It took a while for them to warm up, but Apple Valley star Tyus Jones and Whitney Young center Jahlil Okafor produced a dazzling exchange near the end of the Chicago school's 80-70 victory at Apple Valley High on Thursday night.
The two Duke recruits played on ESPN2 in a packed gym as their future coach, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, watched from courtside. Okafor and his team got the better of the matchup, but Jones put on a secnod-half surge and finished with 29 points.
Or you could say the viewers got the best of the matchup when, in the second half, the two stars produced this exchange:
-Jones blocked a shot, drove the length of the court, drew a foul and hit both free thorws.
-Jones hit a three.
-Jones hit a three while being fouled.
That was what the people came to see, or changed the channel to watch. I'll have more on the rare matchup on startribune.com later and in the Friday paper.
For much of the game, Jones was bottled up by Whitney Young's big, active, 2-3 zone. Apple Valley coach Zach Goring even had Jones play at the free throw line on offense in an attempt to break the zone, and that worked at times, especially after Jones' little brother, eighth-grader Tre, ran the point.
But Whitney Young was too tall and athletic for anything to work for long.
Krzyzewski attended with assistant coach Jeff Capel. They sat courtside, with the media, and Coach K turned down interview requests.
``I'm not doing anything tonight,'' he said. ``This is their night.''
In the first half, it was mostly Okafor's night. He scored nine points and dunked three times as Whitney Young took a 38-29 lead. Jones had two buckets but was largely frustrated by Whitney Young's zone defense and transition defense. He also threw a half-dozen passes that should have resulted in assists but didn't.
Apple Valley did a great job handling the large crowd and media contingent, and of capitalizing on a rare Minnesota sports moment.
This was the first Minnesota high school basketball game ever broadcast nationally.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15, and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at noon tomorrow. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.