When you’re a seventh-grader excelling at the varsity level, rumors tend to spread quickly, growing larger as they do.
Word was Minnehaha Academy’s Jalen Suggs, a slick guard averaging 11 points per game for the Redhawks, suffered the wrist injury that has sidelined him since early January while rescuing a cat from a burning house.
Sound too fantastic to be true? It was.
“No, he was helping an elderly woman cross the street when he slipped on some ice,” coach Lance Johnson joked in an e-mail, playfully poking fun at Suggs’ growing reputation.
“He actually broke it in our early January game against St. Thomas Academy.”
The rumor may not have been true, but what has been undeniable has been the stellar play of two of Minnehaha Acdemy’s young stars, Suggs and ninth-grade forward JaVonni Bickham.
While Suggs was breaking ankles with his ball-handling and hitting three-pointers before his injury, it’s been Bickham, a 6-5 man-child, who has carried the load.
He’s averaging 16.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game for the 14-6 Redhawks, who entered the week 1½ games behind league-leading Breck in the Independent Metro Athletic Conferece (IMAC) standings.
“JaVonni is the heart and soul of our team so far,” Johnson said. “He averages 17 points per game and is always double-teamed … as a 15-year-old.”
Johnson expects the 5-10 Suggs to return the lineup this week, solidifying the roster for the final weeks of the season.
“Jalen will be great,” Johnson said. “We hope to have him back in shape for sections. Both boys are great students with character.”
After a slow start to the season, Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior Mark Kaske has been on a tear. The left wing has racked up points in his last 13 games, scoring 10 goals and 19 points over that span.
Last week Kaske’s scoring touch was vital to two Red Knights victories that put them in control of the Metro West Conference. He scored twice in a 6-1 victory at Bloomington Kennedy and had his first hat trick in more than a year in a 6-0 rout of Chanhassen. He was a plus-3 and scored a power-play goal in each game.
“It’s important to have your top guys rolling the right way this time of year and, right now, he’s rolling,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Ken Pauly said.
Chaska/Chanhassen sophomore forward Lydia Passolt ran her streak of multiple-goal games to five last week. She had two goals and an assist in a 6-5 overtime victory over Benilde-St. Margaret’s, and a hat trick in a 4-2 victory over Bloomington Jefferson.
Passolt has 35 goals and 23 assists in 24 games.
Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737