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St. Paul Johnson reaches semis

By Star Tribune, 03/20/13, 3:15PM CDT


The Governors, back at state with a mostly new lineup from a year ago, defeated Delano 64-54.

Quashingm. Smith-Pugh of St. Paul Johnson drove to the basket on Damon Longstreet of Delano during the Class 3A quarterfinal game Wednesday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Johnson beat Delano 64-65. Photo: JERRY HOLT * jerry.holt@startribune.com

Quashingm Smith-Pugh went through St. Paul Johnson coach Vern Simmons’ system, biding his time, learning from the players in front of him. And when it was his turn, Smith-Pugh, like so many Governors before him, stepped into his role with ease, leading St. Paul Johnson to a 64-54 victory over Delano Wednesday at Williams Arena.

Simmons has developed an elite program at Johnson, having qualified for five consecutive state tournaments. The Governors stress an athletic, aggressive, unselfish approach. Everyone who plays contributes in some way and those who don’t sit and learn.

“That’s the way it is with our system,” said Smith-Pugh, one of just three players on the roster who played significant minutes in 2012. “You wait your turn and you learn your role and then, when you get the chance, you fill that role.”

Smith-Pugh’s role on Wednesday was primarily on offense, leading the Governors with 20 points and 15 rebounds in the Class 3A quarterfinal game. Simmons expected nothing less.

“Well, he’s a senior,” Simmons said. “He’s been here three times. I hope he’s going to lead.”

Following their leaders’ example, the rest of the under-sized Governors played well. Despite not having a player taller than 6-foot-3, they outrebounded the Tigers 41-27 and routinely beat them down court for easy layups.

Senior guard Travis Siedschlag, who rarely played last season, filled his role like a veteran. Siedschlag finishes with 12 points, two rebounds and a half-dozen hustle plays that don’t show up on the stat sheets.

“I just did what I’m supposed to do,” Siedschlag said. “We always have people who can step up.”


3 Stars

1. Quashingm Smith-Pugh, St. Paul Johnson
Smith-Pugh is only listed at 6'3 but he plays much bigger. He led the Govs in scoring with 20 points and also added 15 rebounds for the double-double. He played inside and outside equally effectively and kept numerous possessions alive with his 6 offensive rebounds. He was a pest on defense as well, finishing with 3 steals. 

2. Dalton Pulis, Delano
Pulis tied Smith-Pugh for the game's scoring lead with 20 points on 8-13 shooting. He showed off his versatility all game and had a very nice outside shooting stroke for a big man. He made 3 three pointers and also chipped in with 8 rebounds and 3 steals. 

3. Travis Siedschlag, St. Paul Johnson
Siedschlag did a little bit of everything for the Govs. He scored a lot of big buckets and finished the game with 12 points, shooting a very efficient 5-7 from the field. He played very tough defense and handled a good amount of the ball-handling duties for his team. 

-John Kelsey, MN Basketball Hub

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