As a basketball coach it's a certain bet that Chaska's Dana Kallman has seen Bryce Drew's NCAA Tournament miracle from 1998 that put Valpo into the second round with a victory over Ole Miss. Drew's buzzer beater came off a well designed last second creation drew up by the Valpo staff. The play had been practiced all year leading up to one of the most memorable moments in the history of the Big Dance.
Their was a near perfect replica produced last night at Chaska High School when senior Jacob Meyer hit an improbable three-pointer with the buzzer sounding to beat Eagan 86-85. The shot was made, arms flew up in the air, Meyer's teammates mobbed him, and the entire student section raced on the floor to follow up in the celebration. It was one of those special moments that nobody in the gym will ever forget. The play was that remarkable capping off an incredible basketball game.
The situation was set up after Jameson Parsons of Eagan (who had an incredible evening himself scoring 40 points that included 11 made three-pointers) penetrated into the lane drawing three defenders and then passed out to the corner where junior teammate Brad Sicoli hit a shot that most thought would win Eagan the game. The score was 85-83 and 0.8 seconds were showing on the scoreboard. The shot went through the net with about three seconds remaining and coach Kallman was bouncing all over the sidelines trying to get a time-out. The refs didn't notice Kallman but luckily one of the Chaska players had the mindset to call a time-out himself. The officials huddled and put 1.5 seconds back on the clock.
Chaska calmly went into the huddle to chat about their plan of action. What they would do has been seen before and considering their execution Kallman and his team must have practiced the play several times in the past two months. Bryce Drew and his father Homer Drew, the head coach at Valpo, have consistently talked about how their miracle play worked in 1998 because of repetitions in practice. Valpo called it "The Pacer" and it had strong armed Jamie Sykes heaving a long pass to the opposite free throw line where Bill Jenkins jumped like a wide receiver and tapped the ball over to a streaking Drew who caught and nailed a 23 footer.
Kallman's version was a near replica only applied on the left side of the floor where as the Valpo shot was made on the right side. The play made Kallman look like a coaching genius and who could argue with the execution? The strong opinionated veteran basketball crowd sitting all around me had harped on the coach just a few moments before when two straight base line in-bounds passes failed to execute properly immediately after time-outs.
But after the miracle shot dropped through the net the veterans were jumping around the stands looking like the students mobbing Meyer on the floor. They praised Kallman and they should have. The coach set Adam Happ under the bucket to throw the long pass and Happ moved along the baseline knowing that Sicoli gave him this luxury by making a jumper just a moment before. Happ ran to his left clearing himself of the basket support connecting with a high jumping Ross Travis who grabbed the ball with two hands in mid-air. Before he could land Travis sent a perfectly timed pass to a streaking Meyer who was sprinting up the sideline. Meyer caught from about 23 feet, off-balance Jacob shot with a defender closing fast, and the ball landed in the rim nothing but net! The crowd went crazy and it was definitely a high school moment in time.
A Classic Basketball Game
Fans won't just remember the finish but how great the basketball game was from start to finish. Jameson Parsons put on an incredible show nailing 14 of 27 shot attempts and the vast majority of his shots were from beyond the arc. Parsons nailed 11 three-pointers on his way to a 40 point performance. He had a very hard working and sound defender in Meyer on him for part of the game and for most the of the second half and overtime the 6-foot-7 length as well as athletic ability of Ross Travis was immediately in Parsons' mug.
Ross would ask AAU coach Chris Carr "What could I do?" after the game and the joking comment of one sarcastic writer was "grow taller?" even though Travis is 6-foot-7 with an even longer wingspan already. Carr talked about positioning a little closer on Parsons and that may have worked although Travis had to have been somewhat tired considering all the roles he was playing on the evening (that topic will be covered later).
Fact is Parsons was creating space for his three-pointers sometimes by running defenders through two or three screens, he was giving himself a sliver of space with a quick dribble move coupled with a stepback, and he was scoring triples quickly in transition when Chaska players were scrambling back on defense. Parsons was incredible and all the headlines tomorrow would have been of his 11 three-point makes and 40 points had Chaska not responded with the "Meyer Miracle".
A big part of the Chaska recovery was Jake White. The game started miserable for White as he struggled to make jumpers, lay-ups were even missed, and he sat with two fouls at the 11 minute mark of the first half. Jake missed eight of his first nine field goal attempts but down the stretch he showed why he's considered one of the top two or three 2011 basketball performers in Minnesota.
Playing point, Travis did a strong job of getting the ball low to White who positioned himself to finish in the paint time and time again. One of White's lay-ups tied the game at 68 and it was the beginning of a sensational finish. The next time down White made one of two free throws but Matt Hentges responded for Eagan with a putback score. A minute later Travis went back to White with a high-low look that Jake finished giving Chaska a 73 to 71 lead but Parsons nailed a one dribble 16-foot pull-up jumper over Ross to tie the game. Back the other way White scored powering over a low post defender but that was countered by a Sicoli lay-up.
White went in for yet another deep in the paint score by Sicoli hammered White with a neck grab in the air complete with wrestle to the ground. Sicoli was quickly remorseful but the fans weren't as they wanted an intentional foul and that seemed to be the obvious answer. But for whatever reason the officials didn't call the foul intentional and White went to the free throw line again making one of two. Down a point Parsons attacked off the bounce and assisted to Ryan Patterson who sank a trey for a two point lead. However, Happ dribbled toward the Chaska basket, passed to White, and after an up-fake to clear a defender White scored a lay-in to put the game into overtime tied at 78.
In overtime Chaska and Eagan went back and forth as Parsons and Sicoli each scored a couple times while White put points on the board for Chaska and Happ nailed three big free throws as he was fouled on a three-point attempt. Tied at 83 Parsons dished to Sicoli for what was thought to be the game winner but with 1.5 seconds left Chaska's Jacob Meyer made the miracle score.
• Ross Travis has moved into the point guard role for Chaska taking care of the ball the majority of the game. In terms of having the mindset and playing like a pure point guard he has a little ways to go but to see him run the point with Chaska beating a quality Eagan team says a lot about his ability. Travis can handle with either his right or left hand and when guards try to pressure him Ross uses a variety of skilled change of direction dribbles. His length as well as reasonable quickness off his first step allows him to get into the lane pretty much whenever he wants too at the Lake Conference level.
Travis also showed he can attack the cup using a gorgeous spin move and the touch on his jumper will match that of most athletic 6-foot-7 players in the nation. Ross still has some experience to gain and of course everybody is hoping he can stay healthy but his ceiling is huge. He's a skilled and athletic player who has great length. Last night he was used to try and defend one of the state's best shooters, Ross was used as the point guard, and Ross was a scorer. His upside is higher than that of anybody in state and it's why he's a Rivals 150 member at this time. Travis made six of 16 shots and five of eight free throws to score 17 points. Travis also grabbed five rebounds and dished out six assists including the game winner.
• White and Parsons have already been talked about in great lengths in this story but both showed why they are such top performers. Both players stepped up big time in the clutch and their numbers were outstanding. Travis had the 40 points but White countered with 28 points of his own. Jake made 11 of 21 shots plus he recorded a double-double grabbing 13 rebounds.
• Anthony Webber is going to be a quality MIAC level role player someday if he chooses to pursue that road. At 6-foot-5 he has a real nice shooting touch from mid-range, Webber is putting the ball down quite well to get to the hoop, he's a fantastic rebounder, plus Webber runs well. Webber scored 14 points with eight boards.
• You have to love the toughness of Jacob Meyer. The young man backs down from nobody, plays tough defense, and of course stepped up to make an incredible shot. Meyer finished with a dozen points.
• Eagan is starting five juniors and it's a talented group that is going to be a pain this year and they could make a run next year. Parsons and Sicoli are the offensive weapons known to most but Hentges and Patterson are active forwards with very good varsity upsides themselves. Add in the low post toughness of Eric Wittenburg and you have a nice bunch. If 6-foot-7 sophomore center Shea Mandli progresses he would really make this team tougher as they would match most with size up front. Hentges scored 14 points, Sicoli put up 12, and Patterson had ten.