Sweet 16 Notes - Day one

The annual Sweet 16 of top Minnesota high school teams from around the state is taking place this weekend at St. John's and after two rounds of games there have been some upsets. Several of the state's best players are taking part in the event including Kevin Noreen, Chad Calcaterra, Trevor Gruis, Cole Stefan, Tor Anderson, Peter Crawford, and others.
New London-Spicer 60 Maranatha Christian Academy 42
Hopkins 95 Little Falls 56
Crosby-Ironton 75 Rocori 69
Minnetonka 94 Minnesota Transitions 84
Tartan 71 Staples-Motley 53
Ellsworth 61 Cloquet 42
Plainview/Elgin-Millville 51 Sebeka 47
Benilde-St. Margaret's 71 Stillwater 53
-My arrival at the event was late but several phone messages and then speaking with coaches at the games all produced the information that South Dakota commit Trevor Gruis outplayed Chad Calcaterra in their much anticipated head to head post match-up. In fairness the Lumberjaks were missing 6-foot-3 athletic wing RaRa Jones so the state runner-up Ellsworth Panthers did take the floor with an advantage and it sounds as if Gruis ran with that advantage.
-D.J. Peterson had an outstanding first game against Little Falls impressing everybody who looked on. Peterson then left missing the second game due to a wedding.
-Despite the absence of Clay Olstad and Cole Olstad the Bulldogs from PEM were still able to defeat Sebeka by a pair of baskets. The talented Olstad brothers are said to have an injury apiece.
Winner's Bracket
Benilde-St. Margaret's 86 Plainview/Elgin-Millville 68
Tartan 81 Ellsworth 58
Hopkins 85 New London-Spicer 80
Crosby-Ironton 90 Minnetonka 88
Loser's Bracket
Maranatha Christian Academy 58 Little Falls 53
Minnesota Transitions 60 Rocori 41
Staples-Motley 78 Cloquet 50
Stillwater 71 Sebeka 45
-My first steps were towards Cloquet to see how Calcaterra was playing against BSM. I heard that the first half was a struggle for him as well but I must have brought some good luck as Chad started playing very strong during my observation. There was a good post up on the right block where Chad bodied a Staples-Motley player and then spun baseline to reverse lay-in on the opposite side. He followed that with a pretty pass out of a face-up look, a jump hook, and then a strong drop step bucket. Chad's best move may have been a miss as he caught and up-faked the defender and then stepped though to score but lost the handle. Regardless of these plays Calcaterra's team still got crushed and the absence of Jones was noteworthy.
-With Peterson and coach Jeff Mailhot gone to a wedding former Gopher Dan Coleman stepped in to lead the Royals on the bench. It was interesting to note that Hopkins used 6-foot-7 big Jacob Peterson as their starter in the middle as many are wondering if the Royals will go small this year with Marvin Singleton as the five or use one of their inexperienced bigs. At the Sweet 16 they went with Peterson at the five and Singleton at the four.
New London-Spicer jumped out to a 26-19 lead as Justin Zylstra used his strength and mobility to score several times around the basket and he stepped out to hit a three as well. You add Zylstra to Aaron "Moose" Johnson in the frontcourt with Jayme Moten and Erik Tengwall in the backcourt and this group can give anybody in the state a run just like they did Hopkins yesterday.
After getting down seven points the Royals went on a 15-0 run highlighted by two three-pointers from freshman Riley Dearring. Also, Joe Coleman could not be stopped all game long driving baseline for scores and running the floor for several jams. Joe is going to take over for Rodney Williams as the state's most explosive player to watch. He's the guy that will have people on the edge of their seat every time he runs to the rim.
The Royals pulled ahead double figures on New London-Spicer and it was Singleton who was released out of the game. Johnson and Zylstra did a good job of containing him for awhile but in the second half the strength and athletic ability of Singleton took over. The Wildcats came back but the Royal lead was built to high for a late comeback.
-While Coleman had several dunks the jam of the day came from Trevor Gruis. The 6-foot-9 Ellsworth big pushed through Tartan Titan traffic to get to the rim and reverse jam with a ton of force and a vulgar yell. It was a very intimidating play and Trevor had this look on his face that would stop a charging bull. Make no mistake about it Gruis was the best man in the middle on day one.
-Stillwater big Ryan Duxbury led the Ponies to a record of 1-1. Duxbury will be taking an unofficial visit to UM-Crookston this Wednesday. Also coming to see Crookston this week is MACCRAY shooter Shaun Condon. Crookston had coaches watching at the event as did St. Cloud State, UW-Eau Claire, and Jamestown.
-Tor Anderson most certainly impressed despite the fact that Minnetonka was perplexed by the C-I zone defense. We all know Tor has a beautiful three-point stroke but what he did going to the rim yesterday was equally as impressive. Anderson was the one player from Tonka who consistently looked to attack the Ranger zone through the game and his gorgeous spin move to score caught much attention. Anderson has a lot more creative ability with the ball then people realize and it's why he's been called a "shade of Nate Wolters".
-Crosby-Ironton's win over Tonka caught the most attention and they did it with outstanding team play on both ends of the floor. None of the Rangers played AAU this year choosing to group together for numerous team events all summer long. The plans worked like a charm yesterday as the C-I ball movement netted them 90 points and their defense resulted in Tonka shooting jumper after jumper and getting little done on the interior.
Mark Hoge's ability to create offense for himself was noted as he is quite the athletic scorer who will be on the radar of several colleges this winter. Hoge produced several looks at the rim and along with Matt Hudrlik and Brock Tesdahl this C-I team has weapons from all angles. While shorter Brock Tesdahl can easily be picked out as similar to his brother Bryce. The jumper, the ankle braces, and the haircut are a dead giveaway.
Coming down the stretch Cole Stefan looked as if he was going to lead the Skippers to a comeback win. He sliced through the C-I zone for some shifting scores and his three-point look at the buzzer looked dead on but it came up all iron giving the Rangers a berth in the final four.