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Posted On: 05/12/18 4:37 PM
At Wayzata High School Saturday morning 17U play opened up at the Battle at the Lakes. A packed gym for D1 Minnesota, standout performances from North and South Dakota, and a strong showing from Tommy Chatman Jr highlighted.
The North Dakota Phenom entered the event with a 3-5 record, and only six players. The Wisconsin Crusaders showed up with their full roster, a major size advantage, and college coaches from six Northern Sun schools watching their players. Seemed like a no brainer win for the Crusaders, right? You would be greatly mistaken.
By now you’ve heard a lot about Bishop Ryan guard Ben Bohl, and rightfully so. But next to him making a run to the Class B state championship game in North Dakota was Mason Hedberg, another guard who put up big numbers for Bishop Ryan. Hedberg, a 6-foot-1 guard, competed with the type of mental approach that a player needs to win in a big event like this: confident and tough. The Wisconsin kids tried to pressure Hedberg but turnovers were limited. The Crusader players verbally challenged him to shoot from the arc, and Mason knocked down three triples. Then when the Crusaders attempted a late comeback Hedberg put the game away at the foul line. Hedberg scored 16 points in all but it was his approach in leading his team to the next round that set Mason apart.
Hedberg had a lot of help in the Phenom 60-55 victory. Six-foot-3 wing Kiir Mabor from Fargo South gave the Phenom an athletic edge running the floor for transition scores and the Crusaders weren’t able to get a hit on Mabor when shots went up. Mabor also hit a three as he provided an athletic element that the Wisconsin team couldn’t match. Another key piece to the Phenom win was St. Mary’s shooter Ben Schmidt. Ben produced four first half threes giving the Phenom the early cushion needed to build confidence for this victory.
North Dakota basketball the respect of Wisconsin quickly at the Battle at the Lakes.
With the Battle at the Lakes being in the Twin Cities and the D1 Minnesota 17 and Under squad having arguably six of the top seven prospects in the state of Minnesota’s senior class including national standout Matthew Hurt as well as the top player from Iowa (Pat McCaffery) a big crowd was expected. What wasn’t expected was fans lining the baselines six deep, fans overflowing the door way, and overcrowding the few available seats plus getting in the way of the competition being held on the adjoining floor. All to get a view of Hurt, McCaffery, Tyrell Terry, Zeke Nnaji, Robert Jones, Tyler Wahl, and more.
The game wasn’t close. Zeke Nnaji rolled off screens, faced up and made moves, put shots back, and moved off the ball to catch and finish for his game high 22 points. Matthew Hurt scored 18 points on nine shots and Patrick McCaffery produced a dozen with his father – Iowa Head Coach Fran McCaffrey – looking on.
Fans didn’t pack the stands to watch a close game. They packed the stands to get their first look at one of the top collections of talent in the country. D1 Minnesota put on a great show and the first impression part of the weekend is now over. At 5:10 this evening D1 Minnesota takes on SE Minnesota Lightning, the 8th ranked team in the state of Minnesota. From there assuming a D1 Minnesota victory they would face Mentality Minnesota or All Iowa Attack at 8″25 this evening in the Sweet 16 round.
Ale Rama Breaks Out
South Dakota basketball fans are familiar with Ale Rama, the 6-foot-1 guard that led his Red Cloud team to the state tournament. But, did they know that Rama could put forth an outstanding performance against the 6th ranked team in Minnesota (Comets K)? And did they know that Rama is the type of student athlete – he’s not only a top player but a great student as well – that would draw college coaches from Northern State and Sioux Falls to his games?
The first Rama basket was a dribble separation attack shifting his defender to the left and the Rama going right and making a touched on basket before the contesting defender could contest. It was 100 percent reminiscent of a South Dakota version of Andre Miller’s favorite attack move. Is Rama a future pro? Hold on now people, we are just saying he made a couple moves like Miller. But from there Rama showed off that beautiful touch with his feet set making a couple threes. The Comets couldn’t turn Rama over, they couldn’t make him uncomfortable in his attack, and overall the Minnesota team watched a talented guard from South Dakota pick them apart for a 60-52 victory where Ale picked them apart for 11 of 16 shooting and 26 points.
TC The Pirate
Park Center guard Tommy Chatman Jr plays for both the Park Center Pirates and the Twin Cities Pirates. And Saturday afternoon Chatman plundered the Iowa Pump N Run like a true Pirate would for 23 points on 9 of 15 shooting.
Tommy Chatman Jr is one of the most talented players in the state of Minnesota that colleges need to be more aware of. In the first half he wore a trail in the Wayzata hard wood scoring 12 points constantly using his smooth attack to attack from the wing to the front of the rim. The TC Pirates built a big first half lead and it was Chatman recognized a defensive breakdown and smoothly bursting into space for production. The Pirates have talent, and the Battle at the Lakes may be the perfect platform for Chatman to earn some of that deserved recognition.
Battle at the Lakes Bits
Comets K was without two of their best players – Michael Ziermann and Cade Goggleye – and they weren’t able to slow Rama at all. It was a tough loss, but there was some key things noticed in this loss. First off, even on a tough day shooting Nick Schaefer made four threes proving he is always a threat no matter what he did on his previous shot. And Drew Gustafson of Kimball Area scored 14 including four threes plus Drew had a team high in boards and he fought hard defensively.