This One Was Unfortunate

January 6

The game after the big win against Fergus Falls, which gave us a leg up in conference and section standings.  This was going to be a tough game, particularly against a team as talented, if unpredictable, as the Sauk Rapids Storm.  I thought the best game we played last year was against the Storm in the section semi-finals.  All of which would . . . 

[The opening tip – gives you an idea of the hops of our 6’1″ Robert Anderson (3) jumping against their very talented 6’7″ junior center, Cody Landwehr (24).]

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[I think the Storm eventually came up with it.]

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[Here Mr. Anderson is arriving in the offensive zone.  The Amazing Mr. Ripley is shooting the official photos in the background.]

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[This is what’s fun in “developing” the photos.  I had no idea Mark was perfectly positioned with his camera between Robert and the Storm’s long range bomber, junior Anthony Massman (25).  The Storm’s roster is almost entirely juniors, so of course they’ll be a team to beat next year (if not still this year).]

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[Trey Hoepner (1) and Jake Drew (33) on the Cards’ full court press.  The Storm is a little tougher to do this against because they have a height advantage at almost every position.]

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[Coming off a great game against Fergus, Spencer Hockert (15) kept it going in this game.]

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[Looking for Jake inside, the Storm’s length made it very difficult.  With Landwehr at 6’7″ and Deng Deang (15), a lanky 6’5″, there’s not many interior passing lanes.]

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[Landwehr looks aghast at Jake.  Probably because Jake just came up with another offensive rebound.  At 6’4″, Jake is a rebounding machine.  I would go to games just to watch him rebound.]

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[“The Boys” in the corner are back!  The team’s gotta love their support.  However, I have to point out I haven’t seen them at the girls’ games?]

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[The cheerleaders entertained with their competition routine at halftime.]

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[Oh, and here’s the halftime scoreboard.  My concerns were borne out.  We played hard, but maybe like the Marshall game, we just couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean.  We must has missed a half dozen puppies.  They got their hands on a lot of balls, meaning we had too many turnovers.  Spencer had over half our points, but one player can’t do it all.]

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[Though Jake is shooting a freebie here, we didn’t come out flying in the second half and soon found ourselves down by 13 or 14 (who remembers?).  We seemed at an athletic disadvantage.]

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[Working overtime on defense usually produces positive results . . . that and a long ‘3’ by Spencer seemed to get our motors running.]

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[Justin Balcomb (43), junior, gave us a big lift coming off the bench again.  At 6’8″, he gives us a defining defensive presence underneath – and he’s been known to hit key ‘3’s’.]

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[Where’d Robert go?]

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[Deang was a game-long pain.  He’s too tall to be guarded by a little guy, too quick to be guarded by a big guy.  Plus, he can shoot.  He finished with 28 points.]

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[They were better at making free throws down the stretch – free throw shooting matters.]

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[Thought it strange here that Jaran Roste’s (31) first free throw was not close (he made the 2nd).  Then later from the field as we’re making a comeback he made a couple of long ‘3’s’.]

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[Spencer a more than solid 27 points again.  He made a long 3 at the end of our comeback that gave us the lead at 50 – 49.  Then the Storm went off on a mini-run again.]

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[Our defensive pressure ultimately yields the desired turnovers.]

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[Justin guards the paint. The paint would play a key role in the game’s outcome.]

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[Keaton Kvale (23), 6’4″ senior, gave us some quality big man minutes in the game.]

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[Jake likely on the heels of an offensive rebound.]

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[Jaran on the defensive point.]

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[It’s getting late, the game is close, the fans and benches are standing.]

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[Spencer was solid at the line.  Cameron Rice (21), 5’10” junior, was getting some quality playing time here.]

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[Spencer launches a long 3.  The Storm’s number 20 tries the “BOO!” defense.]

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[Robert and Trey keeping an eye on Deang.]

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[It’s gotta be pressure, pressure, pressure . . . ]

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[Robert comes for the double team . . . ]

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[“The Boys” are cheering – we must have just scored.]

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[The atmosphere is electric.  We just don’t have the battery capacity to store it!]

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[Regarding the “paint.”  On back-to-back plays our defenders established position in the paint (early enough that you could see the collision coming) and were called for blocking fouls by times.  The boos rained down from the stands.  The Storm made all 4 of those free throws which set up the final play of the game.  With the game tied with 12 seconds left, the Cards allowed the Storm into the front court without challenge.  Once in the front court, Deang drove into the lane and hit a runner for the winning bucket.  The final score was 67 – 65.  But basically we lost the game in the first half and were always battling from behind.  Got to get back on it again against Rocori next week.]

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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:  We’re outa here – heading for the Land Down Under!

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