I was sitting courtside at Target Center on Saturday, watching the 2011 Timberwolves Shootout. Now in its 15th year, the Shootout is one of the highlights of the boys’ basketball season.
Watching Minnesota teams play teams from South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa, I thought back to the 2007 Shootout, when a high school senior named Kevin Love played here with his Lake Oswego, Oregon, teammates. Love, of course, spent one year at UCLA and now is a fixture with the Timberwolves.
Lake Oswego defeated Osseo 74-58 in the Shootout that year, with Love getting 41 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. I enjoyed talking with him after that game, even though no one knew at the time that he would be playing for the Timberwolves only two years later. He talked about the thrill of playing in an NBA arena, and it was clear that the thrill was real for him.
During Saturday’s Shootout, the Timberwolves worked out on their Target Center practice court. As they left the building, some of them chatted with the high school players who were there for the Shootout. My favorite memory from Saturday: a young man from Onalaska High School in Wisconsin proudly showing teammates a cell-phone photo of himself with the Wolves’ Michael Beasley.
The biggest news Saturday came off the court when Linn-Mar, Iowa, junior point guard Marcus Paige announced that he plans to play collegiately at North Carolina. This came just moments before Linn-Mar met Apple Valley.
Minnesota teams love playing in the Shootout because of the possible postseason payoff. Should they advance to the state tournament, the semifinals and championship games are also played at Target Center. (In Class 4A and 2A, the 2011 state quarterfinals also will be held at Target Center; the other tourney site is Williams Arena.)
Back when the economy was strong, the Timberwolves were able to bring in some of the top high school teams from across the country; Love’s appearance fit that mold. When LeBron James was in high school in Ohio, the Timberwolves made an attempt to have his team play here … the rumor was that the price was quite high. In recent years the Shootout has become more of a regional draw, with the Minnesota teams’ opponents coming from surrounding states.
That was the format Saturday, when the lineup went like this:
--Roseville vs. Viborg/Hurley, South Dakota
--Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. Onalaska, Wisconsin
--Chaska vs. Cedar Rapids Washington, Iowa
--Apple Valley vs. Linn-Mar, Iowa
The Minnesota teams went 1-3 at the Shootout. Here’s a recap …
--Roseville trailed undefeated Viborg-Hurley by 16 points with 10 minutes to play in the first game. But the Raiders whittled down the margin and an offensive rebound basket by Sam Peterson at the buzzer game them a 68-66 victory. Sophomore Mackenzie Johnson led Roseville (7-2) with 16 points and 6-9 junior Zach Kraning had 15 for the Cougars (5-1).
--Benilde-St. Margaret led by two at halftime but Onalaska outscored the Red Knights 40-33 in the second half of a 62-57 victory. Onalaska (8-0) shot 56.5 percent in the second half and led by 10 with 6:16 to play. Benilde took a 56-55 lead with 1:56 left before two layups and two free throws by Tony Thomas put Onalaska over the top. Isaiah Zierden has 19 points for BSM (5-3) and Clint Rihn had 16 for Onalaska.
--The Cedar Rapids Washington Warriors lost at home to Minnetonka on Friday night and were in downtown Minneapolis to meet Chaska in a 5 p.m. game Saturday. And they got themselves a dose of Minnesota revenge with a 59-55 win over the Hawks. Wesley Washpun led Washington with 23 points and Iowa Hawkeyes recruit Josh Oglesby had 20. For Chaska, Wichita State recruit Jake White had 26 (four below his state-best average) and Penn State signee Ross Travis had 13. Each team made 21 field goals, but Washington had one more three-point basket than Chaska (6 to 5) and made three more free throws (11 to 8).
--Apple Valley, playing without its two top players, lost to Linn-Mar 81-35. Freshman Tyus Jones, one of the top young recruits in the nation, has missed much of the season with a kidney injury. And Eagles senior Tom Schalk, who has signed with William & Mary, sat out with an ankle injury.
--Diet Coke Count: 3
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 314
*Miles John has driven: 6,745
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