More than 80,000 people were without power Sunday morning in the Twin Cities thanks to some stormy summer weather. The girls of North Tartan 8 Coley were not among them. Instead, Tylor Coley’s talented team of 2021s were electric as…
More than 80,000 people were without power Sunday morning in the Twin Cities thanks to some stormy summer weather. The girls of North Tartan 8 Coley were not among them. Instead, Tylor Coley’s talented team of 2021s were electric as they lit up a talented opponent to win their division at the Suns Summer Xplosion. North Tartan recorded an impressive 62-54 victory over E1T1 Premiere 9, and were the only Minnesota team to win in the top four divisions. The Dakota Drillers’ 2018 and 2021 teams each earned a trophy. Wisconsin Playground Elite was best among the 2019s, as they knocked off a strong Minnesota Suns Kietzer squad.
JoJo had the MoJo when it mattered most
It’s not surprising that the Coley girls should go home with the hardware. The core of this group has been together since elementary school and has evolved into a formidable squad that can win in a variety of different ways. On many nights it is the sharp shooting of Kendall Coley (St. Louis Park) that gets the job done. The lanky, 6-foot-1-inch forward/wing is a streaky shooter who scores in bunches. She had 27 points in a high school varsity game this past winter, not bad for kid who isn’t even in high school yet. Kendall is long and lanky, and has high-end potential. Sister Chase is in the Big Ten at Iowa so she knows what it takes.
On other nights, it is 6-foot-forward Nora Francois of De la Salle who grabs the spotlight. Francois is a smooth, athletic big with nice touch around the rim and a beautiful jump shot. Francois played a key role in the second half of the season for the Islanders, and will no doubt be an impact player as a freshman. Then there’s Takara Mason, the stocky guard out of Tartan High School in Oakdale. There is no easy box you can put Mason in. She’s not tall (perhaps 5-6?) but is really, really strong. She handles the ball like a point guard, which is where she spends most of her time with North Tartan, but drives to the hoop like a power forward. Mason can also light it up from three, and her floater in the lane is a thing of beauty.
On Sunday afternoon, Mason was in foul trouble and Coley wasn’t shooting much. When Francois went down with an ankle injury in the second half, things could have gone south for North Tartan. Enter the fourth member of Coley’s core four – smooth shooting guard Joelle Sheffield, who has wonderful handles and a calm demeanor and just might be the glue that holds this puzzle together. On this day it was ‘JoJo’ who delivered when it mattered most with a series of silky jumpers that never so much as brushed the rim. The St. Louis Park freshman-to-be finished with 2 threes, 2 twos and 3 of 4 free throws for 13 points. Mason also had 13 while Francois totaled 12.
One of three excellent 2021 teams in the North Tartan family, this group is probably the most fun to watch. Of course, Coach Coley himself is worth the price of admission as he sprints the sideline, frantically jumping up and down while imploring his girls to do more. When the officials make a call he disagrees with, they’re going to hear about it loudly and clearly. Of course, everyone in the gym hears it, too – and the folks down the hall – but you can’t argue with the results. Somehow it all works, and on this day it worked very well. After a sensational Saturday, E1T1 was simply out of sync from the get-go. Very little was falling and nobody was rebounding, and the results were predictable. Zhane Thompson's (Burnsville) 22 points and 18 from Patience Williams (Fridley) were not enough. It’s not fun to lose a championship game, never mind to a team one grade below you, but E1T1 will no doubt be back. In the meantime, the Coley girls are polishing another trophy.
The Long(s) and the short of it from Wayzata
If you are going to host a nice party, it pays to be careful who you put on the guest list. Perhaps the Long family and their Minnesota Suns AAU organization should think twice about letting those ornery kids from the oil patch into the house. Although several of the Suns teams put on a good showing over the weekend, none managed to win a championship in grades 8 to 11. Instead, it was the visiting Dakota Drillers who rolled over Suns Rachael Long 2018 in the championship of the top division. The Drillers, who hail from Bismarck and points west, played like a well-oiled machine (sorry!) in a 71-50 victory. Point guard Kennedy Harris of Mandan, N.D., torched the Suns as she did to every other Drillers’ opponent.
It was an unfortunate way to end the weekend for the Suns’ 2018 squad, especially for 5-8 point guard Jada Hood of Roseville. The sophomore, who also suited up for Dre Jefferson’s 2019 squad, had herself a nice showing with a couple of 20+ point games. Hood repeatedly demonstrated her ability to knock it down from outside the arc while driving to the hoop hard for some key baskets. In the championship game, however, she went cold. Rated #64 in the class of 2019, Hood has waited patiently for her turn to start at point guard for the Raiders, who graduated a busload of seniors this spring.
Two highly-rated members of the Crossfire Theisen AAU squad, Kaylee Nelson and Jayda Johnston, also return to Roseville’s varsity, along with post Josie Haug of North Tartan 9 West (#48 in 2020) and talented 2020 guard Tianna Iserman of Suns Long/Michaud. A key addition will be 6-3 center Tamia Ugass of Minnesota Stars Hersch, along with talented guard Rae’janae Meadows of St. Paul Humboldt, both members of the class of 2021 watch list. Hood’s stock should rise this winter as she leads Roseville’s rebuilding. On Sunday, it was only the price of oil that was up.