One game that deserved more attention than it got during the boys’ basketball state tournament was the St. Thomas Academy vs. Rocori semifinal in Class 3A.
It matched the No. 1 (STA) and No. 2 (Rocori) teams in the Associated Press state ratings, which Minnesota Basketball News provides.
Rocori has a special player. And it took only a few seconds to realize that. Justin Stommes, a 6-7 senior, was the Rocori player tried to tap the opening jump ball to another Spartan.
He got the tap, then ran by and took a handoff from the teammate he tipped the ball to.
See, Stommes is a point guard. Tall, skinny and with slippery moves to the basketball. He reminded me a little of Braham’s Isaiah Dahlman, now a freshman at Michigan State.
Stommes got his 19th — and final point when he made a free throw with 1:10 left to put Rocori ahead 48-44.
It was 50-46 with just 25 seconds left when J.B. Korte became a tournament legend.
He hit a three-pointer from the right wing, then stole the ball in the backcourt and made a layup to put the Cadets ahead 51-50.
Derek Casper of Rocori made one free throw with nine seconds left to tie the score before Korte got a pass on the left wing, and at the buzzer, made another three for the victory.
It was a taste of what was to come the next day. Three finals in the other classes were all nailbiters.
St. Thomas Academy, in its title game against Benilde-St. Margaret’s, had an easier time. The Cadets had already passed their big test.
Another Tubby fan
Jimmy Robinson, the longtime supervisor of tournament officials, met Tubby Smith years ago when he was at Tulsa.
“He’s a great hire” for the Gophers, Robinson said. “… I believe great players from across the country will want to play for the University of Minnesota.
“He’ll also provide something else… that’s diversity. I hope he brings his son to help do recruiting.”