This past week was one to remember in prep boys’ basketball.
First I had to choose between two of the top games in the state on Tuesday. That Saturday I ended up attending a Twin City title matchup between upstart Minneapolis North, a dominant program that had recently fell on hard times, and St. Paul Johnson, a perennial power who had made eight state tournament appearances (including the Class 3A state championship in 2010) since 2004.
To put everything into perspective, let’s go back to the beginning of the week.
North vs. Washburn: February 18, 2014
On Tuesday, after some serious soul searching, I chose to attend the North-Washburn game.
The Washburn gymnasium was packed with fans who remembered JEFF JONES’ three-point buzzer beater to beat North by one point in December.
The brilliant play of JOBREIL POWELL, EVAN SHEPPARD, DEANGELO PRUITT-COOPER, KEVIN GLEASON and GEORGE CLARK helped Washburn race out to a 28-16 lead with six minutes remaining in the first half.
North countered with a 27-11 run — led by EDO WALKER, TYLER JOHNSON, ODELL WILSON JR., and JAMIL JACKSON — to take a 43-39 halftime lead.
The Polars never looked back en route to a 93-78 victory.
Walker led all scorers with 26 points. Johnson had 25. Jackson added 18, and Wilson chipped in 16 for North.
Gleason led Washburn with 20. Powell added 19, and Shepherd had 12.
The victory put North and Washburn in a tie for the conference title.
Central vs. Johnson: February 18, 2014
Across the river, Johnson was seeking its 11th straight City Conference crown.
Before a standing-room-only crowd at Johnson, the defending champs raced out to 41-32 halftime lead before eventually winning 77-60.
Point guard JALEN MOBLEY led Johnson with 19 points. LOUIS WILLIAMS had 14. PIERRE CONWELL added 14 and MITCHELL MCDONALD chipped in 10.
RAYEON WILLIAMS led the way for Central with 18 points, SAM GRUBBRUD had 16 and FELIX TAYLOR JR. rounded out the Minutemen scoring with 11.
Twin City Game: Minneapolis North vs. St. Paul Johnson, February 22, 2014
For the second time in as many games, the gymnasium at Johnson was packed to capacity.
The upstart Polars — led by Tyler Johnson, ISAAC JOHNSON and Jackson — used their quickness to race to a 9-1 lead in the game’s first two minutes.
After a timeout the Governors regrouped behind the play of Mobley, ERIC ELLIOT, SEDRICK CLARK, McDonald and Conwell as the defending TC champs led 36-31 at halftime.
North’s Johnson tandem and Jackson kept the Polars in the game with an awesome and timely three-point shooting display that cut a 15-point deficit to six (70-64) with about six minutes remaining.
Mobley, the junior point guard who led Johnson with 23 points, simply took over the game with his shooting, passing and penetration helping the number-one team in Class 3A to a 91-81 victory.
McDonald had 19, Elliot finished with 15 and Williams chipped in 10.
Tyler Johnson led North with 26 points. Jackson and Isaac Johnson had 16 each.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.