THREE FRIDAY GAMES FROM THE STATE AAU QUALIFIER
I am back in the saddle (in a limited way) at the club events. Not the wall to wall format in days of yore (pre-pandemic). But I am back however limited. Friday night I traveled to Bloomington Jefferson for the tournament before the tournament—-the Minnesota State AAU qualifier. Ostensibly this tournament will “seed” the real state tournament in a couple of weeks with many of the same teams. That event will take place May 21-23. Round one is this weekend.
I stationed myself on court 2, soon to be championship court on Sunday—-maybe seeding court is a better term since no one will be a champion in this event. Back in the day I was next to the scoreboard. Jefferson has moved that to the north side of the court. I was on the south side with the outlet safely keeping my computer humming. Right next to me was the BallerTV pole camera and signage. Court 3 behind me was empty. The bleachers at the west end of the gym were upright preventing the two family members allowed in to rest there. Instead, family members had to stand watching their children.
The atmosphere is a tad different with masks, spacing, and fan limitations. Shoo-ers shoo fans out of the gym after each game. The former days of teams waiting for next is over. I was there at 5 pm and now teams showed up until 15 minutes before their scheduled start. Prior to that eerie silence—not even crickets. The games itself are on a industrial conveyor belt. The clock runs continuously until the final three minutes of the game (if it is close). That is why possession counts seem lower.
So, what did we learn from the three games. Three is a great segue into the trends that continue unabated—-the Curry-ification of the game. Trey bien as they say in France; trey-riffic. It was raining 3s all night. The first possession in each of the games I charted started with a 3 from the left corner. The number of 3s made in each game were 12, 10, 17. Topping the list of all 3 makers was Aby Shubert of MN Fury 2023 UAA (Kasson-Mantorville) with four.
Numbers held up well with the lowest winner on the night with 82 pp100. The ceiling was provided by the youngsters of the day, the 2024s (& 2026) with a 112.5.
Five programs were charted. The day was a 2023 Fury sandwich with both UAA and Premier picking up wins. If uniform color was indicative of the favorite, the underdogs (MN Fury 2023 Premier and MN Suns 2024 Blue Star) upset the apple cart.
MN Fury 2023 Premier overcame a six point half time deficit to top North Tartan 16u Elite in a battle between the second teams of each program. True to form for the theme of the day, MF23P scored on a 3 on the first possession of the second half with Anna Lenzen, fresh off a AAAA State title with Chaska, pulling the trigger. Another Lenzen 3 tied it up at 25. Two more scoring opportunities thanks to second chance points gave MF23P a 10-0 start to the half. The last minute was problematic for each team. Only a mid court steal lay up by NT16E was the only score in the last combined seven possessions—-five possessions end on turnovers as the defensive intensity ratcheted up multiple degrees.
|MN FURY 2023 PREMIER||NORTH TARTAN 16U ELITE|
|TOP SCORER||Anna Lenzen 15||Chloe Jarnot 10|
|TOP 31CLUB||Anna Lenzen 16||Chloe Jarnot 16|
TRENCH PLAYER: Anna Lenzen, 100 pp100 to go along with a team high 15 points.
It was a battle of lines in game two. The MN Suns 2024 Blue Star utilized sizzling shooting from behind the arc to pull away from MN Stars Amundson 9. The Suns delivered eight 3s with a day’s best .471. The Stars aggressive method of attacking the rim did draw the fouls, but they could not make up for the 3 deficit. The Suns led by nine at the half. Six Suns knocked down a 3 for the game with Nicole Maenke (Shakopee) popping 3. The Suns’ primary point guard is Tori Oehrlein (Crosby-Ironton) who is playing up two grades. The 7th grader (2026), who was the MVP of the Mid-State Conference and Player of the Year in the Brainerd Dispatch, can find open players—she sees the game a step ahead of the rest. She delivered 11 distributions (a high for the day) on 19 chances. She ended up with 55 touches per turnover as well.
|MN SUNS 2024 BLUE STAR||MN STARS AMUNDSON 9TH|
|TOP SCORER||Claire Stern 22||Savannah Gardner 16|
|TOP 31CLUB||Claire Stern 26||Savannah Gardner 26|
TRENCH PLAYER: Claire Stern (Maple Grove) 9/12 on 2s with a 183.3 pp100.
Another Fury win featuring another AAAA State champion. Kennedy Sanders never came off the floor for the Fury. She was indispensable on both ends of the floor with the ball in her hands on offense, and throwing roadblocks to the Comets penetration attempts. They needed her on the floor to help calm the waters. The Fury raced to a 10-0 lead before the Comets, using the 3ball, mounted their comeback. At the widest, the Fury led 20-8 after an &1 by Sanders. The Fury struggled to score the rest of the first half only managing one point as the Comets burst out with an 11-1 finish. The Comets didn’t rest on their laurels at half, and scored the first six points of the second half (17-1 run across two halves). Ayla Brown (Becker) got things rolling with two straight lay ups. The widest Comet margin came at 35-29 after a 3 by Emily Crandall (Sartell-St. Stephen). She was one of five Comets to make two 3s for the day. Keeping the Fury boat afloat was Sanders during this stretch with seven straight points. Aby Schubert hit a 3 to put the Fury back in front 39-38. Leads exchanged hands several times until the Fury scored on three straight possessions capped by a 3 by Teresa Kiewiet (Mankato West) made it 50-46. Six straight Fury free throws in their last three possessions iced the game.
|MN FURY 2023 UAA||MN COMETS ELITE 2023|
|TOP SCORER||Kennedy Sanders 17||Ayla Brown 14|
|TOP 31CLUB||Kennedy Sanders 32||Ayla Brown 25|
TRENCH PLAYER: Kennedy Sanders (Chaska), 113.3 pp100. All five Fury starters were over 100 pp100.
The hope is that tomorrow I will be able to chart the five 1 v 1 seeds. My computer was ornery this morning.