Mill City: 5 Things I Liked
I made my AAU debut at this weekend's Mill City event hosted by the Minnesota Fury. I'll have a few posts coming over the next few days, but I'm starting with five quick-hit thoughts. 1. Fury's big rally In an epic…
I made my AAU debut at this weekend's Mill City event hosted by the Minnesota Fury. I'll have a few posts coming over the next few days, but I'm starting with five quick-hit thoughts.
1. Fury's big rally
In an epic showdown, Wisconsin Flight Elite knocked off Fury Elite in the 2018 National title game 71-67 in 2OT. This might have been the game everyone predicted, but I doubt many saw it unfolding the way it did.
Flight once led 45-30 and the Fury were dead in the water. Then it looked like Nick Storm hit a cheat code where his team's basket got 3 times bigger and everything started going in.
Monica Czinano was a beast in the paint and everyone else was hitting triples — until the magic ran out. Sydney Lodermeier missed an open look at the end of overtime and Flight's defense locked down in the second extra session to finally salt away what once looked like it'd be an easy win.
2. Sommer Blakemore's confidence
The Fury rookie has wasted no time cementing her place as the top team's starting — and closing — point guard. Without her aggressive heroics, it's possible the Fury don't even make that title game.
Leading by just 1 with about a minute left in the semifinals, Blakemore launched a triple rather milking the clock. It was one of those no-no-YES moments for everyone who saw it happen. But she wasn't finished. Blakemore drilled 2-3 FTs and grabbed a loose ball in the closing seconds to salt away the 3-point win.
She got bottled up in crunch time against Flight, but I'm still tipping my cap here for what she did earlier. She's one of our top point guard prospects in the Class of 2018 and Park Center's new head coach has a great piece to build around next winter.
3. Taylie Scott's mentality
I've often watched Crossfire point guard Taylie Scott play thinking she should be fitted for shoulder pads. The strong 2019 prospect plays downhill, relentlessly attacking like a running back searching for a hole while averaging 16-5-6-5 last winter. On Sunday, she looked more like a middle linebacker.
Playing up a division against a talented, physical opponent, Scott and her teammates rose to the physical challenge as the refs let things get totally out of hand. Scott seemed to be on the ground every possession, often taking an opponent or two with her. I joked on Twitter that she led the team in tackles — but Hannah Purcell actually laid someone out in transition like Tecmo Bo…while leading the break…and the refs said play on.
Crossfire won and no one got hurt, so coach Ken Theisen was able to joke about it afterward but…not ideal.
4. Tayzha Buck's aim
The last time I saw Tayzha Buck play, the Red Wing guard was in tears with a shoulder injury that kept her glued to the bench for the final 1.5 games of the high school season.
She shot the lights out Sunday morning, going 3-3 from beyond the arc in the first 8 minutes as MN Metro Stars raced to something like a 28-5 lead. I actually moved to a different court because it appeared to be such a mismatch. Then I saw the LaCrosse team came back to win by double digits?!
I'll be interested to see where Buck ends up in college. She's not the dynamic scorer her sister, Tesha (Green Bay and New Mexico), was, but she's an elite shooter who is also a very good defender. The Wingers will be a dangerous team in 3A next season.
5. Olivia Lane's rebounding
In a word: relentless. The 6-2 jumping jack from Pequot Lakes was, arguably, the most dynamic athlete in the gym this weekend — and that's really saying something.
The 2019 prospect is playing up this summer with Central Lakes Thunder 17U, which played in the 2018 Signature field. In her first game Sunday, she caught an outlet pass, spun around a defender and finished through contact at the rim. I'm told she's receiving serious interest from numerous Division I programs — including UND, NDSU and SDSU — and sequences like that highlight why. She averaged 20-12 with 2 steals and 2 blocks as a sophomore.
We've “only” got her rated #16 right now, but she's got the physical tools to be #1. Yes, she's that gifted. Did I mention her sister is a track star at SDSU and Olivia's also a high-level sprinter who spent Friday night at the Hamline Elite Meet, Minnesota's premier track event?
However, Lane remains an unfinished offensive talent on the hardwood who would benefit from improved strength, better footwork and developing a left hand. Her rebounding numbers are consistently off the charts, but part of that is due to her own interior misses, which are often rushed and off balance.
She's far from an unknown, but she remains an underrated prospect with a huge ceiling.