MARSHALL - With a new head coach and 10 players new to the varsity level, Minneapolis Washburn isn't the same team that came a one-point overtime loss shy of becoming Class AAA state boys' basketball tournament champions last season. Eight games into the 2012-13 season, they're still working to prove they can overcome their inexperience and be contenders in the class yet again.
The Millers arrived in Marshall on Wednesday to open play in the three-day Marshall Fastbreak Club Holiday Tournament and showed their potential and their youth in a 61-46 win over Class AA opponent Tracy-Milroy-Balaton. They jumped out to a 12-2 lead on the Panthers, eventually gave it all up and trailed by a point late in the first half, then finished the half on a 12-0 run and held a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
It wasn't the smoothest of performances, but it's all part of the growing process, said first-year head coach Jamin Cook.
Photo by Matt
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton guard Alec Swan is trapped between Minneapolis Washburn’s Corey Puterbaugh, left, and Noah Scarver, right, during the first half of the first game of the Marshall Fastbreak Club Holiday Tournament played Wednesday at the R/A Facility in Marshall.
"We really just came up here to get to know each other," said Cook, who replaced Reggie Perkins as head coach after Perkins helped revive the Washburn program and led the Millers to a state title in 2009. Perkins is now head coach at Bloomington Kennedy. "Most of our kids are new to varsity and they don't know each other very well, so we're using this as a good way to spend time together as a team. Win or lose, we just came to have fun."
Sophomore forward Evan Shepherd, a key piece to the Millers' future, showed a silky-smooth touch from long range Wednesday, drilling five 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 21 points. He scored 10 of the Millers' first 12 points during their opening run, including two 3s from the right wing.
"He can shoot it. He shoots lights out," said Cook. "We let him shoot it. He's a consistent shooter, and it's not just every other game. He does that every game for us."
Jordan Lanoue 1 0-0 2, Mason Van Essen 4 2-2 11, Alec Swan 1 0-0 3, Parker Lanoue 5 0-0 14, Josh Kirk 1 0-0 2, Brian Fultz 3 1-1 8, Matt LaVoy 2 0-0 4, Michael Nilius 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 3-3 46. 3-pointers 7 (P. Lanoue 4) Rebounds 20 (J. Lanoue 6, P. Lanoue 6) Assists 12 (J. Lanoue 5) Steals 2 Blocks 0 Turnovers 7 Total Fouls 8.
Minneapolis Washburn (61)
Kevin Gleason 2 2-2 7, Quinton Garvis 2 0-0 5, JoBreil Powell 1 0-0 2, Nick Anderson 1 0-0 2, Evan Shepherd 8 0-0 21, Noah Scarver 2 0-2 5, Corey Puterbaugh 2 1-5 6, Jeff Jones 4 1-2 9, DeAngelo Pruitt-Cooper 1 0-0 2, George Clark 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 4-11 61. 3-pointers 9 (Shepherd 5) Rebounds 30 (Jones 8, Anderson 5) Total Fouls 13.
Halftime Score: Minneapolis Washburn 37, TMB 25.
The Millers (5-3 overall) were clearly the faster and more athletic team on the court, but the Panthers (2-3) fought back with a gritty run to not just make the game competitive, but actually take the lead.
Parker Lanoue hit two 3s, while Mason Van Essen, Brian Fultz and Alec Swan each hit one of their own from distance over a span of about six minutes. Swan's 3 from the right wing on a kick out from Lanoue gave TMB a 21-20 lead with 5 minutes, 45 seconds left in the half.
TMB then got a pair of free throws from 6-foot forward Van Essen, who also scored on the next Panther possession with a pump fake under the basket that got two defenders to bite and allowed him to convert a layup that tied the game at 25.
Lanoue, a senior guard, hit four 3-pointers and scored a team-high 12 points, while Van Essen added 11 points and some key energy plays that helped his team get it close.
"Mason did a little bit of everything," TMB head coach Rick Haberman said. "He hit some 15-footers for us, he hit a 3 for us, and he's always going to give us physical play inside. He took two charges for us and gave us a spark. You always know you're going to get some fight out of Mason. He's a little undersized in the post, but he does a good job of fighting and scrapping and I thought he did a good job of keeping us in the game for a long time."
Van Essen's layup was the last basket TMB would score in the half. Washburn's defense held TMB scoreless for the final five minutes and the Millers used their speed on offense to break away for their 12-0 run. Shifty and powerful guard Jeff Jones used his crossover to lose a defender and create space for a pull-up jumper, and later used his speed to get to the basket for a layup with two seconds left to give the Millers a 37-25 lead going into the locker room. The 5-9 junior finished with nine points and had a game-high seven rebounds.
Haberman said the Panthers knew coming into the game that they had a tall order ahead of them trying to contain players like Jones and Shepherd.
" We knew that they had a quickness advantage on us and also some size, so we needed to do a good job of stopping the drive, that was our No. 1 thing," Haberman said. "We knew (Shepherd) was a good shooter. We were hoping he wouldn't shoot well with a couple of days off and then shooting in a new gym, but he did. He really shot well."
Washburn didn't go on any huge runs in the second half, but managed to maintain a comfortable lead throughout and cruised to the win.
Washburn continues tournament play today with a 4:30 p.m. game against Mankato East. TMB will take on Montevideo at 6:15 p.m. Today's games will again be held at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University before play moves to Marshall High School for the final day of the tournament on Friday.