Great Plains Alliance: Thursday Night Standouts

Grassroots
Minnesota

Posted On: 06/28/18 9:50 PM

With excellent match-ups lining the first day of the Great Plains Alliance, college coaches showed up in big numbers.  Who impressed? Prep Hoops was on hand to fill you in.

Fink & Johnson

Isaac Fink

The Minnesota Comets have been waiting for a game like this.  A full roster with fully healthy players against a good team (the South Dakota Attack) the Comets won 73-57.  After four weeks off and hearing about other teams and other players, you could see the Comets were eager for this game.

The Comets jumped on the Attack with a quick 13-2 lead and Isaac Fink was the catalyst with five first half three pointers.  With ten coaches watching on the baseline from the NSIC Isaac continued his hot play (had 31 points and 22 rebounds in the Breakdown Summer State Tournament title game last Sunday) showing off a three-point touch that we should now starting filing in the “among the best in the state” category.  Fink scored 23 points against D2 offered guards from South Dakota plus grabbed four boards with four assists.  What Isaac has really picked up is the art of getting open on the wing.  His ability to walk his man down and physically separate into the catch showed veteran savvy.

As good as Isaac was, he doesn’t get near the high percentage shots if he doesn’t have Matt Johnson putting the ball perfectly on his hands time and time again.  With eight assists Matt made sure that every shot taken by a Comets player was at the right time in the possession and it was a quality look.  He also led by example making the hustle plays and limiting a D2 offered guard to 11 points.  Johnson is the type of PG that players want to compete with because he is reliable, tough, and selfless.

Finally Austin Jentzen is healthy.  The STMA 6-foot-7 frontcourt player scored ten points with seven rebounds simply being more physical than the best bigs that South Dakota has to offer.  Austin is a strong player with good core strength so his low post position and his physical collection of rebounds is something you can depend on.  What caught my eye was Austin’s soft touch after the shoulder turn and the quickness of his initial jump.

Top 40 & Rising

The Minnesota prospect rankings were released earlier this week and within the top 40 was Moorhead/ECI Prospects 6-foot-5 wing Maleeck Harden.  The verdict after today’s ECI win over E1T1?  Another jump in the rankings may be coming.

Maleeck Harden

During Harden’s 13 point game in the opening round win, a D1 coach sent a text (after seeing a tweet online) saying Maleeck the Freak.  What that meant was, Maleeck is a different type of player than many in the area.  He’s unique, different, and could very special, all in a good way.

What makes Maleeck different is his developing skill and confidence in the body of a 6-foot-5 and long guard that is rapidly getting better.  Maleeck’s jump up the floor in a long stride transition attack pushes him ahead of the pack and once he was able to get an angle to the rim – with or without the ball – he was ahead of the defender leading to a highlight finish with the dribble or after the catch.

What’s even more exciting for this young talent is that Harden’s skills have been refined.  He’s confidently shooting the ball, seeing the floor open up using his patient approach into an attack, and many at this level don’t have the physical ability to contest a Harden shot once he’s lifted to the basket.

Ball Movement for Bellefeuille

When the Minnesota Crossfire warmed up they had to of seen the six man team from North Dakota Attack and thought “we will wear them down by the end of the first half and compile a running time win in the second half”.

Owen Boerema

The Crossfire ball movement is sometimes flashy, as in the case of the Jordan Schiffler backboard pass to Cole Elrod for a sensational transition dunk, but most of the time it’s rapid and timely.  The Attack six man bench simply didn’t have enough guys to defend long possession after long possession and as the game moved on , shots opened up everywhere for Crossfire.

The first Crossfire player to greatly benefit was Owen Boerema of Litchfield.  Owen first curled two screens into a catch for three-pointers and later curled a screen for an attacking score.  In the second half Owen attacked the front of the rim using 6-foot-4 frame to lay the ball over the rim and later he used a beautiful spin move to clear and finish.

The second half saw Reegan Nelson (Melrose) notice a worn down set of defenders and he smelled blood like a shark to the attack.  Owen had 14 and Nelson matched his 14 by aggressively attacking late rotating defenders for a variety of scores that even included a fade-a-way off of one leg.  Add in the Jason Kaul post scores, the Schiffler six assists, and the eight rebounds from 6-foot-8 Zach Gazda and it was a running time win for the Crossfire.

Little Mac the Wizard

Comets DLR flew by the Wisconsin Playmakers 70-48 and it was James Flicek dropping no-look passes, sending lobs, and leading cutters with zipping passes for the victory.  The Playmakers were demoralized as the wizard like passes from Flicek were flying to space for scores, but it was more than that.  James brought his Little Mac mental toughness sending blows at the Playmakers in the form of five threes and 22 points.

One of the Flicek lobs went to Thomas Geiske of Sartell, a workman like small forward with a good touch and the sneaky ability to find space to produce buckets.  Thomas scored 13 including a lob dunk from Flicek.  The other star of the game was Washburn point guard Charles Johnson who totaled several steals and forced many mistakes from the opposing guards likely setting a Whitney Center record for most forced turnovers.