I spent my Sunday at the deep freeze known as Shakopee watching the top three age divisions and their championship level games. With bracketed play of 16 teams, that meant the overall #1 team in that age division and the #17 place team. Compared to the AAU MN State tournament, this is a bigger field with outstate teams entering the fray. But it is more regional in nature compared to previous years when east coast, southern and perhaps a west coast entry found its way to the frozen tundra (I mean gyms) of the upper Midwest. By the way I was prepared to weather the frigid conditions, and I suppose a nip in the air is better than the oppressive, sweltering heat that used to pervade these events. So, two of the three champions were Minnesota based at the upper level (#1). The out of state exception was All Iowa Attack at the 2024 (just finished sophomores). The regional based squads took two of the #17 levels. I charted nine Minnesota based teams, some for the third time this season. Besides Iowa I charted the Cornhusker Shooting Stars out of Nebraska and Missouri River Elite out of North Dakota (Bismarck based—hence the Missouri River tag.)
The Summer Jam traditionally has had lake names for their divisions. Usually, the top division has carried the “Minnetonka” brand name. “Nokomis” was another important lake. Apparently, some of the other obscure forgotten lakes got together and demanded representation. Now the top division (17s) is called Anchor Lake. For those interested it is a body of water to the west of US53 between Duluth and Eveleth. Leech Lake, a big enough lake you can identify readily on a standard Minnesota map, was rewarded with the top level in the 16s. Shoe Lake grabbed top billing at the 15s. That obscure lake is found in the BWCA east of the Gunflint Trail. I am sure the insects there enjoyed a shout out.
The biggest age divisions had the most tournaments with the 17s hosting five. Most age divisions had three, with the 10s only holding one event.
I am going to label the tournaments A & B. There was a distinct difference in level of play between the two—-generally with heights and speed of play the separator.
2025 B(#17) CORNHUSKER SHOOTING STARS WHITE 62, CROSSFIRE MUELLER 47
The first of the foreign (non-Minnesotan) wins on the day. CSS led in the first half 36-19. A late rally by Crossfire cut the deficit to 38-26 at the half. Scoring on their first two possessions of the second half continued the momentum and made it 38-32. The next seven points belonged to CSS and the threat was over. Myleigh Weers for CSS had 17 points, two off the game high of 19 by Elayna Boe from Crossfire, but Weers had a best pp100 of 154.5 and had an impressive 73 touches without a turnover to go along with eight distributions.
2025 A(#1) MN STARS BOROWICZ 9TH 67, MN FURY 2025 UAA 54
MSB had the best team pp100 of the day at 106.6. They also had a rally win. Fury led 41-32 with two minutes left in the first half. That is when the table trouble erupted. It motivated the Stars and they closed with seven unanswered points. All points scored courtesy Kendall McGee. She then opened the scoring in the second half with a 3 on the third Stars possession. With 11:49 remaining both teams had 46 points. Stars finished with a 19-8 push. Stars Borowicz was second in the MN State AAU tournament, Fury third. Champion North Tartan was playing up an age division.
2024 B(#17) MN FURY 2024 PREMIER 54, MN STARS ZABEL 10TH 35
Two programs flipped the results of the last game. This Fury team was deadly from long distance with nine 3s for the day (most of any game) and 50% marksmanship to boot. Six of the ten Fury players delivered from downtown. This game also had the “slowest” pace of the day with only 51 possessions per team. Most games were right around 60 to 62.
2024 A(#1) ALL IOWA ATTACK 10 EYBL 49, NORTH TARTAN 10 EYBL 40
The two EYBL rivals met only once in title games on Sunday, with the state from the south savoring the win. This was another rally win, this time with the second half going Attack’s direction. NT led 25-20 at the break, and they scored on the first possession of the second half to make it 27-20. Five straight Attack scores turned the momentum in their direction. Journey Houston had seven of those points for Attack. NT went seven possessions without scoring and watched Attack score 13 unanswered points breaking the bank.
2023 B(#17) MISSOURI RIVER ELITE 61, 43HOOPS ELITE 58
If you like good free throw shooting this was the game for you. Both teams combined shot 39/45 good for a 86.7% clip. Alyssa Eckroth of MRE was a perfect 12/12. 43Hoops led 37-36 with about ten minutes left in the game. 13 unanswered points put MRE in the driver’s seat. Every time 43H made a run, MRE cashed in at the free throw line. They were 10/10 in the last two minutes at the line.
2023 A(#1) METRO STARS 2023 PRYOR 60, NORTH TARTAN 17 EYBL 59, 2 OT
They saved the best for last…. again. These two teams have many subplots and storylines as you would except for teams and players that have been in the heat of the summer eight years. Current high school and former club teammates stared down each other. One subplot missing was Tessa Johnson of NT. She was off with her high school team doing a service project. In addition (or subtraction as the case may be) NT was without the services of several other players, which impacted their bench production. There were a few 16s that dressed but did not see any action.
Drama was inherently built into the game. With Metro Stars up 45-36 with five minutes left NT had to pull some proverbial rabbits out of their hat. Three consecutive 3s qualifies for magicians’ union work. First Molly Lenz delivered to cut the deficit to 47-41. Then Klick on the next NT possession made it 47-44. Then Klick clicked again in the right corner made it 49-47. Both teams traded five empty possessions when Taylor Woodson scored on a drive with an &1 chance with four ticks left making it 49 all. The free throw was off. For the second time in this series Metro Stars had a chance to win. Again, they went to Kelly Boyle for the final shot. The game winning 3 missed and we were off to OT #1.
There was drama again. Metro Stars scored on the first possession and the second, third and fourth for a 57-54 advantage. But let’s examine possession four. Prior to that Woodson nailed a 3 from up top to make it 55-54. There were only 21.9 seconds left in the two minute overtime session. NT fouled and sent McGill to the line. She missed. But Agara grabbed the miss and was immediately fouled with 14.5 left. She made the first, missed the second free throw. Inexplicably Metro Stars got the offensive rebound AGAIN. Savanna Jones was the recipient this time and was again immediately fouled. Her first missed and second found the mark for a 57-54 lead. Clara Glad scored at the buzzer from the right side. Metro Stars faithful claimed a “2,” but it went in the books as three and overtime #2 awaited.
The possession count was much fewer in the second session—-only two per team. NT got the tip and scored first on a free throw by Woodson. She made the first—missed the second—-only this time it was NT cleaning up the miss with the rebound. A missed shot with another rebound came NT’s way. A turnover ended the possession. Metro Stars missed their 3 attempt but they got the dead ball rebound. Boyle was fouled, missed the first and made the second to event it up at 58 all. With 14.6 left NT’s Klick was fouled. She converted the first, missed the second. The offensive rebound sequence ended with Jones’ rebound. McGill then found Jones on the right block after driving from the left wing for the game winner at the buzzer. Jones was team high scorer with 14 points, but her pp100 was a game high best at 140.
NT’s Kennedy Klick for the day had top scoring honors with 25 points.
Will these two teams have another rendezvous at the Meltdown?
31 CLUB MEMBERS
There were half of dozen 31 Clubbers on the day with both the 15s and 17s providing three each. The top overall score for the day belonged to Kendall McGee of MN Stars Borowicz (Benilde-St. Margaret’s). Perhaps she was motivated by playing against her new high school coach Tim Ellefson who coached the Fury squad. Perhaps she was motivated by the kerfuffle at the scorer’s table between the clock operator and the book. The refs had to break up that action and both jobs had new occupants after a loud angry exchange. McGee ended up with 22 points to go along with 9 distributions and 6 d stops. The winners and losers each had three 31 Clubbers on the day. McGee’s team won. So did Myleigh Weiers from the Cornhusker Shooting Stars as did Bergen Kinnebrew of Missouri River Elite. Despite North Tartan 17s having two 31 Clubbers (Kennedy Klick and Taylor Woodson) they did not receive the needed help in the dramatic two overtime last second loss to Metro Stars Pryor. The other non-winner 31 Clubber came from the Crossfire Mueller with Elayna Boe.
HIGH SCHOOL IMPLICATIONS
I believe that players that play in championship games help their high school teams with a level of play that can handle the stresses and rigors of highly competitive action. The more a high school team has these types of players playing in the final game of the day, the better that high school team will be. It should come to no surprise that Hopkins again dominates this category. There is a reason the Royals are perennially at the top of the food chain in the high school world. Expect that to remain the same in 2023 as they had six players (mostly based with Metro Stars Pryor) reach the title game. The #17th place games also have an impact on the winter season. Perhaps they are not the heavy lifters on the team and are not required to lead teams to the promised land, but the strength of a team is not necessarily measured by the #1s or #2s. It is measured by the #5s, #6s, and #7s. If this is the correct scenario, then Lakeville North should be poised to make some noise in 2023. They had five with a combination of #1 and #17s. Stillwater also had five in the mix, so the cupboard after Scalia and Holder are gone is not completely bare. Other multiple entries on the day include the familiar Lake entries like Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and STMA which makes that conference in