This week’s column features an anniversary of an important event in Black History, an update on two outstanding girls’ basketball players who were overlooked, two former prep players coaching against one another, a former prep star helping the Gophers men’s team to an important victory, and an accomplishment by a member of the Gopher women’s basketball team.
Upon the remembrance that former St. Paul Central standout Roberts, after an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, had her jersey retired on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual birthday 15 years ago (January 15, 2006), there was no way to let time progress without honoring this Black History moment. The jersey retirement was a long time coming for Roberts, who played for the Gophers women’s basketball team from 1977-1981.
She was honored 25 years after she played her last game in a maroon and gold uniform and was the fourth player to receive such an honor. Some figure she should have been the first.
Roberts, who also led Central to the first-ever Class AA state title as a junior in 1976, left the U of M as the women’s all-time leading scorer and set numerous records, becoming the program’s first star.
MSR columnists Charles Hallman and the late Kwame McDonald wrote articles and had frequent meetings with then-athletic director Joel Maturi about Roberts. Then-Gophers coach Pam Borton nominated her, and it all came together during halftime of a women’s game against Michigan State.
“It’s something that had to be done,” my father said to me at the time. “We were determined to make it happen.”
She is the first and only African American to have her jersey retired.
Kierra Wheeler and Andrea Tibble
Robbinsdale Cooper girls’ basketball players Wheeler and Tribble reminded me of why I am not a fan of writing “players to watch” columns.
The talented seniors were left off a list of players to watch in my column last week. The moment the column was printed their omission, on my part, was realized.
That is the problem with “players to watch” columns. Someone is always left out who is deserving.
Wheeler, a 6’1” forward, and Tribble, a 5’5” guard, played significant roles as freshmen helping the Hawks—then coached by former St. Paul Central and University of Minnesota player Kiara Buford—to the Class 3A state championship in 2018.
Tribble led Cooper in scoring last season at 18 points per game, while Wheeler chipped in 16.1 per contest.
The duo led Cooper to an 80-45 victory over New Prague with Wheeler leading the way with 25 points and 15 coming from Tribble. Sophomore Bre Frazier chipped in 10.
Ashley Ellis-Milan and Tanysha Scott
There was quite an irony when East Ridge defeated Roseville 72-71 in the Suburb East Conference. East Ridge was coached by Ellis-Milan (St. Paul Central, University of Minnesota) and Scott (DeLaSalle, University of Minnesota-Duluth) led Roseville.
Ellis-Milan was Scott’s assistant at Minneapolis South, DeLaSalle and Roseville—last month—before moving on to East Ridge.
Former DeLaSalle boys’ basketball standout Kalscheur scored 10 points in helping No. 23 Minnesota to a 75-57 victory over previously undefeated No. 7 Michigan at William Arena last Saturday.
Liam Robbins and Marcus Carr led the Gophers with 22 and 19 points, respectively.
The 5’9” senior guard from Virginia Beach, Virginia is the 26th Gopher in school history to reach 1,000 career points.
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.