2012 Timberwolves Shootout Tips Off Saturday

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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2012 Timberwolves Shootout Schedule — Game Previews
11:00 AM St. Thomas More (S.D.) vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's
12:30 PM Rice Lake (WI) vs. Duluth East
2:00 PM Pelican Rapids vs. Minnetonka
3:30 PM Cedar Falls (IA) vs. Prior Lake
5:00 PM Sioux City East (IA) vs. Hopkins
6:30 PM Onalaska (WI) vs. Apple Valley

Kevin Love remembers the details of his first game at Target Center rather vividly. Playing in his senior year at Lake Oswego (Ore.) High School, Love’s team traveled to Minnesota and played Osseo in the 2007 Timberwolves Shootout.

He recalls former Wolves big man Mark Madsen doing game commentary and the experience of playing a national competitive schedule on an NBA court. But above all, he remembers trying to place himself permanently on an NBA floor, particularly at Target Center.

“I thought about it, especially when the Timberwolves were nice enough to put my high school team up in the nosebleeds that night,” Love joked. “I was hoping maybe I’d have a better seat or I’d be playing on the floor some day. It just so happens to be I was here at Target Center a few years later.”

Love is one of 20 current or former NBA players who played in the Timberwolves Shootout during their high school careers. Now in its 16th year, the Shootout will host 12 new teams Saturday at Target Center—once again giving the elite players and teams a chance to compete against one another at the midway point of the prep basketball season.

The tournament, which has brought in teams from coast to coast in years past, has become more regionalized in recent seasons. But this year’s clubs hailing from Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin are hoping to follow in the footsteps of yesteryear’s standout athletes.

Tickets for all six contests are available for $10 at the Target Center box office on the day of the Shootout. The ticket is good for the entire day and also includes a free ticket to a future Timberwolves game.

Teams are selected nearly a year in advance based on the program’s talent level and success, Tournament Director Jeff Munneke said. The result is a tournament full of well-oiled clubs and future collegiate and professional athletes.

Minnetonka High School is one of six Minnesota programs playing this season. The Skippers, who are 9-2 and trying to groom themselves to compete in both the competitive Lake Conference and make a run at state, hope that the Timberwolves Shootout will be a way to prepare for their late-season challenges.

And in the process, coach Tom Dasovich said the kids get a memory they’ll never forget.

“I think it’s a great experience for the kids to be able to play in an NBA arena,” Dasovich said. “It’s also where we play our (Class) 4A big school state tournament games. If you’re fortunate enough to make it out of your section and get to state, it’s good practice the more games you can get on the floor in that arena.”

The Shootout begins Saturday at 11 a.m. with St. Thomas More (S.D.) facing Benilde-St. Margaret’s and runs through the 6:30 p.m. matchup between Onalaska (Wis.) and Apple Valley. It will feature Minnesota’s three-time Class 4A state champion Hopkins as well as one of its top recruits—Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones.

All six games are regulation length and include overtime if necessary. Tipoffs are spaced 1 ½ hours apart.

For Munneke, who has been part of the tournament since its inception, it’s one of the days each year he most enjoys. It began with an idea to showcase Minnesota’s top basketball talent, and it’s turned into a staple each winter at Target Center.

It’s all about the performances and the memories. Munneke, years after Love’s appearance at the Shootout, rallied off his statistics from that day without hesitation.

“Forty-two points, 17 rebounds, nine blocked shots,” Munneke said, smiling.

Who will make the biggest impact this year? On Saturday, 12 new teams will get the chance to make their own memories on the Timberwolves’ court.

“For all the basketball junkies out there,” Munneke said, “they love this day. It’s a good day.”

For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.