SAC HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT: Shooter’s observations from Thursday’s games
Christmas continues for the frog. This may just be Thursday for most people, but for me it is day two of the greatest four days of the year. What is better than basketball will a spot in the semi-finals of the Summit Athletic Conference Holiday Tournament on the line?
Here are some random thoughts from your favorite amphibian from Thursday at Wayne High School:
• Mikale Stevenson, are you kidding me? Forget about the 32 points. Forget about having the best single-game scoring effort of the tournament in the first half. Even forget about the fact he hit seven three pointers (all in that first half). The kid shot the ball with confidence and poise from everywhere on the court.
Every year we talk about potential stars and Stevenson has shined brightly in his first outing. Absolutely, as of 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Stevenson has been the star of this tournament. To his credit, Stevenson didn’t force things in the second half. Usually when you put up 27 in the first half, you start chucking in the second half. Stevenson missed his first three of the second half and then stopped shooting them. He knew when he wasn’t feeling it anymore and played within the Archer offense to lead them to the semi-finals.
• If youth and age don’t matter, as Shooter pointed out last Friday at Marion, then Snider is in great shape. As much as Stevenson was on fire, Panther freshman Michael Eley made the most of his first SAC Holiday Tournament appearance. Eley hit 4-of-6 first half threes and looks like he could shoot jumpers from the corner in his sleep.
• Next player up is a term often overused. But it truly does work for coach Juanita Goodwell and the South Side Archers. Without Mikeba Jones, one of their leading scorers, they made Bishop Dwenger look like they didn’t belong in the same gym. Kudos to Coach Cleveland Inge for pushing the pace and pressing South Side, but they just couldn’t keep up. On the flip side, South forced 33 turnovers, including 20 in the first half with their own pressure D. Jones wasn’t there, but everyone else filled the gap so it didn’t look like there was even a gap at all.
• Shooter can’t be the only one thrilled to see Lucas Kroft have a season breakout performance in his first ever SAC Holiday Tournament game, can he? Kroft looked as confident as I’ve seen him since he put on the red and white, slashing through Concordia defenders, skying for rebounds and getting into a groove from downtown. Kroft can be a big-time scorer, but he’s not what you call electric. He is a kid who can pick his spots and when he does it well, he thrives. He picked his spots well on Thursday to the tune of 32 points. The Legends have had a true #1 scorer and they have had a true #2 scorer. If Kroft keeps finding those openings and bullying his way in like he did against the Cadets, he makes North Side significantly more dangerous
And while we are on the subject of Lucas Kroft, let us not count out the impact that North Side guys wearing that number 0 jersey have made in the holiday tournament. Five years ago, it was Oosha Mitchell beating the buzzer in the finals to win the first of what has been four titles in a row for North Side. The very next year, Jujuan Starks wore the 0 and beat the buzzer too. It is not a bad number to have if you are in the SAC Holiday Tournament and ‘North’ is written across your chest.
• While Shooter is talking North Side, how about a couple of feel-good stories from their quarterfinal win over Concordia. Shooter got to see longtime friends and former St. Paul teammates Keion Brooks Jr. and Jadon Dance face off. While they didn’t get to guard each other much on Thursday, these two were quite the duo on the middle school level in leading St. Paul to prominence. Although they went their separate ways in high school, knowing that they were facing each other had to have motivated them and made today a little more fun.
And while Shooter doesn’t care much for blowouts, when they happen in the SAC Holiday Tournament, you get to see some kids come off the bench and get a moment on the big court. One of those moments Thursday belonged to North Side’s Coleone Davis. He has been on the holiday tournament court before as a South Side Archer, but you could tell that the kid just really loved the moment. He grinned an infectious grin from ear to ear when he was at the free throw line and chipped in seven points in the closing minutes for the Legends.
• As the season began, we at The News-Sentinel, particularly troublemakers Dan Vance and Justin Kenny, were crying foul on Homestead coach Rod Parker sporting a new facial hair look.
Now, with the goatee gone and Homestead’s long SAC winning streak kaput, maybe the lips and chin foliage should come back?
The Spartans played tense and uptight down the stretch against Bishop Luers in Thursday’s loss. Was it because of the Knights or because of the displeasure with Parker bidding farewell to his ornamental fuzz? The world may never know.
• Bishop Dwenger and Carroll have both limited Wayne’s offensive rhythm in the last few weeks, and both times the Generals found ways to grind out wins.
On Thursday, it was the Saints’ 2-3 zone that completely stalled Wayne to the tune of just 15 first-half points. There was too much standing around and not enough moving and cutting. Those are the times when Craig Young, a mismatch of epic proportions, must seize the moment. The junior shot just eight times on Thursday, with six of those being converted for points. He is too efficient from the field and too difficult to contain to not be the “me” guy when the Generals are struggling to generate offense.
Craig, my guy, it’s OK to be selfish sometimes and take over games.
• Bre Douglas did not play for Northrop on Thursday, with the Bruins surviving without her.
Good thing the senior is coming back for Friday’s showdown with South Side. The Archers looked positively magnificant on both ends of the court in their demolition of Bishop Dwenger. Douglas and her offensive prowess will be needed if the Bruins are to have a shot at upending the No. 2 seed in the tournament.