Posted On: 06/29/18 10:11 PM

The Great Plains Alliance continued on today with 14 of the 16 NSIC schools watching and all of the MIAC looking in.  What did they see? We break down the top performers now.

Furious Defense

Jacob Beeninga

A match-up of two top ten teams in the state highlighted the 17u Sweet 16 round.  The Minnesota Fury Wilde team took on Minnesota Heat Nelson.  It was a great opportunity to see guards Sam Nissen and Jacob Beeninga go against Ricky Eason and Jared Rainey of the Heat.  The team defense of the Fury earned themselves a 20 point victory.

Sam Nissen scored 16 points including four threes while Jacob Beeninga had 10 points and seven rebounds.  Both played well offensively but it was the defense they gave the Fury that was a big difference maker.  With the Fury you know the help defense is going to be in the right spot so the focus is on forcing some touches in bad spots and forcing the opponent into that help.  Jacob and Sam did a fantastic job of those and limited both Rainey and Eason to single digit numbers.

Andy Stafford of Hopkins then gave the Fury a big lift by hitting two early three-pointers and slashing his way to the rim for a total of 13 points.  Andy has settled in well with the Fury becoming an improved defender and working off the ball to receive scoring chances.  As confidence his built in him from his teammates, Andy has been able to take a few more jumpers each game and the results have been positive.

Add in the four scores from Charlie Gorres, the nine rebounds from Dane Zimmer, and the hustle plays from Isaiah Watts and this was a great victory for the Fury Wilde team.

The Winona Duo

Jake Reeck

Bradley Winter and Jake Reeck are the type of inside-out combination that should win a lot of games in the Big Nine.  Both play for Minnesota Select and both had excellent games in a 82-71 win over North Dakota Attack.

Winter is 6-foot-6 and has been one of the surprises of the 17u season.  He can at times give you flashy with a physical two hand dunk but most of his production comes with consistent effort around the rim.  Brad faced one of the best frontcourt players in North Dakota and was able to score on 7 of 11 field goal attempts for 14 points with seven rebounds.

Reeck is a game changer with his beautiful shooting touch.  Jake made his first five shots of the game against the Attack and they were key momentum wise because four were from behind the arc.  Everybody is looking for a three-point weapon that can turn a game and that is exactly what Jake did on Friday evening.  Reeck’s final tally was 22 points on only ten field goal attempts.

Mr. Clutch

Jake Kettner of Minnesota Valley Lutheran and D1 Minnesota Rise is on the verge a lot of opportunity.   Schools like U of Mary, Minnesota-Crookston, Minnesota State-Mankato, St. Cloud State, and others have been regulars on the baseline when Kettner has played.  What did they see?

A headline Thursday night match-up was D1 Rise against Select Leafblad which matched Kettner with Malik Willingham.  Kettner had the upper hand by scoring a buzzer beater to send the game into overtime and then foul shots gave his team the win.  He scored 17 in that contest and then put up 20 going head to head with Noah Freidel from South Dakota on Friday.

Move Him Up!

Maleeck Harden will be the first guy that gets a major jump in the next set of Minnesota rankings.  Why?  The major jumps he’s made to his game.  You may be thinking “didn’t we just hear about him all day Thursday” and you would be right.  But the reason we are back at it talking about Maleeck again today is that he’s consistently producing.

At 6-foot-5 with guard skills and length that covers block to block without moving, Harden continues to produce game after game.  He’s hitting jumpers contest to contest.  He’s defending every time the ECI Prospects play a game.  This is a player that will get several more NSIC offers soon and we have to start thinking about next level interest for him too.

More From St. Cloud

Drew Gustafson made sure that the Comets K game with Select Brown was never close.  The Kimball 6-foot-2 had his third three-pointer by the fifth possession of the game and scored 23 points led by his five treys.

Wear Out the Net beat Crossfire Belle in one of the most physical games of the event.  WOTN counted on Minnetonka’s Gavin Patton for 11 points while Eli Mostaert had four field goals in the important win.

A shooter to know is Steven Eckard of Owatonna.  With the Huskies graduating so many good players they are going to need guys to produce points and seeing Steven’s five three point makes and 17 points overall against the best team from South Dakota was an encouraging sign.

Malik Willingham had a tough shooting day against the ND Attack but his teammates were scoring so Malik went to dishing, and he almost had a triple-double.  Despite the tough day shooting Malik still got his 11 points but the nine rebounds and eight assists were more impressive.  Had the game been closer later he likely would of got the words every player wants their name associated with.

Owen Boerema has one of the highest percentage outside shooting touches in this event.  At about 6-foot-4 he has consistently produced for the Crossfire including the five threes made against 43 Hoops. Owen is one a short list of players that certainly boosted their stock in St. Cloud.  Should he receive more college attention after this?  Definitely.

The smooth style of play that Tommy Chatman brings to the court is tough to match.  He makes things look so easy at times when he glides to the rim for soft finger rolls and short finishes.   Tommy is a player that can completely take over the pace of a game when he finds that possession by possession comfort.