When it comes to the Fall Leagues the top competition is usually at Minnetonka starting the last week of October and heading into November. Teams such as Hopkins, Minnetonka, Henry Sibley, Tartan, Columbia Heights, Waconia, Mounds View, Osseo, Orono, and Duluth East are amongst the combatants this season.
Yesterday before I joined the rest of the American sports world in watching Brett Favre pick apart the Green Bay defense and Jared Allen elevate his Packer sack total to 7.5 on the season, I traveled to Tonka for some fall league action.
Notes from the First of November
• Alec Brown and Winona got the best of Shelby Moats and Waconia 51-44 when the bigs led their teams yesterday morning. Both played well. The top Alec Brown highlight was watching him bump Moats off a board, catch the ball with two hands, establish quick position, and then sink a contested short hook. For Moats it was seeing the 6-foot-8 power forward out run the defense in transition to catch a tough pass on the move and finish in stride.
• Impressed by the improvements in both Joe Coleman's jumper and Marvin Singleton's ball skills. Coleman's release again looks much better (and the lift is outstanding) and Singleton has added a lot of skill to his game. Do we have another Raymond Cowels progression on our hands?
• Cole Stefan looks to be in fantastic condition. He looks much more defined throughout his body and Cole is showing a lot more agility than I have seen in the past. Stefan was playing above the rim on drives, fast break situations, and on the glass. He also made a beautiful no look pass off the bounce that went threw the lane like a Johan Santana fastball. Also produced a pretty reverse lay-in.
• Tor Anderson could be one of the better defenders in Minnesota. He sits down extremely low, plays with good intensity, and is a smart position defender.
• Wayzata played Tonka within ten points for much of the game until Nick Latzke put in work scoring on a couple cuts, with a putback, and on the fast break. His eight point Tonka run made a seven point game a 14-point contest. Tonka won 85-69.
• Mike Rostampour came late but after he got into the game his intensity, defense, and rebounding helped lead Sibley to the victory over Orono. The most impressive part of Rostampour's game was his perimeter defense on Jordan Smith. There were no stat totals but I would venture to guess that Mike held the Orono star to single digits or close to it as Rostampour's lateral movement, size, and physical nature just didn't allow Smith to get open looks or get past him for production on the drive. We can't forget to mention that players can't foul out of these games (they can be ejected with two technicals though) and Mike had an estimated ten fouls while not even showing up until five minutes after the tip-off.
• Jake Kreuser is dealing with an injured leg but still blocked five shots (three of them were closing out on perimeter jumpers) and scored five field goals down the stretch as Sibley came back from 18 down to defeat Orono. Kreuser is taking his official visit to Saint Louis next weekend. Meanwhile, Lafayette is all over him right now recruiting him as hard as one can go after somebody.
• Park Center is going to be a real pain next season to deal with. They defeated Columbia Heights yesterday (The Hylanders played the last 11 minutes with four guys and actually played better team ball with four guys for a little while) with a combination of athletic ability and size. Justin Casey brought the intensity scoring several baskets improving his perimeter game. Terez Vanpelt was also impressive with his crafty scoring ability. Facing some tough Heights defenders Vanpelt used his quick handles to get to the lane and score with acrobatic lay-ins and some teardrops. The Pirates also had players whose names we will have to record with 100 percent accuracy at a later date. But they showed a level of athletic ability and explosiveness with five different guys that some may not know they have.
• You have to give some of the Columbia Heights players some credit. Guys like Andrew Hansen and Markus Shaw really fought hard to stay with Park Center despite the fact that they were playing down a man for the last eleven minutes. Shaw had a pair of eye-opening jams giving everybody a preview to the explosion he may provide through the winter.
• Orono has several quality shooters and it's more than Jordan Smith (who scored 22 a game last year). In addition to Smith, guys like Jeremy Borg, Brady Wohler, Chase Myhran, and Daniel Drew should give Orono several experienced options. Growth from these players is big because it won't allow defenses to completely key in on Smith's shooting ability.
• Park Center beat Columbia Heights 82-76.
• Sibley beat Orono 68-65 and in the last 15-20 seconds Orono had the ball but couldn't get a shot off. Rostampour specifically plus a pair of Sibley wings played outstanding perimeter defense not allowing the Spartans to get a look and eventually they turned the ball over just before the buzzer,