After coming up short of an appearance in the section title game after earning the top seed of the Section 5AA tournament, the Brooklyn Center boys basketball team began its pursuit of a 2017-18 state tournament berth at the Breakdown summer state tournament June 18.
The Centaurs topped St. Cloud Cathedral and Esko before facing Minneapolis North, the 2016-17 Class A state champion, in the Class 2A Breakdown summer state tournament title game.
“We hear a lot about these out-state teams, if you take away Minnehaha and North, it is an out-state-dominated class,” Brooklyn Center head boys basketball coach Matthew McCollister said. “It’s a very different brand of basketball and we haven’t seen a lot of it, so to beat St. Cloud Cathedral, who returns everybody from a state tournament team, pretty handily and then Esko, who we beat by double digits, these are teams we see every year when we look at the top-10 rankings.
“Now we got on the court and we realize not only can we play with them, but we’re 10 to 15 points better than they are.”
Brooklyn Center came up just short of the tournament title, as it fell to Minneapolis North in the title game.
“It was a good test for us,” McCollister said. “When we saw the bracket we had them circled and we wanted to play them and we assumed they could win out and that we could play them.
“They were missing one of their big kids, we were missing Rudy Tahir, and it’s summer ball. Both teams were playing at a high level and it was a good game.”
Brooklyn Center held a two-point lead at halftime before Minneapolis North rallied to take the victory.
“It wasn’t bad, obviously you would like to win and that was our goal,” McCollister said. “We were up two at the half and the thing that hurt us with them is they out-rebounded us, but not by as much as they had in the past, so the gap is closing.
“They realized going into halftime up two that they could play with them and it’s our time. Our time is getting here, they’re not so scary and difficult anymore.”
Despite the loss to end the tournament, McCollister has been pleased with how his team has performed so far.
“We have had a pretty good summer,” McCollister said. “It’s nice now that we’re into summer three, so our returning players are in their third year with the program and they know what the expectations are and they know what the drills are, so they can start mentoring some of the new and younger kids in the program.
“It’s starting to feel like the players are taking ownership of the program.”
With Minneapolis North set to compete against Brooklyn Center in Section 5AA next season, the Centaurs will look to find a way to win in time for the start of the winter season.
Follow Sun Post sports editor Chris Chesky on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris and on Facebook at SunSportsStaff.