OK, first off, I have get it off my chest that neither Brett nor I was able to be at the Prelims. My wife is in the hospital and Brett has a new baby. There was nothing that could be…
OK, first off, I have get it off my chest that neither Brett nor I was able to be at the Prelims. My wife is in the hospital and Brett has a new baby. There was nothing that could be done on short notice. I would say, oh, it’s nothing, but as the doctor said, “It’s not nothing.” We just have to decide if we’re going to cure her cancer first or fix her heart. A week ago, it was cancer first. Now, it looks like we might be going in a different direction.
But, there’s more. Neither Brett nor I can be at the AAU Tournament. Did I mention my wife is in the hospital and Brett has a new baby. But, I will say that we have every hope of having a great new correspondent at the AAU Tournament. So, please, bear with us. And I am still going to tell you what happened by way of reading between the lines of the tournament results on the AAU Web site. Of course, you can do that yourself, but why bother when I’m here to help you out?
What Happened—The 2018s
What happened, indeed! OK, #1 seeded North Tartan 11 EYBL won 4 games to take the 1st seed in the AAU Tournament that follows the Prelims by 2 weeks. Stars Hersch gave ‘em a run before losing 56-50. Heaven Hamling and Krystal Carlson scored 34 points between them, but Tartan had 10 scorers and the Stars just 5.
But, who expected that So Minn Fury Blue would take 2nd place? Not me, not you. They beat Metro Stars Wiese 57-48 just after MSW had beaten the Fury Elites. They then shocked #2 rated (by Northstar Girls Hoops) Tayler Hill Elite 67-56. Sunday was not much like Saturday, however. SMF came back down to earth on Sunday.
The Fury Elites bounced back from 2 Saturday losses to beat SMF 58-35. Still, SMF took 1st place in Pool B and faced off with NT EY for the #1 seed and got totally blown out 84-46.
Katie Tornstrom, Sidney Blandin and Lexy Peterson, late of the SMF Gold, shot out the lights for SMF on Saturday. On Sunday, not so much.
OK, and what happened to Taylor Hill Elite to drop to the #5 seed? Well, the AAU maybe. They had ‘em seeded #6. We had ‘em ranked #2. But after beating Fury Elite in what probably should have been their toughest game, they lost unexpectedly to So Minn Fury and Metro Stars Wiese. They defeated Tartan Nike Elite 51-33 for 5th place. Morgan Hill was #5 in scoring among the 2018s and Jada Buford surprised by scoring consistently in double digits, but they didn’t get enough help.
And, both the Fury Elites and Fury Gold finished below their AAU seed and NSGH ranking, the Elites dropping from a #4 seed to #7, and the Gold from #7 to #8 with a combined record of 2-6. Monika Czinano led the Elites in scoring at 9.5 ppg, while Grace Touchette led the Golds at 8.5.
So those are your top 8 “golden” seeds: Again, 1) NT EYBL, 2) SMF Elite, 3) Stars Hersch, 4) Metro Stars Wiese, 5) Tayler Hill Elite, 6) NT Nike Elite, 7) Fury Elite, 8) Fury Gold.
The Not-So Golden
The other 6 teams that will compete in the D1 tournament are as follows.
• Pool C—Comets Elite went 2-0 in the pool, then lost to Stars DeSart 40-33 to get the #10 seed. Taylor Kingston, Annika Sougstad and Shea Oman all averaged in double figures for the Comets, who survived the loss of half its team to injuries and proms.
• Pool D—Stars DeSart went 2-0 in its pool, then defeated the Comets behind 14 points from Kylie Post. They’re #13.
• Pool E—Northern Lights went 2-0 in the pool, then lost to Stars Walters 56-33 to get #12.
• Pool F—Stars Walter went 3-0 overall to get the #11 seed.
• Pool G and H—Force Wyse and Hi Impact Caddy both went 3-0 to get the final seeds at #13 and #14. Mary Burke scored 12.3 ppg for HI while Haylee Yaeger and Taylor Johnson scored in double figures for the Force.
I refer to these teams as not-so golden not through any fault of theirs. It’s just that once they’re seeded below #8 for the Prelims, they have zero chance of moving into the top 8 no matter what they do. I don’t understand why Stars DeSart (3-0), Stars Walters (3-0), Force Wyse (3-0) and/or HI Impact Caddy (3-0) shouldn’t get a shot at, say, Fury Gold, who went 0-4, losing by an average of 26 points, for a place among the top 8. Call it the AAU’s “favorite’s protection plan,” because that is what it is.
The top seeds in D2 are Heat Vang at #15 and Rise 11 Purple at #16. But, the darkhorse favorite is Central Lakes Thunder, who forfeited all 3 games in the Prelims and settled for the #29 and final seed. They’re going to wreak havoc on D2 teams inside with Olivia Lane, Sophia Sowada and Jamie Nelson.
But, Heat Vang is led by the overall top 2018 scorer, Althea Kluge, with 20 ppg. Also in D2 you can see Delayna Ponds of Air Force One, who scored 14 ppg with a 2018 best of 11 3-pointers, and Nicole Herbranson of the Cyclones, who scored 14 ppg.
So, here are your 1st and 2nd round upset specials.
• Well, it would be easy to say #9 Stars DeSart (3-0) over #8 Fury Gold (0-4). I’m gonna say it but, no, it’s not easy. But, the Stars have a great inside game with Bren Fox and Lily Schoknecht, and both Noelle Josephson and Dacoda Speidel can also do some damage around the rim. So, there’s one limb-tester.
• #11 Stars Walters (3-0) could give Tartan Elite a run. Lizzy Karp and Isy Obiazor will get a good test inside against Angie Hammond and Annika Hoff.
• Neither of them will get too far against #3 Stars Hersch, who really really really ought to be seeded #2, though the only importance to that is who gets to wear the dark jersey in the semis.
• #5 Tayler Hill is a major threat to #4 Metro Stars Wiese if I am correct that Matunda will be back. And #7 Fury Elite will be out for a friendly game of blood against #2 So Minn Fury if both get that far.
So, anyway, it says here that the semis will have #1 NT EYBL vs. #5 Tayler Hill Elite, and #3 Stars Hersch vs. #7 Fury Elite.
In D2, as we already said, the #29-seeded Central Lakes Thunder could be a sort-of surprise. I also like the #25 Cyclones as a dark horse with Lily Pearson and Breanna Price inside, and Kylea Praska, Natalie Steichen and Herbranson on the perimeter.
And, Another Thing
Destinee Oberg (NT EYBL) and Rachel Garvey (SMFE) are back from injuries. Oberg, playing up a year, managed 5.3 ppg in her 1st action in about 6 weeks, not to mention her 1st time out with her new team. Garvey made 7 3-pointers on the weekend.
Oh, and look for our updated team ratings in their usual place.