Posted On: 07/22/18 7:01 PM

The Iowa Barnstormers didn’t just travel north to the Twin Cities to claim a title, they also beat three top ten level squads in Minnesota along the way.  Very impressive.

Silver Barnstormers Earn Gold

Jake Hilmer

When the brackets for this event originally began let’s be honest, we in Minnesota weren’t quite sure what to expect from the Iowa Barnstormers Silver team, the second group. Overlooked? That might be a good way to say it after the team was up here for the Fury Shootout in May and went 2-2.  After a five point win over 11th ranked Comets K, a comeback win over 7th ranked Heat Nelson, and a large margin victory over 6th ranked Wear Out the Net.

Not only did the Barnstormers beat WOTN 86-76, they also had a strong share of college coaches watching closely on the catwalk.  St. Cloud State and Quincy (IL) offered scholarships to guard Jake Hilmer after the game and schools like Wayne State, Upper Iowa, and others got a good look at strong backcourt including Hilmer, guard Antonio Turner, and slasher VJ Wilmington.

Hilmer didn’t have the shooting performance he would of liked but he still made four shots in the title game and more importantly led the group vocally and with his intelligence.  Hilmer’s ball movement and his clever movement off the ball picked the WOTN defense a part.  One of the players that benefited from the spread floor was Turner, a speedy guard.  Antonio made three shots at the arc and went Turbo Turner to the rim for finishes and foul shot attempts (5-6fg, 4-4ft for 17 points).  Wilmington went at the cup for an early eight.

Knock Down Shooter from the (CR) Prairie

Keegan Murray

The biggest mismatch that the Barnstormers had for WOTN was 6-foot-5 small forward Keegan Murray.  Murray will be a three in college but the Barnstormers often used him in the frontcourt which made Keegan even more dangerous.  WOTN often had to guard Keegan with a big and the WOTN size simply wasn’t able to close out on Murray in time to provide any type of quality shot contesting pressure. And Keegan made them pay.

The first time that Keegan Murray shot the ball two things came to mind: 1) that’s a long 2019 with a beautiful stroke and 2) WOTN is not going to be able to defend that.  The Barnstormers then gave WOTN a massive dose of Murray finding him fading off screens, cutting after his screen to open space, and flashing to catch and hit.  The team did a great job of feeding Keegan and Murray took advantage of all the chances for 31 points on 10 of 12 shooting (four made at the arc) plus seven of eight foul shooting.

Keegan built the lead in the first half with his three point shooting and then stopped any type of WOTN run late with clutch foul shooting.  Murray also grabbed seven rebounds and moved the ball for four assists.  Twin brother Kris Murray had a solid game as well scoring 11 on eight attempts.

WOTN Lives Up to Expectations

The WOTN Swedburg squad earned their way to the top five in 17u in past weeks with wins over the nationally ranked OSA Crusaders, Comets Lewis, Fury Wilde, and Heat MacDonald.  With that track record they were given the top seed in the event and they lived up to the expectation by winning their four pool play games and then beating Basketball Manitoba, a surprise solid team in the event.

Tommy Jensen

Eli Mostaert – the North Dakota State football committed frontcourt player that you’ve seen agitate other bigs the past year – he’s not only fighting people in the post but now is putting up big numbers in the paint.  Eli’s soft touch in the post using his body to clear bigger players as well as his ability to cut behind the ball led to a 25 point game against the Iowa team including 12 of 15 field goal shooting.  Lakeville North Panthers continue to excel this 17u season at all levels and Eli is definitely one of those guys.

Another Panther shining is Tommy Jensen.  The WOTN lead scoring option has taken his dribble separation game and his ability to burst to space to attempt to another level this 17u season.  Jensen scored 16 highlighted by four threes plus moved the ball in the spread WOTN offense for seven assists.

Fury Kline Closing in on 40 Wins

Fury Zurn will likely hit the 40 win total this year but Fury Kline has an outside shot at making the mark as well.  With six wins this weekend Fury Kline is now 34-9 on the year heading into their final event in Las Vegas.  This weekend they won their pool and then picked up a huge local win beat Wear Out the Net (the team ranked above them) before beating the Iowa Barnstormers int he final.

The player for Fury Kline that continues to catch our eye is 6-foot-6 power forward Cooper Olson.  Late in the game it was an open floor run, a backdoor cut, and then a dunk that closed out the victory for the Fury.  Cooper is not only an athletic 6-foot-6 2020 forward, his energy level and intensity is what coaches dream for out of a big.  And now we see him running the floor ahead of guards and bouncing off the floor to finish explosively.