skip navigation

Minnesota wins fourth border battle 5-0

01/20/2010, 1:10pm CST
By Mark Miller

Observations from the fourth annual Wisconsin vs. Minnesota Border Battle held Saturday at Eau Claire Memorial High School:

* After winning the first two Border Battles, 3-2, and losing last season by the same margin, Wisconsin came out on the short end of a 5-0 whitewash Saturday. Blair-Taylor and Fall Creek took their highly regarded counterparts down to the wire before losing and Eau Claire Regis remained within striking distance of Minneapolis North for most of the game, but both Eau Claire North and Eau Claire Memorial battled from behind throughout their contests. Minnesota now leads Border Battle, 12-8. 

* Blair-Taylor played with a ton of spirit and basketball I.Q. in its 67-64 overtime loss to Minnehaha Academy. Coach Randy Storlie used a zone defense to slow Minnehaha Academy and that decision helped the Wildcats overcome a slow start against one of Minnesota’s elite small-school programs. 

* Blair-Taylor fell to 10-2, but the Wildcats’ toughness and grit will come in handy once the WIAA playoffs begin. After advancing to the WIAA Division 4 State Tournament last season, Blair-Taylor moves up to Division 3 this season and should again be a tough out on the tournament trail.

* Brothers Hank and Reggie Kujak of Blair-Taylor bring vastly different strengths to the game. Hank Kujak (6-2) is a skilled perimeter player who did the bulk of the ball handling for Blair-Taylor and finished with 13 points. Reggie Kujak (6-6) is a frontcourt reserve who plays primarily in the post. Though Reggie Kujak is still a bit raw, his potential is outstanding as he is active on the glass and challenging shots. 

“(Reggie) is really coming on and he’s a very hard-working kid,” Randy Storlie said. “Our kids really worked hard (against Minnehaha Academy). We stuck right with them and didn’t back off. This is a stepping stone for us for the rest of the season, and our fans got treated to a great game.” 

* Senior guards Cody Cartrette (6-0) and Shay Benedict (6-1) finished with 16 and 12 points, respectively, and displayed plenty of will, skill and energy throughout the contest. Junior forward Isaiah Paulson (6-3) fouled out, but his length, athleticism and ability to score in the lane and in transition are definite assets for the Wildcats. Junior Luke Howe (6-2) is a bit undersized in the post, but he used his physical strength and quickness to score 10 points.

* Minnehaha Academy improved to 12-3 and won its seventh straight game. The Redhawks played with great poise and patience while attacked the Wildcats’ zone defense. Senior guard Parker Hines (6-0) finished with 23 points and nailed five three-pointers. 

* Like Blair-Taylor, Fall Creek competed exceptionally hard and exchanged the lead several times before running out of gas a bit at the end and falling to Minnesota Transitions Charter School, 58-54.

* The Crickets continue to adjust to life without their starting point guard as senior Matt Dickinsen (6-1) was lost for the season after sustaining a serious neck injury in a collision with a television cameraman under the basket Jan. 14. Senior Jordan Reetz (6-6) did yeomen’s work in handling the ball and finding teammates against Transitions, though his scoring production suffered just a bit as he finished with nine points after coming into the contest averaging 18.0 ppg. 

“Jordan is up to the task on playing at the point,” Fall Creek coach Rick Storlie said. “He’s going to have to handle the ball a lot more. We’re talking about a four-year starter and a guy who just went over 1,000 points for his career. Give Transitions credit, they did a good job of getting the ball out of Jordan’s hands, but we did not get him enough touches on the offensive end of the floor. They had him well scouted.”

* Fall Creek senior Luke Tweed (6-5) more than picked up the scoring slack created by Reetz’s low output as he poured in a team-high 18 points largely on the strength of four three-point baskets. Tweed is a skilled, intelligent wing player who makes shots, finds teammates and defends. Tweed was matched up for much of the game against Kevin Noreen, a 6-8 forward who came into the game averaging 33.9 ppg. Though Noreen did finish with 28 points, he worked hard for each and every one of those points thanks to Tweed’s persistent defense.

* Fall Creek slipped to 11-2, but Storlie believes his team can take many positives from the contest as it heads into the second half of the Western Cloverbelt Conference schedule and the WIAA playoffs. 

“We saw the size and the type of quickness we might see from a team like Racine St. Catherine’s,” Storlie said. “Their length was also tremendous. We will see this type of competition again ad we will have to be ready for it.”

* Noreen is a four-star prospect on the website, and the future Boston College Eagle displayed great hands and a soft shooting touch throughout the contest. Though he’ll need to bulk up a bit in order to survive the physical nature of play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Noreen’s skill level and ability to play away from the basket figure to be strengths for Boston College over the next four seasons.

* Regis slowed the tempo of its matchup against extremely quick, deep and athletic Minneapolis North, but the Polars went on a scoring spree late in the third period and into the fourth quarter to register a 47-40 victory. 

* Regis junior Connor Miller (6-2) had to do some heavy lifting for the Ramblers, who played without senior wing guard Jack Eaton (5-11) due to an ankle sprain. Miller used his outstanding ball-handling ability and length to help the Ramblers get into their offense against North’s relentless pressure defense. He also finished with a team-high 14 points. Miller appears to be closing in on 6-3 and he has definitely added some weight to his long, lanky frame. As he continues to mature physically, Miller figures to emerge as one of the hottest collegiate prospects in the state in the class of 2011. 

“For the most part, I thought Connor handled the pressure well,” Regis coach Bill Uelmen said. “He’s intelligent and plays the game hard. He’s a great kid to coach.”

* Regis senior Adam Ganske (6-3) found the going a bit difficult in the lane against North’s Mark Devine (6-7), Ariel Deloney (6-2) and Pengi Mboma (6-2). Ganske finished with just six points, well below his average of just over 14 points per outing.

* Regis lost for the second time in three games and takes a 10-4 record into its Western Cloverbelt game at Gilman on Thursday. Despite the setbacks, the Ramblers remain a solid team and one capable of making plenty of noise in the Division 3 playoffs. Juniors Steven Hofacker (6-7) and Joe Lorenz (6-2) played well along the baseline against North, and their continued improvement just might be the key to Regis’ success the rest of the way. 

* Minneapolis North got a pair of highlight-reel dunks from Devine in the second period. A long, active and athletic 6-7 forward, Devine threw down two dunks while Hofacker was on the bench with foul trouble in the second period, igniting the crowd and helping the Polars pull even at 17 at intermission. North improved to 11-4 and won its eighth straight game. 

* Eau Claire North fell behind, 13-5, after the first period and never was able to get over the hump in dropping a 41-28 decision to Stillwater. North fell to 9-4 and has lost four of its last seven games. 

* Wisconsin recruit Evan Anderson (6-11) had a difficult night for the Huskies, finishing with five points and fouling out in the final period. Matched up against 6-9 Ryan Duxbury of Stillwater, Anderson was called for two offensive fouls in the first half and that appeared to take away a bit of his aggressiveness on offense. He did block several shots and grab a handful of rebounds, but he will need to get much better offensively in order to thrive in the Badgers’ swing offense.

“Evan has been remarkably consistent for what we’ve been asking of him,” North coach Aric Carpenter said. “He has been very good at picking and choosing his spots offensively. He has accepted the double teams and tried to get him teammates involved.”

* No North player reached double figures in scoring as a balanced, well-coached and deep Stillwater squad held the Huskies to a season-low offensive output. Though North had trouble finding the bottom of the net, the Huskies did play strong defense and Carpenter was more than pleased with the effort of his players. 

“I feel good about how we played in a lot of ways,” Carpenter said. “If we compete like we did tonight, good things will happen down the road. When you consider the whole rotation of Stillwater, that was the best team we’ve faced this season.”

* Eau Claire Memorial trailed just 18-14 after the first period, but senior Zach Riedeman (6-6) put on a show in the second period to give Forest Lake a commanding 38-25 halftime lead en route to a 61-48 victory. A versatile wing forward, Riedeman scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half as Stillwater took control. 

* Thanks to some brilliant all-around play from senior Spencer Tollefson (6-7), Memorial made a strong run at the Rangers in the second half. Tollefson scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and helped the Old Abes get as close as five points in the fourth period before running out of gas. Tollefson is an active, mobile combination forward who scored facing the basket and on nifty moves around the basket. His outstanding play this season is the major reason Memorial sits atop the Big Rivers Conference standings with a 6-0 league record and 10-3 overall mark.

* Memorial junior point guard Ricky Caldwell (5-11) scored eight points and weaved his way in and around Stillwater defenders to set up his teammates, while senior guard Zac Mestelle (6-2) hit a pair of three-pointers on the way to scoring eight points. 

* Next year’s Border Battle, which is co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook and The Breakdown, will shift back to Minnesota and is tentatively set for January 29, 2011 at Tech High School in St. Cloud. Teams and pairings will be announced at a later date.

Tag(s): Border Battle