Since becoming head coach in 2000, VERN SIMMONS has put the St. Paul Johnson boys’ program on the map with eight state tournament appearances (2004, ’06, ’07, ’09, ’10, ’11 and ’12) in the past decade.
The Governor’s won the 3A title in 2010. They finished fourth in last month’s tournament. Many consider the 2010 team as one of the best ever after finishing with a 32-0 record, a 12-man rotation, and only three teams that lost by less than 10 points.
After leading Minneapolis North to 10 state tournament appearances (1997-2005, and 2009) and five Class 3A girls’ basketball championships (1998, ’99 and 2003-2005), FAITH JOHNSON PATTERSON promptly went to DeLaSalle and produced the same results. Since her arrival in 2009, the Islanders have made four straight state tournament appearances with a championship three-peat (2011-13).
Her best coaching moment (in the eyes of this columnist) was when she led a team with four eighth graders and a senior to the Class 2A title game in 2009 during her last season at North. Without question, she is the best basketball coach in state history.
WILLIE TAYLOR recently resigned as head coach at St. Paul Central, but he certainly left some big shoes to fill. Taylor started at Central in 1998. In 2001, the Minutemen made their first state appearance under Taylor, finishing third in Class 4A. Four years later, Taylor would lead Central to four straight tournament appearances (2005-08) with state titles in 2007 and ’08.
Many consider the 2007 (32-0) team the best in state history. The Minutemen reached the tournament last month, losing to Osseo in the first round.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.