Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Big Game March 28--West Liberty 110 Winona State 84

West Liberty (WV) left no doubt as to why it is rated #1 in D2 as it demolished Winona State 110-84 in the Elite 8 at Louisville, KY. As impressive as West Liberty was in today's win, it was just another day at the office for the Hilltoppers. They've now won 3 NCAA tournament games by an average of 102-76. They are the highest scoring team in D2 with a season-long average of 104 points.

So today was really just more of the same, except that the victim was the last Minnesota amateur basketball team still playing, Winona State, who now completes their season at 27-8, the 7th straight time they've won 20 games.

Winona led 34-32 at 6:57 of the 1st but West Liberty ripped off 11 straight points and led 50-41 at the half. The lead got to 14 (59-45) in the 2nd but Winona battled back to within 59-53 before the wheels came off. 2-and-a-half minutes later the lead was 17 and another 2 minutes later it was 21, and the Warriors never challenged after that.

Clayton Vette, Winona's 6-9 post, finished his career after being name the D2 Player of the Year earlier in the day. He scored 14 points, bring his season total to 697, 2nd best in school history, and his career total to 1,750, 6th on the all-time list.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 Season in Review

Top 5 Stories

1. Carlie Wagner Does It Again

Last year Carlie Wagner came almost out of nowhere to score 48 points and overshadow the great Rebekah Dahlman in her very 1st state tournament game ever. And, now, for an encore? How about 48 points in the state semi-finals, followed by an incredible 50 points (outscoring Dahlman again, this time 50-32) in a 60-59 Class A championship thriller over Braham. Wagner set records for points in a tournament with 129 and in a game with those 50 points, including the game-winning FT in the game's final seconds.

2. Minnesota Boys Class of 2014 Is the Best Ever

Juniors Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis are rated among the top 50 high school boys in their class, making this by far Minnesota's best recruiting class ever. In an average year, Minnesota has 0 or 1 boys in the top 100. 3 in the top 50 is unprecedented. And the urgency to get at least 1, if not 2 (3 would be too much to hope for) into the University of Minnesota weighs heavily on the minds of Minnesota basketball fans and plays mightily into the dissatisfaction with coach Tubby Smith.

Part of the back-story is that the 2013s are regarded as 1 of the best girls classes ever, with an unprecedented 2 McDonald's all-Americans in Nia Coffey and Rebekah Dahlman. Add DeLaSalle's Tyseanna Johnson to the list and you've got a "Big 3" that is analogous to Jones, Vaughn and Travis. And the fact is the Gopher women struck out on all 3. Similarly most fans seem to be resigned to the likelihood that the Gophers may not sign any of the boys "Big 3."

3. Gopher Men Falter, Tubby Smith Fired

The Gopher men under head coach Tubby Smith roared out to a 15-1 start including 3-0 in the Big 10 with wins over Michigan State and at Illinois. But the wheels quickly came off the Tubby-mobile as the Gophers lost 4 straight and faltered to a 5-10 finish in the Big 10 regular season, then lost to Illinois, a team they had beaten twice, in the Big 10 tournament. An NCAA tournament invitation and 1st round win over UCLA, 83-63, did not deter new AD Norwood Teague from making a move, announcing the day after an NCAA tournament loss to Florida that Tubby was through as Minnesota coach.

4. Minnesota Lynx Fall in WNBA Finals

The defending champion Minnesota Lynx looked like the best team in the WNBA--they were the best team in the WNBA--through the regular season, finishing up just 1 win short of a WNBA record number of wins at 27-7. As had been the case in 2011, the biggest roadblock to the league title appeared to be within the Western Conference--the LA Sparks at 25-9 or the San Antonio Silver Stars at 21-13. But the Lynx got a scare in the 1st round from the Seattle Storm before winning that series 2 games to 1, then shut out the Sparks 2 games to none to advance to the finals against the Indiana Fever. An easy win was anticipated.

Instead, the Fever manhandled the Lynx 3 games to 1 to win their 1st WNBA title. Still it was a 2nd straight solid season for the Lynx, whose Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen also helped the U.S. to the Olympic Gold medal during the summer.

5. Anders Broman and Rebekah Dahlman Score 5,000

Anders Broman of Lakeview Christian and Rebekah Dahlman of Braham became the 1st Minnesota high schoolers to score 5,000 points in a career. For Broman, the final number is variously estimated from 5,059 to 5,119, depending on whether a few games from early in his career (against non-MSHSL opponents) count or not. For Dahlman the number is 5,060, her 5,000th having come in a 1st round tournament win over BOLD.

See more Honorable Mention stories of the year below.

Player of the Year

Minnesota Hoops will poll its readers, who will choose a Readers Player of the Year. The 10 candidates in the poll are:

Semione Augustus, Minnesota Lynx. Augustus led the Lynx to a 2nd straight WNBA finals, where the team fell short of a repeat of its 2012 championship.

Rachel Banham, Minnesota Gopher women. Banham led the Gopher women in good times and in bad, leading the Big 10 in scoring with more than 21 points per game. But the Gophers faltered to an 18-14 finish and a loss in the 1st round of the WNIT.

Anders Broman, Lakeview Christian boys. Finished his career as the 1st Minnesota high schooler ever to score 5,000 career points, and led his team to a 2nd state tournament berth.

Nia Coffey, Hopkins girls. Coffey led her team to a 3rd straight state title, dominating 3 straight opponents with her defense and rebounding, while also scoring 67 points in 3 games.

Rebekah Dahlman, Braham girls. Finished her career as the 1st girl ever to score 5,000 points in Minnesota high school ball, and led her team to runner-up in Class AA.

Taylor Hall, Bethel men. Hall was MIAC MVP, and was rated the #3 player in all of D3 and the #13 player below D1 by 1 rating service.

Andre Hollins, Minnesota Gopher men. Andre was the Gophers leading scorer in good times and in bad, including a 41 point effort early in the year when the Gophers roared out to a 15-1 start and a #8 national rating.

Tyus Jones, Apple Valley boys. Regarded by some as the #1 national recruit in the class of 2014, Jones led his team to the state Class AAAA title, and in the process avenged his team's only defeat in thrashing Park Center 74-57.

Clayton Vette, Winona State men. Vette led Winona to the Northern Sun South Division regular season crown, to the NCAA North Central Region title and to the D2 Elite 8.

Carlie Wagner, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls. Scored a record 129 points in the state tournament, where she led her team to the Class AA title in a classic win over Rebekah Dahlman and Braham 60-59 in the final. Wagner scored a record 50 points in that game.

Team of the Year

1. Hopkins girls 31-1. State Class AAAA champion for the 3rd straight year.

2. Minnesota Lynx 27-7 in the regular season, then 5-4 in the playoffs. WNBA runner-up to the Indiana Fever.

3. Apple Valley boys 31-1. State Class AAAA champions.

4. St. Thomas men 30-2. NCAA D3 semi-finalist, rated #1 nationally before losing to Mary Hardin-Baylor 74-67 in the semis.

5 (tie). DeLaSalle boys 30-1 and DeLaSalle girls 28-4. The boys won their 2nd straight Class AAA title, the girls their 3rd as Tyseanna Johnson became the 1st hoopster, boys or girls, ever to win all-tournament honors 5 times.

Coach of the Year

1. Brian Cosgriff, Hopkins girls. 3rd straight Class AAAA title and both Hopkins' and Cosgriff's 5th title overall.

2 (tie). Faith Johnson Patterson, DeLaSalle girls and Dave Thorson, DeLaSalle boys. Won a 3rd and a 2nd straight Class AAA title, respectively. For Johnson Patterson, this brings her total to a record-tying (boys or girls) 8th title. Thorson's is his 5th, which is exceeded by only 1 other boys coach.

4. Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx. Kept the Lynx focused through distractions such as foreign obligations, Olympics, and so on, but ran into a buzzsaw in the Indiana Fever in the finals.

5. Mike Leaf, Winona State men. Led the Warriors to the D2 Elite Eight.

Game of the Year

1. New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls 60 Braham 59. Girls Class AA state championship. Carlie Wagner out-scored Rebekah Dahlman 50-32, and made the game-winning FT with 6 seconds remaining.

2. Minnesota Gopher men 77 #1 Indiana Hoosiers 73. The 1st Gopher win over a #1-rated opponent since 1989.

3. Bloomington Kennedy girls 43 Eastview 39. Class AAAA semi-finals.

4. Winona State men 76 Mankato State 73 OT. NCAA D2 North Central Region final at Mankato. The winner advanced to the D2 Elite Eight.

5. Park Center boys 74 Lakeville North 72. Class AAAA 1st round.

Honorable Mention Stories

• DeLaSalle Makes It "5 in a Row." The DeLaSalle  girls won their 3rd straight AAA title and the following week the boys won the for 2nd straight year. Coach Faith Johnson Patterson tied the Minnesota record of Myron Glass with her 8th state title while Tyseanna Johnson became the 1st basketball player, boys or girls, to earn all-tournament honors 5 times. The Islanders finished up at 28-4. The boys under coach Dave Thorson finished 29-1 with their 2nd straight state title.

• Apple Valley and Tyus Jones win 1st state title, avenging their only defeat of the season by defeating Park Center 74-57 in the final.

• Private schools dominate MSHSL small school boys classes. Southwest Minnesota Christian and Maranatha Christian played for the Class A title, Minnehaha for the Class AA title and DeLaSalle for the Class AAA title, meaning private schools took 4 of 6 slots in those 3 classes.

• Hopkins girls complete a 3-peat of Class AAAA titles.

• The Minnesota Timberwolves are ravaged by injuries--especially those to Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio--and fell well short of an expected run into the NBA playoffs.

• St. Thomas falls short. The St. Thomas men, 2010 national champions and now #1 rated, lost in the semi-finals of the NCAA D3 tournament. Meanwhile the women, Final Four participant a year ago, lost in the Sweet 16.

Player of the Year History

Minnesota Hoops readers have selected a Player of the Year 2 previous years now, while the editors have chosen a Player of the Year 7 times previously. (Our Minnesota Hoops Players of the Year for 2005 and previously all the way back to 1900 were selected retroactively.)

Minnesota Hoops Readers Player of the Year

2011--Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
2012--Taylor Young, St. Thomas women

Minnesota Hoops Editors Player of the Year

2006--Isaiah Dahlman, Braham boys
2007--Angel Robinson, St. Paul Central girls
2008--John Smith, Winona State men
2009--Tayler Hill, Mpls. South girls
2010--Rachel Banham and Cassie Rochel, Lakeville North girls
2011--Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
2012--Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota Lynx

2012-2013 College Recap

Almost lost amid the excitement of the girls and boys high school tournaments the past 2 weeks was the  continuation of college playoff action from D1 through the junior colleges. I'll start with something you didn't know.

Junior Colleges

The Anoka-Ramsey and Northland Community College women played in the NJCAA D3 tournament at Rochester. ARC lost in the 1st round to Montgomery College, MD 84-77, then won 2 games to finish in 5th place. Kelli Schramm, from Mounds View, earned all-tournament honors.

Northland also lost in the 1st round to Roxbury CC, MA 72-65, and finished 7th.

Rochester CTC played in the men's tournament in New York and lost all 3 games to finish 8th. Justyn Galloway, from Kenosha, WI, won all-tournament honors.


The St. Thomas men and women are both done for the year.

The men got to the D3 semi-finals before losing to Mary Hardin-Baylor 74-67. St. Thomas led 54-40 at 10:22 of the 2nd half before ripped off a 23-8 run to take the lead at 63-62. St. Thomas led 67-66 with 36 seconds left but Hardin-Baylor hit 8 FT down the stretch.

The Tommies, rated #1 going into the post-season, finish at 30-2. Mary Hardin-Baylor plays Amherst for the national title next week.

The women got to the Sweet 16 before losing to Hope 71-61. The unranked Tommies led #2-ranked Hope 32-31 at the half and 50-49 at 8:44, but Hope put a 12-2 run on the Tommies to pull away. Hope shot 57 percent, St. Thomas just 42. The Tommies finished 24-6.


The Winona State men are the last Minnesota basketball team still standing, well, this side of the Minnesota Timberwolves. They will meet #1 rated West Liberty on Thursday afternoon of this week in the Elite Eight. The Warriors defeated Mankato State 76-73 at Mankato to advance to this round of play. If Winona wins on Thursday, the semi-final is Saturday. The national championship will be played on Sunday, April 7.

Senior post Clayton Vette leads Winona with 21 ppg and 8 rebounds. Xavier Humphrey adds 11 points and 2 assists, Grant Johnson 11 points, and Taylor Cameron 10 points, 5 boards and 3 assists.

Winona is rated just #28 in the final D2 poll, but defeated #6 Mankato to advance.

Gopher Men

The men defeated UCLA 83-63 in the NCAA tournament, then lost to Florida 78-64 to finish 21-13 incluring 8-10 in the Big 10. And coach Tubby Smith was fired.

Gopher Women

Then there's the Gopher women who lost to Ball State at home in the NIT 54-51 to finish 18-14 including 7-9 in the Big 10. And coach Pam Borton was not fired.

Coaches Corner

In 6 years as Gopher coach Tubby Smith won 124 games while losing 81 (.610). In the Big 10 he went 46-62 (.426). In 10 years as Gopher coach, Coach Borton has won 189 games while losing 132 (.589). During the past 6 years she is 102-90 (.537). In the Big 10 for the past 6 years she is 45-57 (.441).

Top College Players

C- Clayton Vette, Winona State men
C- Tommy Hannon, St. Thomas men
F- Taylor Hall, Bethel men
G- Andre Hollins, Minnesota Gopher men
G- Rachel Banham, Minnesota Gopher women

2nd Team

C- Assem Marei, Mankato State men
F- Ali Wilkinson, Mankato State women
F- Annika Whiting, Concordia (St. Paul) women
G- John Nance, St. Thomas men
G- Rachel Hanson, Concordia (St. Paul) women

College Coach of the Year

1. Mike Boschee, Bemidji State men
2. Mike Leaf, Winona State men
3. John Tauer, St. Thomas men
4. Mandy Pearson, St. Mary's women
5. Ruth Sinn, St. Thomas women

Boys Season Recap/2014 Season Preview

I've already published my all-tournament team. Now here's my all-state team.

First Team

Tyus Jones, Apple Valley, 6-2, junior, point guard
Reid Travis, DeLaSalle, 6-7, junior, center/power forward
Graham Woodward, Edina, 6-0, senior, point guard
Quinton Hooker, Park Center, 6-0, senior, guard, point guard
Anders Broman, Lakeview Christian, 6-4, senior, small forward/shooting guard

2nd Team

Rashad Vaughn, Robbinsdale Cooper, 6-6, junior, small forward/shooting guard
Alex Illikainen, Grand Rapids, 6-8, sophomore, center/power forward
Riley Dearring, Minnetonka, 6-5, senior, power forward
Quashingm Smith-Pugh, St. Paul Johnson, 6-5, senior, forward
JP Macura, Lakeville North, 6-4, junior, shooting guard

3rd Team

Scottie Stone, Melrose, 6-4, senior, small forward/shooting guard
Joe Aase, Austin, 6-8, senior, power forward
Aaron Lien, Moorhead, 6-3, senior, small forward/shooting guard
Grant Shaeffer, Eden Prairie, 6-1, senior, point guard
Ian Theisen, Osseo, 6-10, junior, post

4th Team

Reggie Lynch, Edina, 6-9, senior, center
Dennis Austin, Apple Valley, 6-4, junior, power forward
Dustin Fronk, Apple Valley, 6-2, senior, combo guard
Mack Anderson, Roseville, 6-4, small forward/shootingguard
Patrick Fischer, Sartell-St. Stephen, 6-4, senior, point guard

5th Team

Kebu Johnson, Blake, 6-3, senior, shooting guard/small forward
Isaiah Hanson, Maranatha Christian, 6-4, small forward
Brock Bertram, Apple Valley, 6-10, freshman, post
Devon Pekas, Hawley, 6-3, senior, forward
Zach Wessels, Austin, 6-23, junior, combo guard

Diaper Dandies sophomores and younger

Alex Illikainen, Grand Rapids, 6-8, sophomore, post/power forward
Brock Bertram, Apple Valley, 6-10, freshman, post
Jarvis Johnson, DeLaSalle, 6-0, sophomore, combo guard
Sacar Anim, DeLaSalle, 6-4, sophomore, combo guard
Joey Witthus, Chanhassan, 6-5, sophomore, forward

2nd Team

Kobe Critchley, Roseville, 6-1, sophomore, point guard
Sam Neumann, Cretin-Derham Hall, sophomore, combo guard
Jalen Mobley, St. Paul Johnson, 5-11, sophomore, combo guard
Marshawn Wilson, Hill-Murray, sophomore, point guard
Jeremiah Hanson, Maranatha, 6-4, sophomore, forward
Grantham Gillard, Maranatha, 6-2, sophomore, forward

Top 50 Teams

1. DeLaSalle 30-1 (3A)
2. Apple Valley 31-1
3. Park Center 28-4
4. Osseo 25-4
5. Lakeville North 23-7
6. Edina 24-8
7. Hopkins 22-7
8. Minnetonka 21-7
9. Eden Prairie 22-10
10. Brainerd 28-2

11. Austin 30-1 (3A)
12. Woodbury 25-5
13. Roseville 22-6
14. Marshall 29-3 (3A)
15. Robbinsdale Cooper 22-6
16. St. Paul Johnson 22-9 (3A)
17. Champlin Park 19-8
18. Robbinsdale Armstrong 19-9
19. Elk River 20-9
20. Prior Lake 19-8

21. Southwest Minnesota Christian (1A) 30-1
22. Holy Angels 20-8 (3A)
23. Stillwater 22-7
24. Maranatha 31-2 (1A)
25. Tartan 22-5
26. Minnehaha 26-6 (2A)
27. Litchfield 26-6 (2A)
28. Delano 26-4 (3A)
29. Waconia 23-6 (3A)
30. Blake 22-8 (3A)

31. New Prague 18-9 (3A)
32. Buffalo 20-8
33. St. Louis Park 20-6 (3A)
34. Melrose 29-2 (2A)
35. Maple Grove 16-10
36. Shakopee 16-11
37. Columbia Heights 18-8 (3A)
38. White Bear Lake 17-10
39. Eagan 16-9
40. Rushford-Peterson 27-5 (1A)

41. Annandale 22-10 (2A)
42. Mahtomedi 21-7
43. Hawley 25-2 (2A)
44. Grand Rapids 20-10 (3A)
45. East Ridge 18-9
46. Sartell-St. Stephen 17-13 (3A)
47. Mora 24-6 (2A)
48. Upsala 31-2 (1A)
49. St. Cloud Cathedral 22-7 (2A)
50. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 25-2 (1A)

Coach of the Year

Class A--Tom Vix, Rushford-Peterson
Class AA--John Carlson, Litchfield
Class AAA--Dave Thoreson, DeLaSalle (overall Coach of the Year)
Class AAAA--Zach Goring, Apple Valley

Teams to Beat 2014

Class AAAA

Section 1--Lakeville North (#5), Rochester John Marshall, Farmington
Section 2--Eden Prairie (#4), Chanhassan, Shakopee
Section 3--Apple Valley (#1 seed), Cretin-Derham Hall, Eastview
Section 4--Stillwater, Woodbury, Roseville
Section 5--Osseo (#2), Champlin Park, Robbinsdale Cooper
Section 6--Hopkins (#3), Minnetonka, Robbinsdale Armstrong
Section 7--Andover, Cambridge-Isanti, St. Francis
Section 8--Elk River, St. Cloud Tech, Rogers

1. Apple Valley
2. Osseo
3. Hopkins
4. Minnetonka
5. Eden Prairie
6. Lakeville North
7. Cretin-Derham Hall
8. Champlin Park
9. Stillwater
10. Cooper
11. Elk River
12. Chanhassan
13. Woodbury
14. Roseville
15. Andover

Class AAA

Section 1--Austin, Red Wing, Waseca
Section 2--Waconia (#3), Mankato West, Marshall
Section 3--DeLaSalle (#1 seed),  Columbia Heights, Totino-Grace
Section 4--St. Paul Johnson (#4), St. Paul Central, Hill-Murray
Section 5--Delano, Orono, Big Lake
Section 6--Holy Angels (#2), Blake, Benilde-St. Margaret's
Section 7--Grand Rapids, Cloquet, Chisago Lakes
Section 8--Albany (#5), East Grand Forks, Alexandria

1. DeLaSalle
2. Holy Angels
3. Waconia
4. St. Paul Johnson
5. Blake
6. St. Paul Central
7. St. Cloud Tech
8. Austin
9. Hill-Murray
10. Grand Rapids
11. Delano
12. Cloquet
13. East Grand Forks
14. Columbia Heights
15. Orono

Class AA

Section 1--Chatfield, LaCrescent, Rochester Lourdes
Section 2--St. Peter, Hayfield, Cannon Falls
Section 3--Fairmont (#4), Martin County West, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial
Section 4--Breck (#2), New Life, St. Paul Academy
Section 5--Howard Lake-Winsted-Waverly (#3), St. Cloud Cathedral, Mayer Lutheran
Section 6--Staples-Motley, Sauk Center
Section 7--Esko (#1 seed), Mora, Braham
Section 8--Crosby-Ironton (#5), Breckenridge, Hawley

1. Esko
2. Breck
3. Howard Lake-Winsted-Waverly
4. Mora
5. Fairmont
6. Braham
7. Crosby-Ironton
8. Breckenridge
9. Chatfield
10. Staples-Motley
11. Hawley
12. LaCrescent
13. St. Peter
14. Martin County West
15. Hayfield

Class A

Section 1--Rushford-Peterson (#1 seed), Blooming Prairie, Mabel-Canton
Section 2--St. Clair (#5), Cedar Mountain, Mountain Lake
Section 3--Southwest Minnesota Christian (#4), Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, MCCRAY
Section 4--Maranatha (#3), Heritage Lutheran, West Lutheran
Section 5--Upsala, Nevis, Barnum
Section 6--Battle Lake (#2), Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Ada-Borup
Section 7--Ely, Floodwood, Bigfork
Section 8--Park Christian, Fosston, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley

1. Rushford-Peterson
2. Battle Lake
3. Maranatha
4. Southwest Minnesota Christian
5. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrose
6. St. Clair
7. Park Christian
8. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton
9. Upsala
10. Blooming Prairie
11. Ely
12. Cedar Mountain
13. Floodwood
14. Mountain Lake
15. Ada-Borup

2014 Pre-Season All-State

Tyus Jones, Apple Valley, 6-3, senior, guard
Reid Travis, DeLaSalle, 6-7, senior, post/power forward
Rashad Vaughn, Robbinsdale Cooper, 6-6, senior, small forward/shooting guard
Alex Illikainen, Grand Rapids, 6-8, junior, post/power forward
JP Macura, Lakeville North, 6-4, senior, shooting guard
Ian Theisen, Osseo, 6-10, jsenior, post

2nd Team

Brock Bertram, Apple Valley, 6-10, sophomore, post
Marshawn Wilson, Hill-Murray, sophomore, point guard
Sam Neumann, Cretin-Derham Hall, sophomore, combo guard
Joey Witthus, Chanhassan, 6-5, sophomore, forward
Jarvis Johnson, DeLaSalle, 6-0, sophomore, combo guard
Sacar Anim, DeLaSalle, 6-4, sophomore, combo guard

3rd Team

Zach Wessels, Austin, 6-23, junior, combo guard
Dennis Austin, Apple Valley, 6-4, junior, power forward
Kobe Critchley, Roseville, 6-1, sophomore, point guard
Jalen Mobley, St. Paul Johnson, 5-11, sophomore, combo guard
Jeremiah Hanson, Maranatha, 6-4, sophomore, forward
Grantham Gillard, Maranatha, 6-2, sophomore, forward

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Boys State Tournament Recap

My All-Tournament Team All Classes

C- Reid Travis, DeLaSalle 63 points 40 rebounds 5 blocks, Class AAA MVP
F- Dennis Austin, Apple Valley 49 points 29 boards 3 steals
F- Quahingm Smith-Pugh, St. Paul Johnson 52 points 29 boards 9 steals 6 assists
G- Tyus Jones, Apple Valley 70 points 17 assists 13 steals, Class AAAA MVP
G- Graham Woodward, Edina 86 points 17 assists 5 steals
6th- Quinton Hooker, Park Center 61 points 27 rebounds 12 assists

2nd Team

C- Leighton Sampson, Southwest Christian 72 points 22 rebounds 7 blocks 3 steals, Class A MVP
F- Kaharri Carter, Minnehaha 49 points 25 rebounds, Class AA MVP
F- Isaiah Hanson, Maranatha 53 points 19 rebounds 4 steals
G- Dominic Nibbelink, Southwest Christian 55 points 11 assists 3 steals
G- Zach Kinny, Litchfield 45 points 15 rebounds 14 assists 3 steals
6th- Kory Deadrick, Esko 68 points 26 boards 4 steals

3rd Team

C- Reggie Lynch, Edina 55 points 23 rebounds 12 blocks
F- Tom Aase, Austin 38 points 15 rebounds 3 assists 3 steals
F- Matt Miller, Annandale 60 points 21 rebounds 5 assists
G- Dustin Fronk, Apple Valley 40 points
G- Josh Goldschmidt, Maranatha 26 points 20 rebounds 12 assists 9 blocks 8 steals
6th- Riley Sharbono, Marshall 49 points 16 rebounds

4th Team

C- Brock Bertram, Apple Valley 30 points 30 boards 9 blocks
F- Devon Buckley, Park Center 38 points 26 boards 3 steals
F- Seth Thompson, Rushford-Peterson 44 points 13 rebounds 4 steals 5 assists
G- Sacar Anim, DeLaSalle 27 points 5 assists 6 steals
G- Jarvis Johnson, DeLaSalle 27 points 7 assists
6th- Alex Illikainen, Grand Rapids 31 3 boards 3 blocks 2 steals

Only Goldschmidt among the 1st 18 players failed to make the official all-tournament team. I have more comments on that below under Class AA. On my 4th team I've got Bertram, Anim and Illikainen who did not earn all-tournament honors.

Overall Statistical Leaders

Scoring--Graham Woodward 86 Leighton Sampson 72 Tyus Jones 70
Rebounding--Reid Travis 40 Avery Smieja 33 Thomas Gedion 31
Assists--Jones and Woodward 17 Zach Kinny 14
Blocks--Reggie Lynch 12 Tom Aase, Brock Bertram, Josh Goldschmidt 9
Steals--Jones 13 Tyler Bukowski 10 Quashingm Smith-Pugh 9

Smieja, Bertram and Goldschmidt did not earn all-tournament honors. All should have.

Class AAAA

Top Scorers--Graham Woodward 86 Tyus Jones 70 Quinton Hooker 61
Top Rebounder--Brock Bertram 30 Dennis Austin 29 Jack Cottrell, Mark Handberg, Hooker all 27
Top Assists--Jones and Woodward 17 Hooker 12
Top Blocks--Reggie Lynch 12 Bertram 9 Cottrell and Treyton Daniels 4
Top Steals--Jones 13 Woodward and Tony Sauer 5 (Sauer of Brainerd 5 in 1 game)

Bertram, Cottrell, Handberg and Sauer did not get all-tournament honors. Bertram is a tough leave-off: 30 points 30 boards 9 blocks. Cottrell had a nice tournament for EP: 29 points 27 boards 4 blocks 4 steals. I voted for him ahead of Grant Shaeffer. That was my only difference with the official all-tournament team.

Class AAA

Top Scorers--Reid Travis 63 Quashigm Smith-Pugh 52 Riley Sharbono 49
Top Rebounder--Travis 40 Smith-Pugh 29 Aaron Mathiowetz 23
Top Assists--Geno Crandall 12 Austin Saugstad 12 Zach Wessels 10
Top Blocks--Tom Aase 9 Travis 5
Top Steals--Tyler Bukowski 10 Smith-Pugh 9 Wessels 8

Aaron Mathiowetz and Austin Saugstad of Marshall didn't make the all-tournament team (Sharbono and Bukowski did; you could miss Bukowski but his defense in particular was worthy of recognition). Crandall also didn't make it, coming off the bench for DeLaSalle.

The only different choice I would have made is Alex Illikainen of Grand Rapids, a dreaded 1st round loser with 31 points, over Jalen Mobley of St. Paul Johnson.

Class AA

Top Scorers--Kory Deadrick 68 Matt Miller 60 Kaharri Carter 49
Top Rebounder--Thomas Gedion 31 Deadrick 26 Carter 25
Top Assists--Zach Kinny 14 Brett Ahsenmacher 10 Jesse Johnson and Riley Pater 9
Top Blocks--there were almost none
Top Steals--Ahsenmacher 5 Pater and Deadrick 4

All of these guys made the all-tournament team. I didn't agree with Minnehaha getting 4 selections, I would have left it at Marcellous Hazzard of Minnehaha and Zach Whitchurch of Litchfield off and picked 1st round losers Alec Koster of Redwood Valley and Cole Krueger of Hayfield in their place. It defies logic that Litch would need OT to defeat Redwood, and 3 Dragons would make all-tournament and nobody from Redwood.

Class A

Top Scorers--Leighton Sampson 72 Dominic Nibbelink 55 Isaiah Hanson 53
Top Rebounder--Avery Smieja 33 Jorli Hauge 23 Sampson and Eric Talsma 22 each
Top Assists--Josh Goldschmidt 12 Nibbelink and Cole Kingsley 11
Top Blocks--Goldschmidt 9 Smieja 8 Sampson 7
Top Steals--Goldschmidt 8 Klint Knutson and Talsma 5

The voters should zero appreciation for guys who do the little things, not to mention the big things besides scoring. The biggest muff on all 4 all-tournament teams was Maranatha's Josh Goldschmidt. On Friday his line was 0 points 8 boards 5 assists 4 blocks and 4 steals. He was Maranatha's best player on the day. 0 points. For the tournament he was his team's #5 scorer but led in boards, assists, blocks and steals. Overall I would have to take their big scorer Isaiah Hanson as their MVP for the tournament, hut Goldschmidt was #2. Instead 4 of his teammates made all-tournament, he didn't.

Smieja, the top rebounder in the class and #2 in blocks, also didn't make it nor did Eric Talsma who was Southwest Christian's #5 scorer but it's top rebounder and steal guy and 3rd in assists.

I would have left Maranatha's Grantham Gillard and Jeremiah Hanson off and put Goldschmidt in their place. I would replace Southwest Christian's Klint Knutson with his teammate Talsma. The other extra spot then goes to Smieja.

Smieja's sister, by the way, made the girls all-tournament team, coming off the bench to hit a tournament record-tying 7 3s in a 1st round loss.

Also on the above list, Kingsley didn't make all-tournament and I'm OK with that. His teammate Seth Thompson had a better overall tournament.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Apple Valley Eagles 74 Park Center Pirates 57

Park Center picked a bad time to have a dreadful shooting night, making just 19-of-62 FG (31 percent) and 17-of-31 FT (55 percent) in losing to Apple Valley 74-57 in the Class AAAA final. Otherwise the numbers were reasonably close. Apple Valley took 50 boards to Park Center's 41, but offensive rebounds were just 17-16 for the Eagles. Turnovers were Apple Valley 15 Park Center 14.

But 2nd chances and transition opportunities don't matter much when you can't put the ball in the basket.

The Eagles quickly ran out to an 11 point lead at 23-12 as Park Center made just 5-of-its-first-22 shots. It still led by 11 at 32-21 at 1:36 but Apple Valley missed its last 4 shots while Quinton Hooker finally came alive for the Pirates, hitting 3 straight shots, and then Joshua Mathews scored to get Park Center back within 7.

But Park Center then started the 2nd half like they did the 1st, ice cold from the field, making just 5-for-their-1st-15 in the 2nd half to fall further behind. Jones outscored Park Center star Quinton Hooker 28-18 but most of that came on last FT. Equally, Jones' teammates were vastly more productive than Hooker's. Hooker made 9-of-11 FT, his teammates 8-of-20, just by way of illustration.

Dennis Austin was a force in the paint on both ends, finishing with 15 points and 15 boards. Brock Bertram was a force on the defensive end with 5 official blocks and a lot more intimidations of Park Center shots.

Player of the Day: Tyus Jones, if you had to ask 28 points 11 boards 5 assists


Park Center started the 2nd half like they did the 1st, ice cold from the field. After shooting 27 percent in the 1st half and trailing 32-25 at the half, the Pirates are now 5-for-15 in the 2nd half and have fallen further behind Tyus Jones and Apple Valley. Jones has outscored Park Center star Quinton Hooker just 15-13, but his teammates have been vastly more productive than Hooker's. Dennis Austin has been a force in the paint on both ends, and Brock Bertram on the defensive end with 4 official blocks and a lot more intimidations of Park Center shots.


Apple Valley dominated Park Center for most of the 1st half, or so it seemed, yet came out of it leading just 32-25. Park Center could not buy a basket through much of the half, though it led briefly at 5-3 and 8-7. The Eagles quickly ran out to an 11 point lead at 23-12 as Park Center made just 5-of-its-first-22 shots. It still led by 11 at 32-21 at 1:36 but Apple Valley missed its last 4 shots while Quinton Hooker finally came alive for the Pirates, hitting 3 straight shots, and then Joshua Mathews scored to get Park Center back within 7.

The turnovers are 7 each and offensive boards just 8-7 Apple Valley, and the 2nd chance points and points off turnovers are about even. But Apple Valley leads 20-10 on points in the paint. It all comes down to shooting percentage: Apple Valley 12-of-34 (a not grand 35 percent) but Park Center just 9-of-33 (27 percent). In fact the Pirates were getting good looks in the early going but could not get anything to fall.

As a result, the Pirates upped the defensive intensity and got some stops and steals late in the half to fuel their mini-run.

Hooker leads all scorers with 11 points, Tyus Jones has 10. Dennis Austin came to play and was a real man in the lane early on, getting 7 points and 7 boards in the half. Jones also has 7 boards, Hooker 6. Harry Sonie's defense on Hooker and his 2 steals was a key to Apple Valley's success.

In the 2nd half, Park Center just needs to hit some shots while Apple Valley will try to get a little more production from Tyus Jones.

Boys State Tournament Coverage/Championship Lineup Complete

Class AAAA All-Tournament

Apple Valley--Tyus Jones, Dennis Austin, Dustin Fronk

Park Center--Quinton Hooker, Devin Buckley, Treyton Daniels

Edina--Graham Woodward, Reggie Lynch

Eden Prairie--Grant Shaeffer

Lakeville North--JP Macura

It's tough not to see Brock Bertram on this list, but what are you gonna do? I woulda bumped Shaeffer.


It seems attendance tonight is big. The MSHSL has just distributed the attendance figures and, indeed, tonight's attendance is the highest since the advent of 4 classes in 1997 at 13,309. The only times it had reached 12,000 was 2001 and 2007.

The grand total of 62,000 is higher than the past 3 years but lower than most years in the 4 class format.


It would have been difficult for this game to live up to the hype and it did not. I would have to say that Park Center got a little bit psyched out by it, their shooting eyes and arms exhibiting a case of the jitters or something that made it exceedingly tough for them to put the ball in the hoop. Late in the 2nd half, Park Center is shooting 28 percent from the field and 48 from the line. Everything else is surprisingly even--turnovers, offensive boards, etc. But the Pirates simply have been unable to put the ball in the hoop with any consistency. Treyton Daniels is the only player who has seen time who is shooting 40 percent.


Apple Valley and Park Center fans and just basketball fans and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo have pretty much filled up the Target Center tonight. Old timers say its the biggest crowd they've seen here for a state tournament game in the 21st century. We'll see what the numbers say. But the place is rockin.'

It was a sloppy 1st half with mediocre shooting and some sloppy ball-handling. The defenses are fairly intensive but we've certainly seen more intense defenses than this. Both teams will try to run their offensives with a little more precision in the 2nd half.


I am happy to report that the Target Center is filling up. There's a fair bit of red here. It's harder to pick out the DeLaSalle fans, since any of hem are dressed in black and just a few in yellow. Target was of course virtually empty at times on Wednesday and Thursday (and I do mean during the Class AAAA games). So, again, it's nice to see the place filling up with people and also with a good bit of noise.

Then on top of that we've got the DeLaSalle band, which is of course the best in the business. Austin's is not bad, by the way, and makes up with energy and rhythm whatever it is lacking in melody.


Next up--Austin vs. DeLaSalle at 6 p.m. in Class AAA. A preview of this game can be found down below, just scroll down a ways and keep your eyes open. And watch for half-time and post-game reports here. Also reports on 14 previous tournament games are posted below. Again, scroll down.


Well, I've seen 'em, back-to-back, and I'll say it again. Southwest Christian and/or Maranatha would beat either Minnehaha or Litchfield. They're a tiny bit bigger, a good bit stronger, and probably just a little bit quicker. The only common opponents across the 2 classes is Brooklyn Center: Class A Maranatha beat 'em by 17, Class AA Minnehaha by 10. That seems to me to be a pretty good approximation of the caliber of the 4 teams.

My combined all-star team from this afternoon (only, not all 3 games, but just today)

C- Leighton Sampson, Southwest Christian 22 points 5 boards 3 blocks
F- Kaharri Carter, Minnehaha 11 points 8 boards
F- Isaiah Hanson, Maranatha 24 points 8 boards
G- Dominic Nibbelink, Southwest Christian 29 poins 7 assists
G- Josh Goldschmidt, Maranatha 16 points 7 boards 4 assists 2 blocks
6th- Zach Kinny, Litchfield 8 points 7 boards 6 assists

Class AA All-Tournament

Once again a team has 4 all-tournament players but this time it's the champs:

Minnehaha--Jesse Johnson, Kaharri Carter, Thomas Gedion, Marcellous Hazzard

Litchfield--Zach Whitchurch, Zach Kinny, Riley Pater

Annandale--Matt Miller, Brett Ahsenmacher

Esko--Kory Deadrick

The only Minnehaha starter who did not get honors is the guy whose 3 put his team in the lead for good and then added another crucial 3 down the stretch--that being John Pryor. I voted for Alec Koster (Redwood) and Cole Krueger (Hayfield) from the 1st time losers and voted for 3 from Minnehaha and 2 from Litch.


More than a few folks are unhappy, of course, that 2 private schools played for the "small town" title, and then you've got another private school playing for the AA title. Private schools are to be expected in AAA, but AA and A? There's lots of theories about what the MSHSL "should" do to give public schools a better shot but people who've been involved with the MSHSL over the years say that there's only 1 chance that the MSHSL is going to do something about the situation and that is "no chance."


The Class A final, won by Southwest Christian (full report elsewhere) 81-73, did not disappoint. It was played at a very fast pace, the 2 teams shot about a combined 55 percent from the field, and there were just 16 turnovers (only 5 by the Eagles) despite the fast pace.

Both defenses, that had performed so well previously in the tournament, were exposed, however. Both teams were able to get to the rim, but Southwest more so than Maranatha, thanks mostly to a super game by Dominic Nibbelink. And Southwest also had the edge on the conventional inside game, led by 6-5 junior post Leighton Sampson.

Class A All-Tournament Team

Southwest Christian--Leighton Sampson, Dominic Nibbelink, Klint Knutson
Maranatha--Jeremiah Hanson, Isaiah Hanson, Garrison Gillard, Grantham Gillard
Upsala--Christian Pekarek
Rushford-Peterson--Seth Thompson
Lakeview--Anders Broman

It is an unsual all-tournament team. How often do you see 4 players from a 2nd place team? How often do you see 4 players from any team? But Southwest and Maranatha spread-eagled the field and deserved 7 spots. I thought Josh Goldschmidt was an all-tournament player for Maranatha ahead of Isaiah and Grantham, but that's hair-splitting.


Saturday Lineup Complete

Class A--#1 Maranatha Christian (31-1) vs. #3 Southwest Christian (30-1)

A couple of Class A powerhouses who could easily compete, and probably win, in AA. Both are of average height but have great physical strength, and because they can and do dominate the boards, they can get out and run and do so very effectively. Both are superb defensively--Southwest is perhaps better inside and Maranatha on the perimeter. The classic Class A title game was and is Ellsworth over Cass Lake back in 2007. This could be right up there with that one. But I've already picked Southwest and I'll stay with 'em. Too tough inside.

Class AA--#1 Minnehaha (25-6) vs. #2 Litchfield (26-5)

Both looked overpowering today--but Litchfield did so all night long, Minnehaha for the 1st 14 minutes and then coasted. Neither was really tested. I think they'll be tested tomorrow and it should stay close and competitive, unlike tonight. Minnehaha is a little bigger and a little stronger, but if I need a crucial, crunch-time possession and bucket, I think Litch's discipline and Zach Kinny are more likely to deliver.

Class AAA--#1 DeLaSalle (29-1) vs. #2 Austin (30-0)

The last unbeaten goes down. DeLaSalle is just too good. It would probably win Class AAAA. No weaknesses. And, as we saw, both Blake and Marshall took Austin down to the wire, and Zach Wessels and Joe Aase can be stopped. DeLaSalle beat Blake 79-54, and Reid Travis cannot be stopped.

Class AAAA--#1 Apple Valley (31-1) vs. #2 Park Center (28-3)

Apple Valley beat Park Center 72-70 early in the year. That was a long time ago in elephant years. But I guess Apple Valley by 2 is as good a guess as any. If anybody can compete with Tyus Jones, Quinton Hooker is your guy. And don't tell Hooker's teammates their not as good as Jones' supporting cast. Apple Valley does have the edge in size with 6-10 Brock Bertram, however. And, again,, there's Jones.

But overall the #1 team in the state of Minnesota (after tomorrow) is DeLaSalle, who beat Park Center 74-60 early this year.

These are my predictions, anyway, and you can pretty much be assured that at least 1 of them is wrong.


Friday All-Stars

C- Leighton Sampson, Southwest Christian 33 points 12 rebounds 3 blocks
F- Isaiah Hanson, Maranatha 18 points 6 boards 2 assists
G- Kaharri Carter, Minnehaha 29 points 8 rebounds
G- Zach Kinny, Litchfield
G- Joel Goldschmidt, Maranatha 0 points 8 boards 5 assists 4 blocks 4 steals

2nd Team

C- Avery Smieja, Upsala 10 points 8 boards
F- Jeremiah Hanson, Maranatha 17 points 6 boards
G- Christian Pekarek, Upsala 22 points 2 steals
G- Jesse Johnson, Minnehaha 23 points 3 assists
G- Brett Ahsenmacher, Annandale 24 points 4 steals


Yet again we've got 1 team off to a red hot start. Or maybe it's 1 team off to an ice cold start. Litchfield 17 Esko 3. More often than not, the team that gets way down early comes back to make a respectable effort and make it a respectable game. But rarely have we seen a team actually come back from such a deficit to win. Austin was the closest and it certainly wasn't 17-3 or 32-6. Still, there've been enough comebacks that Litch is not gonna lay off. But these frigid starts are not helping make this a great tournament for spectators.


It sure looked for about 10 minutes there like I had seriously misunderestimated the Minnehaha Redhawks. I mean, I picked 'em to win but, c'mon, 32-6!? I mentioned then remembering Minnetonka coming back from a 31-9 deficit to win a state title a few years ago, not thinking for a minute that Annandale could or would do anything similar. Yet the Cardinals threw a serious scare into Minnehaha, getting within 47-40 before going down 91-79.

But back to the Redhawks. I said that the Class A finalists are better. Maranatha and Minnehaha have only 1 opponent in common: Maranatha beat Brooklyn Center 85-68, Minnehaha beat 'em 66-56. Proving nothing. They're of similar size, ranging from 6-feet to 6-4, nothing out of the ordinary either way. But Maranatha's kids seem maybe just a little bit stronger and those Hanson kids sure can shoot. I still don't know about Minnehaha, tonight it was largely a layup drill.

I'll still take Maranatha for the moment, but I reserve the right to change my mind after they both play for a state title tomorrow, but back to back and not against one another. I'm not sure some Greater Minnesota fans wouldn't prefer that Maranatha in fact play Minnehaha for a private school title and let let tonight's Litchfield-Esko match be for the small public school title.


The 4th and final set of semi-finals is underway. That would be Class AA and, yes, I've said that these 4 teams are not as good as the 4 Class A semi-finalists. Well, now's their chance to prove me wrong. 1st up is Annandale and Minnehaha, followed by Esko and Litchfield. I have seen the latter 2 but not the former. Litch is a nice club--well-balanced and with a go-to guy in Zach Kinny--but lacks the size and strength of the Class A finalists. Esko depends on the long bomb to an alarming extent.... More to come.


Maranatha vs. Southwest Christian for the Class A title may feature 2 better teams than the Class AA final, though I suppose I ought to let the AA semis play out before making such a pronouncement. But my point is here are 2 teams with the size and strength to play with anybody and, oh yes, the skill levels are pretty darned nice as well.

Maranatha is going to be able to slow the Eagles' Ralph Sampson, er, I mean, Leighton Sampson better than Upsala did but he is and will be a force in the paint nevertheless. Beyond that Southwest is just a bunch of hard-nosed kids, not to say they're lacking in skills, but the supplement their skills with a high level of competitiveness.

Maranatha plays it a little more cool but is not likely to back down from physical play. And I think their skill level is a tiny bit higher though, again, Sampson is not just strong but fundamentally very, very solid down in the block. But the Maranatha perimeters seem to have just a slightly higher level of basketball skill.

Put it all together and I have no idea what is going to happen. I picked Southwest Christian earlier, however, so I see no reason to change my mind now. Should be a great game and, like I say, as of this moment, at least, I think either of them could and would beat any of the AA semi-finalists.


Next up Southwest Christian vs. Upsala. SWC looks like a buzzsaw but they will play the game and Upsala is not without it weapons. Upsala's strength is guards Christian Pekarek and Garrett Wolff penetrating into the lane but I think SWC will make it hard for them to do it. SWC can beat you fast or slow, but likes to get inside either way, so the pressure is on Upsala's big kids to defend the rim.


Rushford-Pete is young and has been pointing toward next year for a good long while. Getting to the semis this year was a nice achievement, but also a sobering one. They'll be a year older next year, but probably not any taller. They now know that they will have to get stronger to win a state title next year.


Having spent a couple days at Williams Arena, I am finding press row at Target Center to be abuzz with talk of DeLaSalle's dominance of St. Paul Johnson yesterday. Nobody thinks DeLaSalle can be beaten tomorrow. DeLaSalle could easily compete in AAAA. In fact, they beat Park Center 74-60 during the regular season.


Park Center beat Apple Valley and people expect a similarly competitive game in AAAA tomorrow. Quinton Hooker vs. Tyus Jones should be something to see, and of course the supporting casts are both very solid. Apple Valley's got the big guy Brock Bertram at 6-10 while the Pirates have nobody bigger than 6-4, but Park Center may have the edge in quickness after you get past Jones. We will see


Boys state tournament coverage continues today with the Class A semis at noon and 2. The 4 winners yesterday all looked pretty terrific.

Based on what I saw, I would have to pick Maranatha over Rushford-Pete, though this one should be close. Neither team is deep--4 of 5 starters on each team played 30 minutes or more--so a little bit of foul trouble could go a long way toward deciding it. Unsung heroes were "glue" players Josh Goldschmidt and Cole Kingsley for Maranatha and RP, respectively. Those are the 2 guys that each would hope to keep out of foul trouble though Garrison Gillard of Maranatha is also a do-everything guy who would be hard to replace.

In the 2nd game, Southwest Christian looks pretty unbeatable, not just today but Saturday as well. Or maybe Walker was just that bad. Upsala has a slight height advantage, but not for overall size and physical play. Both teams are a little deeper than the 2 teams in the 1st game. But I think Southwest has more weapons and is harder to defend. If I had to pick my poison, I guess I would try to keep 'em from running with the defensive rebound and of course minimize turnovers. Upsala probably has the skills to do the latter, not sure about the former. On the other side, stop the dribble drive by Upsala's Christian Pekarek and Garrett Wolff and you're a long way toward a win. Of course, nobody's done it, Upsala remains undefeated.

These 4 teams are 116-5.


I am not able to stay for the conclusion of Southwest Christian vs. Walker, so here are my all-stars for the day so far.

Class A 3/4 All-Stars

C- Carter Kirk, Mountain Lake 21 points 11 rebounds 4 assists
F- Anders Broman, Lakeview 34 points 7 rebounds
F- Garrison Gillard, Maranatha 12 points 8 boards 4 assists
G- Christian Pekarek, Upsala 24 points 8 rebounds
G- Charlie Krambeer, Rushford-Pete 14 points, the designated 3-point shooter, so far


Next up Southwest Minnesota Christian vs. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, not to be confused with Warren-Alvarado-Oslo. That would be WAO, not WHA. I have picked SWC to go all the way but the winners so far--Maranatha, Rushford-Pete and Upsala--all look very very solid. So we shall see.


Wow, a guy can sure wish he had been at Target Center to see Austin and Marshall go OT. Neither team led by more than 4 the entire 2nd half.

Still the loser gets a consolation prize. Marshall won't have to play DeLaSalle tomorrow. Austin will have its hands more than full.


2 years ago Upsala played and lost in this tournament. Now one might think that Battle Lake will take today's experience home with them and prepare to return here themselves. They start a freshman, 2 sophomores and 2 juniors. Junior Dan Marso led Battle Lake with 14 points including 4-of-7 3s, while the freshman Tony Ukkelberg and a sophomore Petric Van Erp each added 10.


Like Maranatha earlier today, Battle Lake has 2 sets of brothers. There are Petric, Andrew and Evan Van Erp are, well, 2 of them are brothers and the other is a cousin. Then, all 3 are also 1st cousins to brothers Tony and Tyler Ukkelberg. I think that's right.


Anders Broman finished his illustrious high school basketball career on a down note, as Rushford-Peterson held him to 13-of-24 shooting and 32 points and, more to the point, hammered Broman's Lakeview Lions 72-54. RP denied Broman the ball effectively most of the way, certainly as long as it mattered. And Bjorn had a tough day, shooting 2-of-10, and couldn't take much of the load off his brother.


Rushford-Peterson gets a chance to slow down Anders Broman in today's 2nd game. Broman is of course Minnesota's 1st ever 5,000 point scorer, and averages 42 points per game. Meanwhile Rushford-Pete coach Tom Vix has never been a slouch as a defensive coach and as a ball control coach. So we'll see what gives. The Trojans are the #4 seed and the Lions #5 and I guess that feels about right. So I say Broman gets his 42 and Rushford-Pete wins a close game.


In today's 1st Class A quarter-final, Maranatha features 2 sets of brothers, each consisting of a senior and a sophomore. Senior Isaiah and sophomore Jeramiah Hanson are the 10th and last of the Hansons to play at Maranatha, I'm told, while senior Garrison and sophomore Grantham Gillard are the 1st of their clan to do so. No word on whether there will be more.


Today--Thursday, March 21--I will be at Williams Arena for Class A quarter-finals beginning with #1 seed Maranatha Christian vs. Mountain Lake.

Southwestern Minnesota is well represented here to support Mountain Lake. And I don't necessarily mean Mountain Lake fans, though they are here in large numbers. But I just fell into something of a Windom reunion among a bunch of Windom natives (Windom native Bill Bentson is sitting next to me here at court side) and I also had the pleasure of meeting coach Les Knutson who is covering the game for the Worthington Globe.


Wednesday Williams All-Stars

C- Alex Illikainen, Grand Rapids 31 points
F- Reid Travis, DeLaSalle 23 points, 16 boards 4 steals, the day's MVP
F- Quiashingm Smith-Pugh, St. Paul Johnson 20 points, 15 rebounds, 3 steals
G- Ajuda Nywesh, Austin 15 points, 6 boards, 5 steals, game-changing defense
G- Alec Koster, Redwood Valley 27 points, 7 boards

2nd Team

C- Joe Aase, Austin 20 points, 8 boards
F- JR Bascom, Blake 17 points, 9 boards, basically played Aase to a draw
F- Kory Deadrick, Esko 30 points, 7 boards, 2 steals
G- Cole Krueger, Hayfield 28 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks

G- Zach Kinny, Litchfield 18 points, 4 assists

3rd Team

C- Parker Hagen, Sartell 19 points
F- Riley Pater, Litchfield 11 points, 9 boards, 4 assists, 4 steals
G- Kebu Johnson, Blake 10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, great defense

G- Zach Checkal, Delano 12 points 10 boards
G- Riley Sharbono, Marshall 18 points

As always, AA was guard-dominated. I could make an argument for any 1 of 4 AA guards as the best of the day--those being Koster, Deadrick, Krueger or Kinny. But 1st I picked the top scorers from each game--Koster and Deadrick--then decided that Koster had the better all-around game. So Koster is the 1 and only AA player to make the day's all-star team.


Kory Deadrick, who scored 25 points in the 1st half for Esko vs. Hayfield, has just 4 in the first 8-and-a-half minutes of the 2nd, and Hayfield is coming back. George asked me if Deadrick could challenge Cory Mountain's record of 51 points at half-time, and I said I don't think so. Putting 2 halves like that together is not a easy thing to do.


The big separation is not between AAA and AA, it's between the brackets in AAA. DeLaSalle and St. Paul Johnson play a stifling pressure defense and so there were 61 turnovers in the morning games. In the afternoon the D was a bit more passive, shall we say, and there were 42 turnovers.

In the 1st Class AA game the defenses were, well, I hesitate to say passive but they were not turnover inducing and so there were 12. There were 5 in the 1st half of Esko-Hayfield, Esko had 1 turnover which is a comment Hayfield's defense, not on Esko's ball-handling, trust me on this.


Watching Litch and Redwood in Class AA, I am struck at the lack of separation between AA and AAA. Redwood lost twice to AAA tournament entry Marshall by 6 and 7 points. And by my count, Litch went 4-2 against AAA opponents, beating AAA tournament entry Delano 60-49 and its 2 losses each by 1 point.


Sitting here in Williams Arena, it's enough jsut to keep up with what's happening in front of my face, but we're also trying to watch what's going on at the Target Center, and it's hard not to notice that Graham Woodward scored 40 today and Edina clobbered Andover 99-61. Woodward is probably p-o'd, and he should be, at being left off the Strib's all-metro 1st team. I mean, seriously. But of course Andover was not a real test, Park Center and Quinton Hooker, now that's a test.


It's amazing how many more people are here for AA than for AAA, though I must add that the bands are not as good or as loud.

The story on the court so far is 3s. Redwood Valley and 3s. They made 7-of-15 3s in the 1st half, and 1-of-7 2s.


Class AAA All-Stars

C- Alex Illikainen, Grand Rapids 31 points
F- Reid Travis, DeLaSalle 23 points, 16 boards 4 steals
F- Quiashingm Smith-Pugh, St. Paul Johnson 20 points, 15 rebounds, 3 steals
G- Ajuda Nywesh, Austin 15 points, 6 boards, 5 steals, game-changing defense
G- Kebu Johnson, Blake 10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals, great defense

2nd Team

C- Joe Aase, Austin 20 points, 8 boards
F- Parker Hagen, Sartell 19 points
F- JR Bascom, Blake 17 points, 9 boards, basically played Aase to a draw
G- Zach Checkal, Delano 12 points 10 boards
G- Riley Sharbono, Marshall 18 points


Today's 4th and final Class AAA game is a rarity, matching 2 Greater Minnesota teams from 1 school towns.  You don't need to say North or South or East or West to name these teams. And while the upper bracket is the metro bracket (with DeLaSalle and St. Paul Johnson facing off in the semis), the lower bracket is the Greater Minnesota bracket (with Austin facing off against either Marshall or Grand Rapids).

The Thunderhawks are 20-9 on the season but they were 15-3 before 6-7 sophomore Alex Illikainen broke his hand and sat out for about 3 weeks. Then they're 3-0 in section 7 play. Marshall will probably find them to be more like a 15-3 team than 20-9.


No offense to Grand Rapids but I'd like to see Austin and Marshall tomorrow. The tournament program includes a feature, as it does every year, called "50 years ago." Well, 50 years ago, Marshall won the single class tournament after beating Austin 65-63 in the 1st round. It would be a fitting re-match.


The 1st 2 Class AAA semi-finals both saw the underdog get off to an early lead but then the favorite surged ahead and never looked back. The 3rd game had a 3rd act. Austin got off to the quick start, Blake then took control, but then the Packers came back for the win in the best game of the day.


Indeed, Blake is giving Austin all it can handle at the half, leading 31-24. Blake is getting open looks a little too easily.


Austin has a nice crowd and reasonably boisterous band. Blake not so much and no band.

I have not seen undefeated Austin and Joe Aase so this will be a treat. On the other hand, I am not convinced that Blake will not give them a game.

There is talk of this being Austin's greatest team ever. Beat DeLaSalle if you want to talk about that. Austin won state titles in 1935, 1946 and 1958, and the 1946 team in particular was a powerhouse of historic proportions winning the state final 66-31 if I remember correctly.


DeLaSalle vs. St. Paul Johnson is going to be ridiculous. I mean faster-than-fast-paced. You'd think the Islanders' size (6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2) might be decisive, but Delano was even taller. Of course, nobody from Delano or from Johnson is Reid Travis. But DeLaSalle guards Jarvis Johnson and Sacar Anim will be tested by Johnson's quickness, whereas today they were tested by Sartell guard Patrick Fischer's size and physical play. One would have to favor DeLaSalle but today Johnson beat a better team than the one the Islanders defeated and did it by a double-digit margin.

One could also observe that tomorrow's game matches 2 of the very best coaches in the business in these parts--Vern Simmons of Johnson, and Dave Thorson of DeLaSalle.


Wow, I see that Woodbury took it on the chin from Eden Prairie as Renard Suggs had a very tough day. I think he was 0-for-11 from the field with 0 points at 1 time deep into the 2nd half.


Neither is as good as the DeLaSalle band, of course, but it should be noted that that really nice national anthem from the Islanders band did have the band teacher featured on the trumpet. Is that cheating?


OK, Delano has a nice crowd here for the 12 noon game, sitting right behind us here. And it's a good battle of the bands, too, as both Delano and St. Paul Johnson have pretty good bands. Johnson specifically having a huge percussion section.


How in the world did Sartell lose 12 games? They are a very solid club.

The sub-plot during the DeLaSalle-Sartell game, however, was what was going on a few miles away at the Target Center. For awhile the Live Stats had Brainerd ahead...well, and they were as late as half-time. But during the 2nd half the score got transposed. Apple Valley had gone ahead but Live Stats showed otherwise. Even so, it appears that Apple Valley and Brainerd were tied 56-all before the Eagles pulled away to win 81-67. Tyus Jones is reported as having 19 points and 7 assists.

The band is here, but the Islanders fans are a bit sparse. Sartell a little better, but neither can match the fan support by most of the Class A girls teams that were here at Williams Arena a week ago tomorrow. Still, that's a darn good band.


The Sartell-St. Stephen Sabres (17-12) will have their work cut out for them, shall we say. They appear to protect the ball OK, 12 turnovers per game. But DeLaSalle forces 19 per game. Sartell is going to have to be closer to 12 to make a game of it. 1st thing to watch for is simply whether the Sabres can get into their offense.


9:40 a.m... DeLaSalle and Sartell have taken the floor, and according to the clock on the wall, tip off will be in about 20 minutes. The DeLaSalle band, always the best band at the state tournament, is wailing. It is noisy, a little too noisy for me but, hey, I wanted to be in the fast lane.


1st, I've moved all my boys tournament previews back up to the top of the page, so they are all located right below this post. 2nd, I will be at Williams Arena today, so watch this space for reports on all 4 AAA games plus the Litchfield-Redwood and Hayfield-Esko game.

For each game there will be a half-time report and then a game report after. Enjoy.

DeLaSalle Islanders 50 Austin Packers 33

Bigger. Faster. Stronger. And that's just the beginning. DeLaSalle dominated every aspect of tonight's Class AAA title game and easily defeated the Austin Packers 50-33. Yes, Austin ran out to a 5-0 lead but the Islanders surged in front by the 13 minute mark and though Austin tied it at 11 and 13, DeLaSalle never trailed after that.

DeLaSalle forced 15 Austin turnovers while committing 10, and out-scored the Packers off those turnovers 20-9. They out-rebounded Austin 36-22 including 13-3 on the offensive end and out-scored the Packers 14-4 on 2nd chance points. Austin shot 50 percent in the 1st half, yet trailed 28-17, but the Islanders stifling defense then limited the Packers to 27 percent shooting in the second half.

All-stater Joe Aase hit just 1-of-10 FG for 2 points. His 3 point shot at 3:41 typified Austin's night. Down and out. (Halfway down, all the way around the rim, then out.) Brother Tom missed a wide open dunk at 7:43. It was that kind of night. At times it was all Austin could do to complete a pass and maintain possession of the ball.

DeLaSalle, meanwhile, got its running and jumping game going in the latter stages of the 1st half to go from that 13-13 tie to 28-17 at the half, out-scoring Austin 17-4 off turnovers and 9-2 off the offensive glass. In the 2nd half Austin seemed more intent on slowing DeLaSalle down than on scoring itself, staying in its zone defense to the bitter end as the Islanders took what the defense was giving: Time off the clock.

Reid Travis finished with 17 points and 12 boards while Luke Scott added 10. Tom Aase led Austin with 14 points.

Player of the Day: Reid Travis

The Austin Packers jumped out to 5-0 and 7-3 leads, but the DeLaSalle Islanders quickly responded, using their speed and athleticism to force Austin turnovers and to begin scoring off in transition and off the offensive glass. Reid Travis opened DeLaSalle's scoring with a 2 + 1 off the offensive board, then scored a pair of transition layups off the Austin turnover to put DeLaSalle ahead 11-9.

Austin came back to tie at 11 and 13, but DeLaSalle scored on 3 straight possessions (and 2 more Austin turnovers) to lead 20-13. Bret Lukes and Tom Aase scored to get Austin within 20-17 at 6:05 but the Packers then failed to score the rest of the 1st half. Travis scored a pair of throws off a steal, then quickly got another steal and assist to Geno Crandall, and Crandall added another bucket. Travis scored off yet another Austin turnover (Packer guard Zach Wessels 2nd charge) to make it 28-17 at the half.

The Islanders had 8 offensive rebounds to Austin's 1, and outscored the Packers 9-2 on 2nd chance points. Meanwhile, DeLaSalle had 5 turnovers, Austin 12, and the Islanders had a big 17-4 edge in points off turnovers. DeLaSalle almost doubled Austin's shot total, 30-16, and the Packers only shot 1 FT. By the end of the half it was all Austin could do to make a pass and maintain control of the ball, while DeLaSalle was getting good, squared-up looks at the basket.

Still, Austin is shooting 50 percent and the Islanders 40, but the shot differential is too big.

Minnehaha Redhawks 56 Litchfield Dragons 54

The Minnehaha Redhawks successfully defended a last-second shot by Litchfield's Zach Whitchurch, and when his shot came off the glass without drawing any iron, Minnehaha was the Class AA state champion. The Redhawk's Kaharri Carter hit 3-of-4 FT down the stretch to keep his team ahead 55-51 and then 56-54. In between Cameron Sundmark hit his 4th 3 of the day to get his team within 1. Carter's final FT and Whitchurch's miss followed, and Litchfield is the runner-up in Class AA for the 2nd straight year.

Minnehaha led throughout most of the 2nd half but never by more than 5, and that was early in the half at 38-33 and 41-36. Litch came bak to tie at 43 on a pair of buckets by Riley Pater, and then took it's only lead at 46-45 on a Zach Kinny FT. But John Pryor quickly hit the 1st of 2 crucial 3s to give the Redhawks the lead for good at 48-46 at about 7 minutes. 3 minutes later his 2nd 3 made it 53-49. Dylan Koll made 4-for-4 throws to keep Litch close at 53-51.

The Redhawks dominated the boards 33-20, and 13-4 on the offensive glass, and they out-scored Litch by the same number (13-4) on 2nd chance points. Carter, Thomas Gedion and Marcellous Hazzard had 8, 7 and 6 boards. Hazzard led the champions with 14 points, Pryor added 12 and Carter 11. Riley Pater was the only Dragon in double figures with 16.


Minnehaha wanted to run, and did so from time to time. Litchfield wanted to slow it down, and did so pretty much every possession. The result was a virtual draw at the end of the 1st half, as the Redhawks lead 30-29 on a short jumper by Thomas Gedion.

Minnehaha led early 11-5 and 12-7 as John Pryor hit a pair of 3s, and Marcellous Hazzard and Gedion scored off the offensive glass. Litch caught up at 19 as Dylan Koll got into the lane for a pair of layups. The Dragons then took their 1st lead at 29-28 on a pair of 3s by sub Cameron Sundmark.

The Redhawks dominated the boards 17-9 and the offensive glass 6-2, scoring 9 2nd chance points to Litch's 4. But Minnehaha turned it over 7 times, Litch only 3, again showing the different approaches to the game.

Hazzard leads all scorers at the half with 12, Kaharri Carter leads the rebounders with 5.

Southwest Christian Eagles 81 Maranatha Christian Mustangs 73

Southwest Christian roared back from a 51-44 deficit at 13:04 of the 2nd half, shooting 16-of-24 in the 2nd half and 31-for-48 for the game to defeat Maranatha and win the Class A title.

Leighton Sampson kick-started the Southwest Christian rally with a his 10th and 11th buckets of the day, but then guard Dominic Nibbelink took over, scoring 10 straight points to give the Eagles a 60-58 lead, their 1st since 30-28. The teams traded baskets for the next 3 minutes but Klint Knutson and Nibbelink again scored 5 points inside of 4 minutes to make it 73-64. 5 points off the offensive glass got Maranatha back within 75-70 but they could get no closer.

Maranatha, too, shot out the lights for much of the night until making just 3-of-their-last-9 shots to finish at 47.5 percent.

Sampson helped Southwest Christian to a 42-32 edge in points in the paint, but Maranatha used its quickness to get a 16-4 edge in offensive boards and an 18-2 edge in 2nd chance points. But Maranatha turned the ball over 11 times to just 5 for the Eagles, and Southwest had a 17-7 edge in points off turnovers.

Both defenses, which had performed so well before today, were susceptible to penetration. Maranatha's Isaiah Hanson and Garrison Gillard drove the baseline with some success, while Nibbelink was able to come down the lane almost at will in the 2nd half. Still it was Southwest's inside game that led the way. Sampson finished with 22 points for a total of 72 in the 3 games. Nibbelink's, 23 coming in the 2nd half, gave him 55 for the tournament.

Player of the Game: Nibbelink 29 points 7 assists

Southwest Christian and Maranatha put on an offensive clinic in the 1st half of today's Class A final--Maranatha shooting 62 percent through the 1st 14 minutes of play but falling behind the red-hot Eagles, who shot 79 percent  to take a 30-25 lead late in the 1st half. But Maranatha got its running game going in the last 3:30 of the half to come back for a 37-34 halftime lead.

Southwest did it the way they've done it in their 2 previous tournament wins, pounding it inside to 6-5 junior post Leighton Sampson. Sampson hit 6-of-8 shots for 12 points. Maranatha did it, again, with their running game and the jump shots of Isaiah Hanson, who finished the half with 16 points and 7 boards. Josh Goldschmidt scored 8 points including a transition 3 that gave Maranatha a 33-30 lead near the 2 minute mark.

Despite Southwest's strength in the paint, Maranatha's quickness also enabled them to outscore the Eagles 6-0 on 2nd chance points.

The FG shooting percentages dropped a bit by halftime but Southwest is still shooting 62.5 percent and Maranatha better than 50 percent, and both are doing it against defenses that proved themselves to be quite solid during their previous tournament games.

In the 2nd half Southwest will try to stifle Maranatha's running game by minimizing turnovers and challenging the defensive rebound. Maranatha will try to deny Sampson, if it can.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Minnehaha Redhawks 91 Annandale Cardinals 79

The Minnehaha Redhawks roared out to a 32-6 lead over the Annandale Cardinals after 9 minutes of play, then coasted home to a 91-79 win. Minnehaha's defense came out flying, preventing Annandale from getting into its offense, and creating numerous turnovers for breakaway baskets including a dunk by Kaharri Carter at 16:03.

Annandale refused to folk and got within 10 at the half at 42-32. Later the Cardinals got within 47-40, but Jesse Johnson responded with a 3 and Carter with a 2 + 1 and a layup to make it 55-40, and Annandale never again got within 10.

But Annandale pushing the pace and making 7-of-15 3s in the 2nd half, Minnehaha too kept pushing the ball up court, but for them it was a layup drill. The Redhawks made 13-of-21 2-point shots in the 1st half, and then added 13-of-20 in the 2nd, with a few 3s of their own mixed in.

Annandale ended up winning the possession game, out-scoring Minnehaha 17-14 on 2nd chance points and 29-16 off turnovers. But their early turnovers had helped the Redhawks to their quick start and turnovers or not, Minnehaha was too efficient with its initial offense to let Annandale get back into the game.

Carter finished with 29 points and 8 boards for the Redhawks while Johnson added 23 and 3 assists. Brett Ahsenmacher led Annandale with 24 points.

Player of the Game: Kaharri Carter

Southwest Christian 71 Upsala 62

Southwest Christian used its size and strength to hold off previously undefeated Upsala 71-62 in the 2nd Class A semi-final at Target Center Saturday afternoon. The Eagles pounded the ball inside to jump off to a quick 25-9 lead at 7:30 of the 1st half. Meanwhile they mostly prevented Upsala from getting their trademark guard penetration into the lane. But midway through the 1st half guard Christian Pekarek was able to get into the lane and a 16-0 Upsala run was the result, tying things up at 25-all at the 3 minute mark. But Upsala was never able to get the lead.

A Dominic Nibbelink 3 made it 32-29 Southwest Christian at the half and a bucket by 6-foot-5 Leighton Sampson from Nibbelink made it 34-29 to open the 2nd. Upsala got within 36-35 on a Nick Frieler 3 but no closer.

Sampson asserted himself midway through the half with a bucket, a throw, a 2 + 1 off the offensive glass and another bucket to make it 50-45, then another put-back and yet another bucket to make it 57-46 at the 2 minute mark. The Eagles had missed a bunch of FT previously, but now they made 12-of-13 down the stretch.

Sampson had 3 buckets, 3 boards and a block in the 1st 4 minutes and he finished the 1st half with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 6 boards and 2 blocks. The only thing that stopped Sampson was the Eagles' turnovers as the half moved on. Upsala never did. Meanwhile, Southwest Christian denied Upsala the lane penetration that is their special sauce. Guards Pekarek and Garrett Wolf had 6 misses and 4 turnovers on their 1st 10 trips into the paint.

But Pekarek started to find cracks in the Eagles defense and to get into the lane. Pekarek scored 1 FG and 8 FT during the 16-0 run and finished the half with 8 points and 2 assists at the half.

Southwest outscored Upsala in the paint 36-16 and had 20 2nd chance points to 9 for Upsala. Sampson finished with 33 points, 12 boards and 3 blocks, while guards Klint Knutson and Nibbelink contributed 12 and 10 respectively. Pekarek scored 22 for Upsala while Frieler added 12 on 4 3s and Avery Smieja scored 10 and grabbed 8 boards.

Player of the Day: Sampson, just a junior, was a man among boys

Southwest Christian had its own way with Upsala for 10:30 of the 1st half, pounding the ball inside to 6-5 Leighton Sampson and pulling out to a 25-9 lead. Suddenly Upsala turned it around, 1st with a series of 3 steals and total Southwest Christian turnovers. Then, Upsala guard Christian Pekarek started to find cracks in the Eagles defense and to get into the lane. Pekarek scored 1 FG and 8 FT as the Cardinals ripped off a 16-0 run to tie it up at 25-all at the 3 minute mark. Pekarek has 8 points and 2 assists at the half.

Avery Smieja was fould on 2 consecutive rebounds and contributed 4-of-4 FT to the run and finished the half with 8 points and 5 boards.

Sampson had 3 buckets, 3 boards and a block in the 1st 4 minutes as the Eagles took a 12-3 lead. He finished the half with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 6 boards and 2 blocks. The only thing that stopped Sampson was the Eagles' turnovers. Upsala never did. Meanwhile, Southwest Christian denied Upsala the lane penetration that is their special sauce. Guards Pekarek and Garrett Wolf had 6 misses and 4 turnovers on their 1st 10 trips into the paint.

But they kept on coming and eventually started getting to the rim.

In the 2nd half, Upsala will have to figure out how to keep Sampson from getting such great position down low, while the Eagles will have to take better care of the ball and get back to denying Pekartek, in particular, those easy paths into the lane.

Maranatha Christian 61 Rushford-Peterson 46

Maranatha was too big, too quick, too athletic and easily pulled away from Rushford-Peterson to win 61-46 in the 1st Class AA semi-final. Isaiah Hanson set the tone in the 2nd half, scoring 3 of the Mustangs' 1st 4 buckets, all in the paint. Then Garrison Gillard followed with a FT, a steal, a 3 and a 2, and Josh Goldschmidt added a pair of steals and home run passes for transition baskets. After leading just 20-18 at the half, suddenly Maranatha was up 37-25.

RP never got with 10 and another 6 minutes later it was 52-31 and garbage time broke out.

In the 1st half, RP had actually had an 8-6 edge in 2nd chance points. Not so in the 2nd, as Maranatha grabbed 5 offensive boards and outscored RP 7-2 on 2nd chances. More than that, the Mustangs simply dominated inside. After outscoring RP in the paint 10-8 in the 1st half, the edge was 22-14 in the 2nd.

On the Maranatha offensive end of the court, RP grabbed 11 defensive rebounds and Maranatha 10 offensive. On the other end, Maranatha's edge rebounding RP's misses was 26-7.

And Maranatha used its size and athleticism to even greater effect on the defensive end, it's 6-foot-2 guards preventing RP's 3-point shooters from getting any good looks. RP made just 6-of-23 3s, 4-of-15 in the 2nd half.

Isaiah led Maranatha with 18 points, while brother Jeremiah scored 17. The other set of brothers, Garrison and Grantham Gillard, added 12 and 13 points. Point guard Josh Goldschmidt didn't score but led with 8 boards, 5 assists and 4 steals, and even 4 blocks.  Seth Thompson was RP's only consistent threat with 20 points.

Player of the Game: Isaiah. When you add it all up he had 1 more point + boards + assists - fouls and turnovers than Jeremiah.

Maranatha scored the last 6 points of the 1st half to take a 20-18 lead over Rushford-Peterson in what has been a defensively-oriented struggle from the get-go. Maranatha's man defense and RP's 2-3 zone have both stymied the opposition, not so much in turnovers (though Maranatha has 9) nor in missed shots (though RP has 10) but just by making the offenses work for anything that they get. Neither team is playing it slow, but they're finding it slow going against the solid defenses.

Maranatha took a quick 5-0 lead before RP found their legs, but RP quickly came back to lead 6-5. The Mustangs went back ahead 9-6 and 11-8 but RP completed an 18-9 run on Cole Kingsley's 6th point of the game at about 4 minutes. But RP did not score again, while Isaiah Hanson got his 3rd and 4th buckets to put Maranatha up 20-18.

Maranatha shot 56 percent from the field, RP jsut 33 percent, but RP outscored the Mustangs 4-1 from the line. RP also outscored Maranatha 8-4 on 2nd chance points and 13-4 off turnovers.

Hanson led all scorers with 8 while Garrison Gillard and Jeremiah Hanson for Maranatha and Kingsley and Alex Vix for RP all had 6 points. Isaiah leads the rebounders with 5, Seth Thompson of RP in assists with 2 and Josh Goldschmidt of Maranatha in blocks with 2.

Maranatha's size advantage is not insignificant. RP will probably keep it slow unless they get behind.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Upsala Cardinals 71 Battle Lake Battlers 60

Upsala took a 32-20 1st half lead, then watched as Battle Lake battled back to a 49-46 2nd half lead. But in the end, Upsala responded to the challenge, out-scoring the Battlers 25-11 down the stretch to win 71-60.

In the 1st half Upsala guards Christian Pekarek and Garrett Wolff penetrated into the lane virtually at will, scoring 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting with 1 assist apiece. In the 2nd half, Battle Lake shut down that path to the basket and Upsala started out 1-of-7 shooting in the half. Meanwhile Petric and Evan Van Erp each scored 2 buckets for Battle Lake while Tyler Ukkelberg and Nick Trosdahl each got 2 assists. Suddely, Battle Lake led 49-46.

But just as suddenly as it had closed, the lane opened back up again for Upsala. Pekarek drove the lane for a pair of layups, then Dylan Zimmerman gave Upsala the lead for good at 51-49 with a steal and coast-to-coast, then Wolff drove the lane for 2. Pekarek hit a 3, then Avery Smieja scored a bucket and a throw on 2 separate offensive boards, and Pekarek drove the lane yet again for 2. Now it was 60-51 inside of 3 minutes and Battle Lake never got closer than 8.

2 years ago Upsala played and lost in this tournament. Now one might think that Battle Lake will take today's experience home with them and prepare to return here themselves. They start a freshman, 2 sophomores and 2 juniors. Junior Dan Marso led Battle Lake with 14 points including 4-of-7 3s, while the freshman Tony Ukkelberg and a sophomore Petric Van Erp each added 10.

Player of the Game: Christian Pekarek with 24 points and 8 boards

Upsala leads Battle Lake 36-30 at halftime in an entertaining, fast-paced, well-played game. The Cardinals seemed to be in control early, leading 13-4 and 15-6. Christian Pekarek and Avery Smieja scored the 1st 8 Upsala points, and 5 different players scored in the 1st 8 minutes of play. Then guard Garrett Wolff took over, scoring 9 points in 4-and-a-half minutes, mainly on drives into the lane, and then he assisted on an Eric Frieler 3. That made it 29-18 and forced a Battle Lake timeout.

Apparently it was a timeout well-spent, though Pekarek quickly made it 32-20. But Tyler Ukkelberg scored 4 of Battle Lake's next 8, including a put-back at :01 to get the Battlers within 6 at the half.

Upsala shot close to 50 percent and Battle Lake closer to 40 in the half, and Upsala had the edge both on 2nd chance points and points off turnovers. Upsala made 7-of-9 FT while Battle Lake did not get to the line.

Wolff was the only player in double figures in the half with 11 points.

Rushford-Peterson 72 Lakeview Christian 54

Rushford-Peterson pulled out from a 42-27 halftime lead to 51-30 at 14:00 of the 2nd half, forcing Lakevie coach Bob Newstrom to take a timeout. But that only gave RP coach Tom Vix a minute to tell his kids to start milking the clock. So it was a lot of keep away for a long, long portion of the 2nd half at the end of which RP almost had maintained its 20 point lead, 72-54.

RP denied Anders Broman the ball and he finished 13-of-24 for 34 points, 8 below his average. His teammates made just 8-of-31 shots.

Meanwhile it was RP who put on a shooting clinic, making 25-of-45 or 56 percent of its shots. Seth Thompson and Jorli Hauge led the way with 19 and 18 points, while Charlie Krambeer added 14, 12 of them in the 1st half on 4-of-10 3-point shooting. RP dominated the boards 36-22.

The game got away from Lakeview after the halfway mark of the 1st half. Trailing 21-20, Lakeview missed its next 5 shots while RP scored on 5 of 6 possessions to lead 32-20. Lakeview never got within double figures again.

Player of the Game: Seth Thompson who scored 3 of RP's 5 buckets during their crucial surge after the 9 minute mark of the 1st half, and who led RP with 19

Anders Broman is shooting 60 percent but his Lakeview Lions are behind 42-27. Rushford-Peterson is denying Broman the ball and forcing his teammates to shoot the rock, which they're doing at below a 30 percent clip (5-of-17). Broman is 6-for-10 including a 3 and 1 FT for a total of 14 points.

Meanwhile, it is RP that is putting on a shooting clinic. Seth Thompson, Charlie Krambeer and Jorli Hauge are shooting 14-for-27. Krambeer is 4-of-10 from 3 point range, and the 3some have scored 35 points for the Trojans.

It was 21-20 RP at the 9-minute mark, but the 2nd half of the 1st half was all RP 21-7 as Broman got off only 2 shots after that.

Maranatha Christian Mustangs 61 Mountain Lake Wolverines 44

Maranatha Christian pulled away from a 38-34 lead half way through the 2nd half to defeat Mountain Lake 61-44. Sophomore super-sub Grantham Gillard scored 13 quick points on 3s, in transition and on baseline drives and suddenly it was 51-38 at about 6:30.

Maranatha had taken early leads over Mountain Lake of 11-4 and 19-11, as the Mustangs' Garrison Gillard riddled the Wolves' man-to-man defense for 8 quick points, mostly by putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim from the right wing. He also picked up a couple of assists off of his penetration. Carter Kirk was doing most of the damage inside for Mountain Lake, scoring 10 of the Wolves' 1st 17 points.

But the Mustangs let the exhausted Wolverines get up off the deck, missing their last 6 shots of the 1st half. Mountain Lake scored the last 4 points of the half to get within 28-24.

Kirk and Josiah Stoesz opened the 2nd half with 2 buckets each, while Garrison Gillard and Jeremiah Hanson did the same for Maranatha, keeping it a 4-point game. Maranatha started milking the clock, which seemed to be giving a tired Mountain Lake team a much-needed breather. But it worked as the Wolves came out of their zone and the Mustangs quickly pulled away.

Maranatha riddled both the zone and the man defenses for a 53 percent shooting percentage, and out-scored Mountain Lake 13-0 on fast break points. The Wolves' big weapon was the offensive glass where they grabbed 20 boards to 7 for Maranatha, but outscored the Mustangs just 11-6 on 2nd chance points.

Kirk and Stoesz were pretty much the whole show for Mountain Lake wit 34 points and 27 boards between them. Grantham Gillard led 5 Mustangs in double figures with 15 points. Jeremiah Hanson scored 13, Garrison Gillard 12, Isaiah Hanson 11 and Josh goldschmidt 10. Garrison Gillard added 8 boards, he and Jeremiah Hanson had 4 assists and Isaiah had 4 steals.

Player of the Game: Garrison Gillard 12 points 8 boards 4 assists.

Maranatha took early leads over Mountain Lake of 11-4 and 19-11, but let the exhausted Wolverines get up off the deck, missing their last 6 shots of the 1st half. Mountain Lake scored the last 4 points of the half to get within 28-24.

The Mustangs' Garrison Gillard riddled the Wolves' man-to-man defense for 8 quick points, mostly by putting the ball on the floor and getting to the rim from the right wing. He also picked up a couple of assists off of his penetration. Meanwhile Carter Kirk was doing most of the damage inside for Mountain Lake, scoring 10 of the Wolves' 1st 17 points.

But Kirk was exhausted at that point, and didn't touch the ball on 5 straight offensive possessions. Wolves' coach Shawn Naas ordered a 2-3 matchup zone defense to get Kirk a little breather on offense, and also to cut down on the penetration, and it worked. Kirk didn't score again, but neither did Maranatha after the 4 minute mark. Josiah Stoesz took over the scoring for Mountain Lake, scoring twice inside of 2 minutes to get the Wolverines back in the ballgame.

Maranatha wants to pick up the pace in the 2nd half to exploit its superior quickness and depth. Mountain Lake needs to continue pounding the offensive boards where they have a 9-2 advantage and a 9-0 edge in 2nd chance points.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Esko Eskomos 60 Hayfield Vikings 54

Kory Deadrick shot Esko to a 44-34 lead early in the 2nd half, scoring 25 points in the 1st and 4 quick points to open the 2nd. After that he ran out of gas, and Cole Krueger brought Hayfield storming back to within 48-46 with more than 5 minutes left to play.

But Hayfield failed to score for over 6 minutes during which time Krueger was called for a controversial offensive foul that sent Hayfield coach Chris Pack into a rage, drawing a technical foul. Casey Staniger missed both of the technical foul shots but quickly hit 2 FT as a result of a foul on the ensuing play. Bobby Wright added 2 more and Deadrick 1 and Esko's lead was 55-46 wit 39 seconds remaining.

Krueger hit a 2 + 1 and a 2 and a 3 within 24 seconds, and suddenly it was 57-54 with 15 seconds left. But Marc Peterson hit 3-of-4 FT to ice it.

Deadrick finished with 30 points, Kruger with 28, but Esko's 24-9 edge on 3 point FG was to much for Hayfield to overcome.

Player of the Day: Deadrick 30 points and 7 boards

I thought Alec Koster was a "hey guys, climb on my back, I'll carry you" type of player. But this, now this is something else again. Cory Deadrick of Esko scored 25 1st half points on 5-of-7 3s, 3-of-6 2s, and 4-of-5 1s. Hayfield led briefly at 20-17 and 22-19 but after accounting for Esko's 1st 5 scores, Deadrick came back with a pair of throws and a 3 and a 2 + 1 to tie it up, then a pair of 3s to make it 33-27.

The score at the half is 35-27 Esko, and Deadrick has 25 points.

Litchfield Dragons 64 Redwood Valley Cardinals 55 2OT

Litchfield survived a 3-point blitzkrieg by Redwood Valley, finally winning 64-55 in 2 OT in a game that was much closer than that, despite 12 3-point FG by the Cardinals, 6 by Alec Koster. Zach Whitchurch gave Litch the lead 56-55 in the 2nd OT, and Redwood missed 2 shots and turned it over 3 times the rest of the way.

From an 11-11 tie, Litch ran out to a 26-14 lead and appeared to be on its way to an easy win. For Litch, everything ran through Riley Pater, s solid 6-3. He scored 3 of the Dragons' 1st 4 buckets and assisted on another. He added a another and the Whitchurch assist for a total of 8 1st half points to go with 4 boards and 3 assists. On another bucket he picked off Zach Kinny's man, enabling Kinny to score a wide open layup.

But Redwood hit 3 3s late in the 1st to get within 28-23 at the half, and that was just a harbinger of things to come. Redwood opened the 2nd half with 4 3s to complete a shocking 24-4 run and take a 38-30 lead. But the Cardinals went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc during the remainder of regulation, and Litch tied it up on a 3 by Zach Kinny at 1:46. Neither team was able to score the rest of the way.

RJ Juell kept Pater bottled up in the 2nd half, but his foul problems that kept him on the bench in both the 1st half (with 2) and the 2nd (with 4) hurt the Redwood defense a good bit. Meanwhile, Litch guard Zach Kinny had been held in check much of the way by the aggressive D of Steven Runkel. But with the chips down, Kinny scored 3 buckets down the stretch in regulation, 2 more in the 1st OT and another that made it a 2-possession game in the 2nd OT.

Koster led all scorers with 27 points, while Runkel scored 12 and Juell added 7 with 10 boards. Kinny finished strong with 18 points, while Dylan Koll and Pater each added 11 and split 16 rebounds between them.

Player of the Game: Zach Kinny, a very close call over Koster

Litchfield ran out to a 24-14 lead at 5 minutes of the 1st half and it felt like the Dragons were in control. Instead, Redwood closed out the half hitting 3 of 3 3-poit shots to get with 26-23. But Litchfield's Zach Whitchurch hit a buzzer-beater with an assist from Riley Pater to extend the Dragons' lead to 5 at half-time.

For Litch, everything ran through Pater, s solid 6-3. He scored 3 of the Dragons' 1st 4 buckets and assisted on another. He added a another and the Whitchurch assist for a total of 8 1st half points to go with 4 boards and 3 assists. On another bucket he picked off Zach Kinny's man, enabling Kinny to score a wide open layup.

On the other end of the court, it's the 3 . and nothing but the 3. Alec Koster hit 4-of-6 and his teammates added 3-of-9 for a total of 7-of-15. The Cardinals are 1-of-7 on 2-point shots. 7 different players have scored for Litch, just 3 for Redwood.

Marshall Tigers 69 Grand Rapids Thunderhawks 52

Marshall used a balanced offense to overcome Alex Illikainen's individual brilliance for Grand Rapids. Despite Illikainen's 31 points, Marshall pulled away from a 47-45 lead at 9 minutes to a 69-52 margin that was not quite as easy as it sounds.

Still Marshall's motion offense got it open shots all day long, and the Tigers made 60 percent (27-of-45) of those shots including 5-of-12 (42 percent) 3-point shots. Marshall also dominated the boards 27-14 including the offensive boards 9-2, and they won the battle of 2nd chance points 13-4.

From 47-45, Marshall scored on 11 of its last 12 possessions of the game, while Grand Rapids did not score inside of 4 minutes. Riley Sharbono led the Tigers with 23 points including 2 quick buckets that increased Marshall's lead from 49-45 to 53-45. Aaron Mathiowetz, the putative post, scored 14, 12 of them from 3-point range and added 7 assists. The Tigers other starters--Tanner Bukowski, Hunter Peterson and Austin Saugstad--added 21 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists. The Tigers got 20 assists on 27 buckets.

So I got my Austin-Marshall match-up, a rematch from a 1963 state tournament that many old-timers remember fondly as 1 of the most exciting of that era.

Player of the Day: Alex Illikainen

Marshall controlled play as the 1st half went on, and pulled away from a 16-all tie at 10:30 to lead Grand Rapids 36-26 at the half. The Tigers scored on 10-of-11 possessions after that, twice off the offensive glass and twice off the steal. Riley Sharbono broke lose for 13 points during the Marshall run, while Tanner Bukowski scored 3 times and Austin Saugstad and reserve C.D. Douglas twice each.

Alex Illikainen was the only consistent weapon for Grand Rapids, scoring 13 points and blocking 2 shots. But even his 6-7 size could not keep Marshall off the offensive boards where the Tigers had a 6-0 edge in rebounds and a 9-0 edge in 2nd chance points.