On Thursday I made my way up to St. Ben’s to see the MN Basketball News Top 100 Expo Showcase. The girls side of the ledger had six teams of nine players for 54 total players. The boys end had four teams. I was able to see all six girls teams in action.
Since this was not a sanctioned D1 event, the colleges in attendance were primarily D3 and NAIA . With club teams busy throughout the nation, this collection of players featured more remote small town, class A types that don’t have access to clubs. Five AAA athletes were the highest level high school players in the gym.
In the past, this event was held prior to the July D1 window and after the high school window was closed for the fourth. The calendar this year did not permit such flexibility. As a result, there was no metro players since most are scattered in various cities with their club teams. When the few club team players made an appearance at the Top 100 Expo Showcase in the past they dominated. In 2019 the MVP of the event was South Dakota State bound Paige Meyer from Albany, the recent AA state champion and all state player.
There were eight six footers in the mix this year, with the tallest listed at 6-1. Shelby Mortenson of Yellow Medicine East at 6-1 was the camp MVP. She racked up 23 points in the final, a nail-biting 47-46 victory over Michigan. That win was preserved by a block at the buzzer by Sydney Cotton (Grand Meadow, 2023) on a breakaway lay up attempt.
The average pp100 for the teams came in at 82, but the numbers kept dropping as the day progressed, perhaps showcasing the fatigue that set in as each team played four games. The championship game had the lowest pp100 with a 73.4 enough to win—-the only game where the winner was below a respectable 89.
The winner’s common denominator was better shooting from 2 point range. The teams that could finish near the rim on lay ups and post ups won. Another strength for the winners was on the boards with +12, +13, +12 advantages. The exception was in game three where the losers won the battle of the boards +13.
Games featured four eight minute stop time quarters. Players were on shift duty with regularly scheduled substitutions. Coaches were primarily community college based, and they did double duty—coaching multiple teams. The table jobs of clock keeper and scorebook were done by players whose teams were cycled off. There were two games prior to the lunch break, two after noon.
The last two games of the day were the tightest, each decided by one point. In both situations the team in the lead opted to pull the ball. Momentum then shifted to the other side. It the title match up UConn jumped out to the early lead with MVP Shelby Mortenson putting her team on her back scoring 23 points total—-mainly inside, just shy of half of the UConn total. She had 10 points after the first quarter, four on second chancers (16-7). That lead grew to 29-16 at half. The third quarter belonged to Michigan with a 3 by Grace Roesch (Sauk Rapids-Rice, 2023) giving the challengers a 19-5 surge for the quarter and a 35-34 lead headed into the final eight minutes. Another Roesch 3 gave Michigan their biggest lead at 40-34. Two straight Mortenson baskets gave some new life to UConn (40-38). The Huskies did not regain the lead until Laila Monroe (Duluth Marshall, 2022) connected on a 3 (43-42). Mortenson added an insurance basket after a teammate’s missed free throw (45-42). Her final points off an baseline out of bounds set piece put UConn up 47-42 with 1:20 to go. Michigan fought back with a free throw and then Kari Matejka (Martin County West, 2023) nailed a 3 for the final points of the day. With 9 seconds left UConn was fouled but missed the charity toss. Michigan quickly advanced the ball down court with Cotton providing the key block to preserve the victory.
|TOP SCORER||Two with 15||Ramsey Tulenchik 9|
|TOP 31||Taylor Shelstad 29||Ramsey Tulenchik 17|
TRENCH PLAYER: Abby Berge (BBE, 2023) with 15 points, 150 pp100 and a 23 in the 31 Club.
|TOP SCORER||Shelby Mortenson 14||Samantha Christoffer 17|
|TOP 31||Two with 25||Samantha Christoffer 23|
TRENCH PLAYER: Shelby Mortenson (Yellow Medicine East, 2022) with 14 points, 93.3 pp100 and a 25 in the 31 Club.
|TOP SCORER||Liz Lukken 14||Madeline Guetzkow 11|
|TOP 31||Two with 20||Madeline Guetzkow 21|
TRENCH PLAYER: Liz Lukken (Underwood, 2024) with 14 points, 107.7 pp100 and a 20 in the 31 Club
|TOP SCORER||Josey Bugbee 13||Payton Rodberg 13|
|TOP 31||Samantha Chriostoffer 20||Payton Rodberg 26|
TRENCH PLAYER: Josey Bugbee (Underwood, 2022) with 13 points, 118.2 pp100, 18 in the 31 Club
|TOP SCORER||Shelby Mortenson 23||Grace Roesch 16|
|TOP 31||Shelby Mortenson 35||Grace Roesch 21|
TRENCH PLAYER: Shelby Mortenson (Yellow Medicine East, 2022) with 23 points, 153.3 pp100, and a 35 in the 31 Club.
The incoming junior class dominated the all star selections with eight of eleven chosen. UConn had four selections; Baylor had three.
MVP: Shelby Mortenson, Yellow Medicine East 2022 (UConn)
Kendra Syverson, Waubun 2023 (UConn)
Elizabeth Wagner, Luverne, 2023 (UConn)
Laila Monroe, Duluth Marshall, 2022 (UConn)
Abby Berge, BBE, 2023 (Baylor)
Maddy Grove, Morris, 2023 (Baylor)
Taylor Shelstad, Lac qui Parle Valley, 2023 (Baylor)
Jada Bierschbach, Rocori, 2023 (Minnesota)
Madeline Guetzkow, Mayer Lutheran, 2023 (Minnesota)
Hailey Dirksen, Montevideo, 2023 (Michigan)
Beth Schauer, Lake Park-Audubon, 2022 (Stanford)