Friday, December 30, 2011

Spring Lake Park to Challenge Tartan for Holiday Tournament Title

Spring Lake Park (7-1, #4AAA) will meet host Tartan ((6-1, #8AAAA) in the final of the Tartan Holiday Boys Basketball Tournament. Both advanced easily Thursday evening. The Spring Lake Park Panthers took it to the Hayfield Vikings 76-46, while the home team won by an almost identical score 76-49 over the Columbia Heights Hylanders.

Spring Lake Park Panthers 76 Hayfield Vikings 46

Hayfield was no match for the Panthers' quickness nor for Sean Scott's offensive fireworks. That quickness forced Hayfield into 23 turnovers and numerous hurries and a 31.5 shooting percentage. Meanwhile, Scott made 5-of-5 3s before intermission en route to a 31 point effort, 6 points above his average.

Scott already had 12 points at 11:30 of the 1st half--more than any of the Vikings would score on the night--including the ever-popular dunk off the fast break, and the Panthers were well in command at 17-0. The Vikings were 0-for-9 to open, with 6 turnovers. Hayfield's Brady Kramer finally broke the ice off the offensive glass at 11:00, making it 17-2. The Panthers extended their lead steadily throughout the half, with their largest lead being 43-17 at intermission. Scott had 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-6 3s, plus 5 boards and 2 steals.

The teams mostly traded baskets in the 2nd half though the lead got as high as 33 at 67-34, 69-36, 72-39, 74-41 and 76-43. Reserves Deon Wilson and Abbass Osman each scored twice during this exchange, Scott having departed the game for good at the 8:00 mark and his fellow starters followed over the next 2 minutes.

The Vikings provided the night's biggest highlight--that was an unexpected alley-oop dunk from Kramer to Cole Kruger in the 1st minute of the 2nd half. One would have expected such a play from the Panthers, who in fact attempted to match the Vikings' play a minute later. Scott settled for 2 FT on the play. And the next time Hayfield tried the alley-oop, Scott intercepted the ball at the rim and started a fast break the other way, leading to a Bryce Williams lay-up. Later the Panthers attempted a fast break alley-oop off the glass but that pass went awry.

The Panthers finished up with a 29-for-64 shooting night (45 percent) to Hayfield's 31.5. After making 7-of-15 3s in the 1st half, however, they were 1-for-8 in the 2nd. Hayfield made its living at the FT line, making 20-of-36, including 15-of-25 in the 2nd half.

Tartan Titans 76 Columbia Heights Hylanders 49

Columbia Heights led 10-8 in the early going and trailed just 11-10 at 10:30 mark, when a pair of 3s by guards Darrion Strong and Mike Hudspeth got Tartan going. They never trailed again.

Then, 6-8 sophomore post Brody Jackson entered the game and, in just 2 minutes, scored on the fast break, then on a nifty baseline drive and dish by Xavier Hall. Next he scored not once but twice off the offensive glass, then recorded a steal leading to a Marshawn Wilson FT. 4 minutes later, Hall closed out a 16-1 run with a 2 + 1 off the fast break and it was 36-17.

It was more of the same in the 2nd half. The 2 teams traded baskets from 40-21 to 55-40, then Tartan ripped off 11 points, Strong scoring 5 of them and Jackson 2 more. The Titans shot 54 percent in the 2nd half, and 50 percent for the game, making it unlikely that the Hylanders were going to come back from that 19-point half-time deficit.

Tartan's 5-headed monster at the guard slots includes Hall, Khaire Kirkland, Wilson, Hudspeth and Strong. All 4 are quick and strong. They gummed up the Hylanders' offensive patterns and launched fast break after fast break, most often finishing same with style. Hall led the way with 15 points, 7 in the 1st half, 8 in the second. Kirkland scored 8 in the 2nd half for a total of 10, Hudspeth 6 of his 7 in the 1st. Wilson scored 5 and 6 for 11, while Strong scored 6 and 8 for a total of 14. Strong is usually their leader, scoring 18.5 ppg to 10 for Wilson and 9 for Hudspeth.

All are juniors, except Marshawn Wilson who is a freshman. And with the 6-8 Jackson also back, Tartan could contend for a state title next year, if not this.

Meanwhile, Columbia Heights' best player, Deon Sanstad, is also a junior guard. He led all scorers with 20 points. But the Hylanders shot just 31 percent, including 3-of-17 from behind the arc. Still, they're a sound team that committed just 10 turnovers against a fairly high level of defensive intensity, and gave up just 7 offensive boards to the other side. But Tartan shot too many lay-ups--ergo the 50 FG percentage--for the Hylanders to really make a game of this.

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