Class A #1 Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa vs. #2 Southwest Minnesota Christian
Class A has gone according to Hoyle and so #1 plays #2 in today's final. It will be a contrast in styles as BBE loves to get out and run while SWC plays a deliberate, ball control style of play. BBE has scored 142 points in 2 tournament wins, SWC just 105,
The match-up to watch, well there's 2. One is in the post where 6-7 Connor Goodwin of BBE will match up with 6-9 Zach Huisken of SWC. Goodwin is BBE's go-to guy, and has 42 points and 23 boards in 2 games. It is shocking how seldom SWC gets shots--or even touches--for Huisken other than off the offensive glass. He has 22 points, 27 boards and 9 blocks in 2 games. So it will Goodwin's offense vs. Huisken's D, and don't be surprised if Huisken and SWC are able to slow Goodwin down.
That means that guard Brian Goodwin will need to have a good game for BBE. He has 40 points, 9 assists and 8 steals in 2 games. But don't forget 6-6 forward Billy Borgerding and guard Kirby Montbriand, each of whom scored 14 in yesterday's semi-final. Their depth and balance will make them hard to shut down.
But SWC has even more balanced scoring. 1st among equals is Andrew Top with 11 points in each tournament game. But 4 other players scored 6 or more points in each game. It probably comes down to which SWC team shows up today--the one that shot 52 percent against Fosston, or the one that shot 32 percent against RP.
But the same can be said of BBE, who shot 52 and 31 percent in their 2 games so far. So it's not shooting ability that distinguishes these teams, it is the pace at which they prefer to play.
My guess is SWC will be able to control the pace. If BBE gets out ahead early on, they may be able to force SWC to pick up that pace a bit, which would further advantage BBE. If SWC gets out ahead, look out, it could be more like yesterday's Class AA semi which as you know ended 33-31.
Still I think BBE has too many weapons and will prevail 53-45.
AA #3 Litchfield vs. unseeded Plainview-Elgin-Millville
Class AA has gone anything but according to plan as #4 Litch defeated #1 Perham yesterday, and then unseeded PEM easily defeated #3 Braham. If the Class A final features contrasting styles, this game does more of the same on steroids.
PEM scored 84 points yesterday, Litch 33. Litch and Perham stalled out the final 7:28 yesterday, so the pace was not quite as slow as the score indicates for the 1st 28:30. But Litch will move the ball around and get lots of touches for everybody before putting up a shot. PEM will be looking for shots before the Litchfield defense can get set.
PEM has great balance. In 2 tournament games the scoring is like this: Speer 36 Nelson 34 Ruth 34 and Montgomery 25. Like the 2 Class A finalists, PEM has had 1 tournament game shooting in the 30s percent and 1 in the 50s. It is taking about 60 shots per game.
Litch has good balance, too, but at a different level. They have shot in the 30s in both games and have attempted an average of just 37 shots. Kinny leads with 22 points, while Terning has 18, Doll 15, Wollin 13 and Whitchurch 10.
As always if a team wants to be deliberate and if it can protect the ball, which is not a problem for Litchfield today, then the pace will be slow. And the pace will again depend on who gets out ahead. If PEM gets out ahead it will be hard for Litch to catch up.
Once again, I will take offense over defense. I will probably regret that. But I'll take PEM 48-44.
AAA #1 Minneapolis Washburn vs. #2 DeLaSalle
Hey guess what! Nobody will be trying to slow this one down. Both have averaged in the 60s for points, but Washburn has shot in the 30s and 40s percent, DeLaSalle at 50 percent or better in both of its tournament games. For the full season Washburn out-scored it opponents 78-58, DeLaSalle 72-51.
Each team seems to have 3 guys who will do more of the scoring.
DeLaSalle is led by sophomores Reid Travis with 37 tournament points and 18 boards, and Jarvis Johnson with 30 tournament points in 2 games. And junior Lucas Scott has 27 points so far.
For Washburn, it is Joseph Doby with 32 points, Jerry Pratt with 31 and Nick Anderson with 27 so far.
Right now I think DeLaSalle is playing a little better ball. I'll take the Islanders 72-64.
AAAA #2 Lakeville North vs. #4 Osseo
Osseo is the talk of the tournament as a result of its 87-86 3OT win over 3-time defending champion Hopkins, rightfully described as "one of" the greatest games in tournament history. I mean, there is certainly no precedent for a 3-time defending champ losing in its effort to become the 1st team to win 4 straight at the highest level, and losing in 3OT to boot.
But can Osseo maintain its focus after such a game and such an achievement? I would say that emotionally the edge may go to Lakeville North, which has low-keyed its way into the finals. They expended very little emotion in winning in the 1st round 61-55 over Moorhead. So they had lots of gas left in the tank, and used some of it, to come from 27-13 down to easily defeat Eden Prairie 58-41. The way that math works out is Lakeville out-scored EP 45-14 after its early deficit.
Osseo will run, Lakeville will slow it down somewhat though not like SWC or Litch will slow it down, by any means. Their top scorer in the regular season, Tyler Flack, was pretty much MIA for 3 halves (10 points) before breaking out with 12 2nd half points vs. Eden Prairie. He will need to be there for the whole game tonight.
Still, Osseo has the look of destiny's team. The only reason for any reticence in picking them to win tonight is that there could be an emotional let-down after Thursday incredible game. But I'll pick Osseo 71-65.