In the first two minutes of the Maple Grove/Blaine game, Jake Wieneke took a pass and made a layup that displayed his jackrabbit-like speed. It was a sign of things to come in the Crimson's 60-41 victory.
Al McGuire, legendary Marquette coach, used to say that shooting is like the stock market. You would like to count on it most of the time, but it can go up and down in a hurry. When it takes a down turn in basketball, you have to hang your hat on defense and hustle. That was the case for the Crimson in the first half.
They led in missed free throws, offensive rebounds, and floor burns. Everyone got touches as they looked for the guy with the hot hand. There were plenty of chances, but only 20 points to show for it. The first minute of the second half was typical of the first half. 5 shots, 4 offensive rebounds and no points. For the game, Brandon Barta, Grant Kaufman and Erik Olson combined for 16 offensive rebounds. In an amazing stat, the Crimson had less defensive rebounds (21), than offensive rebounds (22). Kaufman was part of a sequence when he saved a ball from going out of bounds, got an offensive rebound and made a sweet cut and finished. That was a partial snapshot of how the Crimson scrapped their way to this win. The switch got flipped with 13 minutes to play in the second half, Wieneke spit out the bit and it was the beginning of the end for Blaine. Another layup and the foul got the lead to four and his bomb from the wing made the lead nine. A Wieneke rebound led to a Kaufman basket on a Wojta assist, and the Bengals were reeling. At this point, you couldn't stop #25, you could only contain him. When a 3 on 0 fast break ended on a Wieneke throw down, the Crimson bench was rocking, and J.Palmer was pointing out the winning team. In the last three minutes, the Crimson's spacing was good, their passing better, as they made easy hoops to close it out. Wieneke ended up with 17, Grant Kaufman added 10 points and 12 rebounds. Olson just missed a triple double with 15 points, 15 rebounds and 9 blocked shots. His 9 blocks is a school record. The stock market example held true as the Crimson were 18% from behind the arc, and 53% from the stripe.
Maple Grove is now 9-4, 7-2 in NW Suburban play. Andover visits the Crimson on Tuesday, Jan 22nd.