Game #1 - Apple Valley vs. St Louis Park, December 4th 2012
Great atmosphere @ the Orioles gym old school feel, very warm inside prompting some at the top of the student section to crack open a couple windows (very old school). I showed up just in time to catch the closing minutes of the JV game featuring 8th grade future star, Gary Trent, Jr. the eldest son of former Ohio legend and Timberwolves veteran Gary Trent, Sr. Apple Valley was up by double digits and looking to close things out to set the stage for the main event. Noticed that Michigan State's Tom Izzo was in the house (doing a great job campaigning, signing autographs, posing for pictures and holding babies), along with Coach Thad Motta of the Ohio State University.
The varsity game started off with some nice back and forth action with both teams nailing a couple wide open 3pt basket and SLP taking a very early 9-5 lead. DJ Pollard is hot early for the Orioles and provides a nice one-two punch with Kashif Hayes; five minutes in and the scoreboard is all square at 13 and that is pretty much the end for SLP as Valley would go on long 21-3 run putting them up 34-16 with a little over 4 minutes remaining in the opening half and the ballgame effectively out of reach. The long run is led by the sharpshooting senior Eagles, Dustin Fronk, Harry Sonie, and Chris Laymon with a hand from junior big man Dennis Austin and an array off on-point assists by the man most everyone is out to see junior point guard Tyus Jones. Apple Valley continues their steamroll into half-time with a 47-31 lead and is looking to shore up some turnovers issues and defensive lapses.
The second 18 begin in the same mold as the first half ended with Valley getting lay-ups and free throws to pad their lead. To SLP's credit they never gave up the fight and played very hard until the end, they just didn't have enough able bodies to withstand the onslaught that is expected to be Apple Valley basketball 2012-13. Most of the SLP offense was isolation sets for Hayes as he put in a warrior's effort, attempting to put his team on his back and carry them to an upset victory with a game high 34 points. Hayes was phenomenal in the final minutes netting many long distance 3's and acrobatic lay-ups. The problem is that he was matched by Jones who put in the most effortless 33 points I've seen in a while as he got to the basket at will whenever Valley needed a bucket to quell the momentum being gained by SLP. I also really liked the play of super-frosh 6'8 Brock Bertram who finished with a several blocks and some nice work underneath the basket; if he can stay out of foul trouble he can provide a big boost and get over AV's Achilles heel over the last several years with their lack of size. Apple Valley would hold the ball at the end and hang on for the win, never letting the Orioles any closer than 12 points. Good first win, but they will definitely need to do a little better in the defensive and turnover departments if they'd likely to hold on to the lofty rankings accumulated throughout the pre-season.
Some funny/interesting tidbits from the SLP student section….
- Chants of overrated towards the #1 recruit in the country??? Still pretty funny though!
- Their chosen attire for the night was cut-off jean shorts! Yes, visualize that; not a pretty sight….
- There was also an Eastview's better chant, which marked the first time I've ever heard one high school pump up another unrelated high school. Go figure.
- My top two, one for being the worst and the other for most funny are:
1. (Worst) "We eat apples!"
2. (Best) After Brock Bertram made back-to-back baskets mixed in with a blocked shot, the Apple Valley student section began chanting "He's a freshman!" In turn, after a Kashif Hayes deep 3-point basket over the outstretched hand of Tyus Jones; the SLP students started the, "he's in pre-school!" chant!
I'm sure the students (for AV and opposing) will continue to be very creative and supportive of their squads in standing-room only environments throughout this season and I look forward to lots of laughs and puzzled looks!