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Posted On: 03/12/18 10:16 PM
The back half of AA quarterfinals at STMA—of the section 5 variety—slated four teams that have had fantastic seasons. Brooklyn Center faced Southwest Christian while Holy Family took on Rockford. Here’s the rundown of games and standouts:
BC was up and at ’em out of the gates, especially Adreone Sprinkles—he hit two treys to open the game for the Centaurs. SW Christian sat 2-3 zone for a good amount of time to counter the BC length and athleticism but the score was 45-28 in favor of Brooklyn Center at halftime. The second half was about even as the Stars’ Max Steensland flashed some nice isolation play while Lu’Cye Patterson sped his way through waves of SW Christian defenders on fast breaks. BC prevailed 84-66 to reach the semifinal on Wednesday.
Lu’Cye Patterson (PG, 6-1, So., Brooklyn Center) – Patterson has always been the probing, methodical point guard type of player since he started playing varsity a couple years ago, but his game has expanded to be a threat not only by himself but by getting teammates set up easily. My favorite possessions to watch him on are when he flies for a rebound, sprints on the break and either finishes through a defender or fakes him out so bad that a lane-runner gets a wide open look. He still has two more years! Lu’Cye is taller and stronger than I last saw as well. An impressive 19/5/6 for him on Saturday.
Adreone Sprinkles (SF, 6-3, Jr., Brooklyn Center) – He’s taken leaps and bounds this season. An energetic slasher, Sprinkles has become more patient and focused than ever, using his balance and set feet to knock down perimeter shots and also taking what the defense is giving him to be successful. His 23 points were crucial in upping the Centaur lead throughout the first half. Watch out for him this summer and next season…
Amahn Decker (C, 6-4, So., Brooklyn Center) – An extremely solid frame gives the young Decker ability to bully down low against smaller teams, and bully he did against the Stars. 15 points and 12 rebounds for Decker doesn’t just show me his strength and touch, it shows me his effort and work ethic. Against a zone it’s easy to be complacent inside, but Amahn worked for position in short corners and blocks and positioned for offensive rebounds well. He’s another promising piece to this young BC lineup.
Max Steensland (SG, 6-0, Jr., SW Christian) – Small but shifty, Max is a knockdown shooter who has a knack for creating separation on the dribble into a shot. He tallied 16 points with two bombs. I like the pace he plays at with the ball in his hands.
The nightcap was grit ‘n’ grind for 36 minutes. Rockford is a young team with lots of talent on the wing while Holy Family is a high-scoring group of guards; the outcome was closer than I thought it would be. The Rockets went zone and forced HF into some ill-advised turnovers and shots in the first half, and Rockford’s Luke Pepin was fantastic in penetrating gaps for scoop layups and midrange jumpers giving his team a 31-22 lead at the break. Then Nathan Hendler went to work for the Fire. He had 15 second-half points to propel HF back to a tie game with a minute to go. A couple fouling mistakes gave Rockford opportunities to hit free throws and Hendler’s final heave came up short, giving the Rockets a 50-48 victory and ticket to the semifinals.
Luke Pepin (SF, 6-3, So., Rockford) – Ranked #125 in NHR’s 2020 list, I’m really excited to see Pepin become a dangerous scorer in the Wright County West conference. He’s got the physical tools and superb finishing ability around the rim, plus a capable shot from the outside. I have a feeling he’ll turn into a sought-after local prospect after his high school career. 15 points to lead the Rockets.
JJ Strumbel (PF, 6-6, Sr., Rockford) – Lanky and deceptively active as a rim protector. JJ can step out and shoot the three at a good rate, event through a good contesting defender. He scored nine points and was instrumental in the quick reversals which earned Rockford open driving lanes against bad closeouts. Will be a nice D3 player if he chooses to play hoops.
Nathan Hendler (SF, 6-4, Sr., Holy Family) – Tip of the cap to Nathan, whose career ended in a tough way on Saturday night, but his accomplishments are going to be long remembered. He’s the all-time leading scorer in Fire history and went out with a bang, putting in 27 points for his final game. His stroke is a thing of beauty, but his ability to take just about anyone to the rack off the bounce is something that has been overlooked in his game. A MIAC school will be lucky to get a class act and talent like him.
Lincoln Cizek (PG, 5-10, Sr., Holy Family) – My first time seeing Lincoln play was not as explosive as usual (he scored just three points) but I enjoyed watching him compete with bigger guys for rebounds. He pulled down six of them and led the break well for the Fire. A fun player to watch because of his unique size and build, you wouldn’t expect him to be a contributor but his competitive fire gives him that edge. Also, if I didn’t know his name, I’d say he and Orono’s Colton Codute are twins.
Brooklyn Center and Rockford will face off in the Section 5AA semifinals on Wednesday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Michael-Albertville High School.