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Kaharri Carter split the Annandale defense (Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune)
Minnehaha Academy turned nine minutes of nearly perfect basketball into a mountain that Annandale could not climb, beating the Cardinals 91-79 on Friday in the Class 2A semifinals at Target Center.
The Redhawks (25-6) got a career-high 29 points from guard Kaharri Carter and 23 from guard Jesse Johnson to advance to a state championship game for the first time in team history.
For the first nine minutes, Minnehaha Academy did a pretty reasonable impression of the Los Angeles Lakers, circa 1987. The Redhawks were running and gunning, making easy layups and long jumpers alike, building a lead over Annandale that reached as high as 26 points at 32-6.
But that wasn’t reality and Annandale showed that it, too, could play an up-tempo game. The Cardinals rallied, taking advantage of Minnehaha’s sloppiness to cut the lead to 42-32 by halftime.
“We are a super-streaky team,” Minnehaha coach Lance Johnson said. “Even when things are going well, we have streaks where we kick the ball away. For the first 9 minutes, we were like the Lakers. For the next nine, we were like the Los Angeles Clippers of the same era.”
Annandale (21-10), confident after the way it closed the first half, managed to cut the Redhawks’ lead to seven points, 47-40, on a three-point play by Matt Miller shortly after halftime, but that was as close as the Cardinals got.
Carter and Johnson combined for the next eight points to help Minnehaha regain control. The Redhawks stopped throwing the ball away, too.
“We might have lost a little focus there,” said Carter, the son of former Gophers forward Randy Carter, of the Redhawks’ slump in the latter stages of the first half . “That was our worst basketball all season. It was good to see us taking care of the ball better.”
Johnson said that as a basketball fan, he enjoyed the first part of the game. As a coach, he preferred the latter.
“That first 9 minutes was wildly entertaining,” he said. “But what I really was how we came together as a team in the second half. We were resilient.”
1) Kaharri Carter (Minnehaha)-The senior guard started off fast and only slowed down once Minnehaha had the game in hand. Carter lead all scorers with 29 points, including 17 in the first half. His ferocious dunk early on set the tone in a game where the Redhawks led by as much as 26. Along with his 29 points, Carter added eight rebounds.
2) Jesse Johnson (Minnehaha)-He helped the Redhawks out to a quick start, making two shots from beyond the arc early to extend the lead. Johnson scored 23 points, with 12 of those coming in the second half. He also chipped in four rebounds and three asssists.
3) Brett Ahsenmacher (Annandale)-He lead the Cardinals with 24 points, trying his best to help the team climb back into the game. He had 16 points after halftime. Ahsenmacher also added four steals.
Benjamin Bakker MN Basketball Hub