49
Scoring was difficult for both sides for a large portion of the 1st half.  Edina not helped by star center Jacob Hutson having 2 early fouls.  But the Edina bench broke the ice with 10 points from Chandler Reeck and 2 late bombs from Marcus Crawford.  That would push the Hornets to an 8 point halftime lead.  Edina withstands late pressure to win.  Jacob Hutson and soph PG Sammy Presthus 14 points each to lead Edina.  Josh Ola-Joseph showed off his freakish athleticism for Osseo with 12 of his game high 17 points in the 2nd half.  Tariq Henry added 12.  The Osseo future is very bright as they used 7 sophomores in the rotation.  They'll struggle to score in the halfcourt but I can see them adding in more of their run and jump pressure to generate offense.

Game 2: #2AAA De La Salle 65 #1AA Waseca 49
This rematch of last year's class AAA title game looked somewhat similar to that game.  De La Salle's defense kept Waseca out of their offense.  Andrew Morgan with 24 to lead Waseca with a couple of 3s included.  Kyreese Willingham added 11.  For De La Salle, big story of the day was Cade Haskins with 6 3s and 26 points to lead the way.  A couple of those shots just rising up over smaller defenders.  Jalen Travis cleaned up the glass inside and added 17 points of his own in the battle with Morgan.  Waseca with 7 juniors and a sophomore for their rotation.

Game 3: #2AAAA Park Center 85 #6AAAA Hopkins 70
This one was a surprise in that it was basically all Park Center.  They jumped out to 12-2 lead that grew to 44-23 at the break.  Kerwin Walton battled thru what appeared to be a bum ankle to try to keep Hopkins close.  But Hopkins really couldn't find any other offense besides him (no Cornell Richardson in the lineup).  Dain Dainja huge day with 28 points and 21 points to lead Park Center.  Hopkins went with a small lineup and that didn't succeed against the bigger Pirates.  Josh Brown adds 4 triples and 18 points for Park Center.  Kerwin Walton 5 triples and 32 points to lead Hopkins.  Lanky wing Xavier White is a new name in the junior class to know.  He knocked down 4 triples for 12 points for Hopkins.

Game 4: #4AAAA Prior Lake 76 #5AAAA East Ridge 60
The individual matchup of Wisconsin commit Ben Carlson vs Marquette commit Dawson Garcia didn't disappoint.  Garcia got the better of the 1st half matchup as Prior Lake opened up a 12 point halftime lead.  Carlson would return the favor early in the 2nd half.  That plus a spurt from soph Kendall Blue would allow East Ridge to cut the lead to 1 with 10 minutes left.  Soph Malcolm Jones with big shots off the Prior Lake bench.  He hit a big jumper to break the momentum and then a triple to push the lead back to 2 possessions.  Garcia with a slow 2nd half start but would score 11 points in the last 6:30 thanks to a putback and a couple post buckets plus a couple of late dunks vs the press to extend the final margin.  Dawson Garcia finishes with 30 points and 10 boards on my sheet for Prior Lake.  Forward Malcolm Jones was a big extra option with 17 points off the bench.  Tyree Ihenacho with a quiet 12 points.  Ben Carlson with 19 points and 12 rebounds.  Really good game from soph Kendall Blue as well with 19 points.

Game 5: #3AAAA Eden Prairie 56 #1AAAA Cretin-Derham Hall 47
The pace in this one was all Eden Prairie. J'Vonne Hadley with early foul trouble saw him sit for the majority of the half and go scoreless.  CDH held Drake Dobbs scoreless in the 1st half.  Hadley would go for 4 FTs and a triple to start the 2nd half.  That was part of a 12-4 CDH run that would give them a 33-26 lead with 12 minutes left.  Dobbs with 7 straight points for EP to bring them back to even.  Hadley with a 3 point play for a 43-40 CDH lead with 6:58 left.  Eden Prairie closes it out from there with a 16-4 run to end the game.  Dobbs with a deep 3 off an offensive board to take the lead for good with 4:40 left. 8 free throws close it out.  Austin Andrews with 19 points to lead Eden Prairie.  Drake Dobbs with all 17 of his points in the 2nd half.  Tre Holloman with 17 points to lead CDH.  J'Vonne Hadley with all 10 of his points in the 2nd half.  Cretin-Derham Hall going with a John Beilein style 2-3 high shuffle offense that generated nothing.  It slows the pace and doesn't fit their personnel at all.  Very surprised they don't do more to let their stars make plays.  Insert Kevin Garnett burning Craig Sager suit here.

Game 6: #8AAAA Eastview 82 Champlin Park 50
Eastview got out to a 17-6 lead and it was a blowout the entire way.  52-23 at half, 81-35 at running time and only a 15-1 run vs the 3rd string keeps it under 35. Champlin Park didn't empty the bench at all which was incredibly strange.  Steven Crowl and Ryan Thissen outstanding for Eastview.  Crowl with 28 points and 7 rebounds on my sheet.  Thissen adds 25.  I continue to love his game.  Nothing like seeing a flare screen for 3 for Crowl and he knocked down 2 of those.  Fun set with Crowl getting ball at the elbow and then flaring after a DHO.  Francis Nwaokorie was the only bright spot for Champlin Park with 16 points.  Eastview quickly decided that they had to double team him in the post even with Crowl guarding him.  His strength was too much.  When Crowl sat, the big Champlin Park front line did beat up Eastview on the glass.

2019-20 Season Tipoff

Its a friendly Minnesota season opener as I venture back to Minneapolis Roosevelt for another opening night.  Howard Pulley coaching pals Willie Braziel and Mike Walker sit on opposite benches as coach Braziel brings his Columbia Heights squad into the city for game number 1.  Its a fully recognized AAU crew on duty for the evening.  For those of you wondering, despite it being Pulley guys, we don't get The Reverend though.  Roosevelt closing the opposite bleachers and swapping the scorers table and benches to that side.  Made for a much cozier feel.  The 500 ml bottle of Coke beverage option goes with a basic hot dog on a slightly stale bun.

Song of the Day: Downtown Train - Rod Stewart

Number of Teams I've Seen: 4 (2 games, 2 buildings, 0 online)

Beverage Ticker: 16.9 ounces (200 calories)
  • Coke: 16.9 ounces (200 calories)
Food Ticker:
  • Hot Dogs:1
  • Pizza:0
  • Walking Tacos: 0
  • Extra: 0
Game Time:
Its a slow start on both ends.  Heights not happy with their start and coach Braziel takes time just over 2 minutes and his Hylanders down 3-2.  That inspires a 14-4 spurt over the next 5+ minutes.  But a couple of sloppy turnovers and a bad triple trigger a Roosevelt 5-0 mini-run.  16-12 Columbia Heights as we reach the midpoint of the first half.  Jordan Jones with a pair of tough triples and 12 points already.  Heights opens the game up from there with a 16-0 run over the next 6:45.  Elijah Williams with a free throw and bucket to start it.  Star soph Muja Burton with a triple, a nice cut for a 3 point play and a jumper to finish it.  36-20 Columbia Heights at half.  They'll turn it into a blowout with a 17-2 run to the midpoint of the 2nd half.  Jones and Burton leading that run to push the lead to 62-31 with 9:02 left.  We quickly get running time and garbage time from there.  Columbia Heights rolls to a 80-43 victory.

Post Game:
Minneapolis Roosevelt falls to 0-1 with the loss.  Dennis Holte leads the Teddies with 9 points off the bench.  Mustafa Salad chips in with 8 and he looks to be their best offensive option.  I had Roosevelt for at least 23 turnovers which didn't help the cause.  It doesn't get any easier with a trip to Cristo Rey on Monday.  They'll then host Bloomington Kennedy on Thursday before jumping into Minneapolis City play the following week.

Senior guard Jordan Jones leads Columbia Heights with 27 points including 3 triples.  Soph wing Muja Burton adds a couple of triples of his own.  He finished with 21 points.  They'll stay on the road next week with trips to Mahtomedi and St. Thomas Academy.  That Mahtomedi game is an important one for position behind Minnehaha in section 4AAA.  That leads into a tough schedule stretch from mid-December into mid-January.

2019-20 Season in a Nutshell

This is the final preview in the 2019-2020 Season Preview series.  Per normal tradition, it concludes with a season overview for the casual fan.  This is a higher level simplified preview for those who don't eat, sleep and breathe hoops like the rest of us.  Its who and what you need to see and when and where to see it.  If you missed any of the 121 team previews over 13 conferences or the 14 section previews, a full list of them can be found here.

10 Local Events
  • Nov 30th - Big 12 Classic at Champlin Park
  • Dec 7 - Boys Tipoff Classic at Hopkins
  • Dec 14 - Southside Showcase at Minnehaha and Hiawatha Academy
  • Jan 3rd and 4th - Sierra Canyon (CA) and Patrick School (NJ) at Minnehaha
  • Jan 11th - Basketball Showcase at Minneapolis Henry
  • Jan 18th - Hall of Fame Winter Classic at Anoka-Ramsey CC
  • Jan 18th - Bragging Rights Classic at Prairie Seeds Academy
  • Jan 20th - Dream Classic at Minneapolis Roosevelt
  • Jan 25th - South Metro Hoopfest at Burnsville
  • Feb 1st - Community Clash at St. Michael-Albertville
As usual the Breakdown Sports USA events kickoff the season with a bang.  A rematch of last season's class AAA title game between De La Salle and Waseca is just one of the notable games on the Big 12 schedule.  Waseca and Mankato East are a couple of outstate teams with tough matchups on the main court in the Tipoff Classic.  All 10 teams in the AAAA Breakdown top 10 will be on the main court along with 4 of the top 6 in AAA and #1AA Waseca.  Lake City and Caledonia are 2 of the top 5 class AA heavyweights playing on the east court.

The Southside Showcase expands to 2 gyms and 14 games.  Minnehaha has all big school games.  Don't sleep on the small school teams just down the street at Hiawatha.  Hiawatha, Cristo Rey, Hope Academy, Blake and Mayer Lutheran plus tradition power Rushford-Peterson are a good group of teams that will all be playing there.

Speaking of Minnehaha, they'll host a monster set of games on the 1st weekend of the new year.  Friday night will feature national powers Sierra Canyon of California and The Patrick School of New Jersey.  Sierra Canyon's roster has Bronny James (Lebron's son) amongst many high profile guys.  The Patrick School is loaded too.  They'll play each other on Friday night along with Minnehaha hosting Park Center.  Then Sierra Canyon sticks around to play Minnehaha on Saturday in the local game of the year.  Rumor says there might be ESPN involvement too.

The usual Tim Williams events dot the rest of the January calendar.  But 1 new event pops up with the Minnesota basketball hall of fame putting on an event at Anoka-Ramsey.  A possible state title preview there with the 2 top preseason favorites, Eden Prairie and Park Center, going at it.  It also includes the best chance for metro fans to catch the Madsen twins in action (Cincinnati commits) as they take on East Ridge.

10 Other Non-Conference Games to Watch
  • De La Salle at North St. Paul - Dec 5th 
  • Minnehaha at Hopkins - Dec 17th 
  • Eden Prairie at East Ridge - Dec 21st
  • East Ridge holiday tourney- Dec 27th and 28th
  • De La Salle at Hopkins - Jan 10th 
  • Prior Lake at Chaska - Jan 30th
  • Eden Prairie at De La Salle - Feb 1st 
  • De La Salle at Cretin-Derham Hall - Feb 15th
  • Eden Prairie at Minnehaha - Feb 18th
  • De La Salle at Minnehaha - Feb 22nd
There's nothing like a good grudge match and the first 2 games fit that bill.  North St. Paul went to the island and got everybody's attention with a win there last season.  Minnehaha has lost 3 straight to Hopkins over the last 2 years including their only 2 losses last season.  A tough trio of games for Ben Carlson and East Ridge to end the calendar year.  AAAA favorite Eden Prairie comes calling to start the holiday break.  Then Ben Carlson goes head to head with future Wisconsin teammate Steven Crowl to start their holiday tournament.  They finish that tourney against Minnehaha.  State contenders and powerhouses Hopkins and De La Salle have a return game to start the new year.  Prior Lake's only major solo non-conference matchup is a tough section battle at Chaska right in the middle of the South Suburban season.   De La Salle gets in a couple of rivalry games in February with CDH and Minnehaha.

10 Conference Games to Watch
  • Prior Lake at Shakopee - Jan 7th
  • Tartan at North St. Paul- Jan 14th
  • Eden Prairie at Hopkins - Jan 16th
  • Champlin Park at Park Center - Jan 28th
  • Cristo Rey at St. Croix Prep - Jan 28th
  • Shakopee at Prior Lake - Feb 7th
  • Hopkins at Eden Prairie - Feb 11th
  • North St. Paul at Tartan - Feb 14th
  • St. Croix Prep at Cristo Rey - Feb 18th
  • Cretin-Derham Hall at East Ridge - Feb 28th
The beauty in this list of games is not just the conference implications, but also the section seeding impacts.  8 of these 10 games are section matchups with the Hopkins vs Eden Prairie games being possible 1 seed matchups and a state title preview.  Great rivalries here too with Prior Lake and Shakopee in the section 2AAAA and a very underrated district rivalry in section 4AAAA between Tartan and North St. Paul.  Cristo Rey and St. Croix Prep had a tight non-conference game last year and are favorites in section 4AA.  Champlin Park vs Park Center is the only meeting between the division favorites in the NW Suburban and 2 of the best teams in section 5AAAA along with Osseo.  The regular season finale between CDH and East Ridge is too good to resist with a league title and top seed in section 4AAAA possibly up for grabs.

10 Upperclassmen to Watch
  • Ben Carlson - East Ridge
  • Steven Crowl - Eastview
  • Dain Dainja - Park Center
  • Drake Dobbs - Eden Prairie
  • Dawson Garcia - Prior Lake
  • J'Vonne Hadley - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Chet Holmgren - Minnehaha 
  • Jacob Hutson - Edina
  • Jalen Suggs - Minnehaha
  • Kerwin Walton - Hopkins
10 Underclassmen You Need to Know
  • Prince Aligbe - Minnehaha
  • Kendall Blue - East Ridge
  • Braeden Carrington - Park Center 
  • Chase Carter - Minnehaha Academy
  • Taison Chatman - Totino-Grace
  • Camden Heide - Wayzata
  • Tre Holloman - Cretin-Derham Hall
  • Emmett Johnson - Holy Angels 
  • CJ O'Hara - Totino-Grace 
  • Elvis Nnaji - Hopkins
10 Local Teams to Watch
  • Cretin-Derham Hall
  • De La Salle
  • Eastview
  • East Ridge
  • Eden Prairie
  • Hopkins
  • Minnehaha Academy
  • Park Center
  • Prior Lake
  • Shakopee
Current 10 Games or More Streaks In Conference Play
  • De La Salle - 40 wins
  • Minneapolis North - 39 wins
  • Minnehaha Academy - 32 wins (23 in a row overall)
  • East Ridge- 23 wins
  • St. Paul Central - 17 wins
  • Park Center - 15 wins
  • Tartan - 14 wins
  • Cristo Rey Jesuit - 12 wins (in EMAC, move to Skyline this season)
  • Lakeville North - 10 wins
  • Hill-Murray - 17 losses
  • International School of Minnesota/Eagle Ridge Academy - 14 losses* 
  • Richfield - 13 losses (in Metro West, move to Tri-Metro this season)
* The International School of Minnesota/Eagle Ridge Academy streak ends this year as the programs are no longer doing their co-op.  ISM now combines with Chesterton but that will be under an independent banner this year.  Eagle Ridge joins the new era of the MCAA.
Season Thoughts
Its another quality year in class AAAA thanks to a deep 2020 class.  Park Center and Eden Prairie stand out as immediate favorites but the loss of Ariel Bland leaves a hole inside for Eden Prairie.  Hopkins won't be big either but will have lots of firepower on the perimeter with Kerwin Walton leading that crew.  Cretin-Derham Hall will be similar to that with J'Vonne Hadley filling the stat sheet on the wing and Tre Holloman running the show.  There's also plenty to talk about with big guys too.  Dawson Garcia at Prior Lake, Steven Crowl at Eastview and Ben Carlson at East Ridge will all make their teams forces to be reckoned with.  Can't forget Jacob Hutson of Edina in that group of outstanding bigs either.  I'm also looking forward to how Osseo and Champlin Park reload with young talent. 

Minnehaha moves up to AAA and is the heavy favorite thanks to a roster that may be as talented from top to bottom as we've seen in Minnesota.  De La Salle has talent but lacks experience and an obvious high level guy on the offensive end.  But Cade Haskins may be the guy to fill that role. Don't expect Holy Angels to go away, they were very good at all levels last year and have turned around in a hurry.  Soph Emmet Johnson is a big reason for that.  Totino-Grace has a group of very talented freshmen that will be a fun story to follow in the tough NW Suburban schedule.  St. Croix Lutheran has a nice junior class that can make a run this year and next.

As to the small schools, I think the races in the new Skyline conference and the renewed/revamped EMAC be really fun to watch.  St. Croix Prep and Cristo Rey have outstanding guard play that will make them very dangerous all season.  Those 2 look to be on a collision course in section 4AA.  Section 4A will once again be an entertaining mess figure out with Hope Academy, CHOF and the EMAC elite going after a trip to state.  Thomas Conroy won't put up the same crazy stats he did last year for Liberty thanks to an upgrade in competition but he's still an inside threat to be dealt with.  Hope's Caleb Hoilien will play all 5 spots and have a big year trying to get beyond last year's section final loss.  Hiawatha's freshman make them appealing to follow over the next few years.

So now that all the predictions and off season work are in, its time to let the season play out on the court.  Good luck to all and I hope everyone will #ShockTheCzar.

2019-20 Section 8AAAA Preview

This is the 27th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  This is the final class AAAA preview, a look at section 8AAAA.  Tomorrow the series wraps up with a season overview.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 8AAAA (7 teams)
Defending Champion: Maple Grove

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, March 3rd
Semifinals: Saturday, March 7th at St. Cloud Tech
Finals: Thursday, March 12th at Monticello

Predicted Seeding
  1. Maple Grove
  2. Moorhead 
  3. Buffalo 
  4. Brainerd
  5. St. Michael-Albertville 
  6. Rogers 
  7. Elk River
Maple Grove looks to defend their crown as section champs but it could be wild and very wide open.  Moorhead loses star Maleeck Harden-Hayes but with lefty veteran Drew Hagen leading the way from his do everything forward spot and the Walthall twins amongst the returnees at the guard spots, the Spuds will make a run here.  Buffalo despite losing Tony Dahl and Aidan Bowman can't be counted out as they still have Matt Willert to build around.  Tough 3 night section stretch for Maple Grove as they visit Buffalo, host Rogers and then Moorhead on Dec 11th thru 13th.  Brainerd should be very respectable as well.  STMA will get beat up by the Lake Conference schedule but they have a couple of solid pieces as well.  The loss of Sean Buchanan is a hit though.  Rogers and Elk River are both looking at down seasons.

Sleeper: Brainerd. They return a couple of double figure scorers and did pull off a home win vs Wayzata last year.

Section Winner: Maple Grove.  They return quality size and have plenty of options that will step in on the perimeter.  That depth will carry them through to another state appearance.

2019-20 Section 7AAAA Preview

This is the 26th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  The class AAAA previews move on to section 7AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 7AAAA (7 teams)
Defending Champion: Cambridge-Isanti

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, March 4th
Semifinals: Saturday, March 7th at Elk River
Finals: Thursday, March 12th at Elk River

Predicted Seeding
  1. Cambridge-Isanti 
  2. Duluth East
  3. Coon Rapids 
  4. Forest Lake
  5. Blaine
  6. Anoka
  7. Andover
Cambridge-Isanti loses 3 double figure scorers but they still have 2 of the best shooters around in Henry Abraham and Micah Ladd.  Ryan Cox will step into that group as well.  Connor Braaten will fill in nicely for London Williams on the front line.  They have section road games at Duluth East (12/17), Coon Rapids, Forest Lake and Blaine.  They also have Wayzata, Eden Prairie and Edina at home.  Duluth East returns 3 starters and a top reserve from last season.  Will Van Scoy at a guard spot and center Noah Paulson and Mattie Thompson on the wing give them a nice trio for the next 2 years.  Beyond that, its the local teams.  Coon Rapids appears to be the best of the rest with a quality front line.  Forest Lake and Blaine will battle for the last home game.  Anoka will try to jump in that group as well.  Andover will struggle.

Sleeper: Coon Rapids.  They do have good size returning plus that funky 1-3-1 makes you prepare differently.

Section Winner: Cambridge-Isanti. I think the Bluejackets get it done again with their offense.  The matchup zone is another difficulty to prepare for as well.

2019-20 Section 6AAAA Preview

This is the 25th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  The class AAAA previews continue with a look at section 6AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 6AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Hopkins (State Champion)

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, March 4th
Semifinals: Friday, March 6th at Osseo
Finals: Wednesday, March 11th at Osseo

Predicted Seeding
  1. Hopkins
  2. Wayzata
  3. Robbinsdale Armstrong
  4. St. Louis Park
  5. Robbinsdale Cooper
  6. Minneapolis Washburn
  7. Minneapolis South
  8. Minneapolis Southwest
The usual suspects of Hopkins and Wayzata lead the way again.  Both teams can really fill it up on the wings.  Armstrong is clearly next in line with plenty coming back from an 18 win group last year.  Then its a sea of orange behind these teams.  Metro West members St. Louis Park and Robbinsdale Cooper will battle it out for the final home game.  The Minneapolis City comes in behind them.  Washburn with the most back gets the nod.  South and Southwest battle to stay out of the last seed.

Sleeper: Robbindale Armstrong.  With a solid returning group and a couple of youngsters ready to step into bigger roles, the Falcons have the best chance to surprise in this section.

Section Winner: Hopkins.  Too much offense from the Royals.  Kerwin Walton with a big year leading the Royals back to state.

2019-20 Section 5AAAA Preview

This is the 24th preview in my 2019-2020 season preview series.  In this 6th and final week of previews, I complete the last half of the class AAAA section previews and then finish up with the annual season overview on Friday.  Today its section 5AAAA.  For a list of all the season previews and how they are generated, click here.

Section 5AAAA (8 teams)
Defending Champion: Park Center

Tournament Schedule:
Quarterfinals: Wednesday, March 4th
Semifinals: Tuesday, March 10th at Coon Rapids
Finals: Friday, March 13th at Rogers

Predicted Seeding
  1. Park Center
  2. Champlin Park
  3. Osseo
  4. Spring Lake Park 
  5. Roseville
  6. Centennial
  7. Mounds View
  8. Irondale
Park Center is a heavy favorite here and a state championship threat with all the pieces.  Then a very interesting battle behind them for 2nd between Champlin Park and Osseo.  They'll meet on Jan 17th at Champlin Park in a game that could decide that seed.  Both have lots of talented new guys stepping into the rotation.  Spring Lake Park's experience will keep them in the fight with that group as well.  Roseville and Centennial will battle it out behind them.  Then the Mounds View district lags behind.

Sleeper: Centennial.  Shooting comes and goes and can be suspect in the playoffs.  Not sure they can stop the size in this section. But if they get hot in the right matchup, an upset could happen.

Section Winner: Park Center.  The lineup is too loaded and experienced to not pick them.  Dain Dainja is a monster inside.  Josh Brown gives them a shooter.  DT Frierson can do multiple things for them.  Then a bunch of interchangeable parts off the bench.  John Grigsby as a stretch 4 is another important dimension for them.