Hopkins-North matchup had multiple storylines

PrepScenesquareHopkins 98-96 victory over Minneapolis North in a nonconference boys’ basketball game last week had more twists and turns than the actual game itself. In fact, there were five storylines that developed before the game — played at North High School — even began.


  1. There was Coach Larry Mackenzie — the coach who put Patrick Henry on the map, leading them to four state championships from 2000-2003 — now coaching North, currently ranked No. 1 in Class 1A.
  2. There was Amir Coffey — the Hopkins guard and future Gopher — leading a Royals team ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.
  3. There was Tyler Johnson. The Gophers football recruit is also one of North’s top players.
  4. There was Ishmael El-Amin. The junior guard for Hopkins playing in the same gym his father — three-time state and one-time NCAA champ Khalid El-Amin — dominated as guard for North from 1995-97.
  5. For the first time in recent memory, the North gym was packed — standing room only — reminding many of the 1980s, ’90s, and early 2000s when North was consistently among the state’s elite programs.

In the end it was a three-pointer by Coffey, who finished with 23 points, that put Hopkins up for good.

El-Amin led all scorers with a game-high 28. Vinnie Shahid had 23 and Xavier Johnson added 16.

Johnson had 15 points and 10 rebounds for North, who was led by Patrick Dembley’s 24.

Jamil Jackson contributed 22, Isaac Johnson 15, and JaQuan Sanders-Smith added 12.


Former St. Paul Johnson boys’ basketball standout Quashingm Smith-Pugh is a starting junior guard at St. Mary’s University.
Former St. Paul Johnson boys’ basketball standout Quashingm Smith-Pugh is a starting junior guard at St. Mary’s University.

Quashingm Smith-Pugh leads St. Mary’s

Quashingm Smith-Pugh scored 16 points as St. Mary’s defeated Macalester College 75-61 in a MIAC men’s college basketball game last weekend. Smith-Pugh was a part of three straight Class 3A boys’ basketball state tournament appearances as a guard for St. Paul Johnson from 2011-2013.


Kevin Gleason starts for St. Mary’s

Former Minneapolis Washburn point guard Kevin Gleason started at point guard for St. Mary’s. He scored a career-high 20 points in a 68-65 victory over Augsburg last week.

While a lot has been made (and rightfully so) of former prep football stars Larry Fitzgerald Jr. (Holy Angels) and Michael Floyd (Cretin Derham Hall) contributing as receivers during the Arizona Cardinal’s run through the NFC playoffs (which ended with a loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC title game), another former high school superstar is headed to Super Bowl 50 as a member of the Denver Broncos.

Ryan Harris headed to the Super Bowl

Ryan Harris, who prepped at Cretin Derham Hall and later starred at Notre Dame, will be in the starting lineup at left tackle as the Broncos take on Carolina in a couple of weeks on professional football’s biggest stage.

Harris, a nine-year veteran who stands at 6’5” and weighs 302 pounds, has started every game for Denver.

After a stellar collegiate career with the Fighting Irish, Harris was the 70th overall pick in the third round of the 2007 NFL draft.


Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to mmcdonald@spokesman-recorder.com.