Orono kicked off today's Timberwolves Shootout with a 74-65 overtime victory. Junior shooting guard Jordan Smith scored 25 points while teammate Jeremy Borg, also a junior, totaled 19. With a fair distribution of size and talent in two top 15 class AAA teams the initial match-up of the Shootout definitely entertained.
Jordan Smith - Smith is one of the most dangerous shooters in the state of Minnesota and if teams don't locate him on every possession both transition and half-court included they will pay. Grand Rapids learned that lesson the hard way as Smith used screens to clear space as well as transition opportunities to catch and pull.
Jordan is known for his pull-up jumper and it was definitely on display at the Target Center. He pulled up from the right elbow to hit and then attacked all the way to the low right block to pull-up and hit with a kiss twice. Smith looks a lot stronger and it's showed in his game today as there was a lot of contact on his pull-ups that he powered up and over to release.
Jordan's pull-up is so deadly as he has the shot down to an art. His timing off the final dribble is perfect and when he had to face a longer defender Jordan was able to use his strength to absorb and a hit and finish. Smith is also one of the more intelligent scorers you will find as he's well schooled on how to free himself with screens with or without the basketball.
Jordan shot nine of 21 from the floor to score his 25 plus he had nine boards.
Eric Stark - The best way to describe Stark is "competitor". Eric is crafty off his drive and he uses a variety of fakes to shift the defender and then attack. Stark gets to the lane attacking like a running back through a hole and from there Stark has a variety of things he can do. Stark's mid-range jumper looked all right at time, he has a one-hand runner that can go, and he's an outstanding passer who sees the floor extremely well. Eric is nearly impossible for teams to stop in the lane if they don't have a good shot blocker because he's so strong and he uses his body to shield and then he elevates.
Stark did struggle from the field making six off 22 including one of seven from behind the arc. Eric finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
Michael Johnson - The quickness of Johnson's first step had him blowing by Orono defenders on a regular basis in the first half and his strength allowed him to bump off the defender and still finish his basket attack. Johnson also used a step back late in the half to hit as the defender tried to get a step ahead to stop the drive so Michael just stopped on a dime to nail a 15-footer. Defensively Johnson can be a pest as he's a great competitor who moves his feet extremely well. Johnson wasn't able to stay on Smith to long to harass because Jordan was to tall allowing him to shoot over the 5-foot-9 Johnson.
Johnson made six of 13 shots scoring 15 points with three assists. The Thunderhawks got some low post production as well with Dan Wilde scoring 16 points with nine rebounds and Kevin Rabbers putting up ten points, 11 rebounds, and six blocks.
Jeremy Borg - Borg provided Orono with low posts scores, rebounds, strong post defense, and he took a charge late in the game that essentially put Grand Rapids away for good. His touch around the basket as well as agility make him a very good combo forward and in the future if he plays at Orono, AAU ball, or in college with a true five Borg would be even more dangerous. Borg made eight of 15 looks for the 19 points plus he had 13 rebounds and five swats.
In the second half when Orono pushed their lead to 49-43 Smith started the run with a baseline attack pull-up jumper. A moment later Smith was able to steal the in-bounds pass and get to the foul line for a point and then Jordan forced Thunderhawk coach Dan Elhard to call a time-out as he hit a wide-open three.
After the time-out the Thunderhawks go back on track as Stark pushed his team on an 10-0 run with a one handed score in the lane, a pull-up score deep, and a drive and dump that became a lay-up for a teammate. The score went from a six point Orono advantage to a 53-49 Grand Rapids advantage. Then with three minutes left Johnson drilled a three and the Thunderhawks went up 56-54.
Down six in the second half Orono got a four point play with a 17-foot pull-up from Jordan and then an Erik Peterson score off an o-board. Then Wilde of Grand Rapids missed two free throws and Orono had the ball down 60-58 with 19 seconds remaining. After a time-out called by coach Barry Wohler, Borg hit with a contested low post jumper and with 9.7 seconds the game was tied at 60.
In overtime Orono scored quickly and went on to dominate the extra five minutes of play. Smith scored off a beautiful series of passes off the tip-off and then Chase Myhran hit a three from the right wing. Orono then went five-out and Smith passed to Borg deep in the lane for a score. Back the other way Borg took a charge and all the momentum had been taken out of the Thunderhawks putting the final nail in the coffin.