Our team had a great weekend in Denver at the Mile High Classic. The great thing about this team is that everyone can step up and have a big game to help get the win. Balanced scoring and great defense are our keys to success, and this weekend was a good example of that.
Our first game was Friday night against Panhandle Elite (NE). They came out in a zone, and we came out on fire. Chase Knickerbocker knocked down big shots early getting them out of the zone, and continued his shooting streak on the way to 22 points. Trevor Rothstein added 12 points in the big win.
Our second game was early Saturday morning against Colorado Chaos Blue. Early in the second half Ryan Kaczynski sprained his ankle which put him out for the rest of the weekend. Evan Shepherd was able to create for himself and others, scoring 11 points and dishing out 9 assists. Scoring was very balanced with Brenon Larson-Gulsvig, Trevor Rothstein, Bryndan Matthews, and Evan all scoring in double digits as we pulled out the win against a very good shooting team.
Alaska D1 Nation was able to beat Colorado Connect in overtime and set up our first bracket match up. We came out and took advantage of our mismatch inside early, feeding Max Lynch early for scores, fouls, or kick outs. We took a big lead into halftime, but went cold in the second half allowing them to claw back into the game. In the end we were able to hold on with Evan Shepherd leading the way with 14 points and Max Lynch adding 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Our next opponent was Danny Granger Elite D1 Ambassadors, which many claimed as the top team in the tournament. They were led by Jalen Jenkins a 6’3” PG who is ranked by ESPN, as well as Zach Lee a 6’7” forward with size and athleticism. Trevor Rothstein came out firing with two blocks early, and five 3’s scoring 21 points, many in the first half. It was a tight game all the way, but we held a 7 point lead at halftime. In the second half they battled back and took the lead late, but came out of a time out with a 5-0 run of our own to take the lead back. Bryndan Matthews did a great job containing their PG in the second half forcing bad shots that Max Lynch was able to clean up. Evan Shepherd hit key FT’s down the stretch to seal the victory finishing with 18 pts.
We matched up with Danny Granger Select D1 Ambassadors in the championship, which was a very good team. They also came out in a zone which slowed down the pace considerably. Evan Shepherd continued his strong weekend scoring our first 10 points on his way to 25 points for the game. Their team was on fire from 3, and their PG was quick, and we found ourselves down 16 points with 4 minutes to play. With a team of 4 guards and Chase we were able to claw back with stops and big shots leading us on a 22-3 run in the last 4 minutes. Chase hit four bombs and was fouled on another sending him to the line where he hit 2 of 3 shots; he scored all 14 of his points in the last 4 minutes. Evan continued to get to the FT line and score with the clock stopped and Logan Halvorson stepped up with some huge defensive plays getting deflections, steals, and even the block to seal the victory in dramatic come from behind fashion.
Evan Shepherd was named MVP for the weekend, scoring from the 3pt line, in the paint, and the charity stripe all weekend. He was also solid on defense and created easy scoring chances for teammates. Our bench energy was contagious as well as everyone got involved and made big plays. It’s our first championship of the summer, and a big step in our team’s growth.