Photo Courtesy of Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

Minnehaha Academy runs away with Class 3A basketball title, routs Alexandria 80-29

April 19, 2021

On April 10, the season for Class 3A basketball in Minnesota culminated with a fiery display from perhaps the most highly-touted team in the entire state, Minnehaha Academy, as they worked their magic against the major underdog story in Alexandria, beating the Cardinals 80-29.

With this 51-point win, Minnehaha Academy takes its fourth state title in four years, winning the 2017, 2018 and 2019 titles. (There was no state tournament in 2020.) The three previous titles all came at the Class 2A level, before Minnehaha made the jump to Class 3A in 2020.

If you pay any type of attention to Minnesota prep basketball, you’ve surely heard the name Chet Holmgren, the talented leader of the Minnehaha Academy and current #1 overall recruit in the class of 2021 with a perfect recruit rating of 1.000 on 247 Sports. Chet had a monster game to clinch the state title for Minnehaha, scoring 18 points but also doing a bit of everything with 13 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks.

Chet wasn’t the only player on Minnehaha to do some damage either, brothers Mercy and Hercy Miller were both incredibly effective in providing points for the Redhawks. Hercy, a senior who will be attending Tennessee   State to play collegiately next year, dropped 24 points and Mercy, who is a freshman, scored 15.

On the other side of the scoreline, there was not much to impress from a numbers perspective but what Alexandria did not have in tangible scoring they made up for it in passion.

After the game, Alexandria head coach Forrest Witt commented on his teams effort saying, “I loved our mindset going in. The kids did what they did all year. They played hard. They played with fight, and they played together. We just ran into a really good team.”

I loved our mindset going in. The kids did what they did all year. They played hard. They played with fight, and they played together. We just ran into a really good team.”

— Witt

Alexandria showed what they were all about in the first half, only down by 16 at halftime with a score of 36-20. This was ignited by junior guard Kristen Hoskins, who’s energy and continuous aggressive drives surprised Chet Holmgren and Minnehaha. Early on, Hoskins repeatedly got the better of the interior defense of Minnehaha but in the second half, Minnehaha head coach Lance Johnson said that he made a slight adjustment to the defensive calls, leading to a lopsided second half with a score of 40-9 in favor of the favorites.

Hoskins himself is an impressive two-sport athlete, and in fact a verbal commit for the Gopher football team so it was no surprise necessarily that he impressed on the court, finishing the game with seven points, three assists and a block. But unfortunately for the Cardinals, there was too much to be done to overcome the impressive firepower that Minnehaha wields.

Regardless of the loss, this game was more than just a championship game for Alexandria, it was a chance to show off the rebirth of a program, and to prove to the state of Minnesota that they aren’t down and out.

This was the first state championship game for Alexandria since 1943, and was coming off of a blistering regular season, as the Cardinals went 22-2. Alexandria are no strangers to heartbreak either going back to 2016, when they lost a 10-point lead with 3:41 left in the game to Fergus Falls in their section title game.

In 2020, Alexandria suffered yet another sectional championship loss, this time by only two points and playoffs truly became a monkey on the backs of the Cardinal players and staff. By competing against the very best, Alexandria proved to themselves that they can get back to that level of success, hopefully setting an example for the incoming freshmen, and those beyond.

As for the state champions, they are losing Chet Holmgren and Hercy Miller as they’re graduating and continuing their basketball careers, Holmgren committing to Gonzaga and Miller going to Tennessee State. Surely, they will reshuffle for next year. Mercy Miller is only a freshman and a very promising one at that, and they are also returning with Prince Aligbe (11.2 ppg) and Donovan Smith (5.6 ppg) so scoring should not be an issue for the Red Hawks in the coming years.

Even though the scoreline was one-sided, hearts were poured out on each side of the court in this years Class 3A championship, so keep your eyes on both of these teams, both with much to do in the near future.

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