Last Friday evening, the plan was to attend an important Classic Suburban Conference girls’ basketball matchup between host Tartan and Richfield.
I wanted to see JESSICA JANUARY, Richfield’s leading scorer (headed to DePaul University next year), and Tartan’s TIA ELBERT, a junior guard whose scoring is off the charts with a metro-leading 36.4 points per game.
I never made it.
I got a call from a friend who made me aware of the fact that her daughter had gone with her middle-school basketball teammates to watch a St. Paul City Conference girls’ contest between Central and Como Park. The friend went on to explain that she didn’t have a ride home. After some prodding (on the friend’s part), I decided help the friend out by attending the game and giving the youngster a ride home upon its conclusion.
It turned out to be a pretty good move.
The game was filled with anticipation for good reason. While coaches WILLIE TAYLOR (Central) and JOHN ROBINSON (Como Park) were trying to lead their teams to victory, there was a time when both teamed up to put together a two-year period in girls’ basketball that made history.
More on that later.
On Friday, Como Park entered the game as a talented team, led by freshman guard ANDRAYAH ADAMS, determined to leave their home court with a victory.
Central, who shared the City title with Highland Park last year, is an experienced team, led by center SADE CHATMAN, just as determined to stay at the top.
In the first half, it seemed as if Como’s determination would eventually pay off. The Cougars, led by the outstanding play of Adams, guards LOLA HORNE and LELA HORNE, and forwards ALEX PETERSON and ABIGAIL PETERSON, battled their way to a surprising two-point halftime deficit (20-18).
In the second half, Central stepped up. Chatman, who finished with 23 points, used her inside moves to get to the foul line and put on a free throw shooting clinic. Guards JADA JONES, who chipped in 11 points, LYRIC WILLIAMS and BETSY MACDONALD led a stabilized floor game to hang on for the 62-49 victory.
For Taylor and Robinson, it was a coaching matchup of comrades-turned-adversaries.
In 2007, Robinson served as an assistant coach to Taylor at Central when his daughter ANGEL ROBINSON teamed with KIARA BUFORD, GEORGIE JONES, THEAIRRA TAYLOR and MEGAN HOWARD to lead the Minutemen to a 32-0 record and the Class 4A state title by defeating a Minneapolis South squad led by current Ohio State University guard TAYLER HILL 83-61.
The following season, Robinson, who was named Miss Basketball, was starting her outstanding collegiate career at Marquette. With four starters returning, KYANNA JOHNSON stepped into Robinson’s vacated spot, and Central won the state crown again by defeating — you guessed it — Hill and South 49-44.
Robinson coached with Taylor for one more year before moving to Como Park in 2009. Oh yeah, the game I missed? January led Richfield with 20 points, KYLA ADAMS added 19, and SIERRA FORD-WASHINGTON had 14 in a 70-56 victory over Tartan, who got 36 from Elbert.
As for the Como Park-Central game, Taylor anticipated a battle. “You never know what can happen when you play a rival,” Taylor said before the game. “I expect a good game.” He got one.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.