So, Stew and I made the long drive to Apple Valley to see Tyus Jones, and we did. For 6 minutes of the 1st half. He hit the deck at about 12:25 and seemed to have tweaked an ankle. He stayed in the game, but just briefly. During a timeout about 30 seconds later, Jones came out of the game and he never returned. (Later reports said his problem was back spasms. It sure looked like an ankle.)
At the time it was already Hopkins 15 Apple Valley 7. By the time the Eagles knew what hit them, it was 32-16, with a little over 5 minutes remaining in the half. Apple Valley closed out the half on a 17-10 run to get within 42-33. Still, a Hopkins victory seemed all but inevitable.
It was not to be. Led by guard Dustin Fronk, the Eagles just kept pecking away and pecking away. The got within 7 at 44-37, within 6 at 48-42, within 5 at 51-46 and tied it up at 54-all with 5:25 still on the clock. Finally they took their 1st lead since 2-0 at 57-54 on a spectacular steal and coast-to-coast 2 + 1 by Fronk at 4:46. Hopkins got within 61-59, but Apple Valley made 11-of-13 FT down the stretch.
The Eagles closed the game on a remarkable 57-32 run, without Tyus Jones. But they had Dustin Fronk and with help from Dennis Austin, Harry Sonie and others, it was enough. Austin and Sonie finished with 18 and 15 points, respectively, but it was junior reserve Robert Tobroxen who tied things up at 54 with a bucket off the offensive glass--his only bucket of the night. And 6-10 freshman Brock Bertram impressed with 8 points and 8 boards.
The bottom line was that Hopkins had a terrible night shooting the ball. They started out hitting 6-of-13 shots for that 15-7 lead. Their next 6 buckets came on 19 shots, but still they led 32-16. They finished the half making 2-of-10 for a total of 14-of-42. The 2nd half was worse, at 7-of-24, for a total of 21-for-66 (32 percent). After that 6-of-13 start, the Royals shot 15-of-53 (28 percent).
The Eagles, meanwhile, shot 13-for-25 in the 1st half and 11-of-27 in the 2nd. The problem in the 1st was turnovers--14 of them. In the 2nd half, there were only 3. Fronk hit 3-of-4 shots in the 1st half for 9 points. In the 2nd he made just 4-of-8 FG but also 7-of-8 FT for 18 points. Overall he scored 27 with 6 boards, 4 assists and 2 steals.
If the 2nd half belonged to Fronk, the 1st belonged to Kamali Chambers, who did a note-perfect impression of big brother Siyani, last year's Mr. Basketball. He scored 9 points on 3-of-7 shooting with 5 boards, 2 assists and a steal. And he stood out even in Hopkins' super-sticky man-to-man defense, which frustrated the Eagles at every turn--through the 5 minute mark of the 1st half. After that, not so much.
And, he pretty much disappeared in the 2nd half, scoring just 3 points and none after the 9 minute mark. And that is exactly when Fronk too over.