Posted On: 12/23/17 11:27 PM
I made the jog down to Augsburg for day 2 of their holiday tournament on Friday, able to catch a few second round games. In between trading “Major League” one-liners with the TC Hoops Czar, I managed to gain some knowledge on a few teams I hadn’t seen before. Here’s the take for Mayer Lutheran’s 63-55 victory over Minneapolis Southwest.
1. Southwest surprise step-ups. The Lakers were without star Niko Polydorou once again, a guy that carries the scoring load most nights. With Polydorou sitting, a few lengthy forwards rose to the occasion. That included Alex Fischer, who chipped in 18 points on elbow jumpers and offensive rebounds, and Treavon Nystrom, knocking down jump hooks for 14 of his own. Those two kept the Lakers in the game most of the way, giving effort to not let the deficit get too far out of reach.
2. Crusader depth. Mayer Lutheran dresses 10 guys. All 10 play real minutes. Coach Pat Buchanan has the trust in his bench to sub hockey-style every once in a while; the game didn’t flip upside down when the starters came out of the game. That’s a huge advantage for the Crusaders, especially come playoff time in Class A. Those names don’t get thrown around often, but here are a few: Brendan Feltmann, Sawyer Kubasch, Kaleb Winter.
3. Talent head and shoulders above most. You don’t often find a Big 3 in Class A ball that can translate to college hoops. Mayer Lutheran has that exact thing in the trio of Kobey Woolhouse, Garrett Tjernagel and Baden Noenning. Woolhouse is a physical, tall, pace-pushing driver of a senior guard, his classmate Tjernagel is an active rim protector and rebounder and Noenning (a junior) has the silky-smooth handles and shooting touch at 6-3, displayed in his 16-point performance. All these guys have at least competitive Division 3 potential.
4. JayZee! I liked the way Southwest point guard JayZee Brown attacked the basket all game. He’s the pesty type, a waterbug with a decent floater game and range from deep. I can’t say I’m the most cultured rap aficionado in the biz though, so there’s no ability to wordplay on any Jay-Z lyric. I digress. Brown was just really fun to watch on Friday.
5. What’s next? Mayer Lutheran is a really good team, better than most are giving credit for. They scored a steady win over a AAAA school, that’s impressive in and of itself. The Crusaders lost the 5th place game at Augsburg to St. Paul Johnson, currently setting their record at 6-2. A win over Maranatha stands out on their résumé. The Minnesota River Conference isn’t especially strong this year so they could make some more noise there and then in the Section 2A tournament.
Southwest has a pretty rugged non-con slate that spreads out into February, while competing in the Minneapolis City at the same time. I see them probably coming close to middling out their 3-6 record by the end of the season. If Niko Polydorou returns quickly, that likely adds a couple wins right away.