The biggest high school boys’ basketball game of the year, and I couldn’t make it. Parent-teacher conference duties as a social studies teacher at a St. Paul public high school prevented me from attending the Apple Valley-Chicago Whitney Young matchup featuring the nation’s top-ranked player in JAHLIL OKAFOR (Whitney Young) and No. 4-ranked TYUS JONES (Apple Valley).
Jones, the No. 1-ranked point guard in the country, and Okafor will both play for MIKE KRZYZEWSKI (who was in attendance) at Duke University.
Thank goodness for ESPN.
The powerful sports network televised Whitney Young’s 80-70 victory (in front of a sellout crowd at Apple Valley High School) nationally, so I was able to catch the second half in the comfort of my home.
Jones was his usual brilliant self, using three-pointers, spin moves and crossovers to score 25 second-half points en route to a game-high 29. Okafor scored 22 points with most of them coming on powerful dunks.
Perkins, McNeal leading in Minneapolis
REGGIE PERKINS (Washburn) and BRETT MCNEAL (Edison), at one time during the past decade among the top boys’ basketball coaches in the state, were recently named athletic directors in the Minneapolis City Conference.
Both are no strangers to basketball in Minnesota.
Perkins, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, starred at shooting guard for St. Cloud University in the mid-1980s and went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. As a coach, he led Washburn to a Class 3A state title in 2009 and a runner-up finish in 2011. He coached at Bloomington Kennedy last season before returning to Washburn this fall.
McNeal starred at Minneapolis North in the 1980s, capturing Mr. Basketball honors in 1985 and leading the Polars to Class 2A runner-up finishes in ’84 and ’85.
Recruited by University of Minnesota coach CLEM HASKINS, McNeal went on to a hall-of-fame career at Western Kentucky before returning to lead North to a Class 4A state title in 2003.
There is an irony to Perkins and McNeal leading athletic departments at different schools. When the Polars won the title that year, Perkins was an assistant coach. When Perkins led Kennedy last year, McNeal was his assistant.
Johnson leads North
TYLER JOHNSON led the way with 17 points in Minneapolis North’s 78-75 victory over South in a Minneapolis City Conference game last week.
ODELL WILSON JR. had 14, JAMIL JACKSON had 11, and ISAAC JOHNSON chipped in 10.
KENLEY FARLOW scored a game-high 21 points for South. KYLE LUMBAR chipped in 14, ABDIRAHMAN SHEIKH added 12, and TARON MYERS had 12 to round out the scoring for the Tigers.
Ross takes the lead for Southwest
CAM ROSS scored 25 points, AKEEM SMITH added 12, while ALLEN EDWARDS and LANICK KNIGHT each chipped in 11 leading Minneapolis Southwest to a 69-67 victory over conference rival Henry.
The Patriots got a 34-point effort from JOVAHN JEFFERSON.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.