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Posted On: 07/2/18 3:08 PM
North Dakota and South Dakota once again showed on the Grassroots basketball circuit that they can compete with some of the best teams out there as ECI and the Attack each brought home GPA first place championships.
ECI Finds Their Rhythm
A basketball season can go in many directions. Start out hot but fizzle late, play steady throughout, or what a coach always hopes for, the group can get better and better as the season moves on and peaks at the right time. The ECI Prospects 17u club had some tough losses in early May: lost by 25 to OSA, 22 to Minnesota Fury, and they lost a pair to the Dakota Schoolers by double digits. But as the month moved on ECI began to win more consistently in the SPTS and the Prospects won the ECI Spring Preview event they hosted.
A rhythm came with the consistency game by game. Chemistry became stronger, and players improved. This weekend all of the hard work that ECI has put in came to a crowing success as they were able to beat the Wisconsin Playground Warriors (an Under Armour sponsored team), took out local rival North Dakota Phenom, and defeated #1 ranked South Dakota in the title game for a 5-0 run.
A key reason for ECI’s success was their depth of talent in the backcourt. Treyton Mattern was often the catalyst especially when competing on Saturday in the Final Four. Mattern is a steady player with the ball in his hands that calms his teammates down playing each possession with the poise coaches love. Mattern is excellent in using a screen to get the edge and then keeping an opponent on his hip while he makes plays. Mattern also excels displacing defenders with ball fakes plus he has a knack for making important plays when his teammates need momentum to go back their way. Mattern teams well with Christian Kuntz who is one of the smarter players with the pick and roll you will see. Both rebound well for guards.
The best prospects for ECI are Joe Jahner, the top ranked senior in North Dakota, and Maleeck Harden who was last ranked a top 40 player in Minnesota but is quickly moving into the top 15-20 area. Joe simply has a confidence and an explosive shooting touch in small spaces that other players simply don’t have. In the final Jahner scored 16 including two jumpers off ball screens lifting at the perfect time before a big could step forward and contest his shot. Jahner also showed how good he is in transition this weekend. Harden was often running with Jahner on the break and finding success. The Attack simply had no guard, wing, or big that could move with Harden off the ball so they constantly fouled him and Maleeck made 9 of 10 in the final. It was the culmination of a fantastic weekend for Harden.
ECI was very good up front too. Mason Walters made his claim as the top frontcourt player prospect in the North Dakota senior class outfighting everyone for boards. The 6-foot-6 Walters had a dozen rebounds in the title game and also proved to be one of the better passers out of the paint at the event. Isaac Undlin has grown to 6-foot-5 and his high percentage finishing led to many dunks against the Phenom plus his finishes were big in beating the Playground Warriors. Also have to give credit to Tyrell Rodriquez for his minutes off the bench.
The Big Name Produced Big Game
Yankton power forward Matthew Mors has put himself in a position that may at times be uncomfortable but that’s what comes when you are a special talent. When Mors played his games at the Whitney Center a few Wisconsin fans showed up from the St. Cloud area, there were a few video games taping his every move, and many curious college coaches wanted to see what all of the headlines were about. How did Matt respond? With a weekend championship.
After his big performance at Badger Team and Individual camp earlier in the month opponents from outside of South Dakota are well aware of who Matt is. The semi-final game for South Dakota Attack against WOTN paired Mors with 6-foot-10 center Steven Crowl. Crowl’s length completely bothered Mors early forcing Matt to miss nine of his first 11 shots but the Yankton star only let Crowl score twice and he had four nasty blocks to that most will remember. When Mors wasn’t swatting with two hands he was smashing the ball with one in volleyball spike fashion. And down the stretch in the semi-final Mors got into a rhythm hitting a pair of threes and all six of his foul shots.
Mors scored 19 in both the final, and the semi-final only his championship performance was much more efficient. Matt scored on 7 of 11 field goal attempts and hit all of his foul shots once against as the Minnesota Comets paid for their contact every play. And when the Comets sent double teams at Mors? Matthew noticed it early and fell out of the post with a beautiful touch making shots.
Too Big For Everyone
South Dakota Attack power forward Mitchell Goodbary’s combination of athleticism and brute strength at 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 was combination that teams couldn’t stop all weekend. The best team in North Dakota (ECI)? Goodbary put up 21 points on them and wanted the ball for more. The top non-shoe sponsored team in Minnesota (Fury)? Goodbary went up against a multi-offfered NSIC prospect and put 17 points and six rebounds against him.
How did Goodbary do it? First off, he may be big but his intelligence on the court is where things start. Mitchell does a fantastic job moving off of the screen and working his way to the space to catch in the post or sitting on the block and scoring. Goodbary didn’t give opposing bigs the time to move him off the block because his cuts were timed with the ball movement and he would sit down and catch before the defense could try and deny or force him higher. Goodbary was also stronger than everyone so once he turned to the basket the play was pretty much over. The best part was how Mitchell demanded the ball and wanted more.
Max to the Max!
Don’t make the mistake in thinking that the Attack 16s won the title only on Mors. On championship Saturday Max Nielson of Sioux Valley was equally as important. Nielson took on two top five teams from the state of Minnesota and outplayed the talented guards from both of their teams.
In the semi-final Nielson hit a later floater and put up all around numbers of 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists. In the final Nielson was able to bring the defense away from Mors but knocking down four threes and scoring 15 points. Add in the four scores and eight boards from Kobe Busch and this was far from a one man show.
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