Rapids rally falls short in title gameGrand Rapids was unable to deliver the knockout blow. St. Paul Johnson hung on to win a tense Class AAA final, 59-55, to complete a 32-0 season and capture the school’s first state title.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
MINNEAPOLIS — St. Paul Johnson entered the Minnesota high school boys basketball tournament considered the best team in the state, based upon the Governors’ unblemished record and a victory over Class AAAA favorite Hopkins.
Grand Rapids, despite a 19-game winning streak, entered the tournament as an unseeded afterthought by many.
It was a classic David vs. Goliath matchup. Only this time, without any slingshot, Grand Rapids was unable to deliver the knockout blow.
Johnson hung on to win a tense Class AAA final, 59-55, to complete a 32-0 season and capture the school’s first state title.
But the top-ranked Governors received all they could handle from the pesky Thunderhawks (29-3), who had their own 21-game winning streak snapped in the school’s first state championship game.
“I’m proud of our guys,” said senior guard Eric Stark, who scored a team-high 15 points. “We put forth a good effort, unfortunately we came up a little short.”
Grand Rapids scored seven consecutive points, the last on Stark’s drive up the middle, to close the gap to 56-55 with 45.3 seconds left. The Governors aided matters by missing three free throws down the stretch, including two one-and-one situations. But the Governors forced a turnover in the final 15 seconds and Roosevelt Scott hit both of his free-throw attempts with 9.9 seconds left to seal the win.