The dust has settled on the numerous holiday tournaments around the state and in the class AAA portion of Minnesota basketball only three undefeated teams remain. Those teams are Columbia Heights, Bemidji, and the winner of the 2010 Granite City Classic, Orono. In the Granite City title game junior Barry Wohler and senior shooter Jordan Smith combined to score 51 points as the Spartans defeated Apple Valley.
Orono Wins Granite City Classic
Orono opened their year with wins over STMA, Monticello, Litchfield, and Dassel-Cokato before heading to St. Cloud for the Granite City Classic. Their opener was against Minnetonka and it was a fight to the final regulation buzzer and into overtime. In that overtime Jeremy Borg scored twice including a spin move for a bucket and then with four seconds remaining he caught behind the arc, set his feet, and hit a three at the buzzer (his third make of the overtime session) that put the Spartans into the second round.
In round two Orono faced St. Cloud Apollo and fell behind 31-24 at the half. They remained down eight or nine points until the last seven minutes when Orono guard play took over with Smith and Wohler producing. Apollo had a load of trouble slowing down Jordan who sunk 24 points both from the perimeter and putting the ball on the deck. The biggest shot of the game was hit by senior Daniel Drew who nailed a trey with about 45 second left that put Orono ahead for good. Free throws closed the game out 62-55.
In the tournament final Orono jumped ahead a dozen points in both halves only to see Apple Valley claw back within a field goal. However, there was too much Smith and Wohler as Jordan scored 23 and Wohler totaled 28 points pushing Orono to a 78-70 victory.
Schalk Becomes All-Time Eagle Scoring Leader
Freshman mega star Tyus Jones played in his team's opener but a lacerated kidney has left him on the bench cheering teammates on in street clothes since. Apple Valley beat St. Louis Park with Tyus but fell to Chaska and Eden Prairie in the games that followed.
Coach Zach Goring had 11 days to get his team back on track without Jones and he was able to do just that. The Eagles defeated St. Cloud Tech 65-58 and Duluth East 69-65 before being defeated by eight in the event final. Leading Apple Valley every step of the way was senior William & Mary signed Thomas Schalk who scored 34 points against Tech, totaled 23 points and 14 rebounds against East, and 24 points against Orono. In the event final Schalk's first basket broke the school scoring record that had been held the last four years by Aaron Ford. Schalk now sits at 1,310 career points.
- Jordan Smith will always be a shooter, that's known statewide. But over the course of the three day tournament Smith also produced in the post as he was isolated at times and Jordan was able to score over the top of them with a variety of touch shots off the glass. Smith was also a force putting the ball down and attacking into traffic on the right side. Regardless of help defenders Smith still hit contested shots or found his way to the foul line.
- Schalk was the leader but Apple Valley received big contributions over the week from Gavin Bronson who put up 13 points in the first two games and 14 in the event final. The senior captain looks like he will give Apple Valley three consistent options when Tyus returns to action in the coming weeks.
- Save about eight minutes it was a pretty good three game set for St. Cloud Apollo. Their University of Mary signed pair Blake Maslonkowski and Simon Krych controlled the paint grabbing every rebound and blocking, or contesting shots on a regular basis. In about a partial game Krych scored 16 and Maslonkowski scored 14 in a 36 point win over Sartell. They followed that up with a pair of double-doubles as Krych put up a dozen points and a dozen boards while Maslonkowski totaled 21 points and 12 boards against Orono.
- Duluth East junior guard Taylor Stafford was penetrating to the paint and hitting pull-ups as well as angled runners from the time the Greyhound coach bus entered the city of St. Cloud on Tuesday. Stafford scored 69 points in three games and firmly placed his name as one of the better northern junior scorers. Teammate Johnny Woodard didn't shoot a very high percentage over the week but he did average about 15 points a game for the Greyhounds.
- Six-foot-5 Rocori forward Jonah Eisenschenk may still be hitting jumpers on the baseline, in the corner behind the arc, and in the short corner. Eisenschenk can also post older and more mature posts up to produce points like he did against Minnetonka and Duluth East. Jonah scored 64 points in three games.
- Rocori wing Nate Meyer is one of the most versatile juniors in the state of Minnesota. Rocori won two of three games this week and Meyer did everything for the squad leading the team in assists while also rebounding and scoring nearly as much s Eisenschenk. Meyer is one of the best passers in his class and he hits clutch free throws.
- If there was a state wide three-point contest one of the potential wildcard winners could be Sartell's A.J. Frank who burnt the Apollo nets all weekend.