Seven 1st seed games from the Qualifier
Mother’s Day was spent watching first seeds v first seeds to determine the “real” first seeds for next weekend’s “real” state tournament. It was a good day for North Tartan. They played in all seven of the events and won five. The Stars and Fury each played in three events with the Stars taking two first seeds. Crossfire was the only program to crack the big three stranglehold on games.
Here are the results:
5: North Tartan 39, Crossfire Koles 30
6: MN Stars Zabel 39, North Tartan 12 31
7: North Tartan 13 Nike 47, MN Fury 2027 Blue 25
8: MN Stars Hill 63, Inspired Athletics North Tartan 8 Gordon 49
9: North Tartan 15 Nike 56, MN Stars Borowicz 44
10: North Tartan 16 EYBL 48, MN Fury 2024 UAA 35
11: North Tartan 17 EYBL 61, MN Fury 2023 UAA 42
Two items of note. First, I did not chart the 9:10 am game thinking it was not a first/first match up. The schedule seemed to be unclear. Second there was a user malfunction (me) in the 2026/8th grade division. I nearly lost all the data I was entering. Some info vanished into the ether. I was able to recover most of the data, but it is not complete. I would say about 85% is good.
After a strong initial showing on Saturday, the pp100s plummeted on Sunday. Why? Perhaps better competition, perhaps fatigue both physical and mental. Only one team was able to crack the century mark and that was MN Stars Hill with a 114.3. The next best showing was a grade lower with North Tartan 13 Nike posting a 96.1. How bad was it Sunday? Losing teams did not nose over 60 but twice. Five times they were mired in the 50s including the 2024 and 2023 ages. Not good. The “best” game of the day was the 2026/8th grade division with IANT8G getting an 80 in the loss. That was better than three winners on the day by the way.
MISSING IN ACTION
Not everyone was playing Saturday or Sunday. A noticeable absence on Saturday was Kennedy Sanders of Fury 2023 UAA. She did return to action from prior Saturday commitments on Sunday. Out with injuries included Olivia Olson of Fury 2024. It is unclear if she was being rested and will return to action in the big parade next weekend. Moving up the pipeline was Addie Mack. She did double duty with Fury 2025 too.
Historically the first place finisher, indeed the two teams that play each other in the qualifier are not the same as the following contest. Most of the churn happens in the younger grades—the 14 minute half division, the single digits. Things are pretty much baked into the cake at the older levels. You can have some team out of the blue—-a Rich Strike as it were—-take the “real” championship. But most money will be on the favorites. Bragging rights are a big deal. Expect some flips to come.
Yesterday (or more correctly Saturday) I wrote about two players that made the high standards of the 31 Club (points + d stops + distributions). Distributions are a more liberal interpretation of an assist. As I explained then it is extremely difficult to make this list. No one technically made it on Saturday with Tessa Johnson (St. Michael-Albertville) of North Tartan 17 EYBL coming closest with one under at 30. Sunday she was one over at 32. This is noteworthy for two reasons—consistency, and she was going against “real” teams and quality players. She involves her team, is in the right place at the right time meaning she understands the game. This is perhaps because she is keenly observant of the action around her and can anticipate the next move—she sees before the rest are awake. It is clear that her teammates enjoy playing with her and her team wins. I have yet to see anyone else match that. Next week will be a great test in that many games will be replays. The next closest player to the coveted mark was Victoria McKinney (Minnetonka) of North Tartan 16 EYBL with a 29. Notice both players are from the Great Lake. Hmmm.
QUESTION: What came first the chicken or the egg?
The answer is the egg. This refers to the fact that players that succeed at the high school level have already logged countless hours, have had more coaching, played against quality opponents for a longer stretch of time than the average kid. It starts early. You can chart the trajectory of the youngsters in the 14 minute half crowd and see that it sets them up for post season success at high school and gives them a platform for exposure for the higher end D1 programs. I am not referring to in fifth grade, but later in their careers. Anyone can look at a physical being and project their hopes and wishes on them. What one cannot do is see the touches that said kid has used to polish and hone the skills. It should be noted that some youngsters that are developmentally bigger, stronger, faster in the younger grades stop improving. Sometimes that means they had their growth spurt early and the “bullying” they could get away with younger will not work when players catch up physically. Sometimes it means they think they “arrived” or they get bored with the game, burn out/staleness or whatever and stop working on improvement. It is a mental mind-set that does not want the risk of failing or damaging their self-concept of their version of success.
THE CRYSTAL BALL SEYZ:
Looking at the top three age/graduation class divisions and projecting high school March 2023 some familiar story lines ring true. Success breeds success. These folks, simply by getting to the championship game, have what it takes to be playing late in March. So, what schools had the most players? The top of the list had 3: Chaska, Lakeville North and Minnetonka. The last one should be of note. There will be a new skipper for the Skippers in Hall of Fame coach Brian Cosgriff. Nine other schools had two apiece. It should be no shock to discover that the class that dominates the multiples is AAAA. Furthermore, it should come as no surprise that dominating the AAAA level in the conference wars is the Lake (or Great Lake as I call it). Every game will be a battle if you are not paying attention in that league. I counted four teams with two plus members. That does not even include Hopkins who only had one representative that made it to court seven in the top three ages. Look for the South Suburban to rebound from their lackluster performance this past year—-three teams cracked the code south of the river. The NW Suburban had one make the mark. As for the other classifications only Benilde-St. Margaret’s was around in AAA with more than two players and AA had two schools, both private that made the list: Holy Family and St. Croix Lutheran.