A critical moment in prep sports history

On a day in March 1994, St. Agnes High School and Washburn High School won the Class A and Class AA boys’ basketball titles respectively at the St. Paul Civic Center when the Minnesota State High School League ran a two-class system tournament.

St. Agnes, a Catholic school located in St. Paul, and Washburn, a public school in Minneapolis, were champions. They also were players in a historical moment in local prep basketball.

Here’s how it happened.

St. Agnes

Lester Jackson in 1994: The slashing guard helped St. Agnes capture the Class A state boys basketball title.
Photo Courtesy Kwame McDonald

Seniors Marlon McCoy, Lester Jackson, Char Davis and Jahmai Phipps—along with teammates Craig Vaughn, Juan Taylor and Khamani Lloyd—led the Aggies to the Class A state crown by defeating Morris Area 78-71 and finishing with a 25-5 record.

The victory was a culmination of a journey for Head Coach Dick Ghizoni and the four seniors. They had failed to reach the state tournament three years prior after arriving at the school as freshman in 1990 with great expectations.

Though McCoy, a 6’2” point guard, was selected as finalist for Mr. Basketball that year, not
one member of the All-Black starting lineup for St. Agnes was selected to the Star Tribune All-
Metro team.

Louis Boone (center) in 1994 coaching Minneapolis Washburn during the Class AA state boys basketball tournament. They beat Hopkins for the title.
Photo courtesy Kwame JC McDonald

Washburn

Head Coach Louis Boone, along with players Aaron Boone, Adrian Patterson, Akeem
Carpenter, Eric Minea, Byron Suttles and Jason Collins, led the Millers to the Class AA title
with a 66-65 win over Hopkins.

The victory culminated a season in which Washburn—which also sported an All-Black
starting lineup—had no players from the championship team selected to the All-Metro team.
The Millers finished with a 27-1 record. Their only loss was to Minneapolis North, led by a
freshman point guard named Khalid El-Amin.

Inner City All-Star Classic

Photo courtesy Vimeo Derek Reuben co-founded of the Inner City All-Star Classic

With the non-selection of players from both championships to the All-Metro team, former
Minneapolis North teammates Derek Reuben—Mr. Basketball 1988—and Ralph Crowder
created a venue showcasing the top Black metro boys’ basketball players in the Metro area.
In the first game, which was held in June 1994, Boone and Ghizoni served as coaches. The
event, which became known as the Inner City All-Star Classic, was a yearly event held every
June. A girl’s game was added in 2001.

It was highly successful during its 24-year run. By the time it ended in 2017, the teams were
fully integrated.

Yes, history was made in 1994.

About Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald

Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist to the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at mcdeezy05@gmail.com.

View all posts by Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald →

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