Apple Valley's Tyus Jones drives to the basket against Eagan. Photo by Jon Laqua.
Minnesota remained on lockdown to frigid temperatures on Tuesday as schools across the state remained closed for a second consecutive day.
Although many of the day's sporting events would be canceled as well, Apple Valley and Eagan braved the cold weather as they battled for bragging rights in the first of two regular season meetings.
The game wasn't played outdoors, of course, but that likely wouldn't have kept Apple Valley from heating up against the Wildcats as they put up points in bunches.
It took the Eagles all of five seconds to get on the scoreboard in Eagan on Tyus Jones' first assist of the game.
Jones, one of three co-captains for the Eagles, finished the game with 22 points and eight assists as Apple Valley cruised to an 87-51 victory.
A highly-touted recruit of Duke University, Jones produced just around his 26 points and six assists per game average but likely would have provided a bigger game if he didn't sit for the last five minutes of action.
The game wasn't always so easily in hand for Apple Valley, however, as most of the first half was a closely-contested affair.
Eagan held its first lead with 11:06 left in the first half on a 3-pointer from the corner to go up 15-13. Apple Valley would quickly regain the lead as the two teams traded blows for the next several minutes.
Apple Valley began pulling away at the end of the first half, but impressive offensive rebounding and key free throws in the bonus kept Eagan within striking distance. Before getting into the bonus with 6:01 to go in the first half, it seemed as if all of Eagan's points came on 3-pointers and layups.
Senior forward Michael Gorder scored 12 points in the first half to help the Wildcats keep pace, but he would be held scoreless after halftime.
The Eagles led 43-34 at the break, with Jones contributing 15 points on 7-for-15 shooting to go along with four assists.
Gary Trent, Jr. scored 14 points for Apple Valley, providing offense from behind the arc and on aggressive drives to the basket. Dennis Austin posted 10 points and 11 rebounds and 6-foot-10 Brock Bertram put up 11 points and 11 rebounds.
To watch Jones glide through the lane so gracefully and effortlessly on a drive to the hoop is nothing short of impressive. The bad news for opposing teams is there's not much that can be done to stop him.
"We all know who he is -- the whole team knows he's a big recruit, but it's important for us not to think of him as a big star," Eagan coach Matt Vollum said of Jones. "You do what you can to slow him down, but he's still going to produce."
Eagan will get another chance to slow Apple Valley later this season when they play on the Eagles' home court. Seven of the Wildcats' next 10 games are on the road.
This game was the first of five Apple Valley will play on the road out of it's next six, with a game against Xavier University-commit J.P. Macura and Lakeville North being their lone home game.
Jones entered the game second in the state in total scoring (319) -- second only to Macura (372).
Apple Valley takes on Burnsville on Friday before hosting Lakeville North, while Eagan hosts Rosemount on Thursday.
Vollum doesn't want his team to focus on the loss or the string of road games ahead, though: "What we need to do is focus on us. It's all we can do from this point on and that's how we'll move on from this loss."