On to Section Championship!

February 27

A Cautionary Tale:  We’ve never lived in St. Cloud, go there only occasionally – yes, we have seen games at all the major venues there, but – so we don’t automatically know our way around.  For this game at Halenbeck Hall on the St. Cloud State campus, we Google mapped it.  Secure in the knowledge we could find our way with this map, off we went.  After battling the horrors of Division Street, we found our exit street to the campus.  A couple of turns and we were at the exact address Google maps had given us for this large basketball arena.  However, the building at that address was . . . a regular house . . . in a regular residential neighborhood?  Well, still we knew the campus was nearby, found it, and asked some students on the street where the basketball arena was.  “Dunno, we’re not enrolled yet.”  We stumbled upon a campus map, found we were about a half mile away, and eventually made it in time to photograph the Herb Brooks Center (Halenbeck is just on the other side).  BTW, it was over 60 degrees on the day, in late February, there were baseball games being played on fields along the way???  Why do professional pitchers and catchers have to report to Florida?

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[Remembering where we are in the sections now . . . ]

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[The first game was No. 1-seed Fergus Falls v. No. 4 Detroit Lakes.  Fergus won easily.]

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[For the 2nd time in 11 days we were playing the Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm – they beat us by 3 at our place then, and the Storm fans around us were pretty confident of a win this time.]

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[Our girls’ team and assorted students were there for support.]

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[And the introductions . . . ]

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[Jaran Roste (1)]

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[Matt Bloom (3)]

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[Spencer Hockert (15)]

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[Braydon Amundson (23)]

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[Alec Wensman (25)]

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[And the jump.  The Storm center is a 6’6″ sophomore, and the kid can play.  The Storm has good height and talent, so the Cards came out from the beginning determined to make a better effort than they did in the last game.  By the time we were through, I thought it was the best game I’d seen a Cardinal team play in several years.]

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[Matt and Jaran bring it up court – I thought we’d been pretty lackadaisical on the offensive end for a while, so it was great to see we were going to play a little more up tempo.]

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[Jaran usually plays an assist first game, but this time he took charge of scoring early to make sure we got off to a good start.  With his size and speed as a guard, he’s a difficult player to defend.]

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[When driving the lane for layups, he can draw an “and one.”]

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[Kendall approves so far.]

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[At 6’2″, here he tries to maneuver between No. 31, a 6’3″ good athlete (see last game report) and No. 21, the 6’6″ center.]

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[Maybe a Jaran drive and dish led to this free throw by Alec.]

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[And here he comes again . . . ]

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[The scoreboard at this point shows the scoring triumvirate of Jaran, Spencer, and Alec leading the way.]

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[Let’s run out the half.]

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[Spencer brings the whole offensive package – he hits free throws, can drive, shoot pull ups, and hit 3’s – and somehow plays bigger than his listed 6′ height.]

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[It really didn’t make any difference as to who tried to guard Jaran – he continued to control the game.]

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[Things were looking great the half.]

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[In the 2nd half the Storm got more aggressive with their defense . . . and did make a couple of runs.  They definitely have the athletes to create turnovers.]

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[But every time they made a little run . . . ]

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[We attacked right back and either scored and/or got to the free throw line.  As the point guard, Matt hardly ever looks for his own shot – in this game he did on several occasions. And a few “and ones” by Alec fueled our counter attacks.  Had to laugh one time as the usually mild-mannered Alec let out a roar when he scored and was fouled – kind of gave you an idea of how “into” this game the team was.]

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[It takes a good defensive effort to hold the Storm to 59.  We got good support in that regard from Jake Drew (33), Robert Anderson (35), and Jeremiah Burnham (5); and Jared Lind (11) provided a long range shooting option.]

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[And who knew Amy Jost took her roller coaster ride on the road?]

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[Thus inspired, the student section then uses some sort of prestidigitation to assist Cardinal free throw shooters down the stretch.]

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[Spencer generally does not need such assistance.]

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[Whew, that was a tough one . . . ]

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[Celebrate!  We never let the Storm make a game of it (but because you knew they could, we never hit a fan comfort zone until late in the game.]

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[So now we play the No. 1-seeded Otters at Moorhead State on Thursday for the right to represent section 8AAA in the state tournament.  The seeds have held serve so far . . . let’s hope we can change that.  It will take another game like the one just played.]

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If you make every game a life and death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.  ~  Dean Smith

Up next:  Dunno?

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