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Posted On: 03/10/18 11:40 AM
A hop, skip and a jump across the road and all of a sudden I find myself at Osseo Senior High for a pair of AAAA semifinals between west metro squads. I ran a little late due to an ATM fiasco but the excitement in the gym only increased once I got there; take that however you please. Let’s run through the games and players who caught my eye:
Unfortunately I missed most of the first half in this one but the gist was clear: Greg Miller and his Falcons were not going down without a fight. The fearless attacks of Jack Breitbach kept Armstrong within 29-25 at halftime. The gameplan of making Hopkins work on defense and force them into quick shots on offense worked well. Armstrong used that momentum into the second frame for a 9-0 run to take a five-point lead, but the athleticism of Hopkins guards Anthony Davis and Blaise Beauchamp was too much to handle. They forced multiple turnovers on the perimeter for fast break layups and finished off the game 66-51 despite Zeke Nnaji sitting the second half with an ankle injury.
Blaise Beauchamp (PG, 6-0, So., Hopkins) – I’ve become a fan of his game and how he can slip through gaps in defenses for midrange looks. Armstrong was in some halfcourt zone trap most of the game but Blaise made good decisions with the ball and made some great passes in the lane to his bigs for finishes. Had 13 of his own as well.
Dane Zimmer (PF, 6-6, Jr., Hopkins) – First time I saw Dane was about a year ago at the Stock Up Showcase and the NHR staff was very impressed; he’s earned a prized rotation spot with the Royals and makes the most of it. He’s versatile enough to play with his back to the basket or work from the perimeter when Hopkins plays him and Nnaji and Hedstrom all together. Dane had 10 points and a handful of rebounds. This grassroots season will be huge for him.
Jake Breitbach (PG, 6-0, So., Armstrong) – A big spark for the Falcons this year helping take the reins for an inexperienced rotation, Breitbach looked very comfortable going against the intimidating size of Hopkins last night. He slashed for a team-high 15 points and was the key contributor to a slowdown, 5-out cutting offensive scheme that Armstrong employed to compete in the game. He’ll be a fun player to watch develop over the years.
Tyler Peterson (C, 6-5, Jr., Armstrong) – Another guy who wasn’t afraid of the moment, Peterson worked harder than just about anyone on the glass and on loose balls, picking up a few putbacks and saving some extra possessions for Armstrong while giving up five inches and a lot of big game experience. He fought Hedstrom 110 percent all the way through and flashed some really nice footwork in the post.
No doubt this was expected to be a fun game after StLP won the last meeting by just three points a couple months ago, and fun it was. Oriole lead guard Cire Mayfield, coming off a 30-ball in the quarterfinal, picked up a couple fouls early that forced him to play the offense/defense sub game, but the StLP bench played well enough to stick around, containing Wayzata’s great guard play and trailing 27-25 at half. Back and forth we went most of the second half, until a five-point lead was cut to three by an Oriole layup at 47 seconds. Then Wayzata’s excellent ball movement led to a Jacob Beeninga corner bomb to seal it. Trojans prevailed 66-59.
Jacob Beeninga (PG, 6-0, Jr., Wayzata) – Jacob’s an explosive player, hands down. He has a great separation ability from the top and his first step gets him to the rim easily. 15 points for him on the night and none bigger than the dagger trey with 20 seconds remaining. As a junior he leads this Trojan group like he’s been a four-year starter already. One of the more dangerous heat-check guys around.
Kody Williams (PG, 5-11, Fr., Wayzata) – A physical specimen running the primary guard spot off the bench for Wayzata, Kody has matured a lot mentally over the year and become a very smart offensive player. I watched him last summer and his creativity and vision with the ball has immensely improved; it used to be “take the ball and bully into the lane” but now it’s “patient and decisive and finish high and strong”. 16 points on great cuts and drives to keep Wayzata in the lead most of the way. Huge performance from the young gun.
Keaton Heide (SF, 6-3, Jr., Wayzata) – A quiet breakout player last summer who I never really watched closely. I was impressed with his length guarding some of the Oriole forwards and he knocked down a couple big three-pointers as well. He’s a worker and Wayzata has a great luxury with him as an elite fourth or fifth option.
Cire Mayfield (PG, 6-0, Sr., St. Louis Park) – Foul trouble kept him from being as aggressive on both ends as he usually is, but Mayfield scored 13 well-earned points with multiple college coaches in the building to watch him. Cire is one of the quickest guards I’ve ever seen at the high school level and had a great career as an Oriole. His finishing around the rim and open-floor potential were always exciting to watch.
Hopkins and Wayzata will face off in the Section 6AAAA championship game on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at Osseo High School.