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Posted On: 03/12/18 5:09 PM
A big day of hoops at STMA took place on Saturday, full of competitive teams looking to advance in section 5AA. The series of four games went all day and Minneapolis North and Breck prevailed in the afternoon sessions. Here’s the rundown of the first two contests:
The top-seeded Polars started off a bit confused by the 2-3 zone that Litchfield employed early, but Odell Wilson IV didn’t seem to mind. He got the first three buckets and found a rhythm in the gaps of the interior defense. Dragon forward Owen Boerema and guard Alex Gruenke both hit some shots against the North halfcourt trap but then Tayler Johnson took over going into the break. He scored 15 of the Polars’ final 17 in the first half to create a 49-17 score. It was smooth sailing from there and North moves on to the semifinals with a 75-30 win.
Tayler Johnson (SG, 6-3, Sr., North) – Johnson got his share in this game (22 points, all in the first half) by sneaking to the backside of the Dragon zone and spotting up for three treys and cutting to the rim for six layups including a nasty fast-break oop. The UNI football commit has been an offensive Swiss Army knife for the Polars lately and that will be huge for them down the stretch.
Tre Holloman (SG, 6-0, 8th, North) – Confidence and swagger ooze from this kid’s persona. And he isn’t playing like a kid either; he’s a very long six feet tall and was a nightmare on the ball for Litchfield guards to move against. He scored his 13 points in the first 10 minutes of the game on a couple deep three-pointers and steals for layups the other way. I love his potential as a two-way player.
Zion Sanford (PG, 6-0, Sr., North) – Five points doesn’t usually get you recognized, but the other categories that Sanford thrived in definitely will. He snagged eight rebounds for North in the first half and also dished three assists while playing great defense on Gruenke.
Owen Boerema (SF, 6-4, Jr., Litchfield) – One of the more competitive guys I’ve seen this year. Owen is very lengthy and can handle the basketball well for his size, almost point forward-like. He had nine points and seven rebounds on the day and showed a smooth jumper and ability to slice between North athletes for chances at the rim. Will be a good player to watch for as a senior.
Alex Gruenke (PG, 6-1, Jr., Litchfield) – A good-sized lead guard for the Dragons, Gruenke has a feel for the game that meshes well with their Princeton chin-screen offense. He reads defenders well to choose a direction to receive the ball and scored nine points on those cuts. He and Boerema are key guys to lead Litchfield next year.
The battle of Mustangs in the 4/5 matchup was the best of the whole day. A close game throughout, both teams went on runs to get three-possession leads, but the talent and athleticism on each side evened out by the final buzzer. Maranatha led 38-37 at halftime thanks to an aggressive start from Beijan Newbern but it was David Roddy‘s versatility and role player help that won it for Breck on a game-winning layup with three seconds to go. Breck moves on 71-69 and will play North on Wednesday.
David Roddy (F, 6-6, Jr., Breck) – He was fantastic for every minute he was in the game. He sat the final eight minutes of the first half with two fouls but before that was already at 15 points, including a fantastic sequence of putbacks, a stepback corner trey and a standing dunk in traffic. In the second frame he was methodical and smart fighting double teams in the post and made the game-winning assist on a pick and roll—followed by a sealing block on a last-second heave. 24 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks on the day for Roddy with North Dakota assistant Steve Grabowski watching.
Joey Ganley (SG, 6-3, Jr., Breck) – The long wing had to take on some ballhandling duties in the first half with Roddy sitting and his effort was admirable. Scored 11 points inside and out and added four assists to his statline. He complements the Breck frontcourt well and can play positions 1-4.
Josh Roddy (SF, 6-3, Sr., Breck) – Josh is a great glue guy for Breck but that label doesn’t do him justice. His fierce nature and nose for the ball extended possessions for Breck and he had clutch free throws to rally from an eight-point deficit. A final line of 11 points and eight rebounds for the senior.
Beijan Newbern (SG, 6-4, Sr., Maranatha) – He wasn’t passing up his driving lanes in this game. Three and-1 plays in the first 10 minutes indicated that. He got to the line plenty to keep the pace how he wanted it. A 22-point performance and some huge momentum-swinging charges for Beijan on the day. He’s going to be a great offensive weapon wherever he lands next year; congratulations on a great high school career!
Clarence Daniels (PF, 6-4, Jr., Maranatha) – What an athlete. Clarence was all over the glass and did it with selfless effort all game, tallying 12 points and 11 rebounds. His motor is one of the best i’ve seen all season and 6-foot-4 means very little for a center who crashes the boards like he does.
Minneapolis North and Breck will face off in the Section 5AA semifinals on Wednesday, March 14 at 6 p.m. at St. Michael-Albertville High School.