Minnetonka's Careino Gurley rocks his pink shoes in the Skippers' win over Armstrong. Photo by Jon Laqua
Careino Gurley and ninth-ranked Minnetonka (13-6) played as sweet as the color of his shoes on Thursday night in an 82-56 upset of No. 8 Robbinsdale Armstrong (14-4).
The senior guard's shoes are bright neon pink.
"They're the breast cancer shoes," Gurley said. "Earlier in the season coach said he had some shoes for me and he pulled out the pink ones, and I was real excited about 'em. I decided to keep wearing them even though everyone thinks they're ugly."
If the Skippers can keep up the hot shooting and brilliant zone defense that was on display in the Armstrong High School gym Thursday night, perhaps more people will be lacing up pink Under Armour boots.
Funny thing about the stifling zone defense: Minnetonka doesn't normally run it.
"We might play it some more now," Skippers head coach Tom Dasovich chuckled. "It was a little bit out of necessity, and we did have a little bit of a lead there, so we were able to play (zone) and stretch the lead out a bit more."
The Skippers jumped out to a big lead early and never let Robbinsdale Armstrong back in it, widening the 38-26 halftime score to 62-39 on a 24-13 run in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.
Junior guard Justin Moes and sophomore guard Seth Coatta led Minnetonka with 16 points each, and each knocked down four 3-pointers, with Moes draining all four of his triples in the second half. Delshon Strickland chipped in 14 off of the bench, too.
The Falcons, outside of Jerome Dixon, couldn't get much going on offense. Dixon, a junior guard, finished with 15 points, including four 3-pointers, but it wasn't enough to spark his teammates. Junior forward Sean Burns put up 10 points in the loss, but he was just 2-for-10 from the charity stripe.
Gurley, who finished with eight points, knew it would be a tough game on the Falcons' home court, but he also knew good things would happen if the Skippers played hard from the opening tip to the final horn, especially after a 95-82 loss to second-ranked Hopkins on Tuesday
"In previous games, we haven't been playing the whole game," Gurley said. "Tonight we came together as a team … tonight we played a full 36 minutes."
Minnetonka has endured a rather brutal schedule so far this season, with the Falcons being the fifth top-10 team they've faced in 2013-14. This was the first victory over a top-ranked team for the Skippers.
And it doesn't stop there. The Skippers have fifth-ranked Eden Prairie twice and No. 2 Hopkins one more time (they lost 82-95 Tuesday) remaining on one of the tougher schedules in Class 4A.
Dasovich didn't want to use the old cliche', but he said to keep his team ready to face the best talent in the state, the Skippers just need to take things one game at a time to be in great shape for postseason play.
"At our level of basketball … it really truly is an 'any given night' type of situation," Dasovich said. "Tonight we were fortunate enough to play well, but we have another big game on Monday against Eden Prairie … we can't enjoy this too long."
So is life in what Dasovich calls "the best conference, top-to-bottom," in Minnesota (Lake Conference), but he knows the brutal regular season schedule is all about sharpening his team for a deep postseason run.
But will Gurley's crazy sneakers still be in the mix down the stretch?
"The neon colors and the bright shoes -- I'm not sure (about the shoes) because I'm a little old school … but it's fashionable right now, and we let the kids do what they want with their shoes," Dasovich said.