Johnson holds on to win AAA title game
MINNEAPOLIS — St. Paul Johnson finished a perfect season, offering a tribute to the Capitol city and a closing argument that they're the state's best team regardless of class.
Estan Tyler scored 20 points and pushed St. Paul Johnson to its first boys state basketball championship Saturday in a hard-fought 59-55 victory over Grand Rapids in the Class AAA tournament.
Roosevelt Scott added 12 points for the unbeaten Governors (32-0), including two crucial free throws with 10 seconds left that stretched their lead from two points to four. Scott added six rebounds and three blocks, and Donte Warlick had eight points and four rebounds for a St. Paul Johnson team given all it could handle by Grand Rapids.
The Governors were in a tight game with Winona in the semifinals, too, before using a flurry of 3-pointers to complement their relentless pressure and pull away for an 80-55 victory.
Grand Rapids never flinched, though, even after falling behind 56-48 with less than 3½ minutes to go.
Eric Stark scored 15 points for the Thunderhawks (29-3) and got a tough layup to fall in traffic with 46 seconds left to pull them within 56-55. The Governors had missed the first shot in two one-and-one free-throw situations right before that.
Tyler missed one of two free throws with 25 seconds remaining, giving Grand Rapids a chance to tie the game or take the lead trailing by two. St. Paul Johnson's full-court press forced a turnover near midcourt to keep the game in control, though, and Scott came through by swishing a pair of foul shots.
• Winona led by eight at halftime and as many as 18 in the second half in an easy 48-32 win over De LaSalle in the third-place game. Alec Brown scored 20 points in his final game as a Winhawk.
Joe Coleman had 21 points and eight rebounds and Hopkins cruised to a second straight Class AAAA championship, beating St. Cloud Tech 76-56 on Saturday night.
Marvin Singleton added 19 points and 17 rebounds for the top-seeded Royals (30-2), who have won five of the last nine large-school titles. This was a totally different team than last year’s champions though, with the junior Coleman leading the way while averaging 25 points per game.
"Last year they were such an exalted team, and these guys were a little un-exalted because of it," coach Ken Novak said, adding: "I think they really wanted to prove that they could play too. They made huge, huge strides."
New London-Spicer held off Crosby-Ironton 62-52 for the AA championship.
It was the second title in three years for the Wildcats (32-2), who also beat the Rangers 59-51 for the 2008 title. NL-S won the AAA football state championship in November.
Crosby-Ironton (30-3) was led by 27 points from Mark Hoge.
Kevin Noreen had 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead Minnesota Transitions to its first state title with a 61-52 win over Sebeka.
Rodney Owens scored 22 for the Wolves (30-3), who finished second two years ago and lost in the quarterfinals last year.
Noreen landed hard on his back two minutes into the game. After a delay, he left the game but returned soon after. He will play at Boston College next season.