Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Big Month March 2010

March Players of the Month

Alec Brown, Winona
Tessa Cichy, Hill-Murray
Kevin Noreen, Minnesota Transitions
Cassie Rochel, Lakeville North
Matt Schneck, St. Cloud State

March Teams of the Month

1. Lakeville North girls
2. St. Paul Johnson boys
3. St. Cloud State men
4. Concordia (St. Paul) women
5. Barnum girls

March Coaches of the Month

1. Vern Simmons, St. Paul Johnson boys
2. Kevin Schlagel, St. Cloud State men
3. Andy Berkvam, Lakeville North girls
4. Tubby Smith, Minnesota Gopher men
5. Dan Elhard, Grand Rapids boys

March Games of the Month

1. Hopkins boys 90 Henry Sibley 82 (2 OT), Boys AAAA semi-finals
2. Minnesota Gophers men 69 Purdue 42, Big Ten tournament semi-finals
3. St. Cloud State men 92 Midwestern State (Texas) 88, NCAA D2 Elite Eight
4. Minnesota Gophers men 72 Michigan State 67 (OT), Big Ten tournament quarter-finals
5. St. Paul Johnson 59 Grand Rapids 55, Boys AAA finals

The Big Game March 2010
Plus the Most Valuable Minnesotan and Most Valuable Coach of the day

3/31 Minnesota Timberwolves 108 Sacramento Kings 99. Wolves break a 16-game losing streak. MVM: Al Jefferson 19/12 boards/6 blocks.

3/28 Phoenix 111 Minnesota Timberwolves 105. Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, Timberwolves 42 points/38 boards between 'em. Kurt Rambis, Timberwolves.

3/27 Boys State HS Tournament, AAA finals: St. Paul Johnson 59 Grand Rapids 55. The state's best team survives its most surprising state tournament entrant to complete an unbeaten season. Estan Tyler, St. Paul Johnson 20/7 rebounds/4 assists. Dan Elhard, Grand Rapids.

3/26 Boys State HS Tournament, AA semi-finals: Sebeka 61 Ellsworth 60. Casey Schilling, Ellsworth 31/13 rebounds/3 assists. Tom Vix, Rushford-Peterson.

3/25 Boys State HS Tournament, AAAA semi-finals: Hopkins 90 Henry Sibley 82 (2OT). A classic in which Hopkins set tournament records for FT made and attempted at 39-for-58.Joe Coleman of Hopkins and Jordan Jackson of Sibley scored 25 points each. Tom Vix, Rushford-Peterson.

3/24 D2 Elite Eight: St. Cloud State men 92 Midwestern State (Texas) 88. Taylor Witt, St. Cloud State 43, including a D2 Elite Eight record 22-0f-23 FT. Kevin Schlagel, St. Cloud State.

3/23 NCAA D1 women's basketball tournament, 2nd round game, Williams Arena: Nebraska 83 UCLA 70. I think this was the last college game to be played on Minnesota soil in 2009-2010, and it was a game of runs. 15-6 UCLA, 9-0 Nebraska, 8-3 UCLA, then the biggie: 17-2 Nebraska. And, then, after a 9-0 UCLA run, a 16-0 Nebraska run to make it 51-34 at 13:53 of the 2nd half. UCLA never got closer than 12. Cory Montgomery, Nebraska (and Cannon Falls, MN) 9 points/4 boards/3 assists/1 steal.

3/22 Toronto Raptors 106 Minnesota Timberwolves 100. Trailing by 12 early in the 4th quarter, the Wolves got within 94-92 at 3:28 but never had possession with a game-tying shot. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves 14/6 assists/3 steals. Kurt Rambis, Timberwolves, the only Minnesotan coaching tonight.

3/21 NCAA D1 women's basketball tournament, 1st round games, Williams Arena: Nebraska 83 Northern Iowa 44. Cory Montgomery, Nebraska (and Cannon Falls, MN) 9/4 rebounds/5 assists

3/20 Girls State HS Tournament, AAAA finals: Lakeville North 57 White Bear Lake 47. The Panthers complete their unbeaten season and people are asking how they compare to St. Paul Central 2007, whether they're one of the best--and, perhaps, the best--ever. Rachel Banham 25/3 assists and Cassie Rochel 13/20 rebounds/4 blocks, Lakeville North. Josh Thurow, Minnehaha Academy girls.

3/19 Boys section finals: Champlin Park 77 Robbinsdale Cooper 70, and Henry Sibley 55 Cretin-Derham Hall 53. The #3 and #4AAAA teams go down to defeat. Jordan Jackson, Sibley 31. Vern Simmons, St. Paul Johnson boys.

3/18 Girls State Tournament: Lakeville North 76 Chaska 46. My goodness. If not Chaska, who? Tessa Cichy, Hill-Murray 34/4 assists/4 steals. Erin Herman, Hill-Murray.

3/17 Girls State Tournament: Wayzata 56 Maple Grove 50. The Trojans roared back from a 31-17 half-time deficit against the favored Crimson, who shot just 26 percent for the second half and 3o percent for the game. Ellen Degler, Chaska 19/9 reb/3 assists/3 steals. Mike Schumacher, Wayzata.

3/16 Cretin-Derham Hall boys 67 Tartan 65. Raiders advance to Section 4AAAA final against Forest Lake. Jacob Thomas, Columbia Heights 38. The Heights advance to the 3AAA final against DeLaSalle. Keith Newman, Mahtomedi boys, who advance to the 4AAA final against St. Paul Johnson.

3/15 NCAA D2 Women's Central Regional final: Fort Lewis 73 Concordia (St. Paul) 64. The Bears fought back from 29-19 and 32-23 deficits in the 1st half to take a 43-42 lead at 11:51 of the 2nd. But from a 60-60 tie, Fort Lewis scored on all 8 possessions to the final buzzer and blocked 3 Concordia shots inside of 2:00. Jordan Milbrath, Springfield HS boys 17/5 rebounds/3 assists/3 steals as Springfield knocks off defending state champ Granada-H-EC in the section 2A semis. Lance Larson, Springfield.

3/14 D2 Central Region semi-finals: St. Cloud State 82 Mankato State 71. The Huskies led just 69-66 at 3:35, but Andrew Bernstetter had 6 points, 3 boards and 2 blocks the rest of the way. Matt Schneck, St. Cloud State 21/14 rebounds. Kevin Schlagel, St. Cloud State.

3/13 Big Ten tournament: Minnesota Gopher men 69 Purdue 42. The Gophers took an early 26-4 lead as Purdue went scoreless for 11:26. You just knew they'd be playing for the Big Ten title on Sunday! No, you didn't. Ralph Sampson, Minnesota 13/5 reb/3 assists/2 blocks/1 steal. Tubby Smith, Minnesota.

3/12 Minnesota Gopher men 72 Michigan State 67 (OT). Up and down Gophers stay alive in the Big Ten and for the Big Dance, shocking the #11 rated Spartans. Brooke Brown, Chaska girls 20, including the game-winner at 0:14 vs. #2 Edina. Bill Gottenborg, Hawley girls.

3/11 6AAAA Final: Wayzata girls 56 Mpls. South 42. The girls state tournament field is taking shape, but we now know that the defending AAAA champs won't be part of it. Kayla Hirt, Bemidji 40. Mike Schumacher, Wayzata girls.

3/10 Mpls. Washburn boys 49 Waconia 47. Defending state AAA champs stay alive with 11-13 W-L, upsetting #6AAA Waconia in section quarter-finals. Thomas Schalk, Apple Valley 27. Reggie Perkins, Mpls. Washburn.

3/9 Sauk Centre girls 45 New London-Spicer 32. For the second night in a row, a #1 got bounced out of the post-season, this time it was the #1AA New London-Spicer Wildcats. These West Central Conference opponents split 2 previous games but the Mainstreeters got the last laugh, stalling out the final 9 minutes of the 2nd half. Rachel Hansen, Minnehaha 28. Josh Thurow, Minnehaha girls.

3/8 Buffalo Lake-Hector girls 48 Cedar Mountain-Comfrey 45 (OT). Undefeated and #1 rated, CMC goes down in the Section 3A semi to the team that beat the team that beat #1AA Sauk Center a week ago. If you follow me. Al Jefferson, Timberwolves 36/13 rebounds. Josh Tjosaas, Buffalo Lake-Hector.

3/7 St. Cloud State men 68 Southwest State 67. The 2 teams exchanged 1-point leads on each of the last 12 scores after 2:53. Two Taylor Witt FT for the Huskies at 0:02 were the last of the 12. Kachine Alexander, Iowa women (formerly Benilde) 13/7 rebounds/3 assists/4 steals. Brad Bigler, Southwest State.

3/6 Chaska girls 72 Eden Prairie 56. Everybody said, Eden Prairie is playing very well right now. What does that say about Chaska? Brooke Brown, Chaska 29. Tara Seifert, Chaska.

3/5 Morris Area boys 62 New London-Spicer 58 (ot). Morris turns the tables on the Wildcats in the West Central Conference title game. Alex Healy, St. Thomas men 26/6 assists in NCAA D3 1st round loss. Mark Torgerson, Morris boys.

3/4 Penn State women 63 Minnesota 52. A disappointing end to a disappointing season. Brittney McCoy allowed to a Strib reporter that "some people (teammates) have checked out." Oh, really. Brittney Chambers, Kansas State (formerly Jordan HS) 13/14 rebounds, including 2 game-winning FT in a 72-70 win over Colorado. Such a performance by the girl that Pam Borton didn't want has to be noted on the day the Gophers' season came to an end. Chris Stoebner, Orono girls.

3/3 Prior Lake girls 57 Bloomington Kennedy 44. #6 and #8 in the state, but just #4 and #5 in Section 2AAAA. If I'm #1 seed (in the section) and #2 ranked (statewide) Edina, I'm not liking the match-up with Prior Lake in the semis. Rachel Moen, Burnsville 21. Mike Gidley, Prior Lake girls.

3/2 Stillwater boys 60 Cretin-Derham Hall 58. But the Raiders were without 6-8 post Senatrel Henderson, with whom they would seem poised to turn the tables on the Ponies in Section 4AAAA action. Dyami Starks, Duluth East 32, on the heels of a 55 point effort a week ago. Vern Simmons, St. Paul Johnson, who completed an undefeated 25-0 regular season.

3/1 Sebeka girls 78 New York Mills 67. #2A takes it on the chin in their final tune-up for the play-offs. Nate Dwyer, West Lutheran 30. Mike Heino, Sebeka.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Boys Finale

Well, dare we hope for some more OT today?
Sebeka vs. MTC. Who'd a thought that MTC would come into the tournament and play a slow-down ball control game? But of course they got a running team in the 1st round and they decided not to run with them. Then they got a ball control team, and a good ball control team, in the 2nd, and couldn't make them run. Now it's another running team, and it would seem they would probably try to slow it down and control the ball again. Sebeka will pressure 'em full court, try to create turnovers and try to run. All of which puts Kyle Noreen very much on the spot as MTC's primary ball handler. Both teams are great athletes, as you would expect at this level but Sebeka may have the overall edge in athleticism. I would have them as the fave, despite the fact that they've taken some bad shots and don't really move the ball in the half-court very well (4 assists yesterday). But with Ryan Sharp out I'll just say it's a toss-up. Or is he out? OK, I won't cop out, I'll say MTC by 2.
C-I vs. NL-S. A re-play of 2008 final! Whod'a thought. But the roles have somewhat changed, I think. I remember that NLS team from 2 (?) years ago as one of the toughest and most relentless defensive teams I've seen in recent years, and I assumed the same this year. Maybe, but I haven't seen it. Braham had lots of room to operate last night, NL-S seemed more into a strategy of out-running and out-scoring 'em and, of course, they were successful in doing so. Meanwhile, C-I showed more of an orientation to the tough hard-nosed D, at least last night. I didn't see the 1st round of AA. A low scoring game should go to C-I but if it turns into a track meet, then the result will be more like NLS and Braham last night. So, as in 2008, I think the team that has more defensive intensity will win and this year I think that will be C-I, C-I by 3.
St. Paul Johnson vs. Grand Rapids. I live in the metro now but I grew up in greater MN, so I admit to a bias for greater MN teams. Still Johnson plays the game the right way. Their kids are so on the same page. They throw the extra pass, they work work work on both ends of the court. I think their depth will be a huge problem for GR, and how could GR have a full tank of gas? Well, they've had 48 hours to rest, thank goodness. I imagine they've played exactly as they expended to, but I don't think many who aren't GR fans expected them to do what they've done. And Winona showed that Johnson can be beaten...or did they show that they can't? That eventually Johnson's depth will wear you out? Go Rapids! But Johnson is the best team in MN this year. Johnson by 10.
Hopkins vs. St. Cloud Tech. I live in the metro now but I grew up in greater MN, so I admit to a bias for greater MN teams. Go Tigers! If anybody is going to beat Hopkins it better be this year, they're only gonna be better the next couple years again. Tech will need to control the pace, like, doh, you didn't know that. And Hopkins had an especially intense game in the semis, maybe they'll be worn out mentally a little bit? I don't know, but if it comes down just to athleticism, Hopkins will be very hard to beat. Hopkins by 10.
The top players by class so far, these could change after today.
Casey Shilling
Mark Hoge
Alec Brown,
Jordan Jackson

Friday, March 26, 2010

Class A-AA Semi-Final All-Stars

Trevor Gruis, Ellsworth 14/16 rebounds/2 assists/3 blocks
Mark Hoge, Crosby-Ironton 19/7 rebounds/5 assists/4 steals
Kevin Noreen, Minnesota Transitions 17/11 rebounds/5 blocks
Cole Olstad, Plainview-Elgin-Millville 24/11 rebounds/3 assists/2 blocks
Casey Shilling, Ellsworth 31 points/13 rebounds/3 assists
6th: Rodney Owens, Minnesota Transitions 18/4 steals

Class AAAA-AAA Semi-Final All-Stars

Mike Rostampour, Henry Sibley 13 points/12 boards/3 steals
Joe Coleman, Hopkins 25 points/2 steals
Jordan Jackson, Henry Sibley 25 points
Alec Brown, Winona 15 points/10 boards/3 assists/9 blocks
Jonah Travis, DeLaSalle 15 points/13 boards/2 blocks/4 steals
6th perimeter: Eric Stark, Grand Rapids 20 points/5 assists
6th inside: Maxie Rosenbloom, St. Paul Johnson 15 points/9 boards/3 assists

Class A All-Stars, Day 2

Kevin Noreen, Minnesota Transitions 22 points/22 boards/5 assists/2 blocks
Kasey Olloff, Rushford-Peterson 24 points/8 assists/0 turnovers
Trevor Gruis, Ellsworth 14 points/14 rebounds/4 assists
John Clark, Sebeka 16 points/10 rebounds
Cody Pulju, Sebeka 21
6th: Casey Schilling, Ellsworth 24

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blogging Live from Target Center AAAA Semi-Finals

Eden Prairie Eagles vs. St. Cloud Tech Tigers

OK I admit it, I ran outta gas. 3 double OT games! That has to be some kind of record. EP led Tech as much as 34-23 at 16:41, but Tech caught up at 46 at 4:06 and took the lead at 47-46. It was 48-48 at 2:05 but both teams came up dry on their final 3 possessions. Tech never led in OT but never trailed by more than 2, and tied it up at 52 at 0:35. EP held it for the final shot, but never got that shot off. In the second OT, Tech scored on each of its 1st 5 possessions, missing only after it was up 62-58. That was the final.

3:03 EP 26-16. They're picking Tech apart, getting lay-ups on one end and forcing Tech to shoot bombs on the other. The pace is slow, the energy low, this could just as well be curling compared to the last game.

5:23 EP 19 St. Cloud Tech 11, media timeout. EP is continuing to pound it inside and so is shooting 43 percent. Tech is struggling to find ways to score and is shooting 33 percent. The boards are also 11-5 EP. Various fans are singing Old McDonald Had a Farm. I don't know why.

14:29 Tech 4 EP 3. Both teams trying to get to the rim. But Tech is looking for the dribble drive, EP looking for the entry pass to Brett Ervin down low. Ervin, however, is 0-for-3 so far.

15:30 Well, this is a different pace, we've had 5 possessions each. With Hopkins and Sibley 5 possessions was about a minute. It's EP 3-2.

It's 9:20, this game should be in the 2nd half with 5 minutes to go. Ouch.

Hopkins Royals 90 Henry Sibley Warriors 82 (2OT)

It turns out that Hopkins set 2 all-time tournament records--for most FT attempts, 58, and for most FT made, 39.

The Hopkins players made obscene gestures to the Sibley fans as they left the court.

Hopkins advances 90-82, closing it out with 6-0 run in the final 1:37 as Sibley was forced to play with 4 reserves, including 3 who hadn't played until OT. Hopkins shot 17-for-30 after the end of the 1st half, Sibley shot 17-for-41. Jordan Jackson of Sibley and Joe Coleman of Hopkins scored 25 points each for their respective teams.

Sibley timeout, trailing 84-80 at 1:40. 4 starters on the bench, compared to 1 for Hopkins.

The next game was scheduled to start 40 minutes ago.

Siyana Chambers fouls out for Hopkins but then Jordan Jackson does the same as a result of a collision with a moving pick. Ouch.

9th grader Zach Haas and 10th grader Adam Huessner are in for Sibley, neither had played before OT.

Jackson, Ryan and Wills have 4 fouls for Sibley, everybody has 4 for Hopkins. Jump ball to Sibley.

SECOND OVERTIME. Hopkins doubled Jackson in the backcourt, forced it out of his hands and forced the turnover. Hopkins missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.

0:07 1st one is good, 2nd missed, tie ball game, Sibley ball. Coleman is 7-of-12 from the line. Sibley timeout with 0:05.4.

0:07 Rostampour fouls out, Coleman shooting 2.

0:25 Ryan hits another 3, Sibley leads 76-75.

1:04 Grant fouls out, Chambers hits 2 throws, 75-72.

1:35 Hopkins timeout, leading 73-72 after a Ryan 3. Hopkins has shot 15-for-28 since the end of the 1st half.

4 of Sibley's 5 guys out here have 4 fouls. Ditto Hopkins.

Hopkins draws first blood, 2 Chambers throws 4 seconds in.


0:00 Dante Grant hit the shot at the buzzer, it was called a 3 but they're reviewing it. Game on the line.

0:10 Sibley timeout, trailing 69-66. They've made just one 3 pointer all night.

0:35 Hopkins 67-66. Hopkins has missed 3-of-4 FT since Ryan's 3, but Sibley turned it over to allow Coleman's FT. Coleman also got a defensive rebound and took it all the way. Jordan Jackson just got the driving lay-up to get back within 1. Jackson and Rostampour have 4 fouls, Kreuser is out with 5.

1:39 Jimmy Ryan hits his 1st field goal of the night, a 3, and it ties it up at 64. Hopkins takes timeout.

2:43 Timeout, Hopkins 63-59. Coleman leads all scorers with 18, teammate Singleton has 17, and Jackson and Grant have 17 each for Sibley. Sibley is now 9-for-25 in the 2nd half.

4:39 Timeout, Hopkins leading 59-54. Hopkins on a 23-14 run the past 10:00 as the Sibley turnovers are mounting up, now 17 for Sibley, 8 for Hopkins. And Sibley, who shot 50 percent in the 1st half, is 8-for-23 in the 2nd.

5:00 Hopkins scoring almost at will down low, while Sibley is taking (and sometimes making) some tough shots. Sibley hasn't gotten many stops now the past few minutes.

6:30 Hopkins 53-48, Coleman scores on another steal and 2, but Sibley comes back to score on the next possession.

9:00 Halfway in the 2nd. Sibley is 3-for-17 this half.

10:56 Hopkins 42-40, media timeout. Momentum turning to Hopkins, which is on a 6-0 run.

12:04 Hopkins takes the lead 41-40 on a steal and 2 by Joe Coleman. 1st lead since 20-19.

12:21 Timeout Sibley. Sibley is hanging tough but the foul situation is not encouraging. Rostampour 4, Jackson 3, Ryan 3.

13:24 Mike Rostampour out with 4 fouls. Sibley leading 40-38.

15:08 Sibley 38-36. It's end to end to start the 2nd half.

Sibley played a damn nice half of ball, shooting 50 percent and out-rebounding Hopkins 20-11. And they've defended Hopkins inside the 3 point line so that the Royals are shooting just 36 percent. They (Sibley) have allowed Hopkins to get some open looks from outside but even Kenny Novak, Jr., says the Royals are not a good 3 point shooting team, and so indeed they've made 1-of-7. The Sibley guards, Grant and Jackson, have 21 of Sibley's 34 points. Going into the 2nd half the questions are whether and who foul trouble will get to first, except it's already gotten to Jordan Jackson with 3. I would think the Warriors are not gonna want to go 6 minutes without him handling the ball again as they did in the 1st half.

Half time: Sibley 35-29. Sibley rebounded a Hopkins miss at 0:33 and the bench indicated 1 shot. Grant threw one up at 0:20. Hopkins brought it back down and Marvin Singleton hit 2 throws at 0:06.

1:29 Sibley 34-25. I missed that Sibley's primary ballhandler, Jordan Jackson, sat with his third foul at 6:41. Grant, Ryan and Wills are looking a little ragged but getting it done.

It's real physical out there, the kids are pretty intense, the officials have called a lot of fouls, but the mood is on the edge a little bit.

3:11 Sibley 30 Hopkins 22. Dante Grant drove in for a 2 and a foul, which resulted in a technical on the Hopkins bench. Grant missed the 1 but Jimmy Ryan hit 2 on the tech. On the ensuing possession, Mike Rostampour hit a 2 + 1 and suddenly it's 30-22.

6:41 Sibley 16 Hopkins 15. Hopkins shooting just 3-of-13 but 9-of-11 FT. Sibley shooting 47 percent but 8 turnovers. Very fast pace and very physical but not a lot of finishing going on right now.

10:17 Hopkins 9 Sibley 8. The Royals already in the bonus.

In fairness, the Hopkins student section is now 5 rows deep.

11:55 Hopkins 8-4. Both teams are 2-for-6 from the floor but the Royals have gotten to the FT line twice and have hit 4-for-4. Meanwhile Sibley has 5 turnovers, Hopkins 1.

14:28 Hopkins 4 Sibley 4. The Royals are pushing the pace, scoring one bucket 7 seconds after a made Sibley bucket and making it tough for the Warriors to run their offense. Sibley just took a timeout as a result of getting into a trap, and now they've turned it over on a held ball.

Underway 17 minutes after the scheduled start. Jake Kreuser looks huge and wins the tap.

They're introducing the benches now, we'll be underway momentarily.

The game will be starting a little late due to the OT thriller in Class AAA this afternoon. Unseeded Grand Rapids knocked off its 2nd seeded opponent, this time DeLaSalle 57-53. Sibley has the student section filled up to the back row. I can't tell where the Hopkins student section is. Oh wait, there they are, two rows deep. My goodness.

Blogging Live from Williams Arena Minnesota Boys A State Tournament Quarter-Finals

Grand Rapids leads DeLaSalle by 1 with 4:30 left.

Wow. I guess Johnson beat Winona 80-55. It was closer than that, Winona led last at 46-45, so Johnson closed it out on a 35-9 run. Ouch.

Mesabi East vs. Sebeka

Final: Sebeka 75 Mesabi East 51. MTC Coach John Sherman ended up sitting next to me for the 2nd half of this game and I kept wondering what he was thinking about Sebeka. Probably nothing. You know, one game at a time and all of that, and tomorrow he's got Rushford-Pete. But if he gets Sebeka somewhere along the way, he'll be facing an outstanding Class A team with 5 outstanding starters. Their bench is a little thin but, hey, so is MTC's.

Joey Cuperus finished with 22 points, Cody Pulju 21, John Clark 16 and Alex Brockpahler 10 for Sebeka. Clark had 10 boards, while Ryan Sharp, Pulju and Brockpahler had 6, 5 and 4 assists.

Are there any weaknesses? Well, they're not an outside shooing team, making just 2-of-15 3s and 11-of-19 free throws. But that didn't matter today.

5:01 Sebeka 71-39. Starters out. Coach Jon Lillquist figured it was time when Ryan Sharp went behind his back with the pass to John Clark for the fast break lay-up and the 71-39 lead.

9:16 Sebeka 60-31. Another possible running time game.

12:13 Sebeka 54-31. The turnovers are 15-2, so obviously Mesabi isn't quick enough to disrupt the Sebeka offense too much. Yet the Trojans' shooting edge is only 48 percent versus 40 percent.

14:39 Mesabi just doesn't handle the ball well enough, they're on their heels, and they not getting to the spots that they want. Sebeka's full court pressure is just devastating them, turnover or not.

16:01 Sebeka 47 Mesabi 27. Sebeka is a great looking Class A team, though how much their lack of depth might hurt remains to be seen, and probably not today.

At the half, it's Sebeka big time, 40-20. In the last few minutes, Mesabi's offense became completely disrupted and out of synch, and Sebeka got numerous steals and fast break lay-ups. The punctuation mark was a Joey Cuperus dunk on a fast break at 1:32. His teammate Alex Brockpahler got 3 more steals before the end of the half, resulting in 6 more quick points. Points off turnovers are Sebeka 15 Mesabi 0.

3:33 A 2+1 by Joey Cuperus and fast break basket by Cody Pulju makes it 28-18 and Mesabi uses another timeout.

4:16 Sebeka leads 23-18, but Mesabi's Travis Whiting has a great looking jump shot, and he has made 3-of-4 that he has attempted.

10:00 Sebeka leads 13-12. Mesabi is shooting better but it's turning the ball over, 5 times to 1 for Sebeka. Mesabi's E.J. Welch leads all players with 6 points and 4 boards.

13:51 Sebeka has drawn first blood, taking a 7-4 lead and forcing a Mesabi timeout. True to form, 4 different Sebeka players have scored. Meanwhile, Mesabi's Marcus Miranda is penetrating into the lane and dishing off to E. J. Welch, who has all 4 Mesabi points.

Well, the Mesabi East fans are the loudest we've heard yet today, at least during the introductions.

And you don't see this every day. Sebeka's starters wear #s 1-2-3-4-5. And they all average in double digits. But nobody else for the Trojans scores even 2 points a game.

Minnesota Transitions 69 Cass Lake-Bena 47

0:00 Tyler Trosen and Ben Cameron combined for 31 points and 16 boards for CLB. But the story is that MTC showed that they can do more than just run and gun. They played the game the right way today, even aside from the fact that the played it very very well.

1:54 Now 66-44. Kevin Noreen has been well covered today until the shot goes up. Then he has gotten to the basket for 22 rebounds, and so he's now got 20 points, many of them off the offensive glass.

4:20 Now 58-42. This will be a disappointing finish to Martin Wind's great career. Not just a loss, but he's now 2-for-16 from the field with 6 points. But he did just throw a no-look pass with his right hand over his left shoulder to Tyler Trosen for an easy lay-up. Good show.

5:00 You thought MTC was going to bludgeon them. Me, too. This is a surgical job. MTC is taking what's given and giving nothing. Kevin Noreen's not open? Rodney Owens and D'Angelo Potter have 28 points between 'em.

8:05 MTC 48-35. The Noreens are pickin' 'em apart now, playing keep away until somebody breaks open via the back door for an easy lay-up.

10:58 Kyle Noreen is doing a great job of running the show for MTC, especially against the CLB pressure.

11:52 Noreen gets a put-back and Caleb Fisher a CLB bucket and it's 40-31.

12:30 And suddenly 38-29 after Kevin Noreen missed a pair of throws.

14:45 Martin Wind finally hits his 1st 3 of the day and suddenly its 36-25.

15:28 MTC 36-19. I gotta tell ya, a lot of people are down on MTC for whatever reason, but they play the game the right way. Today they're playing an opponent that knows how to play at a fast pace and they've deliberately gone the other way. First they're just protecting the ball and moving it around and keeping it safe. Then they're looking for the shot. And only then is there anything fancy. Meanwhile, if Kevin Noreen is covered, and he usually is today, he finds somebody to shoot a lay-up for his team.

At the half: Minnesota Transitions 31 Cass Lake-Bena 16. Well, this is certainly not the pace we expected. Cass Lake's D has been fine. They've doubled and tripled Kevin Noreen to good effect. He's 2 for 6 from the field for 5 points, though he also has 9 boards, 4 assists and 2 blocks. As a result MTC has held the ball a couple times, trying to pull CLB out of their 2-3 zone, though CLB has not yet taken the bait. Rodney Owens has picked up the slack, by the way, with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting.

The deal-breaker in this game so far, however, is CLB's 6-for-26 (23 percent) shooting, including 1-for-8 for Martin Wind, who has scored more than 2,500 points in his career. If he doesn't get hot, the Panthers are in trouble.

Also MTC has 7 offensive boards and CLB only 4 defensive boards, and the assists are 9-2 MTC. So a lot of things are going right for the Wolves right now even if this isn't really their kind of pace. I would think we'd see a faster pace in the 2nd half as the Panthers will need to do something to try to get back into it.

4:17 MTC 22 CLB 16. Somebody said Cass Lake doesn't know how to slow it down, but I guess they do, and MTC, too. Both teams know how to play at a high pace and how to stop a high pace, right now they're intent on stopping.

5:56 Kevin Noreen just scored his first 2 points, it's 18-12 MTC.

9:21 MTC leads 16-7. Rodney Owens has 9 for MTC as Cass Lake is doubling and tripling down on Kevin Noreen who has not scored but has 3 assists, 7 boards and a couple blocks. Right now MTC is holding the ball, trying to force CLB out of the zone D. They're still in a zone but have extended it to pick up the pace.

12:55 Just that fast, Ben Cameron hits a 2 and Martin Wind a 3 and it's 8-5 and Transitions wants to talk.

14:00 They talk about winning 4 minute segments. Well, Transitions won the 1st one 8-0, and Kevin Noreen hasn't scored yet, but he's got a couple assists. Rodney Owens has 3 buckets, all on the inside.

I'm going to try not to blink. I said Transitions would hit 100 around the 9:00 mark, and my buddy Stew asked, Which half?

Rushford-Peterson vs. Springfield

Final score: Rushford Peterson 71 Springfield 63. The Springfield Tigers are going to be wondering how this one got away. Up by 10 at the half, averaging 6-6 across the front versus RP's 5-11, they were in still a 1-possession game at the 1:00 mark. But the Tigers failed to score from 3:36 down to garbage time while RP scored 14 straight points. Guards Blake Lea and Kasey Olloff scored 18 and 24 points for RP but it was 6-4 sophomore forward Nick Thompson who came off the bench to hit 3 3s in the 2nd half, including 1 that tied it up at 60-all and another that gave TP the lead for good at 63-60.

Despite their size Springfield got just 1 offensive board in the 2nd half and I don't think there were too many loose balls that went their way. As the fellow sitting next to me here said, the better team doesn't always win, but in this case the one that's more hard-nosed usually does.

0:38 RP 69-60 on 4 foul shots by Olloff after an intentional foul.

1:00 RP 63 Springfield 60 on a pair of Nick Thompson 3s.

4:17 Springfield 58 RP 57 and timeout on the floor. Trading buckets now. The Tigers look tired. RP's guards are penetrating and dishing for easy lay-ups. 2 Tyler Marx throws give his team the lead. RP leads 24-15 on 2nd half points and has some momentum. The slower pace suits them, too.

5:45 53-53 as Milbrath gets another fast break layup.

6:57 RP 53 Springfield 51. Another full minute possession resulting in an RP lay-up by Nic Duneman. The Tigers big men look tired, they're getting out-hustled for rebounds now and have short-arm3e 2 throws.

8:12 51-51. RP slowing it down now, a 1:10 possession. Neither team has scored for over 2 minutes, but Springfield is now in the bonus but missed the throw. The Tigers have only 2 fouls.

11:17 RP takes its 1st lead since 3-2 on a 3 from the right corner, this time by Nick Thompson. Still, it's Lee and Olloff with 13 of RP's 18 points this half, and it was Olloff's assist that set of Thompson's bucket. Not only that but RP snuck a couple of inside buckets in there, too.

15:08 The 2nd half started the way the 1st half went. RP's Lee and Olloff each hit a 3, while 6-8 Tyler Marz hit a pair of lay-ups for Springfield.

At the half: Springfield 43 Rushford-Pete 33. The Springfield Tigers have used their height to get inside where they've made 9-of-15 FG attempts. RP, meanwhile, has put it up mostly from the outside, making 6-of-14, to keep the game close through most of the 1st half. But here's the catch. The Tigers are making their 3s, too--7-of-11. It's hard to see RP's under-sized zone defense slowing the Tigers' offense down in the 2nd half. But the Trojans coach Tom Vix is one of the best in the business, so we'll see what he comes up with in the 2nd half. He's scoring enough--with 23 of RP's 29 points coming from guards Blake Lee and Kasey Olloff. But he can't give up another 43.

The Tigers top scorers at the half are smooth 6-6 senior forward Jordan Milbrath with 13. That would be Mr. Inside, though it's true that several of his buckets have come in transition, but still inside. Meanwhile, junior guard Jesse Kieper has 9 points on 3 3s. Otherwise the numbers are pretty even, but Springfield's shots, whether inside or out, have been pretty much uncontested.

Springfield starts 6-8, 6-6 and 6-3, with 6-5 off the bench. RP starts 6-2, 6-0 and 3 guards, so it's a major contrast in styles. Springfield also opened in a man, and RP in a zone. Not to mention, the Tigers come in at 25-1 and RP with just 15 wins and 14 losses, but it's true that the Trojans play in a conference with a mix of AA and A schools. It's playoff games, limited obviously to Class A schools, were won by an average of 12 points, the Tigers' by 23, but over 30 until a 1-point win in the section finals against Lester Prairie.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Class AA All-Stars, Day 1

Marshall Bjorklund, Sibley East 33 points/23 rebounds/2 blocks
Tyler Vaughan, Braham 29/12 rebounds/6 assists
Mark Hoge, Crosby-Ironton 35/3 assists/2 steals
Yuriy Malashenko, Jordan 16/19 rebounds/2 blocks
Tyler Hanson, Minnehaha 18/7 rebounds/2 assists/2 steals
6th man: Aaron Jenny, New London-Spicer 27

Class AAAA All-Stars, Day 1

Joe Coleman, Hopkins, F 24/12 rebounds
Brett Ervin, Eden Prairie, F 14/4 rebounds/2 assists/3 blocks/1 steal
Alex Hanks, St. Cloud Tech, G 20
Zach Riedeman, Forest Lake, F 23
Kyle Zimmerman, Champlin Park, F 16/9 rebounds
6th: Scott Nystrom, St. Cloud Tech, F 17/11 rebounds

Blogging Live from Williams Arena Minnesota Boys HS BB Tournament AAA Quarter-Finals

I'm blogging with the most recent post at the top. If you want to read through a given game, start at the bottom. And the previous game is below this one.

Tomorrow's AAA semi-finals will match St. Paul Johnson vs. Winona and DeLaSalle against Grand Rapids.

St. Cloud State beat #3 ranked Midwestern Texas 90-88 in the D2 Elite Eight. Taylor Witt scored 41 points for the Huskies.

Class AAA All-Stars, Day 1

Alec Brown, Winona, C 35 points
Mark Blacklock, Winona, F 25
Estan Tyler, St. Paul Johnson, G 16
Jordan Smith, Osseo, G 30
Michael Johnson, Grand Rapids, G 16/8 rebounds/4 assists/2 steals

6th man: Jalen Jaspers, DeLaSalle 26

Benilde-St. Margaret's vs. Grand Rapids

Benilde got as close as 50-46 but the Thunderhawks built their lead back as high as 64-51 at 2:30. Grand Rapids shot 72 percent in the 2nd half and 58 percent for the game, and out-rebounded Benilde 32-24. Eric Stark led Grand Rapids with 21 points while Michael Johnson had 18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Benilde went ahead 29-26 early in the 2nd half. Grand Rapids responded with a 19-5 run to lead 45-34 at 11:08, as Austin Pohlen scored 8 points and Michael Johnson added 5 and a pair of assists.

And that's how the 1st half ended, with Grand Rapids leading 26-24, as one Seth Marx lay-up for Benilde was the only scoring in the final 5:57 of the half. Thunderhawks guard Eric Stark was the leading scorer for the half with 10 points.

Now 26-24 at 1:11.

2:14 Grand Rapids timeout. Neither team has scored now for almost 4 minutes. Both teams getting good shots, defensive pressure is not particularly intense. These are just good athletic teams that put more of their energy into the offensive end.

Approaching 6:00 Grand Rapids 26 Benilde 22. The Thunderhawks still shooting over 70 percent. Only 4 turnovers between the 2 teams. A well played game. Eric Stark of Grand Rapids leads all scorers so far with 10.

Who is that with the word "FAMILY" on their warm-up tops? Did Holy Family move up a class and I didn't hear about it? Nope, it's Grand Rapids. There must be a story behind it, but I haven't heard it.

13:11 Grand Rapids 11 Benilde 2. Benilde is 1-for-9 shooting including 0-for-6 from 3 point range. Maybe not getting the shots they want right now. The Thunderhawks sure are, making 5 of their firrt 6 attempts.


You probably know that Hopkins beat Forest Lake 75-51 at Target Center. We've got those #1 seeds out of the way, hopefully now we'll get some close games.

Henry Sibley edged Eastview 50-47 at Target Center. Jake Golberg came off the Sibley bench to contribute 5 points and 5 boards to the Warriors' cause. Sibley will play Hopkins in tomorrow's first AAAA semi-final. Eden Prairie defeated Owatonna 61-46 at Target.

DeLaSalle 66 Little Falls 61

Final: DeLaSalle 66 Little Falls 61. Trailing badly at half-time, 38-22, the Little Falls Flyers gave the Islanders some of their own medicine in the second half with a full-court pressure defense that gave DLS fits. The Islanders had just 3 turnovers in the 1st half but finished with 23. Still, the Flyers never quite caught up. From 50-29 down, they got within 2 at 52-50(a 21-2 run). But their own turnovers (11 in the 2nd half and 18 altogether) kept them from catching up.

DLS was saved by a 68 percent FG shooting percentage that helped negate the turnovers and a 52 percent FT shooting performance. The Flyers shot just 50 percent from the charity stripe themselves.

Jalen Jaspers scored 26 for DeLaSalle, Dan Kornbaum scored 18 and added 13 rebounds for the Flyers.

1:16 61-57 on another Mustonen 3 for the Flyers but they turned it over on their next 3 possessions.

2:50 DLS 59-54. The Flyers' comeback has been based on full-court defensive pressure which the Islanders have had serious trouble handling. Their turnovers are now 23 to Little Falls' 14.

4:01 Now 59-51 but Travis has just fouled out in a flurry under the Little Falls basket. His push looked to be about the 3rd or 4th in a sequence but those are the breaks of the game. Grant Bell made 1 of 2 throws and it's 59-52.

4:47 DLS 59-50. Just that fast, after a DeLaSalle timout, the Islanders ripped off 7 straight points with the help of a pair of Flyers' turnovers.

5:44 Suddenly the Flyers are within 10, or 7 even, or make that 2, at 52-50 after a 12-0 Little Falls run. Ethan Mustonen and Dan Kornbaum both exploited the DLS baseline defense for driving lay-ups from the right wing. Mustonen then hit a 3 from the right wing, and Mitch Dorn hit a fast-break lay-up, forcing the Islanders' turnover. Right now Little Falls is out-hustling the Islanders, and all of this happened exactly when Jonah Travis went out with his 4th foul at 8:28.

Timeout at 9:44 DeLaSalle 5o Little Falls 33. The highlight of the 2nd half so far is the DLS band's version of Led Zeppelin. Seriously, they're scrapping out there to the extent that there's no flow. The turnovers are frequent, the players are on the floor more than they're on their feet. The difference is still DLS' 70 percent shooting vs. Little Falls' 40 percent. The turnovers are about even, but Little Falls has a 12-3 edge in offensive rebounds, but the shooting percentage is negating that advantage.

At the half: DeLaSalle 38 Little Falls 22. Let's not over-sell DLS' quickness. If Johnson is a 9/10, DLS is just an 8. But it's plenty to disrupt the Flyers' offense. There've been just 7 Little Falls turnovers but plenty of hurried and contested shots from spots where the Flyers maybe didn't want to shoot. Dan Kornbaum looks great and has gotten off 8 shots, but the Flyers would probably like him to have a lot more touches than what he does, while the Islanders will continue to try to keep the ball out of his hands.

On offense that quickness mean 70 percent shooting, 12 points off turnovers, 6 fast break points, stuff like that. Jalen Jaspers leads all comers with 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting. Of course, DLS is shooting just 46 percent from the FT line. They would probably like it if somebody would come out and guard it.

6:30 De La Salle 26 Little Falls 14. The Islanders are getting the shots they want against the Flyers' zone and are hitting 69 percent (11-of-16) of their FGs, including a spirit-crushing 5-of-8 from 3 point land.

12:07 Ouch. This one has the look of a game that is getting out of hand early, as DLS has run out to a 14-3 lead. Jonah Travis scoring at will down low, while the Flyers are having a devil of a time establishing their offense against the Islanders' man. Dan Kornbaum had just 2 touches in the first 5 minutes, a bucket and a turnover.

Winona 70 Orono 57

Final: Winona 70 Orono 57. Alec Brown scored 35 points and Mark Blacklock 25 as Winona pounded the ball inside all day long and Orono just couldn't find a way to stop it. Winona shot 70 percent from the field. Brown added 12 rebounds and Winona had a 30-22 edge on the boards overall.

Winona also got great floor games from guard Erik Chapman and forwards Martin Fedderson and John Scheevel who only scored 10 points among them but had 4, 7 and 6 assists respectively.

Jordan Smith countered with 30 points including 6 buckets from 3 point land but it wasn't enough.

But Orono's defensive pressure is nothing next to St. Paul Johnson's. Can Winona protect the ball and get it to their big guys against Johnson's pressure? We'll find out in about 24 hours.
1:13 Winona starters come out at 70-57 at 1:13.

5:47 Orono won't go away, it's now 57-46. Smith now has 28, and Winona has missed half of it's 18 FT. Brown has 29, Blacklock 20.

8:51 Winona 52 Orono 39. Orono has been turning the ball over while Winona just keeps pounding it inside. Brown and Blacklock have 45 of Winona's 52 points. Jordan Smith has 25 for Orono, but not enough help.

At the half: Winona 34 Orono 23. Orono, starting 3 juniors and sophomore Jordan Smith, came out tentative and Winona took advantage in running out to early leads of 6-0, 18-4 and 22-7. Orono closed to within 26-18 before the Winhawks asserted their inside game again to take a 34-20 lead. Orono scored the last 3 points of the half, including a put-back off of a steal and transition attempt by Chase Myhran at 0:14.

Winona has dominated in the paint as 7-footer Alec Brown has 18 points and forward Mark Blacklock 11. Smith leads Orono with 11. Both teams have been turning the ball over, but the Winhawks are shooting 60 percent to the Spartans 39 percent, which is what happens when most of your shots are from inside of 5 feet, as Winona's are. Winona leads in rebounds 19-8.

3:37 That technical foul got Orono going. Down 22-7, they got on an 11-4 run as Winona turned it over 4 times. They got as close as 26-18 before Brown converted a 3 point play.

8:38 Blacklock missed a dunk and hung on the rim. Technical foul. 2 FT by Orono's Jordan Smith who has all of the Spartans' points 22-9.

9:28 Winona 20 Orono 7. Well, this is different. A different pace, that is, than game one. Winona is totally dominating in the paint and not just with 7-footer Alec Brown who has 8 points. But forward Mark Blacklock also has 11 and none of those 19 points, well, except for FT, have come from more than about 4 feet out. 4 of the buckets are put-backs.

Johnson 80 Hutchinson 37

Final: Johnson 80 Hutchinson 37. Johnson scored 30 points off of 25 Hutch turnovers, and the Johnson bench scored a mind-boggling 39 points. Marcus Marshall came off the Governors' bench to lead all scorers with 17. The alpha Governor, Estan Tyler, added 16.

9:00 Running time commenced with the score 69-31.

9:50 67-31. The offensive boards have slowly evened up, and Johnson's shooting percentage has climbed now to 45 percent while the Tigers' has gone the other way to 28 percent. And the Hutch turnovers continue to mount up.

11:00 Johnson 62-27.

13:41 Johnson 51 Hutch 25. At Arkansas, you might remember they called it 40 minutes of hell. The main difference here is it's only 36 minutes, but it's still hell playing against the kind of quickness and aggressiveness Johnson brings. As a result there have been 17 hutch turnovers, 14 Johnson steals, 6 blocked shots by the Governors. All in all, a very difficult day at the office for Hutch and coach Paul VanderHagen.

At the half, it's Johnson 40 Hutchinson 24 as Marcus Marshall hit a long 3 pointer at the buzzer for the Governors. Johnson closed out the half on a 16-4 run as Hutch appeared to be running on fumes due to the fast pace of the Governors' play. It was also a foul-filled half which plays to Johnson's advantage as coach Vern Simmons played 12 players, 9 of whom scored. Hutch, meanwhile, was without starters Jesse Brooks (3 fouls), Terry Trettin and Brad Muckenhirn for fair stretches of the half, and the Tigers are lacking in scoring punch when that happens.

Still it was tight through the 4:00 mark, as Hutch offensive rebounds and 2nd chance points to some degree made up for its turnovers and the Governors' points off of those turnovers. Neither team shot well, Johnson 38 percent and Hutch 35. But transition baskets and Marcus Marshall have been the difference. Marshall leads all scorers with 15 points on 4 of 6 3s including that 35 footer at the end of the half. Bench points are 27-6 in favor of Johnson.

2:47 Johnson by 10, 32-22.

8:12 Hutch timeout. Johnson scored on back to back transition opportunities, a 4-on-1 breakout and then a 2 +1 after an acrobatic layup by Prince Williams. It's 17-11. The turnovers are mounting up.

10:07 Hutch sticking with Johnson at the 10:07 mark, Johnson leading 12-10. Hutch has 2 starters on the bench with 2 fouls and went several minutes without any points on the floor.

First up #1 seed St. Paul Johnson (29-0) vs. Hutchinson Tigers, making their 1st tournament appearance since 1968. Hutch, 24-4, lost to only 2 teams all year--Shakopee twice and Holy Angels twice. They start 5 seniors. Hutch has a huge throng of fans here and it is noisy. Both teams have bands, Johnson has cheerleaders. Great atmosphere.

Northern Sun Update: St. Cloud Men Move on to D2 Final Four

D2 NCAA Tournament

The St. Cloud State men upset #3 rated Midwestern State of Texas today 92-88 as Taylor Witt scored 43 points for the Huskies. They'll play Thursday at 6 and, if victorious, then Saturday at 1 for the national championship.

St. Cloud led through most of the 1st half, but Midwestern broke from a 39-all tie at 2:20 to lead 45-39 at the half. The Huskies caught up at 51-51 on a steal by Witt and a fastbreak lay-up by Nate Phillips. After that they trailed for about a minute around the 13:30 mark, and for exactly 12 seconds at 78-76. Witt tied it up with a pair of FT and then gave St. Cloud the lead with a 3, a steal and a pair of FT, making it 85-80 at 1:18. He then made 8-for-8 more FT to close things out.

Witt made an NCAA D2 Elite Eight record 22-of-23 FT. Matt Schneck added 16 points and 13 boards for St. Cloud.

They'll play Indiana (Pa.) for a chance to advance to the national championship game.

Regional Finals

Two of Minnesota's NSIC teams made it to the finals of the D2 Central Regional tournament, the equivalent of the Sweet 16. Those would be the Concordia (St. Paul) women and the St. Cloud State men. The Huskies defeated NSIC rival Augustana 84-75 in OT to advance to the Elite Eight, but the Lady Bears took it on the chin from host Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO, 73-64.

St. Cloud Men

The Augies took a quick 6-0 lead over St. Cloud, but the Huskies came back with a 14-2 run for a 14-8 lead. Augustana re-took the lead 28-26 on a Cody Schilling jumper at 0:35, and that's how it stood at the half. In the 2nd half Augustana led 7 times, St. Cloud 8 and there were 12 ties. Neither team led by more than 1 in the final 3:36 of regulation.

St. Cloud took the lead for the 8th and final time at 76-75 at 1:18 of OT on an Andrew Bernstetter 3. The Augies didn't score in the final 2:44 and the Huskies made 6-of-6 FT down the stretch.

Tournament MVP Matt Schneck paced St. Cloud, as usual, with 19 points and 19 boards. All-Tournament pick Josh Ortmann added 17 points, 4 assists and 3 steals. Bernstetter finished with 6 points, all in the OT, including 5 in a row with the Huskies trailing 75-71.

The Huskies advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1987, though it's the 5th straight year that the NSIC has been represented in the Elite Eight.

Concordia Women

The Bears took a 3-0 lead over Fort Lewis but then quickly fell behind 15-8 and 29-19. It was 32-23 at the half. The Bears came back strong in the 2nd half, however, taking the lead at 43-42. With 6:55 to go, they had a 53-47 lead. But after a Concordia timeout, things went south. The Bears failed to score on 4 straight possessions, missing a 2, a 3 and a 1, and then turning it over. The result was 9 straight Fort Lewis points, and Concordia suddenly trailed 58-53.

Now the Bears scored on 3 straight possessions--a steal and a 2 by Jamie Jones, 2 throws by Gillian Bjerke, and a 2 + 1 by Jones--to get back to 60-60. But again the Bears suffered an untimely drought, failing to score on 3 possessions, while Fort Lewis scored on all 3 for a 67-60 lead at 2:04. Concordia never got closer than 6.

Maurika Hickman scored 18 for the Bears, Jineen Williams added 15 and 8 boards and Jones 13 and 3 assists, but Williams and Jones also combined for 11 turnovers. Concordia concluded its season with a 26-6 record.


St. Cloud State continued to befuddle the Mankato State Mavericks in an 83-71 win in the semi-finals of the NCAA D2 Central Region at Mankato. For the past 2 seasons, the Mavs have claimed the NSIC regular season title. Both years, the Huskies knocked off the Mavs in the NSIC post-season tournament finals. And now this.

The Huskies used 2 10-point runs to secure the win. After trailing 10-4 early, St. Cloud got within 18-16, then scored 10 points on 4 consecutive possessions. Josh Ortmann hit consecutive buckets, a 2 and a 3 at 7:41 and 7:20, in the middle of the run.

Mankato finally caught up at 43-43 at 15:45 of the 2nd half, only to have the Huskies rip off another 10 points. This time it was Nate Phillips getting 2 of the buckets, a lay-up off a steal at 14:47 and a jumper at 12:37. Now it was 54-44 and Mankato never got closed than 3.

NSIC player of the year Matt Schneck led the Huskies with 21 points and 14 boards. Ortmann, Witt and Putz added 16, 15 and 13. Phillips added 4 steals, Putz 4 assists.

In the other men's semi, Augustana came back from a 6-point half-time deficit to beat Mesa State 95-84.

In one women's semi, Concordia (St. Paul) clobbered CSU-Pueblo 83-56 after taking a 35-12 lead with 5:51 left in the 1st half. Pueblo never got within 20, and the lead ballooned to 79-40 at 6:16. Jamie Jones scored 25 to lead the Bears, though posts Gillian Bjerke and Ashley Viehauser combined for 28 (14 apiece, Bjerke in the ridiculous period of just 6 minutes of play). Viehauser added 9 boards, while guard Maurika Hickman had 8 assists.

In the Central Region final, the Bears will play host Fort Lewis College, who hammered Augustana 79-52 in the other semi.

First Round

Minnesota's D2 teams won 3 games while losing 2 in the men's and women's NCAA tournament 1st round action.

On Friday, the #3 seeded Concordia (St. Paul) women hammered Adams State 97-59 while #5 Minnesota-Duluth was ousted from the tournament by Augustana 74-57.

On Saturday, the #1 Mankato and #4 St. Cloud men advanced, while #7 Winona lost to Mesa State 73-68. Mankato had to rally from behind to beat #8 Colorado School of Mines 84-80, while St. Cloud beat Metro State 82-77.

Heroes of 1st round action included Jineen Williams, who scored 32 points for Concordia, and NSIC Player of the Year Jheri Booker of UMD, who had 14 points and 7 rebounds for the Bulldogs. Jefferson Mason led the Mavericks with 19 points, 4 blocks and 2 steals, while also gathering in 9 boards. Matt Schneck had 21 points and 11 boards for the Huskies men, while Taylor Witt scored 22 points including 12-of-13 FT.

The feature of 1st round action would be Mankato's come-from-behind win. The Mavs took the early lead, and led by as much as 8 at 16-8. CSM stormed back to a 39-30 half-time lead, which they extended to 41-30 with the 1st bucket of the 2nd half. Mankato finally caught up at 63 at 6:24 on a pair of FT by Jesse Clark, then took the lead a minute later on a lay-up by Jermain Davis. It was 82-71 with just 27 ticks left on the clock, but CSM drained 3 3s including one at the final buzzer to make it a 4-point game in the end. Clark made 5-of-7 FT and Mason 2-for-2 in the final half-minute to protect the Mavs' lead.

Da Men

OK, maybe somebody out there can explain this one to me. The St. Cloud State men finished 2nd in the NSIC during the regular season at 16-4, while Augustana was 3rd at 15-5. The Huskies won the NSIC post-season tournament. So, now, going into the NCAA D2 tournament, St. Cloud is seeded 4th and Augustana 3rd.

But there's good news for Minnesota State-Mankato, which won the NSIC during the regular season but lost to #8 seed Southwest State in the 1st round of the conference tournament. The Mavericks got the #1 seed in the Central Region, and they'll host the 8-team get-together. The winner goes into the D2 Final Four. Here are the 3 Minnesota entrants, listed in order of their regional seed.

1. Mankato State 24-4, NSIC regular season champ
4. St. Cloud State 25-5, NSIC post-season champ
7. Winona State 20-9

And, again, Augustana (22-6) of the NSIC is the #3 seed.

Action will be on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday March 13-14-16, times TBD. Mankato State draws #8 Colorado School of Mines (17-11). St. Cloud State draws Metro State (24-6), and Winona State gets Mesa State (22-5).

In the March 2 poll, issued before the conference tournaments, Mankato State was rated #8 nationally, Augustana #15, Mesa State #23 and St. Cloud #24. Metro State was next among "the rest" who also received votes.

Winona State was without the NSIC's regular season scoring champion, David Johnson, in the post-season tournament. He played 1 minute in the final regular season game, a win over St. Cloud State, and has not played since. But what happened and when he might return has not been mentioned on the Warriors' Web site that I've been able to find.

Da Women

Unfortunately, the women will be travelling to the ends of the earth--well, OK, Durango, CO, which is pretty much the same thing--for their tournament. The host is Fort Lewis College (30-3). The Minnesota entries include:

3. Concordia (St. Paul) 24-5, NSIC regular season champ
5. Minnesota-Duluth 20-10, post-season runner-up

Wayne State (26-4), NSIC post-season champ, is #2, while Augustana (23-6) of the NSIC is also #4. Action is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Monday March 12-13-15, times TBD. Concordia will play #6 Adams State (21-7), while UMD draws Augustana. The Bulldogs beat the Augies 81-63 at Duluth in January, but Augustana returned the favor 80-69 in Sioux Falls in February.

In the final regular season poll, Fort Lewis was rated #4 and Concordia #19. Wayne State was #26 and figures to move into the top 25, while Adams and Augustana also received votes.

NSIC Finals

The higher seeded St. Cloud State men (#2) and Wayne State women (#3) claimed NSIC post-season championships today, as a wave of upsets in the tournament came to an end.

St. Cloud State trailed #8 seeded Southwest State only at 2-0, until 10:24 of the second when the Mustangs took a 45-43 lead on a layup by Scott Roehl. Neither team would lead by more than 3 the rest of the way. The Mustangs' largest lead was at 55-52 at 5:45 and 57-54 at 3:50. A Taylor Witt jumper brought the Huskies within 1 at 3:32, and neither team would lead by more than 1 thereafter. In fact, 12 consecutive scores either tied it up or gave one of them a 1 point lead. Finally, Roehl hit 2 FT at 0:07 to give Southwest a 1 point lead, but Witt returned the favor, making 2 game-winning FT at 0:02. Witt scored 18 for the Huskies, while Matt Schneck added 16 and 14 rebounds and adds the post-season MVP to his regular season Player of the Year honors. It was the 2nd straight NSIC post-season championship for the Huskies.

Among the women, Wayne beat Minnesota-Duluth 77-67. NSIC player of the year Jheri Booker led UMD with 26 points and 11 boards, while Wayne star Ashley Arlen (23 points) had lots of help from Mahtomedi, MN, native Mara Hjelle. Hjelle matched Booker with 26 points and 11 boards, and took tournament MVP honors. Wayne took the lead at 7-6 and never trailed again. The half-time score was 40-35. The margin reached double figures at 51-41, and the largest Wayne lead was at 58-41.

NSIC Semi-Finals

The upsets just keep on coming, and this time the women joined in the fun. #4 seed Minnesota-Duluth surprised #1 seed Concordia (St. Paul) on the Bears home floor, 80-73 to advance to the women's post-season final, where they will meet #3 Wayne State, who blew away #2 Augustana 75-60.

UMD took the lead over Concordia at 12-10, and continued to lead through the heart of the 1st half. The Bears came back to lead 34-29 at the half. But, the Bulldogs dominated the 2nd half, taking their 1st lead at 41-40 and increasing it to 12 points on 4 different occasions. NSIC player of the year Jheri Booker led the Bulldogs with 21 points and 12 boards, including 9 of UMD's 1st 12 points of the 2nd half as they erased the 5 point half-time deficit to take the lead for good at 43-42. Gillian Bjerke led Concordia with 12 points and 17 boards.

Ashley Arlen and Mara Hjelle led Wayne to their win with a combined 40 p0ints, 19 boards and 6 assists. Hjelle is a graduate of Mahtomedi High School.

On the men's side, it was #8 Southwest State getting another upset, this time over #4 seed Winona State 81-67. #2 St. Cloud State defeated #6 Wayne State 74-66 in the other semi.

St. Cloud led Wayne most of the way, but Wayne caught up and took 2 short-lived leads at 4:15 and 2:48 of the 2nd half. But a Taylor Witt 3 from Brett Putz gave the Huskies the lead for good. Witt finished with 21 points.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs took the lead for good at 12-11, and led Winona State by as many as 15 points in the 1st half. The Warriors got within 5 in the 2nd, but no closer. Southwest was led by Kevin Andrews with 21 points, while Ben Fisher scored 24 for Winona.

First Round NSIC Tournament

Eight first round games were played last night (Wednesday, March 3). Six went according to Hoyle but there were two major upsets, both on the men's side of the equation.

#8 seed Southwest State shocked #1 seed and nationally #8 rated Minnesota State-Mankato 80-78 as Jordan Miller scored the go-ahead bucket for the Mustangs with 37 seconds remaining. Southwest had led only at 25-24 though the game had been tied on several occasions, most recently at 60-all at 9:28. But Southwest scored the final 6 points of the game. Scott Roehl, from Princeton, MN, led the Mustangs with 22 points and 8 boards.

As a result, the men's semis and finals now will be held at #2 seed St. Cloud State. The Huskies hammered Concordia (St. Paul) 76-61 as Matt Schneck had 24 points and 14 boards. The Huskies will play #6 seed Wayne State, who upset #3 Augustana (hammered 'em!) 75-52. Southwest will take on #4 Winona State, who avoided the upset against Mary, 76-57.

There were no upsets among the women, and so the top 4 seeds will playoff over the weekend at Concordia (St. Paul). The host Bears defeated #8 seed but defending national champions Minnesota State-Mankato 81-74, and will meet #4 seed Minnesota-Duluth, who defeated Winona State 63-51. #2 Augustana beat Northern State 67-55 and will meet #3 Wayne State, who defeated Minnesota-Moorhead 77-70. Ashley Arlen of Wayne was the high women's scorer across the 4 games with 28 points.

Still, the feature game was the Mankato at Concordia tilt. After the lead changed hands several times early, the Bears took the lead at 23-21 and held it through 40-39 at half-time. The Mavericks scored the 1st points of the 2nd half, however, and led by as many as 6 at 53-47. Concordia regained the lead at 64-63 at 11:01 and never again trailed by more than 2, though the game was tied another 4 times as well. The final 7 point margin was the Bears' largest of the 2nd half. Gillian Bjerke of Concordia led all scorers with 20 points.

Post-Season Awards

The all-conference teams include 7 of my top 10 players, and the experts agreed with both of my Player of the Year picks--Jheri Booker of UMD, and Matt Schneck of St. Cloud State. The others on both lists include:

Women: Ashley Arlen, Wayne State; Allison Nash-Gerlach, Moorhead State
Men: Jefferson Mason and Travis Nelson, Mankato State; and Anthony Moody, Mary

The experts agreed with my coach of the year choice among the men--Matt Margenthaler, Mankato--but not among the women, where Chris Kielsmeier of Wayne beat out Annette Wiles of UMD.

Augustana and Mary have two all-conference men coming back next year, while among the women Augustana, Concordia and Wayne State have two all-conference selections returning next year. The early favorites for PoY next year are Ashley Arlen, Wayne; and Anthony Moody, Mary.

Regular Season Wrap

The Northern Sun Conference closed out regular season play Saturday night, February 27, with 5 teams still in contention for a share of the men's (2) and women's (3) championships.

Among the men, Mankato State won at Mary 75-63 to claim its share. But St. Cloud State lost 80-69 at Winona State to drop a game behind in 2nd place. Jefferson Mason led the Marauders with 17 points and 13 boards, while Taylor Witt led the Crusaders with 23 points and 8 boards.

Among the women, Concordia won 67-55 with a singularly uninspired performance at winless Upper Iowa to take sole possession of 1st place. The 2nd place teams, Augustana and Wayne State, were both victorious but, with the Bears winning, they stayed in 2nd place, 1 game shy of a share of the title.

The final standings, thus, are set, along with play-off match-ups. The 1st round for both men and women is Wednesday night, March 3, on the home court of the higher seed.


8 Southwest State (10-10 NSIC) at 1 Mankato State (17-3)
5 Mary (11-9) at 4 Winona State (13-7)
7 Concordia (10-10) at 2 St. Cloud State (16-4)
6 Wayne State (10-10) at 3 Augustana (15-5)


8 Southwest State (9-11) at 1 Concordia (17-3)
5 Winona State (12-8) at 4 Minnesota-Duluth (13-7)
7 Northern (11-9) at 2 Augustana (16-4)
6 Moorhead State (12-8) at 3 Wayne State (16-4)

The place to be on Wednesday would be Augustana, I guess, it being the one place where you can see a 1st round doubleheader. The women play at 6 and the men at 8. What fun! Everything else is at 7 p.m.

I haven't seen enough of the NSIC to know who is vulnerable and what the upset specials are, so I'll just fall back on the #4 vs. #5 games. The Winona women always look like world-beaters when I see them, but by the time I see them again they've lost a couple games they should have won. Which of the Warriors dual personalities will show up in Duluth on Wednesday? And the Winona men get a deceptively difficult match-up with Mary, featuring conference Player of the Year candidate Anthony Moody. As it turns out, those are the only 2 match-ups in which the lower seed has defeated the higher seed this year--Mary and the Winona men split 2 games, while the Winona women beat UMD by 4 at Winona.

The semi-finals and finals will be next Saturday and Sunday, March 6 and 7, at the highest remaining seed. That means the men will play in Mankato and the women in St. Paul. But I'll go out on a limb and pick 2nd seed St. Cloud (men) and 3rd seed Wayne (women) to win the 2 tournaments.


To recap, David Johnson of Hayfield and Winona State won the men's individual scoring championship with 19.1 ppg, while Jheri Booker of UMD won the women's at 20.9. Booker also led in steals with 3.3, and gets my nod as women's Player of the Year. Ashley Arlen of Wayne, Alison Nash-Gerlach of Moorhead, Jamie Zelinsky of Crookston and Megan Stadler of Southwest State round out the top 5. You could probably pick 5 Concordia women for the 2nd team. The Bears had 7 women score between 10 and 12 ppg.

Among the men, Matt Schneck of St. Cloud scored 18 ppg and led the NSIC in rebounding at 10.5, and is my pick as the men's Player of the Year. Moody, with 18.4 ppg, is my 2nd pick, and my all-conference 5 would also include Mason and Travis Nelson of Mankato, and Dalton Jordan of Augustana. Johnson heads the 2nd 5.

Coaches of the Year are Matt Marganthaler of the Mankato men, and Annette Wiles of the UMD women.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

About Those MSHSL All-Tournament Teams

When the all-tournament teams at the recent MSHSL girls tournament were announced, I noticed that they were selected by the Coaches' Association. Good for them. The media is woefully under-qualified for the job. Is this new? Didn't the media select the all-tournament team last year?

Well, either way, the most basic thing that bugs me about the all-tournament team remains. They should just say its the all-semifinalists' team. Girls whose teams lost in the 1st round are not eligible. They don't say it, and the suggestion is given that those girls were considered and determined not to be good enough. That's insulting. And it's silly, because it says that the 3rd best player on a 1st round winner is better than anybody on the losing team, and that is almost never ever true.

And so what they did this year--and what they do most years--is that they pick 3 each from the 2 finalists, and 2 each from the other two semi-finalists, no matter what. There've been some pretty wacky picks over the years. I can think of a couple who scored about 10 points. In the entire tournament.

How much difference would a better, more thoughtful methodology make? Well, in this year's tournament, not a lot, because many of the 1st round losers were just totally overmatched. The biggest oversight this year, then, was of the old-fashioned kind. They just blew it.


Cannot argue with Rachel Banham and Cassie Rochel of Lakeville North. Cannot argue with Julia Dysthe and Alexis Foley of White Bear. Cannot argue with Brooke Brown of Chaska or Kristi Kuhn of Wayzata.

Can argue about the rest. Can argue about the fact that they decided on a 3-3-3-1 pattern instead of the usual 3-3-2-2.

The one they blew was Marissa Grossfeld of Wayzata. The sophomore forward scored 14, 11 and 16 points in the 3 games and had the second best rebound total in AAAA, 35, compared to Rochel's 39. In her place you had Apiew Ojulu of Lakeville who scored 14 points in the entire tournament. In her place you had Brianna Tisch of Chaska who scored 32 points, and whom Grossfeld outscored 16-13 head to head. Why a 3rd choice for Chaska? Sort of a lifetime achievement award, I'm thinking. And in her place was Carly Jensen of White Bear. She was terrific in the final with 19 points, so you might overlook the fact that she scored only 7 points in her other 2 games. So, the question is not so much Carly Jensen, it's Marissa Grossfeld.

And it's a question of Ellen Degler. The Chaska forward scored 19, zero and 18 points. The goose egg came against Lakeville North. It's true that Degler was not effective in that game, but it's also true that she missed part of the 1st half and all of the 2nd with a messy cut above her nose that required 6 stitches. Unlike Jensen, she had 2 outstanding games, to she stays.

Then there's the traditional 1st round losers. Carly Rothstein was as good as anybody for White Bear in their 1st round match-up, she just didn't have any help. Here's a girl who scored 18 with 5 boards and she loses out to a girl who scores 14 in 3 games? Pu-leeze.

And St. Francis gave Chaska a pretty good run before fading at the end. All of St. Francis' guards were solid ballplayers--the most solid this particular day was Jordan Falk with 16 points and 4 steals. Again, she loses out to a girl who scores fewer points in 3 games than Falk did in 1?

So anyway, here's my AAAA all-state tournament team.

1. MVP: Cassie Rochel, Lakeville North, C
2. Rachel Banham, Lakeville North, G, jr.
3. Alexis Foley, White Bear Lake, G, soph.
4. Brooke Brown, Chaska, G
5. Julia Dysthe, White Bear Lake, G
6. Marissa Grossfeld, Wayzata, F, soph.
7. Kristi Kuhn, Wayzata, G
8. Carly Rothstein, St. Michael-Albertville, F
9. Ellen Degler, Chaska, F

And #10. This is a tough choice among Falk, Tisch, Kayla Timmerman of Wayzata and Jensen. I guess I would take Tisch who also had 2 good games, versus Falk and Timmerman and Jensen who had one good game each. That makes for a weird pattern of 2-2-3-2-1 all-tournament players on the top 5 teams. But so be it. It's an individual award. Those other kids got what they deserved, which was a team trophy.


Hannah Smith of Willmar should have been recognized. She had 17 points, 13 boards and 2 blocks in a 1st round loss and, in fact, outplayed any of Benilde's 3 all-state selections.


Marissa Janning scored 27 points with 6 steals in a 1st round loss. You had 3 girls on the all-state team who didn't score 27 points across 3 games. Doh!


You can look up who made the team. Here there were as many as 15 who were deserving. Here I thought a couple of 1st round losers were not just deserving, but more so than some who made the team. I would add:

Kara Van Dyke, Southwest Christian 13 points/11 rebounds
Onye Osemenam, Maranatha 15 points/9 rebounds/7 blocks

So here's a deal. I'll take all the players who didn't make all-tournament and make a team. And with that team (okay, and Erin Herman to pull the strings), I'll win a tournament or two. Just not Class AAAA.

This Week It's the Boys

Well, the girls have done their business and moved on, and they've wiped up the blood from the Target Center and Williams Arena floors, so that must mean that the boys will be taking the court shortly. I would certainly advise everyone to see as many games as you can but, in case you cannot, here's what's going to happen.

From a historical perspective, what's likely to happen is that #1AAAA seed Hopkins will become the all-time winningest program, based on the number of state championships. Currently, Hopkins and Mpls. Patrick Henry are tied with six. Hopkins could be the first to 7 in 2010. On the other hand, if Hopkins doesn't win, but DeLaSalle does, then the Islanders would get into the 1st place tie with the Royals and the Patriots.

There are also a number of possible rematches of recent state tournament games, which are mentioned below. Unfortunately the one rematch that won't happen is December's match-up of Hopkins and St. Paul Johnson, the #1 seeds in AAAA and AAA respectively, and generally regarded as the state's top 2 teams. Johnson has moved down from AAAA to AAA, where they should easily outclass the field. Hopkins doesn't figure to get a lot more resistance from the AAAA field but, hey, there's a reason they play the games.


Class AAA

Class AAA, the lucky stiffs, get to play at Williams, the set of all Minnesota basketball history and tradition. The action kicks off with the state's best team, St. Paul Johnson, against Hutchinson at 12 noon.

Johnson over Hutchinson--Johnson plays the game the right way. They go 10 deep without giving anything up. They play at a high rate of speed without turning the ball over or taking bad shots. See? It can be done. Vern Simmons is Minnesota's coach of the year if his team wins the AAA title. Johnson by 22.

Winona over Orono--Southern Minny basketball has been fading, fading, fading, so my gut says Orono. But I'm told that 7-footer Alec Brown isn't the Winhawks' only weapon. We'll see. Winona by 6.

Benilde and DeLaSalle take on Grand Rapids and Little Falls--I forget which is which. Deja vu all over again? Last year it was Mpls. Washburn and St. Paul Johnson over Grand Rapids and Little Falls in the afternoon quarter-finals. In both cases, the Thunderhawks and Flyers put up surprisingly strong resistance. They will do the same this year. The Flyers Dan Kornbaum, in particular, is one to see. DeLaSalle by 14, and then the upset special: Grand Rapids over Benilde by 2.

Class AAAA

Meanwhile over at the Target, Hopkins will win the opener at noon against Forest Lake. The Lakers--er, well, they're the Rangers, actually--have a kid you should see named Zach Riedeman, but the Royals have too many weapons. Hopkins by 14.

Henry Sibley's W-L isn't much but they play anybody and everybody. People talk about their size, but watch those guards. Sibley beats Eastview by 10.

Like I said, Southern Minny/Big Nine basketball is fading. Eden Prairie over Owatonna by 23.

Finally, a close game. Still, Champlin Park will prevail over St. Cloud Tech by 8.

Class AA

In the one split class--with 1st round games at both Target and Williams, that is--the Target Center seems to have the bette initial match-ups, so that's where I'll be.

Plainview over Jordan by 14. Can't wait to see Yuri Malashenko of the Hubmen. Still, Plainview has a lot of talent for a AA, plus they've been on this court for state tournament games before. A potent combo.

Minnehaha will surprise a lot of people (but not me), knocking off Crosby-Ironton by 5.

Actually, there is a reason to go to Williams rather than Target for AA. His name is Grant Bjorklund and he plays for Sibley East. He's why his team will knock off the Braham Bombers by 14.

Ah, but another reason to stay at the Target. The big mismatch of AA 1st round play: New London-Spicer over Windom by 18.

There are a couple of intriguing rematches here, both involving New London-Spicer. One is a repeat of a 2006 1st round game won by Braham 76-52 en route to the Bombers' 2006 state title. The other is the 2008 final won by the Wildcats over Crosby-Ironton 59-51.


Class A

This one gives me a lot of heartburn. On paper Rushford-Peterson (15-14) has no business being here, but we've said that before. They play a bunch of AA schools during the regular season, so the record is a bit deceiving. My head says Springfield, but my gut says Rushford-Pete by 2.

Bring your calculator. Minnesota Transitions will be in triple figures by the 9:00 mark of the 2nd half, which is a comment about the pace of play rather than of Cass Lake's ability. MTC by 28.

Sebeka's another one who's been on this floor before (last year), and that and some pretty good talent translates into a 17 point win over Mesabi East.

Ellsworth's yet another whose experience at the state level makes them fiendishly difficult to beat. Hillcrest will surprise you, but lose by 9.

In A, an interesting sidelight is the number of potential rematches. Well, MTC vs. Cass Lake in the 1st round isn't a potential rematch, it is a rematch of a terrific 2008 semi won by MTC 87-77.

Ellsworth will need to get to the final--not in itself an unlikely possibility--to get a rematch with a past state tournament opponent. But if they do, 3 of the 4 possible opponents represent rematches. Two years ago Ellsworth beat MTC for the title 81-63. Three years ago they beat Cass Lake 74-73 after beating Rushford-Peterson 77-66 in OT. And four years ago they lost to RP in the final 55-52.

On the way to that 2006 state title, RP also knocked off Cass Lake 58-40.

More to come.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

High Schools Move Into "the Third Season: The Girls

My predictions of sectional champions are below. But we now know who's playing the the tournament and who's not. So here is a fresh set of predictions.


It's Thursday now, and I'm courtside at Williams Arena. Watch for my game reports at My reports from Target Center yesterday (all 6 games) are posted at as we speak.


Target Center


Tomorrow I'll be watching AAAA (and half of the AA games) at the Target Center, and sending reports to Kevin Anderson for his Web site at . That's short for Kevin J. Anderson Sports Resources. It's a great site. Go see it if you haven't.

But here are my predictions, beginning with the games I'll see.

10 a.m.--Lakeville North over Northfield easily. Kevin says 65-33 and that sounds about right.

12 noon--Melissa Borstner and St. Francis will give Chaska a better game than you think. But, of course, Chaska will still win.

2 p.m.--Wayzata will give Maple Grove a better game than you think. But Maple Grove will still win. If anybody could possibly beat Lakeville North, it's Maple Grove.

4 p.m.--White Bear Lake beats St. Michael-Albertville by a dozen or more.


6 p.m.--Rochester Lourdes beats St. Peter. Myron Glass is not gonna lose today.

8 p.m.--Hawley is unbeaten and Minnehaha has 9 losses. Still, this will be close. But I'll take Hawley.

Williams Arena

First off, the AAA seedings bombed big-time. Basically you've got 1 vs. 5, 2 vs. 6, 3 vs. 7 and 4 vs. 8.

10 a.m.--#1 DeLaSalle will beat New Prague fairly handily, even though the Trojans are the best of the 4 unseeded teams.

12 noon--Hill-Murray beats Annandale fairly handily.

2 p.m.--Benilde-St. Margaret's beats Willmar fairly handily.

4 p.m.--Bemidji and Sartell looks like a toss-up, though I'll go with the team with the superstar go-to type of player. That would be Bemidji and Kayla Hirt.


The best double-header of the day:

6 p.m.--Watertown-Mayer edges Braham, Marisa Janning slightly outplays Rebekah Dahlman.

8 p.m. Sauke Centre over Pipestone. The toughest call of the day, by far. The winner becomes the fave to win it all.


Williams Arena

11 a.m.--Buffalo Lake-Hector beats Goodhue.

1 p.m.--Unbeaten Northern Freeze nips Maranatha.

3 p.m.--Barnum clobbers Nashwauk-Keewatin.

5 p.m.--Parker's Prairie beats SW Minnesota Christian with a couple points to spare.

Thursday and Friday Target Center Semi-Finals

AAAA--Lakeville North beats Chaska by 10, and Maple Grove beats White Bear Lake by 7.

AAA--Nobody can handle DeLaSalle or Benilde, except one another.

AA--Hawley beats Rochester Lourdes by a couple, and Sauk Center beats Watertown-Mayer by 5.

A--Northern Freeze beats Buffalo Lake-Hector fairly easily, while Barnum eases past Parker's Prairie.

Saturday Finals Target Center

Barnum 69 Northern Freeze 61
Sauk Center 56 Hawley 53
Benilde 65 DeLaSalle 63
Lakeville North 54 Maple Grove 45

All-Tournament First 5

Cassie Rochel and Rachel Banham, Lakeville North, co-MVPs
Ellen Edison, Maple Grove
Kali Peschel, Sauk Center
Katrina Newman, Banum

The Sections

I'm mostly familiar with AAAA. In the other classes I'm going by what I hear and read. But in AAAA, I've seen almost all of the better teams.


My top 10 is a little different than the Minnesota Basketball News top 10, the most widely published "poll." I'm more in agreement with the QRF ratings at

1. Lakeville North (#1 MBN, #1 QRF), 2. Edina (2, 2), 3. Maple Grove (4, 5), 4. Eden Prairie (5, 3), 5. Chaska (7, 6), 6. White Bear Lake (3, 8), 7. Bloomington Kennedy (6, 7), 8. Eastview (x, 9), 9. Mpls. South (10, x), 10. Hopkins (x, 4).

The Sections

Section 1--Northfield, if it matters. The Section 1 representative will be 1 and done.

Section 2--Wow. 5 top 10 teams. I love Edina, but against the field they're just even money. I think Chaska matches up the best against Edina, but Eden Prairie is played very well right now.

Section 3--Lakeville North all the way until proven otherwise.

Section 4--White Bear Lake should win the section pretty easily, but it lacks the inside game to go much further.

Section 5--I love Megan Waytashek and Centennial, and I haven't seen Mounds View though, on paper, they look very tough. Still, Maple Grove is a tough, tough group of kids.

Section 6--As in past years, it's Hopkins vs. Mpls. South. It's just that, for the first time in many years, neither is regarded as a state championship contender. I like South by a whisker.

Section 7--Cambridge and St. Francis, Whitney Olson and Melissa Borstner. Too close to call, but call it Cambridge.

Section 8--The favorites, Buffalo and St. Michael-Albertville, both come into the playoffs off of not 1, but 2 losses. But there's nobody else that can beat either of them. Flip a coin and it comes up St. Michael.

State Tournament

At the state tournament, they seed the top 4 and that would be Lakeville North, Edina, White Bear Lake and Maple Grove, then match the seeds up against the field by a random draw. I'll just call it 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc.

Lakeville North over Northfield by 30 points. Rachel Banham and Cassie Rochel could sit this one out and the Panthers would still win.

Maple Grove over Mpls. South by 5. A tough match-up for Maple Grove, which is not the quickest. Still, they'll make it very hard for South to score.

Edina over St. Michael-Albertville by 12. Katybeth Biewen and Taylor Young are too much for most teams, certainly too much for the defending AAA champs just moved up a class.

White Bear Lake over Cambridge by 7. The Bears are overrated by MBN at #3, lacking an inside game as they are. Still, guards Julia Dysthe, Carly Jensen and Alexis Foley do a lot of things among them, enough to beat an unrated opponent.

In the semi-finals, Maple Grove will provide more resistance than Lakeville North is accustomed to, but it will still be a 10 point game. And Edina will take White Bear Lake inside for an 8 point win.

In the final, Edina will hang with Lakeville North for awhile but the Panthers superior depth will tell the tale in the 2nd half. Lakeville North by 8. Maple Grove takes 3rd place by a dozen over White Bear Lake.

Regular Season AAAA All-State

Rachel Banham, Lakeville North, jr.
Katybeth Biewen, Edina, soph.
Ellen Degler, Chaska, most improved
Cassie Rochel, Lakeville North
Megan Waytashek, Centennial

2nd Team

Aubrey Davis, Bloomington Kennedy, jr.
Julie Kruse, Maple Grove
Shayne Mullaney, Eden Prairie, soph.
Haley Thomforde, Eastview, when healthy
Taylor Young, Edina


Here, most of what I know is from reading the paper and the Web.


1--New Prague beat Red Wing twice but both ended up 9-5 in the Missota. Can they do it again? Yes.
2--Worthington going the wrong direction, looks like Willmar.
3, 4, 6, 7--N0 brainers. Nobody is going to beat DeLaSalle, Hill-Murray, Benilde or Bemidji at the section level, though 5AAA has some very good teams.
5--#3 Princeton beats #2 Annandale but not #1 Rogers.
8--Sartell coming on strong, knocks off Alex.

In the first round, DeLaSalle beats Sartell easily, Hill-Murray edges Willmar, Bemidji beats Rogers, and Benilde beats New Prague.

In the semis, DeLaSalle advances easily, while Benilde edges Bemidji. Ho hum, another all-Catholic final. Benilde pulls the upset.

In AA:

1--Rochester Lourdes and Myron Glass over Caledonia in the final.
2--Upset special: St. Peter beats LeSueur and Blue Earth.
3--The Lac qui Parle upset special finally jumps the tracks; Pipestone advances easily.
4--Mpls. Roosevelt vs. St. Croix Lutheran has a state tournament feel. Roosevelt advances.
5--I don't know how they do it, but Howard Lake finds a way to win.
6--It's a shame that New London-Spicer and Sauk Center can't both get to state, but there it is. The Wildcats advance, Kali Peschel hangs it up.
7--Nobody in this neck of the woods can challenge Braham.
8--Look out for Hawley.

The upper bracket looks like the semis: Rochester Lourdes beats St. Peter, and Hawley shocks Roosevelt. In the lower, it's Howard Lake over Braham, and New London-Spicer over Pipestone. In the semis, Hawley beats Lourdes and NLS avenges last year's semi-final loss to the Lakers. NLS beats Hawley in a great AA final match-up.

More to come.