With a 75-72 victory over DeLaSalle in the Section 3AAA girls’ basketball championship game last Thursday evening, St. Paul Como Park’s goal of qualifying for the Class 3A state tournament became a reality.
In fact, seniors Kaylynn Asberry, Cloey Dmytruk, Jada James, Ronnie Porter and Shakyla Walker predicted a 2022 state tournament appearance for the Cougars during an interview two weeks ago as the team prepared to represent St. Paul in the Twin City game against Minneapolis Southwest.
Asberry, a 5’7” point guard, proclaimed her team’s experience and desire as factors contributing to a state tournament run. “We are a veteran team,” she said. “We’re hungry. It’s our last chance.”
Walker, a 5’6” guard, highlighted the team’s closeness, their multiple years playing together, and city pride.
“I think we will make it to state because we have been playing with each other for a long time,” she said with certainty. “We want to win it [the section title] for the city of St. Paul.”
Jones, a 5’10” post player, talked about the Cougar’s experiences as a team and their work ethic. “We’re going to go to state because we’ve been working hard,” she said. “We have been in so many tough situations. Because of this we are better prepared.”
Dmytruk, a 5’11” wing player, expressed no doubt about her team’s state tournament chances. “I know we’re going to state.” she said. “I’m very confident. We’ve learned a lot from what we’ve been through.”
Porter, a 5’3” shooting guard, made it known that her team was going to still be competing in late March. “I’m confident that we’re going to go to state.
“We’re all sick of going home crying bad tears,” she continued, referring to the Cougar’s section losses the past three years. “We want to come back crying good tears. We want to go out with a bang.”
It has been quite the season for Como Park. The Cougars won the City Conference crown and defeated Southwest for the Twin City championship, finishing the regular season with a 22-6 record.
Against DeLaSalle, Porter led the way with 27 points while Asberry added 18. University of Wisconsin commit Savannah White led the Islanders with 16 points while teammates Aneisha Scott and I’Tianna Salaam each chipped in 13.
So now Como Park, who has lost section championship games the past two seasons, is the No. 2 seed in the Class 3A tournament hoping to bring home a state title. That is something, Asberry expressed while paying tribute to the coaching staff as the interview concluded.
“We appreciate [Assistant] Coach Ronnie [Smith], [Assistant] Coach Vera [LaVera Jeffrie], and [Head] Coach Londa [Yolonda England],” she said. “We want to win it for them as well.”
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.