Pool play is in the books at the Pump N Run Spring Showcase and there may not have been to many notable upsets but there were definitely some close calls. A couple of Minnesota 17 and Under teams who looked very good picking up a pair of wins were the Southwest Minnesota Stars and the Minnesota Heat Elite. Bracket play will start this morning.
Southwest Minnesota Stars
The Stars won their opener over one of the Minnesota Heat squads 63-38.
Zach Huisken - When it comes to bigs in Minnesota's class of 2012 Huisken has the scholarship offers (South Dakota, South Dakota State, Northern Iowa, and Drake) and at a long 6-foot-8/6-foot-9 the potential is there. He recorded four blocks in yesterday's contest and contested several other shots and it all started with his well schooled positioning. Huisken is a consistent and dedicated low post defender who always impacts the game from that end. Offensively he was 3 of 8 from the field scoring on a lay-in, a 16 foot jumper, and an 18 foot jumper. Zach also hit three of four free throws and with each release of his shot Huisken impressed as his touch is very good for a player his size. Is this the best senior-to-be big in state? He's giving a pretty tough argument for the claim.
Casey Schilling - Casey is as feisty of a player as one will see. At 6-foot-5 Schilling always plays hard and because of it he puts up numbers across the board. Casey's work on the floor and his length Casey produced seven points, nine rebounds, six assists, four steals, and two blocks in a half of a game.
Brett Bergeson - the 6-foot-2 guard from Montevideo knocked down three treys on his way to 13 points and he moved the ball in a way that would make all college basketball coaches happy. Offensively he's tough and consistent but what caught the eye of many was his disciplined defensive positioning deep in a stance actively moving laterally from the start of the game to the end.
In a combative struggle the Southside defeated Iowa Pump N Run's top team 55-50.
Joey King - Usually a consistent perimeter shooter Joey had "one of those days" in his team's first game. King missed his first eight shots from the floor having trouble inside and out. With that said, with the game on the line King continued to work around the bucket scoring three field goals late and draining all four of his free throw attempts down the stretch. King totaled ten points with seven rebounds.
Daniel Haugh - It took awhile for some of the other Southside scorers to really get going but Haugh kept his team in the game on that end hitting three perimeter jumpers early including a three-pointer. Haugh is a gritty guard who also defends. He led Southside with a dozen points in the victory.
Minnesota Pump N Run
They defeated the second Wisconsin Blizzard 59-54 in front of what had to have been the most people in a small area that I've ever seen in an AAU game. It made for grumpy officiating most definitely.
Sanjay Lumpkin - Sanjay missed his first five shot attempts and didn't score until the second half but he was always a central figure in the game. The Pump N Run uses a couple different zone defensive looks and at the top of them is the long armed, athletic, and active Lumpkin who accumulated deflections and steals consistently. Then in the second half he got his offensive going with hard cuts to the rim where he caught and finished a pair of lay-ups in the halfcourt set. And down the stretch it was Sanjay who the Pumps located with the ball when the Blizzard needed to foul and he sunk all eight of his free throw attempts for a team high 12 points.
Wally Ellenson - This guy simply has explosive athletic ability that results in him trying to do things that most people wouldn't expect. In the first half he pushed the ball on the break and when attacking the rim he was bounced in the air turning his back to the rim but despite the contact Wally tried to reverse dunk without sight of the rim and he nearly pulled this off while being fouled. Ellenson attacked the rim constantly resulting in seven free throw attempts and he made all seven. He scored 11 points on two of eight shooting and almost everything Wally did against the Blizzard was going at the rim.
Carnell Sheppard - The 5-foot-11 guard from Minneapolis South is one of those kids who produces consistently despite people doubting his size and whatever else. When the game got tough Carnell looked to be at his strongest finding creases in the defense to attack for 11 points. Carnell made a couple shots in traffic that were contested, he sunk five of six free throws down the stretch, and he quarterbacked his squad to a win against a gritty Blizzard team.
Minnesota Heat Elite
The Heat Elite defeated the Wisconsin Blizzard 64-48 holding a four or five basket advantage for most of the game. The Heat Elite play the type of team defense that would make any high school coach happy to have their kids on their team.
Mitchell Kuck - Ladies and gentlemen Mitch Kuck has bounce, surprising bounce! Kuck scored 17 points with six rebounds against the Blizzard because he simply finished over the top of the Blizzard both in transition and in the halfcourt set. The 6-foot-2 guard's slashing ways was the difference in the game.
Joe Risinger - Kuck's scoring may have been the overall difference but Risinger's block in the stretch run was likely the play of the game. The Blizzard were making a run and looked to be cutting the game to five points with an open lay-but Risinger's extremely long arms in a 6-foot-5 frame swatted the shot in the other direction leading to a Heat lay-in, a nine point lead, and a forced time-out from the Blizzard to stop the momentum. It was one of several blocks/deflections that Risinger had on the day plus he scored a dozen points including two three-point makes. On his second three-point attempt their were two NSIC coaches who opened their programs likely trying to find out who number 22 was.
Lee Holt of Windom/SW Stars grabbed nine rebounds because he had more will to get to the basketball than any other player on the floor against the Minnesota Heat.
Latrell Love of Minneapolis Henry/Southside is a reliable finisher in traffic and he's also pretty good at the elbow and putting the ball down once to make a move. MIAC schools really love him right now. Latrell had an important nine points and five boards in Southside's win over the Iowa Pump N Run.
If one were to ask me who was the most impressive player on day one of the event I would quickly respond Zak Showalter. His two-handed throw down over the top of a EOTO player was ridiculous as he did it with explosive power while being fouled. Zak also scored an acrobatic lay-in on the break that saw an opponent hammer his arms but Zak was strong enough to fight through the contact and finish. His Wisconsin Swing team blew out EOTO and both he and Nick Fuller scored in the 20 point area.
Six-foot-8 Shea Mandli of Eagan/Minnesota Pump N Run was one of the better rebounders in the gym Friday. He snatched nine caroms off the glass in his team's win over the Blizzard.
Six-foot-6 Nick Jorgenson of Hopkins/Minnesota Pump N Run always seems to get his four field goal makes in just about every game I've seen him play in the past year.
If there is a kid who works harder than North St. Paul/Minnesota Heat Elite 6-foot-4 power forward Hunter Books you are going to have to find him for me because Hunter is a battler. In the Heat's win over the Wisconsin Blizzard he totaled ten points and ten rebounds.
Justin Pahl of East Ridge/Minnesota Heat Elite drained three treys early in the Heat's win over the Blizzard creating separation between the teams. Pahl scored 11 points for the game.