ECI Spring Preview: Top Performers

Grassroots
Dakotas

Posted On: 05/22/18 11:51 AM

This past weekend in Fargo at the ECI Spring Preview, the ECI Prospects won the 17u level of play while the 16U level was won by The Alliance.  PHD runs you through some of the top weekend performers.

ECI Goes 4-0

The ECI 17u squad started the year off well in the Comets Shootout but ran into a tough first weekend of SPTS play in early May.  The team needed a strong weekend in their own event and that’s exactly what happened with four wins including victories over North Dakota Attack and ECI Selects. There were several standouts for ECI who defended well all weekend and shared the ball with balanced efforts, but here are some of the top performances.

Maleeck Harden of Moorhead High School in Minnesota continues to give ECI a different element of production.  Harden stands a long 6-foot-5 with the skills of a wing but the physical gifts of a player that can make plays everywhere on the court.  Harden’s ability to cover ground and make plays in space that others can’t get to separated him throughout the weekend. Harden finished about the rim making plays before opponents could rotate to him or get off the ground to contest him.  Maleeck collected rebounds off the rim in space that other players weren’t able to lift quick enough off the ground to get to, and his length blocked shots in help or against his own man.  Harden is a top 25 level player prospect in the state of Minnesota’s 2019 class, if not higher.

The playmaker for ECI this weekend was Christian Kuntz, a 6-foot-1 guard out of West Fargo Sheyenne who had a wonderful junior season.  Kuntz had the ball in his hands a lot for ECI and opposing defenses consistently weren’t able to keep him in front.  When the defense took a step back or got lost in separation Kuntz shot a high percentage from the arc.  When defenders tried to body Christian the Sheyenne guard took their contact and finished through it often adding a free throw make to top off the play.  Defensively Christian sabotaged many opposing possessions using quick hands to take the ball or jumping passing lanes for transition chances.

The guy who continues to grab our attention as an up and coming North Dakota prospect is Mason Walters out of Jamestown.  At 6-foot-6 Walters is the top low post option for ECI and this weekend nobody could stop him from catching and completing his move on balance with a nice touch.  Teams tried to make Walters uncomfortable on the block and when they did, he still scored but often they couldn’t get him off balance.  Walters also shot the ball well facing the basket from around 12 feet.

16u State Champion

Heading into the weekend the talk of the ECI Spring Preview was how all six of the 16u teams in North Dakota were playing this weekend and out of this event we would get a true state champion.  Who is the best in the state?  The Alliance earned their way to the championship where they defeated the top ECI squad for the weekend crown.

This weekend The Alliance was the poster child for balance.  Everybody on their roster contributed and at some point everybody on their roster had a big game among the four they played.  Tyler Terhark, a 6-foot-2 guard from WF Sheyenne, was often times the team’s most dangerous player.  Terhark had 23 in the team’s second contest while also moving the ball to open up others and collecting several boards.  Terhark scored 17 in the Sunday morning contest and then went for double figures in the final while dishing out five assists.  This weekend Terhark was the definition of a playmaker and likely would step forward to grab the 16U MVP.

The balance of The Alliance was key.  Cam Van Dam of Fargo Davies, a 6-foot-6 big, had a pair of double-doubles this weekend play a 15 point performance in the paint in the championship.  ECI could not consistently match size and production with Van Dam.  When Van Dam wasn’t latching on to low post production his high school teammate Nate Hensel, who stands 6-foot-7, was.  Hensel Had a couple near double-double performances and then another Davies player Ty Satter did some of everything no matter where he was put on the floor.  Drew Hagen of Moorhead, Minnesota had some key moments as did another Davies sophomore Grayson Haman.

More Wins Than Anyone

At 16-6 on the season the ECI Selects crew has more wins than any other PHD area team, and it’s not even close.  Selects lost to the Prospects in a tough one but as they have done for all 22 games this year, the ECI Selects group competed as hard as anyone. Braeton Motschenbacher spent the winter leading a team that wins with point production and he’s now doing that consistently with ECI as well.  Braeton was ECI Select’s most consistent threat game to game and he really shot the ball well at the arc.

Then you have Bryce Auck, not a house hold name but a guy from Bismarck Century that knows how to play.  At 6-foot-1 Auck earned the respect of many this weekend the way he sat down in a stance and hounded players everywhere on the floor.  Full court pressure Bryce was there.  Turning the primary ball handler Bryce was there.  Picking players up after screens Bryce was always there.  Auck brought the intensity on defense plus he made a few long range shots as well.

Spring Preview Notes

North Dakota Attack guard Trey Wiest had a fantastic weekend for the North Dakota Attack 17u squad that went 2-2.  Opened the weekend with five threes made in the first game and then stepped up for a near point/assist double-double in the second contest putting up 15/9.  Wiest was the only Attack player that had a solid game in a tough loss to ECI and then Trey rounded out the weekend with 13 points against West Central Wildcats.

  • ECI Prospects backcourt duo Brady Dvorak (GFRR) and Griffin Jensen (Bismarck Century) have made for a great defensive duo that also does the job creating for their offense.
  • One of the top performances of the weekend was Dalton Albrecht putting up 28 points and 14 rebounds in the win over Earnest Elite.
  • WF Sheyenne 6-foot-3 Blake Berg settled into a nice role as the main ECI scoring threat game to game at the 16s level.
  • Six-foot-5 post Blake Matejcek of Whapeton has a nice combination of touch and aggressive approach when he gets touches for ECI Select.  Impressive weekend both ways.
  • Ben Bohl averaged 17 points for North Dakota Attack in their four games this weekend.
  • Did anybody work harder than Jaiden Wright of Dickinson?  This spitfire is 5-foot-11 and takes every play as a personal fight.
  • Minot guard Jaxon Gunville had back to back 28 point games for North Dakota Attack on Saturday.