May 15, 2006

Minnesota springball weekend review

Some of the better AAU teams in Minnesota traveled to the Jayhawk Invitational for the weekend and had very solid showings. Al Nolen Jr. and Jon Leuer led the Magic Elite 17s to the final four of the 17 and Under division despite dealing with a number of injuries to their teammates. Marcus Hill and his 43 Hoops team also played well in Kansas while over in Indiana, the 43 Hoops 16s coached by Chris Carr went 5-1 and had a second place finish. Stoddard Barnhill made clutch overtime free throws to get his team to the final contest.

The 17 and Under event at the Jayhawk Invitational was a chance for all the die hard Jayhawk fans to get another early look at their future center Cole Aldrich. Jayhawk fans packed the gym to see him have an up and down weekend as he struggled in the first game, was very solid in the two that followed and then he sat out the last game and a half with a rib injury. "It was nuts down there as every television station, every radio station, all the fans, they all wanted to see Cole," said Elite coach Parrish Curry. "He was in the Kansas City paper, the Lawrence paper, he's just a big deal down there.

"This group played well over the weekend and overall we went 4-2 and in the first game Friday night we lost to KC Pump-N-Run. Eric Carlson didn't show until Saturday because of a Friday night prom and without him, Blake Hoffarber and John Hutchins, it was a tough game and we lost by seven points. That team is very tough and without Blake and Eric we really don't have that ability to score consistently in bunches against a team that good. After that loss we crawled back to the final four winning four games in a row and then we lost in the semi-finals to Ft. Sooy No Limit." The Pump-N-Run team went on to win the tournament and that is the same team that was in Minneapolis last weekend finishing second place to the Howard Pulley Panthers in the Sabes Invite. But there was a major difference between the team that came to the Twin Cities and the team that played in Kansas and that difference was the presence of Tyrel Reed, a top 50 player in the class of 2007. Travis Releford also played sparingly this weekend but his injury limited him to just a few minutes.

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