Posted On: 04/30/18 11:45 AM
The end to an excellent weekend of Proving Grounds play came Sunday afternoon when the Kansas City Spurs earned a second open period championship with a hard-fought 51-45 win over the Minnesota Fury.
Back 2 Back
For the second weekend in a row the Kansas City Spurs won a championship, collected championship items, posed for pictures, and made the dive back to Kansas City proud that their team played team basketball better than any other team in the event they attended. Last weekend it was the Midwest Live event in Omaha, this weekend it was the Proving Grounds in the Twin Cities.
Six-foot-0 point guard Mikel Henderson of the Spurs made every guard he faced on Sunday uncomfortable. Mikel turned ball handlers, he forced their initial entry into high spots on the floor, and instantly made the opposing have trouble with continuity. Active hands, deflections, and lateral harassment were all a part of his defensive dominance especially in the semi-finals and finals. Not to mention offensively the Spurs turned every RAW Athletics and Minnesota Fury turnover into a KC Spurs open floor opportunity. Henderson did the job of pushing as deep into the defense as he could and then followed that with efficient decisions. Scoring isn’t the first thing you think of with Mikel but in all games we saw he was one of the top two scorers for his team. In the games that we saw, Henderson was the best in show which is why he was our choice for the 17u Proving Grounds MVP.
Mikel certainly had running mates though as this weekend championship was a complete team effort. Henderson and fellow guard Keyon Thomas seemed to be out in lanes producing in 3 on 2s, 2 on 1s, and 3 on 1s all weekend long. The Spurs defense created the issues and these two were the skilled finishers. Thomas led the Spurs in scoring in three of their last four bracket games. In the title game 6-foot-8 center Siler Tschirhart grabbed a team high seven rebounds and 6-foot-5 forward Spencer Jones was outstanding in the high post moving the ball, using a dribble to attack and grown contact, as well as step out and hit a three.
One of the more intriguing Spurs prospects is 6-foot-6 forward Dalen Ridgnal of Rockhurst out of Kansas City. The length of Ridgnal was a constant problem for teams because Dalen would extend defensively getting deflections and bothering opponents into passes in bad positions. Dalen’s helpside defense usually consistent of a high flying small airplane swooping in on an attack and sending the shot into random directions. He nearly had a double-double against one of the best bigs in the event Saturday night and was a defensive pest in the championship game. Ridgnal has physical gifts that few others have so it will be interesting to see how he develops going forward.
Charles in Charge
Six-foot-5 Charles Katona of Shakopee had a solid weekend playing point guard for Fury Zurn and doing some of everything. Katona, a sophomore that averaged 19.1 points and 7.8 rebounds a game this winter, had schools like North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, and for one game Iowa State was in the crowd watching Katona and his Fury teammates. It was a good weekend but Katona really stepped forward to take complete control of the 16u championship game.
Charles opened the game catching in the post twice and turning over his left shoulder and using his right hand to score. Katona followed that with a fast break basket crossing the retreating defender and finishing with a left hand touch off the glass. Moments later Katona was in the open floor throwing down a dunk, and then finished the half with an 18-foot jumper. Charles scored twice more in post-up situations and then completed the game with right side attacks for baskets.
In all Katona scored on 9 of 11 field goal attempts and made both free throws for his game high 20 points with four rebounds and four assists. Fury Zurn improved to 15-1 on the season winning their second weekend championship of the spring. Brady Williams also played a key part in the title game with 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists showing his range again with two long perimeter jumpers plus basket cutting for results. Another key piece to the Fury championship was….
No Minnesota Steele is not a new AAU program, it’s in reference to Cameron Steele, the 6-foot-8 power forward of the Minnesota Fury Zurn program. Cameron opened his game with several passes out of the post that became Fury scores. Steele hit cutters and sent skips for scores and attempts. Steele scored 17 points in the game putting together physical scores inside, three foul shots, and of course that confident perimeter touch.
Cameron put together a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds physically moving Omaha Crusaders players and dominating the defensive glass. Cameron also put the game away making six of his last seven shots. Steele plays physically, has good size, is one of the more confident shooters you will find in the 2020 class, and is looking more and more like a scholarship level player.
The Story of the Weekend
This is the second weekend that the Southeast Minnesota Lightning has played as they went 3-2 in St. Cloud before losing to Fury Wilde. This weekend though, the late game heroics and the impressive performances against good teams is what caught everyone’s attention. Sam Holtz of St. Charles was consistent, Ethan Matzke of Spring Grove was a consistent rebounder and was relied on four points, Adam Leary of Rochester Mayo is looking to be a much better shooter, Drew Leistikow of St. Charles was one of the top one or two scores, and Dylan Miller of Mason City had several clutch performances.
The Lightning finished as semi-finalists and several guys made names for themselves. Perhaps the most interesting prospect of all was 6-foot-7 Mason City, Iowa wing Jarvorius Toney who is listed on his high school roster as a point guard who led his team in assists. Toney seemed to do something the crowd didn’t expect each game. His handles are quite strong for a player his size, the jumper looks good with some range to it, and Jarvorius is also a very long athlete with quick springs and athletic gifts most others don’t have. In the semi-final against the Fury, the Mason City wing had two nasty throw downs in the open floor and Toney led the Lightning over the Blizzard in the quarters with a dominating 14 point second half.
With Jacob Beeninga barely playing in the final game because of an ankle injury and Charlie Gorres dealing with a banged knee at a few points the Fury needed a guy to step up and Regan Tollefson did just that. The Chanhassen leading scorer had an excellent weekend becoming more assertive with his offense game to game scoring at the arc, using a dribble, and getting himself some active off ball scores as well. At 6-foot-5 it was a very good weekend for Tollefson who played in front of several area coaches all weekend.
Raw Athletics had a strong weekend in the Twin Cities finishing int he Final Four of the 17u division winning four games. Ishmael Martin grabbed our attention early but then dealt with some injury problems but from there Ronald Williams stepped up to handle and play with intensity as did Antoine Palmer who had a game winning assists in the quarters. Inside Malcolm Bell was one of the most active players in the paint we saw all weekend.