Dan Wolfe is accustomed to working with quality basketball players. As a veteran college assistant coach at Gustavus, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to win. That’s why it wasn’t surprising watching his 2019 Minnesota Rise…
Dan Wolfe is accustomed to working with quality basketball players. As a veteran college assistant coach at Gustavus, he knows a thing or two about what it takes to win. That’s why it wasn’t surprising watching his 2019 Minnesota Rise Purple squad Saturday at the Battle on the Hardwood. The sophomore Rise were physical, they were fast and they never backed off, much like the way the Gusties play in St. Peter for Dan and head coach Laurie Kelly. There were two players in particular who stood out on Saturday afternoon at Lakeville South High School: Joey Batt and Caitlyn Rorman.
Batt is a quick, creative point guard who can score. Currently ranked 36th by Northstar among 2019s, the 5-7 sophomore averaged 16 points per game this winter for New Ulm. She penetrates at will and shoots a ton of free throws. Her ability to change speeds and leave defenders wondering what happened is impressive. Rorman is a 5-10 forward/wing from Blue Earth. She is strong with the ball, takes it to the hoop hard, and does the little things that coaches love. Just back from an ankle injury, she was all-everything for the Rise on Saturday. Ranked 46th in the class of 2019, Rorman is a solid college prospect.
2018 Rise offer up a pleasant surprise
I wasn’t expecting much from the 2018 version of the Rise to be honest. The juniors have struggled this summer to put it together for any length of time. But I went to Lakeville Saturday specifically to watch these two teams just to be sure we weren’t missing anything. Frankly, I was quite impressed with point guard Madison Heiderscheidt of Sleepy Eye. She has been through her share of injuries and recently shed the bulky knee brace that has been weighing her down. She looked good Saturday. Heiderscheidt is quick and exciting and plays the game with real flair. Ranked 67th in the class of 2018, she makes good decisions and has some range.
There was one very pleasant surprise on 2018 Rise Purple. I was familiar with her name – Sarah Ibarra – but not her game. Ibarra is ranked 169th in the junior class and is Heiderscheidt’s teammate at Sleepy Eye. The 5-8 junior is the kind of player you might tend to dismiss in the warmups. That would be a mistake as West Central United discovered in the late stages of their Saturday encounter. The physical guard, who dishes like a point and pounds the boards like a power forward, slowly emerged as the best player on the floor. Ibarra doesn't look quick, but she is. She doesn't look athletic, but she is. She doesn't look like a threat to score, but she is. In the final few minutes, with the game on the line, it became obvious why this kid is significantly underrated. In the final two and a half minutes of the game, Ibarra grabbed two crucial rebounds in traffic, forced a pair of key turnovers, got to the line for a couple of crucial free throws and drove to the hoop with three seconds left for the and-1. The Rise won the game 45-43. One thing is for certain, I will make it a point to watch Sleepy Eye at least once or twice next winter. No way there are 168 juniors in Minnesota who can outplay Ms. Ibarra.
How deep is that roster in Alexandria?
Saturday was the first time I had seen West Central United this AAU season, a squad made up of freshmen and sophomores from – you guessed it – the West Central part of the state. But really, they are from Alexandria since seven of them wear the red and black of the Cardinals. The best of that lot is a member of the class of 2020, 5-10 wing Ella Grove. She’s one of those kids that has probably had a big growth spurt in the not too distance past – all arms and legs and a little bit awkward just yet – but man is she quick. Grove is a terrific ball handler who makes good decisions and can knock it down from distance. Positive things happened whenever she was on the floor.
Another Alex ninth-grader, 5-9 guard Summer Gerhardt, was also impressive at times as was freshman guard Madison Linbo, an interloper from Willmar. Both have good skills but Linbo’s are much more polished, likely because she has been a varsity regular while the young Alex girls are waiting their turn. Linbo is a terrific defender with quick feet and a solid understanding of how things work when the other team has the ball. West Central gave Rise Purple 2018 a scare and they will be back for more.
Tayzha Buck (Red Wing) and Metro Stars Weise 2018 knocked off Crossfire Willey and Mn/Wi Force 2018 yesterday and will play for Sunday’s championship in the Gophers division against Kingdom Hoops Elite from Iowa. The Force will face North Tartan 11th Elite for third place… Minnesota Rise 10 Purple went 2-0 on Saturday and will go against North Tartan 10th Elite in Sunday’s championship game of the Badgers division… North Tartan 9 West will play Kingdom Hoops 15 Elite for the Spartans Division championship.