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Minnehaha Academy makes first half statement en route to Class 2A, Section 4 crown

By Trevor Squire, SportsEngine, 03/17/17, 9:15AM CDT


The Redhawks outscored the Teddies 39-5 in the first half, setting up a 73-45 victory.

Minnehaha Academy freshman guard Jalen Suggs rises above the Minneapolis Roosevelt defense in the first half of the Redhawks' 73-45 win Friday in the Class 2A, Section 4 finals. Photo by John Molene, SportsEngine

Minnehaha Academy players celebrate a 73-45 win over Minneapolis Roosevelt Friday. Photo by John Molene, SportsEngine

Minnehaha Academy coach Lance Johnson has carried a traveling trophy in his bag to every one of the Redhawks' games and practices this season.

A second place medal tied with red ribbon from last year’s Class 2A, Section 4 championship where the Redhawks fell to eventual champion St. Croix Lutheran, Johnson shows it to his team whenever they get complacent.

Johnson flashed the medal before Friday’s section title game at St. Paul Washington, the same building Minnehaha Academy, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A by Minnesota Basketball News, ended its season a year ago as a reminder to remain determined.

 “It added fuel to the fire. Everyone was hungry to get to the state tournament,” freshman Jalen Suggs said. “We knew this was our year and it was ours to lose, so we just went out and took it.”

Suggs led a dominant first half performance where the top-seeded Redhawks held No. 2 Minneapolis Roosevelt to five points through 18 minutes en route to a 73-45 victory and a return to the state tournament for the first time since 2013.

At the top of a 1-3-1 defense, Suggs had four steals in the final eight minutes of the opening half, highlighted by a trio of fastbreak dunks, including a bounce off the backboard jam with a minute, 15 seconds remaining.

“This isn’t the first game [Sugg’s] played like that--he’s electric,” Johnson said. “He was ready tonight. When he gets a certain look in his eyes, we know we’re ready to roll.”

Suggs scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the first frame where the Redhawks (23-5) scored 21 unanswered points to close the half. The No. 20-2A Teddies (19-9) failed to convert a field goal after the 6-minute mark of the first frame.

“We could have played a lot better, but they overwhelmed us,” Minneapolis Roosevelt coach Robert Mestas said. “That Minnehaha team is as good of a team we’ve played all year.”

The Teddies have played in the section championship two of the past three years and will be opting up to Class 3A next season.

“To start the season we were picked to finish at the bottom of our conference--not even expected to make it to the quarter or semifinals in sections--so we overachieved,” Mestas said. “We have to be ready so I think [our younger guys] will get in the gym this summer and really push to get back here and never let that happen again.”

Minnehaha Academy has tasted its fair share of defeats in the postseason, falling in the section championship in its past two appearances which the Redhawks used as motivation this winter.

“State was a goal; it wasn’t a dream," Suggs said, wearing his new blue ribbon first place medal. "It was a goal we needed to accomplish and I’m happy we did it and now I’m just happy to be playing at state."

Suggs’ cousin, Raena, plays for Hopkins girls basketball team and will be playing in the Class 4A state championship on Saturday. Suggs said he’ll be there to watch her play for her second state title, a feat Jalen hopes will be in his future.

“We’re all family. Real happy for her I’m sure she’s happy for me,” he said. “We’re just all tight. We all love basketball so it’s great to see her playing good and doing what she loves.” 

The Redhawks will likely earn the top seed when brackets are released on Sunday. Suggs echoed a simple message from Johnson that Minnehaha Academy will need to stand by in order to continue a 16-game winning streak and head to the state championship for the first time since winning the title in 2013.

“Play two halves and show no mercy,” Suggs said.

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First Report

Freshman Jalen Suggs scored 18 of his game-high 20 points in the first half where top-seeded Minnehaha Academy’s smothering defense held No. 2 Minneapolis Roosevelt to five first half points, leading to a 73-45 rout Friday night in the Class 2A, Section 4 title game at St. Paul Washington.

The Redhawks, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A by Minnesota Basketball News, held the Teddies without a field goal for 12 minutes in the first half and went on a 21-point run in the final eight minutes to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2013 while also extending a 16-game winning streak.

JaVonni Bickham contributed 18 points for Minnehaha Academy (23-5), while Leo Buchwald and Reginald Rogers scored 12 apiece for No. 20-2A Minneapolis Roosevelt (20-9).

Deszi Sims of Minneapolis Roosevelt drives to the basket in the first half. Photo by John Molene, SportsEngine

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