Minnetonka Fall League finished up Sunday after four weeks of some of the state's better programs doing battle twice a day. Some of the standouts of the league included Joel Awich of Tartan, Eric Robertson of Wayzata, Marquel Curtis, Kyle Washington of BSM, and Hopkins seniors Joe Coleman and Marvin Singleton as well as junior guard Siyani Chambers.
Fall League Notes
• Not to many players were more versatile in this league than Marquel Curtis. The young man moved to one end of the floor and played point, came back to guard a post, moved the other way on the wing and grabbed an o-board over a Red Knight big, and then came back the other way defending the off-guard. And he did all of it well. How many guys in this state can do that? Curtis plays with such a hunger for results as he seems to want more out of the game than most. At one point he aggressively went after a board and his head was at the same level as a 6-foot-6 opponent. It was amazing to see him rip the board away and fall to the ground later. It left a viewing coach saying, "Was that really Marquel grabbing the board?" Armstrong defeated Benilde-St. Margaret's 74-63. They closed out their day defeating St. Louis Park 72-66 in OT.
• Curtis will have help from K.J. Bluford. The Armstrong wing was getting up and down at a high level yesterday finishing explosively at the rim plus hitting that trademark floating/feet fluttering jumper on the move.
• Kyle Washington continues to open eyes. He's doing so many things well that it's hard to believe this is the same player as what he showed early in the summer. Yesterday he picked a guard's pocket at the top of the key and took the ball coast to coast for a finish. He hit medium range jumpers, consistently blocked shots high above the glass, grabbed around 8-10 boards, and is still making that jumphook. The next question towards sure fire high major ability for this rare athletic 6-foot-8 frontcourt player is consistency but he's been consistent all through fall league. Top five prospect in the state? No question. Even higher than that? It's looking like it.
• Isaiah Zierden was of course nailing treys yesterday but he also seemed to make a concentrated effort to attack the rim and he did it with success. On ball rotations the opposing defense couldn't close out in time and they were left with a streak of pink Nikes going by for production. When the Red Knights defeated Waconia, Zierden and Washington did a lot of scoring and then it was a seven point scoring burst from newcomer Isaiah Gray that put the game in double figures for good.
• Osseo is going to be a force this season. Terez Van Pelt has this team playing at a much faster pace so any mistake an opponent makes is going to result in a two point differential. Yesterday against Henry Sibley the Osseo halfcourt offense looked strong as well. They turned a tie game into a double figure differential with Jerrod Berven, Joey Sonnenfeld, and Ian Thiesen moving the ball to each other cutting off the post.
• Thiesen, a 6-foot-9 freshman, is a bad boy. The young man is physical, strong, skilled, intelligent on the low block, and he does it with purpose. Opposition in the Northwest Suburban better get ready for four years of pain down low because Thiesen has the making of a special low block power forward who plays with a nasty aggressive streak (not dirty) that his coaches will love.
• Every time you looked over at Eric Robertson yesterday he was hitting threes or slamming strong at the rim. With his flowing blonde hair he looks like Dirk hitting threes but going at the rack he was slamming like Chris Anderson (without the crazy). Not only was Robertson putting up numbers but he also looks like he's grown another inch. Wayzata lost a good game to Mark Blacklock and Winona in overtime 65-64.
• Don't look now but Ben Kortem of Waconia may still be hitting treys in the back Tonka gym. He rattled off three quick ones in their game with Benilde-St. Margaret's yesterday and then used that rhythm to keep hitting shots until Minnesota Preps left the gymnasium.
• Minnesota Transitions beat Apple Valley 85-68 and they did it convincingly. The Wolves have a great one-two punch in Kyle Noreen and Rodney Owens (who is quickly moving up the prospect list of shooting guards) but option three in Devonte Harvey is pretty good too. The long haired wing gets up and down with the MTS Wolves quick breaking attack very well scoring at the rim and hitting from mid-range. Tyus Jones had 28 in the loss.
• The thing about Hopkins in this league is that they blew everybody out so bad that it just became more fun to watch other games that were more competitive. The sequence went like this: Siyani leads a focused warm-up, Hopkins gets tip, Chambers runs quality halfcourt set and Marvin scores inside. Royals get back, play great defense, force turnover, and Coleman gets ball on the break and dunks on four opponents, two teammates, the referee, and the little kid running on the baseline ALL AT THE SAME TIME. They get the lead and it's a 20-2 and then people look at other games because they know this is a blowout. That's pretty much how it went this past month.
• While Coleman's dunks have been the nastiest, C.J. Neuman put one down in traffic yesterday that had both sides of the gym staring and pointing. It was done with such force that you could hear the rim get smashed on in the hallway. Neuman led the Raiders to a pair of convincing wins yesterday.
• Orono got down 16-0 against Minnetonka but fought back for a five point win playing strong defense and unselfish team basketball from all five spots on the floor. They are definitely going to be a strong, versatile team again this season.
• Whose name besides Kyle Washington have you heard almost too much this fall? Joel Awich from Tartan but what can I say, he's eared the respect. The 6-foot-6 pogo stick was at it again yesterday against Holy Angels (who has some young and talented kids to watch out for) bouncing around the gym for swats, two handed clearing boards, jumphooks, and one nasty two handed alley-oop slam. Tartan defeated the Stars 53-51 on a Darrion Strong score in overtime.
• Is there a better student manager in the state than Henry Sibley's Isaac Wenzel? This young man loves the game and is intelligent enough on the sidelines to coach the varsity group in fall league despite being a junior! Can you pay high school kids to assistant coach at their high school? Maybe they should!
• Speaking of Sibley, don't count them out. They played without Dante Grant yesterday, a sprained foot is holding him back, but still hung with Osseo (although Cretin-Derham Hall hammered them 56-35). Grant, Jake Golburg, Bobby Wills, and Chris Bultena will keep them amongst the top three teams in the Classic Suburban. Plus there will be the return of Brett Ward. This is a kid who didn't even go out for the team last year but yesterday was Sibley's most agile scorer beating Osseo defenders to the rack for buckets.
• Minnetonka defeated Holy Angels 68-67 in the final game of the day led by Tommy McDermott's 32 points. McDermott had a late second half run of ten straight points that were all scored on Kobe Bryant like dribble attack pull-ups from 16 to 19 feet.