The Pump N Run Spring Classic moves into the quarterfinal round this morning and it will do so with a few surprises although the heavyweight squads of the Minnesota Pump N Run and Iowa Barnstormers are still there prepared for a showdown. The Barnstormers did receive a scare when the Wisconsin Swing took them to the buzzer but free throws helped Iowa pull out a 75-73 victory.
This morning at eight o'clock the 16 and Under quarterfinal round of play begins with the Wisconsin Swing facing 43 Hoops, the Iowa Barnstormers matching up with the Minnesota Heat Red, Rosemount Fighting Irish playing Bound 4 Glory, and the Minnesota Pump N Run battling the Minnesota Fury.
Following that action will be the 17 and Under quarters starting with the Minnesota Pump N Run battling the Wisconsin Starz. In other quarterfinal action Wear Out the Net I takes on NESYB, Minnesota Heat Black does battle with the Minnesota Southside 16s, and the Minnesota Fury Gold is against the Iowa Barnstormers.
Late last night there was a three game loop going on that had basketball fans running from gym to gym as three games were all at a one basket point differential with similar time left on the clock. On the far right Minnesota Fury Gold had built a double-digit early lead over the Minnesota Heat Elite. The Elite battled back to make it a one score game but this rough and tumble Fury bunch stood strong through the buzzer winning 56 to 51. In the middle court was a complete slugfest between the tough sophomores of the Minnesota Southside and the Minnesota Fury Blue team. With a gritty performance the younger talent won 46 to 45. Finally, in between that action, the Iowa Barnstormers beat the Wisconsin Swing 75 to 73 but the game came down to late free throws from Iowa helping them survive a major scare.
Quick Player Notes
Wonder where all the young Minnesota guard and wing talent is? Check Tartan. The Titans are stock piled at guard for the next three years starting with freshman Darrion Strong who most are familiar with after he was one of their better varsity players this year with that quick burst. Strong is certainly the catalyst but far from the only one.
Strong is playing with the Minnesota Pump N Run 15s and then there are several other young Tartan kids making noise at the Pump N Run Spring Classic. On the Minnesota Heat Red is Strong's sophomore brother Tyler Moore, who is pretty good in his own right, as well as sophomore shooter Kyle Von Schmidt Pauli. Slippery and speedy 9th grade guard Xavier Hall who also very tough yesterday and pairing him with Strong for the next three years is scary (to opponents). Finally, a 15s Minnesota Heat squad has Tartan freshman Kharie Kirkland who is also a player. The future is bright for this group.
Minnesota Heat Black 17s led by Brian Sprang (Irondale) are moving on today and Sprang as well as Spencer Grow (Anoka) played key roles in their destruction of EOTO. Sprang used his jerky handles to get himself to the hole the entire game either scoring or getting to the foul line. Grow made several long distance jumpers plus he scored on some off-balance stuff in the paint off the dribble.
Roosevelt Scott (St. Paul Johnson) of the Minnesota Pump N Run was completely hammered in the face with elbows by a Wisconsin Blizzard screen from Zach Vallafskey. Upset, Scott got up doing some talking but it was his game that beat down the Blizzard instead of a physical action. A jacked up Scott started blocking shots, picking off passes and turning them into transition buckets, he had some assists off the bounce, and Scott took the ball in his hands running the point for some time with success.
Kendall Peterson from Medilia is a 6-foot-3 shooter to take note of.
Eastview pair Oshari Arnett and Shane McSparron connected several times with each other yesterday on lobs, flashes to catch and score, and transition buckets. They led WOTN II into the win column plus they have the defensive coaching coming into AAU that makes them near shut down defenders.
With his build I hope Beepee Pajibo of Mankato East plays some football. His arms are unlike anything you will see in high school hallways at the age of 17. Pajibo isn't to bad in the post either scoring nine times for the Minnesota Premiere in the paint in a loss to WOTN II.
Guard Mack Johnson of Roseville is hitting jumpers and creating off the bounce continually for WOTN 15s. He played varsity this winter and will be a force for the next three years.
Friday night Alex Kreuser (Totino-Grace) shot the lights out for the Minnesota Heat Elite. Alex is one of those players who you just can't leave open or it will cost you. Also impressive this weekend both inside and out was Alex's AAU teammate Spencer Pankonin (Lakeville South). He's another shooter you can't leave open plus Spencer was taking contact and scoring inside on Saturday.
Comets Gold's Nate Kucera from Hutchinson put together a very respectable performance against Heat Elite. This is a crafty playmaker with a ton of fakes and great handles plus he's a tough kid. There isn't a guy in this event that gets more out of his body than Kucera.
Another guy who gets most everything out of his frame is 6-foot-6 Appleton North big man Nathan Van Handel of the Wisconsin Blizzard. This guy is just a battler who never quits going after rebounds, he never quits working on defense, and he always gets up and down as hard as he can. Van Handel may not have the most bounce but his work ethic made him a key factor giving Shelby Moats all he could handle. Of course after Van Handel would score Moats would go back the other way, step out on the perimeter, and knock down another trey. But Van Handel definitely caught the eyes of several college coaches watching closely.
The Marcus Alipate (Bloomington Jefferson) versus Aaron Ziman (St. Louis Park) battle was worth the price of admission. These two went at each other for the full time load with Alipate and WOTN I coming out on top in the end. Alipate has been shooting the lights out so far in this tournament and turning the corner on strong halfcourt pressure to get his team's offense moving.
Matt Hentges of Eagan, Kyle Bauman of USC, and Lucas Brown of Roseville have all also had strong performances for the undefeated WOTN I squad. Hentges is showing a lot more perimeter steadiness and skill then when he was viewed in the early winter, Bauman's lefty hook has been near unstoppable, and Brown has shown a lot of improvements on the glass and defending. Lucas of course can still get looks whenever but more eye opening has been his improvements working defensively and on the glass.
Eric Robertson (Wayzata) and the Minnesota Pump N Run has had his stroke going. Hitting face-ups and pull-up jumpers Robertson has been a scoring weapon and when he gets more comfortable with that pull-up it will get quicker and more deadly.
Dylan Stewart (Eden Prairie) of The Wrath had a tip dunk that had people going bananas on court four. There was so much noise after that jam that people were running to the court in all directions as if there was a replay board.
T.J. Okafor (Champlin Park) can defend forwards with the best of them. Okafor's Fury Blue team lost to the Minnesota Southside but when Okafor was on Joey King the young Eastview standout struggled. On the outside Okafor didn't let King take jumpers nor even take a dribble to the hoop. On the inside Okafor forced King high off the block. Joey did get the Fury with an outstanding tip-dunk plus he scored free throws throughout the game but Okafor's defense in the meat of the contest was very impressive.
Terez Van Pelt (Park Center) has the basketball on a string. He is as slippery to guard as Minnesota guards normally get.
The Minnesota Southside has some players to take not of. Sam Burt (DeLaSalle) has a motor that never quits playing defense and working like most Islander players do. He's also got some offensive game going either way from the high post and in. Burt has a motor and he has some skill to go with it taking the ball at the hoop from the forward position.
DeShun Patterson (Bloomington Jefferson) has a crossover that will put a lot of defenders on their rear the next two seasons. Patterson used it to attack all game long in the win over Fury Gold and he has a quick burst coupled with a strong frame that helps him get things done. Sounds like Patterson also had a jam some time in this tournament and that's amazing as he's 5-foot-8.
Minnesota Transitions senior Kevin Noreen has officially been offered by Marquette, Northwestern, UTEP, and Saint Louis recently plus of course the Boston College offer is still there. Kevin visited Marquette unofficially yesterday and he's unofficially visiting Northwestern today.
Darri Jones of Cooper is a hot name and if he gets the right test score he will have much to choose from. There is a chance he could be at Southwest State as an offer is there. UMD may be after him too though, UM-Crookston was working Jones earlier, and there have been some faint division one calls as well.
Robbinsdale Cooper big man Calvin Godfrey is at Iowa State on a visit this weekend. The assistant coaches from the Cyclones have been up here a couple times to see him as well. Calvin recently received a 24 on his ACT and if his core grade point average is there he will reportedly get an offer from Iowa State and if that happens they are the clear favorite to land him.
Marcus Alipate has been as good as anybody so far in this tournament running the point for Wear Out the Net I. Marcus recently received an offer from South Dakota and Wofford is coming on strong. AAU teammate Lucas Brown also picked up an offer from South Dakota.
Josh Pella recently visited Minnesota State-Moorhead. Rumor is they have three scholarships to give for this 2010 class still but no coach to dish them out.