The senior scored 32 points in leading the Scots to a surprising 85-75 victory over City Conference leader Central. The victory not only put Highland Park in sole possession of first place; it also sent a message that the conference crown is up for grabs — a message first sent by Central last Tuesday when it defeated defending champ Johnson 53-49.
In that game, MARKUS TAYLOR-KNIGHTEN led Central with 19 points, FELIX TAYLOR, JR. added 12, and MALIK DURANT-HAINES chipped in 10.
Johnson, who was led by LAZERIK GILBERT’s 17 points, had a 55-game conference winning streak snapped that started with a 46-41 victory over Como Park on January 23, 2008. The Governors were within one game of tying the record.
A look back in time revealed some irony in Central’s victory. The win protected the 56-game conference streak set by the Minutemen during the 1980s. During this decade, Central was one of the state’s top programs, winning nine of 10 City Conference championships.
Want some more irony?
The streak started on February 22, 1983 with a victory over Humboldt. The Minutemen, led by high scorers VON SHEPPARD and PAUL JACKSON, did not win the City title that year. That distinction went to — you guessed it — Johnson, who was 16-0, led by WAYNE ELLIS, BARRON CHAPMAN, DARREN CHAPMAN, MONTE DEBERRY, TONY ATKINS, SCOTT ACKERSON, COY NELSON, KERRY HILL and SCOTT MARKS.
CHARLES CARTER, KYLE THOMAS, DAVE GUBBRUD, ALBERT SIMMONS, ALAN LANKFORD, RICHARD HOLLMAN and CHARLES BELLEPHANT kept the streak going, winning the title in 1984.
In 1985, Lankford, Gubbrud, Thomas, Simmons, TROY JACKSON and GARY NEW helped Central stay unbeaten in conference play.
Jackson, New, MIKE BROWN, DANTE DEAN, MICHAEL DEARRING and DERRICK RUMMELS extended the streak though 1986.
With Dearring, Dean, Rummels, KEN BARBER, QUINCY ADAMS and ERIC HODEMAN leading the way, the streak ended with a 62-61 loss to St. Thomas Academy on January 23, 1987.
When all was said and done, Central had won four consecutive City Conference championships and two third-place state tournament finishes in 1984 and ’86.
More irony: In 1987, Central was denied a return trip to the state tournament by — yes — Highland Park. The Scots, led by TONY BLAKEY, JAMAL HARUT, JEFF THIGPEN and BRAD FIFIELD, won the semifinal section game 60-56.
After this past week, two things are for certain. The St. Paul City Conference race is wide open, and history was preserved.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to mmc firstname.lastname@example.org.