The holiday tournament opened up at Bethel yesterday and the talent from game to game was as good as you will find at any holiday event this season. Maple Grove opened with a hammering of St. Anthony, Henry Sibley came back from behind to beat Minnehaha Academy, Eden Prairie was strong defeating Mounds View, and St. Paul Johnson outlasted Minnetonka in overtime.
Before we get to the player notes a special thanks to the Bethel Men's Basketball program for a first class event. Also special thanks to the sponsor, Olive Garden, for the grub hook-up which was outstanding.
Maple Grove is a hard working team led by 6-foot-5 senior forward Josh Pedretti who embodies the team attitude. Pedretti was relentless as a worker and hustler, and he attacked the offensive glass constantly. Josh finished with 12 points, 11 boards, three steals, and two blocks.
Pedretti was one of three Maple Grove players who surprised the crowd with assaults on the rim. The other two players were seniors Andrew Frost and Travis Enger who both came off the bench with strong and active contributions. Another Crimson senior who impressed was six-foot guard Alex Geisenhoff who scored a team high 16 points making several jumpers ranging from the elbow out to the arc.
A name that has been circulating around the AAU coaching ranks is St. Anthony 6-foot-3 junior guard Josh Pratt. It was a tough day for Josh who hit only two of his 16 attempts but you could see some ability in his game.
Minnehaha Academy turned up the heat on second ranked Henry Sibley leading 38-29 at the end of the first half. In that first 18 minutes Redhawk 6-foot-5 senior forward Taylor Sparkman took his game right at counterpart Mike Bruesewitz and outplayed the Badger commit for a half. Sparkman showed some range knocking down four first half triples. But once the second half hit it was all Bruesewitz and all Henry Sibley.
The Warriors blitzed the Redhawks with a 26-4 run highlighted by Mike Rostampour's 14 points and seven rebounds in only nine minutes of second half play. The 6-foot-7 Sibley junior scored with put-backs, a 15-footer, he hit his free throws, and Rostampour scored with his developing post game.
And while we talk developing post game, seven-footer Jake Kreuser was strong in the first half blocking a handful of shots, grabbing six rebounds, and scoring with three post moves. Kreuser's ability to catch on the move is impressive for a man his size and he continues to grow. He's 20 pounds thicker right now than he was last season and think about him adding 20 pounds each year for the next couple seasons while improving his post game and you will understand why the Kreuser family needed a bigger mailbox.
Sibley senior wing Maurice Hernandez continues to struggle with bronchitis symptoms and he had the flu yesterday but that didn't stop him from hitting three big triples during the Sibley run on his way to 16 points for the game. Coming into yesterday's contest Hernandez had been hitting 62 percent of his three point attempts through four games.
Bruesewitz totaled 21 points, five boards, five blocks, four assists, three steals, and his all-around second half focus on the floor helped will the Warriors to the victory. Bruesewitz has been hitting with regularity from down town as his jumper looks very smooth and confident at this point. And Mike's defensive effort in the second half limited Sparkman in the second half to only a pair of field goals and 17 points for the contest.
Ethan Wragge's all-around play has me thinking that Creighton got a steal with their signing of the 6-foot-7 wing. In addition to knocking down jumpers with constant hip-to-hip attention, Wragge has been rebounding with aggression and he's increased his defensive intensity. Couple that with a shooting stroke that is amongst the best in the nation and you get why some are calling him a steal for the Blue Jays. Wragge made six of 14 shots including three treys and Ethan knocked down seven of nine free throw attempts.
Mounds View 6-foot-4 sophomore wing Jordan VanEps is one to watch for in the future. His six points off the bench doesn't jump out at you but his skill set on the offensive end and his defensive game on the opposite end are very appealing to college coaches.
Eden Prairie senior guards Marc Miller and Timmy Miller (no sibling relation I don't believe) were strong with the ball in Eden Prairie's 68-52 win and both are very good defenders, especially Timmy Miller. Now the question becomes can they take care of the ball for a full 36 minutes against St. Paul Johnson?
The Governors outlasted Minnetonka with speed, pressure, more speed, aggressive play, even more speed, and a deep bench that brings a lot more speed to the floor. Johnson defeated the Skippers 93-88 and it was once again Dion Suggs-Young making plays late.
Earlier in the game Suggs-Young had throw up some of the uglier looking shots seen all day. But once again when the game was on the line Suggs took the ball and made things happen. First he scored with a 15-foot pull-up jumper that looked much softer than earlier shots and later he scored with a baseline drive that he finished at the rim. Dion scored 14 points total and was one of five Govs in double figures.
The scoring leader for Johnson was 6-foot-1 junior wing Demitri Conwell who finished with a team high 21 points. Six of Conwell's points came in the overtime session that included four important free throws that extended the Johnson lead.
Also worth a note was the two-handed slam by Lamar Anderson over the top of several Skippers including 6-foot-4 Leonard Glass and 6-foot-5 Taylor Nelson. Anderson two hand flushed in emphatic fashion high above the rim.
Skipper Cole Stefan continues to make shots leaning left, falling front, fading, and over top the top of hard working defenders. He gets good lift on his jumper, Cole can square up from just about any angle, and he seems to give himself a chance to make shots from anyplace inside of the halfcourt line. In this game Cole hit ten of 20 shots including three treys totaling 32 points overall.
Stefan was helped out by the 22 points from 6-foot-4 sophomore Nick Latzke who knocked down five trifectors.