Posted On: 05/11/19 7:49 PM

The Battle at the Lakes Elite Eight is set and for some programs it took a fight to earn a spot in tomorrow’s big games.  Johnny Davis of the Wisconsin Playground Warriors may have been the day’s biggest star. 

PGC Survives, Davis Explodes

To put 31 points on the board a player has to have a combination of many things go right.  You need teammates that share the ball, a player must find ways to score in active ways in addition to using individual one on one talent, and that 30 point scorer will likely need to score on all three levels.

The Wisconsin Playground Warriors withstood an outstanding team effort from the Iowa Barnstormers Black for a 68-66 victory.  Of those 68 points, 31 were scored by Johnny Davis.  Davis made 9 of 14 field goals including three three-pointers plus drained 10 of 11 foul shots.  Within that stat line you see that Davis hit from the arc, you know he went at the rim for production (11 foul shots attempted), and his quick burst into a touched in runner/pull-up jumper was scored several times as well. 

Most memorable for fans will be the baseline one-hand dunk Davis put down over some Iowa player’s head with a thunderous sound on the rim.  The dunk showed off his power, vertical leap, aggressive approach and quick bounce.  I was equally as impressed with the cut.  Davis recognized the backside of the defense was in a bad spot so he sprint to the rim for the finish.  Johnny is always that player willing to out-run, out-battle, and out-work the opponent.  Add that with his athleticism and skill level and you have a player that I feel is going to be a terrific two-way college basketball player. 

Playground Warriors also received 16 points, eight boards, and six assists from Gabe Madsen (Rochester Mayo 2020 guard). Mason Madsen had 12 points, four boards, and four assists plus Terrance Thompson had a double-double of 10 points and 11 boards. 

Wyatt Olson

The Elite Eight – Wyatt Olson Early Round MVP?

D1 Minnesota hasn’t had a fight yet including their 83-58 win over South Dakota Attack (who is without Matthew Mors).  D1 Minnesota will face one of the surprises of the tournament so far, Minnesota Rise.  The Rise knocked off Xavier Foster and Pure Prep and Wyatt Olson went at him with 25 points, 21 rebounds, and five assists. 

Olson had a dozen points in a 31 point win over the Illinois T-Wolves and then in the Sweet 16 Olson produced a double-double of 20 points and 10 boards facing Cody McCullough and All Iowa Attack.  Olson is a 6-foot-5 power forward from St. Peter High School who took his team to the state tournament this winter.  Olson continues to get help from Riley Hulke – a 6-foot-1 scoring wing from Nicollet – and frontcourt parter Jordan Merseth who has had a big spring.  Both have had a pair

D1 Minnesota will face Minnesota Rise while on the bottom half the ET21 Buckeyes defeated RWA.  RWA knocked off Grassroots Minnesota’s team of 2019 graduates while ET21 beat the top Young & Reckless squad and also beat Gain Elite (who defeated All-In Adidas).  On the other side Wisconsin Playground Warriors beat Iowa Barnstormers Black and the Barnstormers Gold knocked off a good Team Factory squad.  The bottom side of the bracket is Wisconsin Premier and Fundamental U Rise. 

Kaiden Phillips

Kaiden Phillips is a Prospect to Watch

Davenport Central 6-foot-5 2020 forward Kaiden Phillips made a big impression at the Battle at the Lakes. Phillips plays with Barnstormers Black and against Playground Warriors he scored 20 points and 7 boards.  Kaiden was one player that the division one stacked talent list of PGC didn’t have a good match-up for because at his size and activity he hit 9 of 17 field goals including two shots at the arc. 

In review of previous weekends there is a theme of Phillips explosively finishing at the rim multiple times game after game.  But in many of those events Phillips wasn’t facing a team that has six guys with division one offers.  You can’t go your 20 all at the rim when facing a high level of competition and Kaiden adjusted using a perimeter touch and a hard slashing attack finished through contact. 

Phillips averaged 10 points per game this winter for a 16-7 team as a junior but based on this weekend his percentages have greatly improved which seems like something that many will do with Barnstormers Black.  They play outstanding team basketball and in addition to Phillips I was greatly impressed with the way Cael Schmitt ran the team.  Schmitt also hit four threes scoring 16 in the loss. 

Connor Kochera

Fundamental U Duo

The Wayzata High School baseline was packed with division two coaches Wednesday afternoon getting a look at Fundamental U and Wisconsin Blizzard.  Fundamental U defeated the Blizzard led by 23 points from 6-foot-6 Jayden Johnson and 22 points from 6-4 guard Connor Kochera.

Jayden is a top ten level prospect in the Illinois 2020 class with a Southern Illinois offer thus far.  His jumpshot is a pure thing of beauty and he’s one of these microwave scorers who heats up in a hurry giving a defense little chance to react.  Kochera put on a clinic moving without the basketball but what I also loved was his shot selection as every attempt Connor took was high percentage.  Good passer too.  Jayden and Connor have a strong chance at playing in the Final Four or maybe even in the title game. 

Battle Notes

  • 2020 guard Glentrell Carter of Minneapolis Henry scored 15 points per game this year leading the Patriots in scoring. Gamble scored a game high 18 points on 7 of 16 shooting for Jerry Gamble FAB with 7 boards. Athletic slasher who his becoming more consistent with his touch. 
  • Mentality Minnesota had a win over FAB that was the very definition of a team effort.  They had a four possession barrage that took a one score game and made it a 56-41 lead. 2021 Erick Burgess had four assists in that barrage plus scored three times, Nick Hendler led the team with 10 points, and James Sommer scored four possessions.  But the story was the team effort both ways as Mentality held FAB to 31 percent shooting. 
  • Game winner of the day came from Cade Tackmeier of Team 1848.  Cade hit a runner at the buzzer knocking off Inspired Athletics. Cade is a 6-foot-3 guard rom Preshtigo HS in Wisconsin.