Blake vs. St. Paul Academy

7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7

It used to be that the real battle in the Independent Metro Athletic Conference was for second place behind Minnehaha Academy. Blake, behind a core of longtime starters who are still just juniors, is now looking to make it the race for third place.

With the exception of No. 1-3A Minnehaha Academy, the Bears (13-4, 7-1) are dominating their conference foes and can tighten their hold on that No. 2 spot with a victory over St. Paul Academy (12-4, 4-2) on Friday.

"They always have five guys on the court who can impact the game, with or without the ball in their hands," said St. Paul Academy coach Kevin Keto of the Bears. "They're experienced and they play the game the right way."

Juniors Robert Grace IV (13.3 points, 4.1 assists per game) and Gabe Ganz (13.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists a game) have been with the varsity since their eighth-grade seasons. Junior Jasper Liu (13.5 ppg) has been with the varsity since ninth grade.

"They've all improved in their outside shooting and ability to drive and create for others," Bears coach Tyler Biwan said of his junior trio.

Blake beat St. Paul Academy 74-48 on Jan. 21 and held the Spartans to 31 points with just 5 minutes to play.

Junior guard Adam Hood averages nearly 20 points a game, but he scored just 10 at Blake. The Spartans will need more from him this time around to make it a game.

Senior guard Ethan Richman (10 ppg) supplements the Spartan offense.