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Minnehaha Academy too tall, too much for Minneapolis North

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 03/23/19, 3:15PM CDT


With 7-footer Chet Holmgren blocking and altering shots and Jalen Suggs and Prince Aligbe each scoring 20 points, the Redhawks claimed their third Class 2A championship with a 69-52 victory.

Minneapolis North's Nasir El-Amin (12) tried to get a shot past Minnehaha Academy's 7-foot Chet Holmgren (34). Photo: Shari L. Gross ¥ shari.gross@startribune.com

Even though he admittedly was not at his best, Minnehaha Academy guard Jalen Suggs was still the best player on the court in the Redhawks' 69-52 victory over Minneapolis North in the Class 2A championship game.

It helped that he had the luxury of two of the state’s best underclassmen by his side in 7-foot sophomore center Chet Holmgren and athletic 6-4 freshman Prince Aligbe. While Suggs had 20 points and was mostly able to handle North’s disruptive defensive style, he was glad he didn’t have to do it all by himself.

“This is a team game,” said Suggs, a junior who finished with an uncharacteristic seven turnovers. “I had moments where I wasn’t doing my best and these guys kept me up, kept me calm. They did excellent.”

Holmgren was a dilemma that the Polars could never solve Saturday at Target Center. He blocked 10 shots, hauled in 14 rebounds and scored 16 points to post a triple-double. Aligbe, with moxie that belies his age, also scored 20 points and added the power and leaping ability to corral loose balls that often end up in North’s quick hands.

“There are people who talk about things I can do better, but in this game, I was focused on the things I could do to help the team,” Aligbe said. “Like rebounding aggressively or scoring down low.”

First report

It was far from stylish, but Minnehaha Academy survived Minneapolis North’s attempt to make the Class 2A championship game messy and chaotic, pulling out a 69-52 victory Saturday at Target Center.

Junior Jalen Suggs and freshman forward Prince Aligbe had 20 points each and 7-foot center Chet Holmgren had a triple-double -- 16 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots -- to lead the Redhawks to their third consecutive state championship.

It was clear from the outset that the Polars'  plan was to be as disruptive as possible defensively. They routinely swatted at the ball, bumped and bodied the Minnehaha Academy players and attacked quickly anytime a Redhawk had the ball in the lane.

The result was a game that was endured rather than enjoyed as players constantly hit the floor, whistles were frequent and flow was nonexistent.

Minnehaha Academy survived due to the ability of Suggs to shrug off the constant harassment and get the Redhawks into their offense. And with Holmgren’s game-changing presence in the lane, North was unable to get the type of easy baskets that are a staple of their game. The Polars shot just 34.5 percent from the floor.

Nasir El-Amin was the only North player in double figures with 17 points.

Check back later for more on the game.

Minneapolis North's Omar Brown (1) had his shot challenged by Minnehaha Academy's Kaden Johnson (2) in the first half. Photo: Shari L. Gross ¥ shari.gross@startribune.com

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