When Minnesota basketball hopheads took to the Twitter on the bus ride home to find scores the one that likely jumped out the most was Blake's 50-44 win over Tri-Metro rival DeLaSalle. Standout sophomore guard John Vail produced 17 for the Bears while Paul Blake put up 16.
"We had a good run in the second half where senior Paul Blake got hot," said Blake Coach Nick Rathmann. "DeLaSalle plays such great defense, and takes you out of a lot of what you want to do offensively. Not only that, but they do a great job of taking away your primary guys. We knew that going in, and knew someone else would have to step up. I have a feeling it would be Paul Blake.
"Paul's a 6-foot-4 wing who can shoot it. He needed to knock down some shots. There was a really competitive high-energy stretch of basketball where Kline blocked a Reid Travis shot (wow is Travis good and going to be extremely good) and Veil found Blake in the corner in transition. Blake knocked down a 15-footer. Then we ran a set where Blake came off a double screen and he hit a three.
"Next play we used Kebu Johnson and Veil as a bit of decoys to go right back to Blake again for another 3. He had ten points during that run and I believe it put us up by six or eight points. That might have been the swing. That and finishing strong by knocking down free throws. Point Guard John Veil was 11 of 12 from the free throw line."
Beating the Islanders is no easy accomplishment. They are one of the state's best teams led by one of the state's best coaches in Dave Thorson with some of the best underclassmen talent in the state.
"To beat DeLaSalle you need a really good team performance," said Rathmann. "I felt we really kept them off the glass, specifically, Travis. I believe we had him unofficially down for five rebounds (Reid also scored 15 points). He's so strong, and active. Takes a team to block him out. We played really good defense, despite a few breakdowns, but played hard and team rebounded. And we seemed to answer any time they made a run with a bucket of our own."
Most expected Blake to be good this year with Kebu Johnson (a top ten 2013 talent in Minnesota) and Veil who put his name on the local scene with his summer and fall play. Both had big games yesterday along with Paul Blake.
"I really felt like sophomore point guard John Veil took control of our team," explained Rathmann. "He handled DeLaSalle's pressure very well, got us into offense, and buried a couple floaters in addition to being clutch at the free throw line. He had one of the most impressive summers of hard work a coach could ever ask for. Tremendously improved ball player. Very good point guard.
"Paul Blake hit some big shots as mentioned earlier. Kebu Johnson had a very nice all around game. He only had seven points, but he was effective in every part of the game. A couple blocked shots and some key rebounds. His length and ball-handling were big last night."
Blake improved to 2-0 on the year and has put themselves in the thick of things for the Tri Metro title.