Apple Valley vs. Hopkins
Many hundreds of people turned out to see a fantastic matchup between the Tyus Jones led Apple Valley Eagles and the talented, balanced attack of the Hopkins Royals. Although, Jones left early on in the first half; those in attendance were definitely treated to an amazing ball game! After suffering a gut-wrenching 2-point loss to Park Center behind a dynamic showing from Quinton Hooker a couple Saturdays ago, Apple Valley has tweaked it's rotation a bit, inserting freshman big man Brock Bertram into the starting lineup. This helped them get past Wisconsin commit Riley Dearing and Minnetonka last Tuesday as Jones and Bertram provided an inside and outside scoring threat that the Skippers were unable to match. Tyus Jones put a season high 33 points in front of Duke's Coach K and staff as well as Kansas' Bill Self.
Tuesday night was the first official home game of the season for Apple Valley and the stands began filling up as early as 5 p.m. as many were anticipating a sellout with Hopkins making the rare road trip south of the river. When it comes to MN basketball, it doesn't get any better than Hopkins as they have proven to be the cream of the crop over the past decade winning six state titles during that span. This year's Royals squad is led by Jamal Davis, Kamali Chambers, and sharpshooter Jake Wright. Word before the game is that Jones has been suffering from some back pains, which does not bode well for his style of play; always attacking the basket and giving up his body, leading to some hard falls.
This one starts out with a very fast pace as both teams like to get out and run as often as possible as both teams knock down matching lay-ups and deep 3-point baskets. Just when you think this one is destined for some lofty scoring totals; Tyus Jones goes down hard and has to be escorted to the locker room with just over 5 minutes off the clock. At this point Hopkins completely takes over and is quickly up 18-7 looking to end it early and get back on the road to the west metro. Hopkins would lead by as many as 16 points during the first half and is outplaying the seemingly shell-shocked Valley squad in every way. All eyes are trained on the tunnel leading in from the varsity locker room in anticipation of a Tyus Jones sighting. The AV seniors are doing what they can to keep their team in the game as Dustin Fronk and Harry Sonie take over the scoring load and are able to get the deficit down to 9 points going into the halftime at 42-33.
Apple Valley comes out in the second half with renewed energy and one more assistant coach on their bench; actually it was just Jones in street clothes, officially done for the evening. Both teams are trading baskets for most of the second half with Hopkins able to hold on to at least a 7 point lead for the first 12 minutes. Bertram picks up his 4th foul around the 7 minute mark after doing a great job on the defensive end for Valley and has to go to the bench. Hopkins begins to struggle knocking down outside shots as the Eagle defense is making it hard for them to get into the lane. Robert Tobroxen and Dennis Austin are securing rebound after rebound while Fronk begins his takeover and with a couple bombs from well beyond the three point line followed by a steal and acrobatic lay-up while being fouled for a 3-point play. After clawing their way all the way back AV ties the game at 54 all and virtually never look back as they would hold the mighty Hopkins Royals to just 10 points for the remainder of the game and secure a hard fought 73-64 victory. Hopkins ended up putting up a lofty 35 three point attempts on the night, only hitting on 8 of those. In the end Valley does it with defense and rebounding, none bigger than the one pulled down by senior 6th man James Horton to put it out of reach and start the free throw parade!
Huge win for Valley as they prove to be more than a one man show, however, Jones status will be heavily scrutinized considering the high expectations for the Eagles this season.