Big 12 Classic: What We Learned Part 2
Saturday’s Breakdown Big 12 Classic pitted many high-level teams against each other for season openers. We run down first impressions from the final three games here. Prior Lake: big game backups. Most nights, the focus is on Dawson Garcia and Tyree Ihenacho for the…
Saturday’s Breakdown Big 12 Classic pitted many high-level teams against each other for season openers. We run down first impressions from the final three games here.
Prior Lake: big game backups. Most nights, the focus is on Dawson Garcia and Tyree Ihenacho for the bulk of production. And most nights, that will be enough; it’s gravy to have multiple guys after them to fit smoothly into the system like Malcolm Jones, Kyle McCullough, Tommy Mestnik and Nate Bach. The Lakers made very few mistakes with the ball and moved it quickly to get open shots around the arc and at the rim. Scorers 3, 4, and 5 on this team will make more of an impact than expected and put this team over the top next to the two D1 signees.
East Ridge: color change. Losing Kendall Brown to prep school hurt the Raptor star power and overall expected winning percentage. But Kendall Blue looked superb in his place running the point on Saturday, scoring 19 points and delivering the ball to the right spots. Ben Carlson is an incredibly skilled player in his own right, but he won’t be able to create for everyone and himself all the time, so Blue’s emergence is much needed as a second star. Ben North and Brody Kriesel also rose to answer the Prior Lake bench production all game.
Eden Prairie: just another primetime game. A Lake Conference schedule does no favors. David Flom makes sure the resulting non-conference slate doesn’t drop off either. Eden Prairie has played in countless big games, especially with this core in its third year of title contention. Austin Andrews took three charges in the first half and scored 19 points with 9 boards spinning and sweeping inside, Connor Christensen rebounded and defended in an elite fashion as he always does, and Drake Dobbs turned on the jets in half two after a tough first frame. 56-47 isn’t pretty but this team knows how to change their pace and grit things out if they have to.
Cretin-Derham Hall: not sure, honestly. Hard to make anything new of the Raiders after a really funky game that never had them in a consistent flow on either end. J’Vonne Hadley was in foul trouble for a majority and never got going. Tre Holloman did all he could to create some offense and had 17 points while Amari Carter rebounded well. They’re going to be fine — I’d probably pick them slightly over East Ridge in Section 4AAAA right now — but the Raiders were somewhat stagnant and hard to read in this one. Curtis Jones and his flammable shooting prowess will be necessary for CDH to pull away and stomp on opponents moving forward.
Eastview: another year under the belt. The Lightning had high expectations last season with their 2020 quartet and did reach the State Tournament, but now there’s a new vibe happening with them. Steven Crowl dominated with 28 points while frontcourt mate Tate Machacek really showed his improvement inside and out on offense. Ryan Thissen continues to impress on the wing scoring 25 points himself. Eastview is definitely a SSC contender with Shakopee and Prior Lake in that upper tier.
Champlin Park: the depth will develop. This one’s hard to gauge as well because the Rebels were missing a few role players after the football state championship loss the night before. But I really like the 1-9 rotation spots on this team and they’ve been playing together for a long time; they’ll be a tough out in Section 5AAAA again with junior Francis Nwaokorie Hulking inside and a bevy of wings and forwards flying around the perimeter. The Rebels didn’t get much offensively except for Francis scoring 16, but there’s more to come for this squad by year’s end.