Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tip Off Classic: The buzz has officially begun

by Ryan James
posted 08-04-2009

The buzz about the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic has begun. The 11 game event at Minnetonka High School may even grow to 12 contests, as teams just want to be involved with this fantastic one-day extravaganza. This IS the best collection of Minnesota talent under one roof all year long and over 15 division one college coaches have asked about the event because there is no better way to see more local talent then the Tip-Off Classic.

There are several contests that are catching the attention of our basketball community but Tartan versus Hopkins has moved to the top of the list. After the Royals defeated Tartan at the Pacesetter Sweet 16 in the finals Drew Preiner of the Titans walked off the floor and said “we want them again now”.

This little rivalry started last fall when a Hopkins player booted a Tartan player in the head in a fall league game and things grew this past weekend. Trash talking, technical fouls, and physical play were present and despite some of the nonsense there is a growing rivalry here. Round three could be in fall league but the big one will be in December. Hopkins beat Tartan by 12 points in the end but it was a much closer game than that. Troy Klingsporn and Drew Preiner had outstanding performances against the Royals but foul trouble hurt Tartan and D.J. Peterson and Joe Coleman took advantage. Their athletic ability could not be contained as the pair took over down the stretch. Things should be even more intense this December when Mark Klingsporn and Ken Novak Jr. get to the benches to lead their teams.

The Tip-Off Classic opens with Sibley East against Waconia and the feature is a post-up battle between North Dakota State commit Marshal Bjorklund and 2011 top five prospect Shelby Moats. Bjorklund is a guy that some consider to be “the best high school player that Minnesota has” while Moats’s inside and outside game will test that statement.

Another inside battle will be Jake Kreuser of Henry Sibley going head to head with Chad Calcaterra of Cloquet. This game looked to be a closer match-up then some thought until Jordan Jackson transferred from Como Park to Henry Sibley. Jackson is likely to be one of the state’s best scorers this year and Cloquet will have a tough time with him as will everybody else. But what fans will be watching is how Kreuser goes up against Calcaterra.

Another tasty contest will be Minneapolis Patrick Henry against Minnesota Transitions. With talent like Jordan Hughes, Louis Cox, Kevin Noreen, and Kyle Noreen on the floor you can definitely expect a ton of points to be put on the board. And with the vast majority of the athletes being from Minneapolis these kids will be jacked for the match-up.

The Tip-Off Classic has a lot of instate versus outstate flavor that will bring teams together that wouldn’t normally see one another. Class AA state championship contender Plainview/Elgin-Millville takes on an improving Minneapolis North team, Jordan Reiwer and Staples-Motley face Jacob Thomas and Columbia Heights, and a big Class AA contest will be Braham against Minnehaha Academy. Both of those teams will be preseason top ten and you can bet all the top coaches of that class will be on hand to scout.

There are also some outstanding match-ups from teams across the metro and these are games that basketball fans haven’t seen before. The deep bench of the Champlin Park Rebels will face Cretin-Derham Hall who arguably could have the most talent in the state of Minnesota. With a 6-foot-7 rock in the middle in Seantrel Henderson, a 6-foot-6 athletic power forward in Clay Horne, the vastly improved 6-foot-5 athletic Elliot Owusu, a sensational scorer in Raijon Kelly, and the expected contributions from outstanding sophomore talents Cortez Tillman and C.J. Neumann, the CDH Raiders have a combination of talented size and athletic ability that nobody else can match. But can they put things all together? The Champlin Park Rebels will be the first to test.

Talent will be coming off the bench in waves when Benilde-St. Margaret’s faces Lakeville South. Only Hopkins and Cretin-Derham Hall can go as deep as BSM when it comes to talent but the Red Knights will be young in spots. The Cougar junior group of wing Alex Richter, point guard Riley West, and post Spencer Pankonin are a foundation for success and when you put senior power forward Jake Wensmen and senior scoring guards Grant Mitchell and J.D. Mehlhon on the floor this is a deep group. But that can be matched by BSM at just about every position. Up front the Red Knights have 6-foot-5 juniors Myles Brand and Evan Battle, with the ball is sophomore star Isaiah Zierden, and on the wing is senior leaders Peter Crawford and Darren Glover. The Red Knights have several others both seniors and sophomores alike coming off the bench. So what will win out? One team has more experience while the other has more depth.

A near crosstown contest at the Tip-Off is Chaska against Minnetonka and once again there is going to be talent up and down the line-up. Chaska has the state’s elite group of 2011 players with Ross Travis, Jake White, and Max Watts taking the court but can they deal with the Tonka Shooters? You have to step out on Tor Anderson, Nick Latzke, and Cole Stefan so if coach John Hedstrom has that dribble drive attack going Chaska will have their work cut out for them.

And things don’t stop there. DeLaSalle against Osseo puts two of the state’s best programs and two of the state’s best coaches on the floor going head to head. Dave Thorson and Tim Theisen have some great tools to work with in Aaron Anderson, John Rowland, Jonah Travis, Jalen Jaspers, and others.

So right now go look at your calendar and circle December 12th. Your day should be open so the only problem will be what games are you going to watch? With two courts going at the same time you have to decide what talent you want to see. The start times are staggered so if by chance a game gets out of hand you can swing over to the other court and check out the action. Currently the Tip-Off starts at 11:00 AM (but stay tuned we may add another contest) and you will be entertained by the state’s best until ten o’clock at night.

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