Apple Valley opened the season with a 80-58 victory over St. Louis Park last Friday night led by eye opening performances from 8th grade point guard Tyus Jones and junior forward Thomas Schalk. Jones is such a talent in the class of 2014 that Tubby Smith of Minnesota was in attendance along with assistant Joe Esposito. Apple Valley is replacing several seniors but jumped out to a good start in 2009-10 with the victory.
Players like Jones and Schalk are going to make first year coach Zach Goring's job a little easier over the next five seasons. They do have depth to develop as the Eagles must replace several quality seniors but Jones and Schalk are both division one caliber players that Goring can build around.
Jones is as smooth as they come at the point guard spot. He's cool under pressure, very confident with his play, his dribble drive creation is as sharp as just about any guard in Minnesota already and he has outstanding court vision plus is a crisp passer. If one had to describe him in one word the easy pick would be smooth.
Tubby Smith and Gopher assistant coach Ron Jirsa were at the first Apple Valley practice a couple Mondays ago as they look to get in on Jones early. Tyus' bloodline includes former DeLaSalle/Hopkins/Furman University/Minnesota State-Mankato standout Jadee Jones who is the brother of Tyus. And Tyus' athletic talents are not just limited to the hardwood as he's also a serious standout in football and baseball as well.
Friday Tyus faced Aaron Ziman of the Orioles and Aaron is considered by most to be one of the best junior point guards in Minnesota. The first varsity field goal for Tyus saw him beat Ziman off the dribble and get to the lane where he hit a runner over traffic. His most impressive play of the night was missed by a teammate but it did see Tyus split a pair of defenders, burst by a third Oriole player with a hesitation dribble, and when the help stopped him Tyus gave the crowd an incredible wrap-around pass that had everybody gasping.
Is the young man explosive? Sure, he has some explosion. He can burst by a defender to get to the lane with his crafty ball skills and let's not forget on a couple of his driving finger rolls Tyus was over the rim when he dropped the ball through.
Defensively Jones is still learning (he is in middle school) but he had the positioning smarts as well as the guts to take a charge early in the contest. Another play showing his toughness was his final field goal of the night when he attacked the cup (after shifting his defender and the rest of the defense with a convincing ball fake), was hammered to the ground, but still finished the play before landing on his back. Jones made five of nine field goals along with one of two free throws for 11 points. He also dished out seven assists with three boards and a pair of steals.
Thomas Schalk finished the opener with 35 points on 13 of 20 shooting. He scored the first ten points of the game for the Eagles and the first impressive bucket saw him put the ball on the floor, spin off the defender, and then hit a floater in the lane. The rest of Schalk's early points were at the rim including a hard cut score on a baseline in-bounds play, a putback bucket, and a fast break finish.
As the game moved on Schalk started getting fouled around the rim on a regular basis. He made eight of ten foul shots as his scoring was consistent throughout the game. Thomas made one three but the majority of his points came in the paint or from the foul line.
St. Louis Park is a young team but their top player is senior Alex Koch. Except for the couple minutes that 6-foot-5 sophomore DeMonte Baker player Koch was the biggest Oriole on the floor. Alex is also the best weapon this team has beyond the arc as well although he made just there of ten three-point attempts. Koch did a lot of damage around the cup using his length to extend for six other field goals. His totals for the night included nine of 18 shooting for 21 points. Alex also had four rebounds.
Other Player Notes
• If my numbers were adjusted correctly (the Oriole roster had a ton of errors on it in relation to jersey number) it was junior Marquealis Edwards who used a deep crossover to score some early field goals for the Orioles. Edwards is a decent athlete at 6-foot-1 and if he adds another move and/or a consistent jumper to his game he has the potential to be a dangerous scorer. Edwards used his crossover to score a couple times early plus had a putback score but then had to go to the bench with foul trouble. Marquealis scored eight points.
• Ziman put up 12 points and most of it came off the attack to the rim. He struggled all night to finish his jumper from ten feet and out but Aaron did score in the paint.
• I'm a big fan of the defensive work that Apple Valley junior Tony Seals put in on Friday. He's intense and moves his feet well.
• Six-foot-4 St. Louis Park junior Joseph Zangel is the type of role playing power forward that coaches love to have. He gives his team as much effort defensively as he can muster, Zangel works his tail off on the glass, he sets strong screens to open up teammates, and Zangel will wrestle with anybody for a loose ball. Zangel finished with nine points.
• Apple Valley held a 33-26 advantage at the half and then outscored St. Louis Park by 15 points in half number two.