Each fall college football analysts speak of "A Heisman Moment" on ESPN searching for the big plays that define a player and his season. Benilde-St. Margaret's shooting guard Isaiah Zierden may have given us one of his "Mr. Basketball Moments" last night when he ran a minute off the clock and calmly drained a contested pull-up trey before the halftime buzzer against the vaunted Hopkins defense.
In front of a packed house that included any local media member that matters in high school basketball, packed student sections, high school and AAU coaches from around the metro, Wisconsin Badgers standouts Mike Bruesewitz and Jordan Taylor (who was greeted warmly at his home school with requests for pictures, autographs, and interviews , plus chants of his name), and the one and only Michael J. Much, Benilde-St. Margaret's defeated Hopkins for the first time in who knows how long. How long has it been? Nobody dressed in red cheering for the Red Knights could even say how long it's been.
Northwestern signed Sanjay Lumpkin did his part totaling 22 points, eight rebounds, and three assists as the Royals had no player in their line-up (Zach Stahl is still not available for them) who could consistently compete with Lumpkin's combination of size and athletic ability. IPFW commit Will Dunn scored 17 points and Isaiah Gray constantly penetrated to score 11 points and dish out nine assists prompting one BSM student to say, "Isaiah Gray is the best passer on Earth". Gray may have a ways to go before he's the planet's best but he was the best creator for others on the court last night.
Then there was Zierden who didn't have an elite shooting night but he made all the clutch plays that high school stars make. Hopkins is known for their ball pressure and Siyani Chambers and his brother Kamali Chambers (who is just a sophomore but his defensive pressure really impressed) brought it at BSM at a high level. But Zierden was still able to weave through it with his dribble and then stretch to score finger rolls before the backside help was able to shift down and cut off his drive.
Last night in the game's most crucial moments, Isaiah was the best player on the floor. Late in the first half the score sat at 30-29 with the Red Knights ahead. Zierden scored one of his penetrating scoops, assisted on another bucket, and hit a huge trey to put BSM up 37-29. Then with 45 seconds on the clock Isaiah cleared the floor and ran off 29 seconds out-dribbling a Hopkins pressuring defender. He then set up in the corner and asked for a screen with 16 ticks remaining. The screen wasn't in the right spot so Isaiah said, "At the three point line" and the screener moved to the arc where Isaiah attacked rubbing his defender off the screen and dribbling to a clear space on the arc. A Hopkins defender remained in his grill but Isaiah used a dribble drive move to create space and then stepped back to hit a cool trey as the buzzer sounded. The Red Knights had a 43-31 halftime lead rolling into the locker room with confidence and a wild crowd cheering.
As the second half moved on, the Red Knight lead began to evaporate. BSM looked tired as they were basically playing five guys against an eight man continual Hopkins rotation. With eight minutes to go Hopkins took a one point lead and the teams went back and forth with Dunn and Lumpkin scoring for BSM and Siyani Chambers (15 points) and Demetrius Martin (22 points) producing for Hopkins.
Benilde-St. Margaret's will definitely remain the number one in the Minnesota Preps/Breakdown state rankings while Hopkins will likely drop below Eastview in Class AAAA as the Lightning beat BSM last weekend.