AAU State Tournament Notes

This weekend the Minnesota Pump N Run 16s surprised basketball fans by not only competing with the field but by taking the championship. Their road to the finals included wins over the top three Minnesota Preps ranked teams in the field as the Pumps dispatched of the Minneapolis Redhawks, Minnesota Comets, and Minnesota Fury on their way to the tournament crown.
The TNL Express outlasted the Minnesota Heat Elite team 79-74 in overtime. Free throws from Devon Knopke, a lay-in from Spencer Cummings, and a bucket from Jasper Duberry combined with a strip of the ball from Heat guard Paul Franklin put the game away in the extra session.
Watching Taylor Filipek in the first half against Triple Threat you can see that Taylor has been working on his jumper extensively changing his release a little. His elbow is in more, his release is higher and looks prettier, and the results seem better. Filipek's three triples in the first half against Triple Threat gave them a small edge.
In the second half the Comets ran away winning 68-54. The lead was pushed to double figures when Ben Bucholz scored three times on the inside. The 6-foot-8 post went to the middle every time from either side of the lane and produced with his jump hook as well as with a difficult right handed shot across his body over the defender. His buckets as well as another three and two open floor jams from Filipek put the game away. Amongst their top workers defensively was Michael Johnson who pestered the opposing guards throughout.
Minnesota Comets Elite II started off good with the Minnesota Fury Elite as Martin Wind hit a pair of treys. But they were then blitzed by the Fury as nobody could keep Dajon Newell in front of them, agile 6-foot-6 four man Justin Casey from Park Center scored a number of times at the rim including a spin move lay-in in transition, Yuriy Maleshenko made up for his several long range misses with tip-ins inside, and Bloomington Jefferson's Jack Wittenborg started his red hot shooting weekend with several mid-range jumper makes. The Fury won 84-63.
The Pump N Run 16s defeated the Minneapolis Redhawks 58-56 in the quarters.
The match-up between the Comets and Pumps was even for a half. The Pumps were getting steady scoring production while Dan Kornbaum's low post game was again producing for the Comets and Scott Willenbring made a pair of clutch three-pointers. Willenbring of Rocori is not often included when people are listing great shooters in the 2010 class but his name should warrant consideration after this weekend.
While Scott was hot at the start of the fourth quarter he, nor any other Comet, could connect on an outside shot the rest of the period and the Pumps took advantage. Already with an increasing lead the Pumps turned long Comet misses into Kyle Noreen and Alex Richter dunks the other way. The final score was 58-49 and overall the real difference was that the Comet wings cold not stop Jonah Travis and Alex Richter from getting to the rim. On several third quarter possessions the pair beat the Comet wings to the middle of the lane and then finished with impressive efforts. Travis used his explosion to finish while Richter used great body control to absorb contact and still complete plays. Alex finished with 16 points while Travis produced 12.
In the other semi-final the Fury controlled the second half winning 68-55 over TNL.
Yuriy Malashenko opened the game with a pair of three-pointers as the Fury built a small lead in the title game. Malashenko controlled the boards and although he was hot from outside early the rest of his buckets were tip-ins and putbacks. Also, Dajon Newell seemed to have the green light from coach Ben Davis as he was attacking and/or shooting at will throughout the contest. Problem was the shooting percentage wasn't that high.
A turning point for coach Jeremy Miller and the Pumps in the final was Shakopee big Jason Perkins. The 6-foot-4 jack-of-all-trades had a three-point play and a pair of free throws that gave the Pump 16s five straight points and a 26-23 lead.
In the second half it became Wittenborg's hot shooting hand against Jonah Travis for a time. Travis showed the crowd a good looking three-point stroke and it's rare to see him release from deep but it did look good. Miller also placed Jonah at the top of the key where he attacked Fury wings with the dribble drive using the move to get a step then his explosion to finish.
Now getting much attention on the drive with about a minute left Travis kicked out a pass to Alex Kreuser who hit maybe the biggest shot of the game. Tied at 38 the Totino-Grace guard spotted up to swish the triple giving the Pumps a three point lead in the slug fest. After a Newell jumper for the Fury and a Perkins free throw for the Pumps, Fury coach Ben Davis produced a great play to free up Wittenborg at the top of the key but his hot hand misfired. From there Aaron Ziman put the game away with free throws as the Pump 16s won 47-42. Travis finished with a team high 12 points.
After scoring 23 points in a semi-final victory over the Minnesota Comets, Minnesota Southside forward Joey King received double or triple teams every time he touched the ball on the block in the championship. The Minnesota Suns were not about to let King put up big numbers on them and it really did work in the first half as King's touches were limited for the first 16 minutes.
In the second half King's frustration got to him and he didn't box out strong on a play giving up a putback. But this play seemed to light a fire under the 6-foot-7 Eastview standout as he went back the other way to split the double time to score strong with two short hooks. Joey's effort on the glass then picked up as he cleaned misses of the rim high on the glass.
As the third quarter became the fourth King took more and more control. He turned one defensive board into a Kevin Love like outlet pass for a score and Joey was getting to the free throw line possession after possession. Later he produced with a face-up jumper, a drop-step power move score, and some free throws and the Southside crew withstood a great effort from Anthony Hill and the Suns to win 49-46. In a losing effort Hill (a Champlin Park freshman) scored with three three-pointers and a couple drives plus played good pressure defense.
The best dunks of the weekend included a tip-dunk in the semi-final from Jonah Travis and a monster baseline jam from Luke Januschka. The 6-foot-5 wing from St. Cloud Cathedral went baseline and dunked on one of the bigger Triple Threat players as both collided in the air.
Marcus Alipate not only tripped to Stanford this past weekend but he also met with the Cal coaches and saw their campus.
Ben Bucholz has a strong interest in North Dakota and they have a strong interest in him. Will they come together soon? Time will tell.
Scott Nystrom of the Comets Elite II seemingly can get to the basket on anybody. If he learns to play better without the ball and gets that jumper more consistent expect division twos to be giving him strong interest.
Martin Wind was one of the more exciting players to watch all weekend. He hit more then three-pointers as Martin was beating kids off the dribble to get to the hole using his tricky handles plus Martin produced some very creative passes for teammates to score on.
This weekend Kevin Noreen was visiting Marquette.
One of the hardest working players in the entire event was Annandale big Phil Nowak. The 6-foot-5 bruiser was dominant on the glass for Triple Threat.
How about Maranatha Christian Academy stud freshman Darian Pittman getting calls like his initials were MJ? He scored 24 points in a win over Howard Pulley White and 18 of them were on charity tosses.