North Tartan takes 8th, 10th and 11th grade AAU crowns All 3 wins by double digit margins OK, just for starters, we need to set the record straight. The AAU Web site shows North Tartan 2020 Starks beating the Fury…
North Tartan takes 8th, 10th and 11th grade AAU crowns
All 3 wins by double digit margins
OK, just for starters, we need to set the record straight. The AAU Web site shows North Tartan 2020 Starks beating the Fury 2020 Gauntlet 50-45 in their state final game. This score is incorrect. If you add up the Tartan individual scoring from the box score, you get a total of 60, but when Paige Bueckers scored a statement bucket off a steal at the final buzzer, the scoreboard showed a score of 58-45. So, you decide. But no matter. Tartan 2020 Starks is the Sophomore Division 1 champion.
And the final score of the 11th grade game was North Tartan 53 Stars Nelson 29, not 53-39 as shown on he AAU Web site.
North Tartan 8th Contreras 56 Fury 2022 Blue 41
This goes along with North Tartan championships in the 10th and 11th grad tournaments. Only Stars Hersch’s big comeback in the 9th grade final prevented Tartan from scoring an unprecedented sweep of the top 4 age groups. The North Tartan 8th graders, nominally North Tartan Contreras though “coach” Contreras was not on the sideline, defeated Fury 2022 Blue 56-41.
It is very hard to say which of North Tartan’s 3 champions was most impressive. The 8th graders are just stronger and more athletic than a group of 8th graders are supposed to be. Not particularly tall and not particularly short, but powerful. Mainly, that manifested itself on the offensive glass, where Tartan pulled down 16 offensive rebounds good for 15 2nd chance points. The Fury battled, specifically Mallory Heyer, Katie Hurt and Lily Meister, Fury’s bigs, battled inside. But it was Tartan’s guards who did most of the damage. They weren’t bigger than the Fury. They were a little big smaller. But, my goodness, they are strong and powerful.
Amaya Battle led the way with 21 points, while Ari Gordon added 13 and Tessa Johnson 10. Mya Williams was a beast on the boards. Heyer scored 12 points for the Fury.
North Tartan 10th Starks 60 Fury 2020 Gauntlet 45
Fury 2020 Gauntlet led Tartan through much of the 1st half, pulling away from a 15-all tie on 2 buckets by Alyssa Ustby and 3 by Mackenzie Kramer. But Lauren Jensen scored 3 times for Tartan inside of 3:30 to get her team within 29-28 at the half. Not only that but coach Tara Starks put Paige Bueckers on Kramer for the final 2 minutes of the half and Bueckers shut Kramer down completely.
It was a statement that carried over to the 2nd half. After shooting near 50 percent in the 1st half, the Fury sagged to about 33 percent in the 2nd as Tartan ratcheted up the defensive pressure. So, Tartan quickly took a 3 point lead at 37-34 and 39-36, then extended it to 4, and to 5 at 45-40 and then 7 at 47-40 on a pair of buckets by Courtney Becker. Tartan won the 2nd half 32-16 and the game, well, again, I’m going to say 60-45. Tartan closed on a 21-9 run.
Bueckers and Jensen each scored 13, while Mallory Brake was all over the offensive boards and added 10, and Nyamer Diew scored 8 on some strong post moves. Kramer scored 10 and Ustby 6 for the Fury. Bueckers and Jensen also led North Tartan with 32 and 29 points over 3 tournament games.
(Just for the record, I had an old paper roster that showed Courtney Becker as #30 and Vanessa Alexander as #32, while the online version later was corrected to the other way around. Even so, the official box score shows Alexander with 7 points and Becker with zero. I believe that should read Becker 7 Alexander 0.)
North Tartan 11th Coury 53 Stars 11th Nelson 29
Finally, in the day’s final Division 1 championship, Tartan’s juniors broke away from a 21-18 lead late in the 1st half as Macy Guebert scored off the offensive glass to end the 1st half, then opened the 2nd with a pair of 3s. Just that fast it was 31-18 and it was all over but the shouting. Tartan also frustrated Stars Nelson throughout the 2nd half with their defensive quickness and intensity.
“That’s something we work on at practice,” guard Sara Scalia said afterward. “Defense. Defense. Defense. I think our team defense was really good today.”
And, again, by the way, the AAU Web site shows a final of 53-39 but if you add up the Stars Nelson scoring you get a total of 29. The final score in this game was 53-29. So, from 21-18, Tartan dominated the rest of the way 32-11.
Guebert led the scoring with 18 points while Kallie Theisen and Sara Scalia added 9 each. Nobody else on either side had more than 5.
Cyclones 63 Northern Lights 46
There was one more final and that was in Junior Division 2 where the #29-seeded Cyclones stuck it to the #19 Northern Lights 63-46. The west central-based Cyclones were just too big and too strong for the Arrowhead-based Lights as bigs Katie Entzi and Breanna Price combined for 23 points and Tori Peschel added 11.
The Lights seemed to have 5 guards on the floor most of the time, all of them trying to do the same thing. Ava Hill, who led Mesabi East to the state tournament last March, seemed to be the best and the quickest of the guards and she was able to score 8 points. But it was a tough slog for the Lights, who just never got their offensive really moving, despite all the guards out there.