Tonka, St. Peter, White Bear girls; Armstrong and Cherry boys get wins at Hall of Fame Winter Classic

The 4th annual Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame Winter Classic is now in the books, and was mostly successful despite the fact that the New Ulm boys’ bus had to turn around halfway to the Anoka Ramsey CC venue because of blowing snow and bad visibility. As a result, we didn’t get to see New Ulm’s 6-5 senior forward Colton Benson, a Minnesota State-Mankato recruit, or their scheduled opponent, undefeated Columbia Heights.

So there were 5 games, not 6, and the winners included #1AAAA-ranked Minnetonka, #7AA St. Peter and #11AAAA White Bear Lake among the girls; and Robbinsdale Armstrong and #1A Cherry among the boys.

• The Cherry-Blake game seemed almost anti-climactic after a lengthy lull in which the Columbia Heights-New Ulm game was not being played. But Cherry’s undeniable athleticism and its rapid pace quickly renewed the day’s excitement. Blake almost matched both the athleticism and the fast pace through much of the 1st half. But thanks to 6 (count ’em, 6) 3s by Cherry’s 6-0 freshman wing Isaiah Asuma, the Tigers were able to take a 7 point half-time lead. But despite the best efforts of Blake guards Grayson Okoronkwo (22 points) and Noah Wagoner (21 points) and 6-7 Omar Kaba (12 points) and Ian Schnabel (8 points), Cherry was able to pull away to a 89-72 win. Everybody but Okoronkwo has eligibility remaining next year for Blake.

• The Armstrong boys bounced back from a 31-26 half-time deficit to defeat Jefferson 75-64, but it was a two-possession game right down to the one-minute mark. 6-1 senior forward Seth Newbern, just returning from injuries, came off the bench to score 20 with an aggressive rim-attacking style. Its rim-attacking helped Armstrong to get to the FT line 34 times. They made just 24 but it was enough. Armstrong out-shot Jeff 51% to 41, and had a 28-24 edge on points in the paint. Junior guard Desmond Ware added 16 points to the Armstrong cause, while Jefferson juior guard Marcus Horton scored 26.

• The game of the day among the girls was not the #1 vs. #1 Minnetonka-DeLaSalle matchup. Rather, it turned out to be an 81-80 OT win by St. Peter over Mahtomedi. St. Peter led by 10 early in the 2nd half, but 10 minutes later Mahtomedi led by 9. St. Peter rallied behind senior guard Rhyan Holmgren, who finished with 34 points and 8 rebounds, and forced OT after 3 or 4 lead changes in the final minute-and-a-half of regulation. Guards Annika and Kylie Southworth, coach Bob Southworth’s daughters, added 37 points on 9-of-18 3s for St. Pete. Meanwhile 6-3 sophomore Anna Greene led Mahtomedi with 24 points and 11 boards.

• There followed the days’ putative headliner with the #1AAAA ranked Minnetonka girls facing the #1AAA ranked DeLaSalle Islanders. But Tonka had too much firepower for the Islanders and pulled away in the 2nd half to win 82-57. Tonka led by as many as 20 when DeLaSalle junior point guard Aneisha Scott scored her 1,000th career point midway through the 2nd half. A couple of minutes later, De was within 65-50. But Tonka outscored the Islanders 17-7 down the stretch. In fact, Scott was DeLaSalle’s only offensive threat with 24 points. Meanwhile, 6-1 junior Aaliyah Crump led Tonka with 38 points, 14 boards, 6 assists and 3 steals. But while Scott’s teammates shot 13-of-33, Crump’s supporting cast shot 15-of-27, led by 6-1 senior, Gopher recruit Tori McKinney with 17 points on 5-of-8 FG and 6-of-7 FT, plus 9 rebounds.

• The day’s festivities opened much earlier in the day with the White Bear Lake girls pulling away from Spring Lake Park 61-45 as Park shot just 31% from the field, including 12.5% from 3. 5-11 8th grader Sarah Peopard showed glimpses of future greatness by scoring 17 points including 4-of-9 3s. Meanwhile, 6-0 senior forward Jordyn Schmittdiel had an ordinary game for her, meaning 15 poionts, 9 boards and 3 steals. 6-0 senior post Bella Sutch was a tower of strength for Spring Lake Park with 18 points and 6 rebounds.

Best of the Winter Classic


C- Omar Kaba, Blake, 6-7, junior, 12 pts

F- Seth Newbern, Armstrong, 6-1, senior, 20 pts, 4 reb

PG- Grayson Okoronkwo, Blake, 6-2, senior, 22 pts

CG- Marcus Horton, Jefferson, 6-0, junior, 26 pts

SG- Isaiah Asuma, Cherry, 6-0, freshman


C- Bella Sutch, Spring Lake Park, 6-0, senior, 18 pts, 6 reb

PF- Anna Greene, Mahtomedi, 6-3, sophomore, 24 pts, 11 reb, 3 stls

SF- Tori McKinney, Minnetonka, 6-1, senior, 17 ots, 9 reg

PG- Aneisha Scott, DeLaSalle, 5-7, junior, 24 pts, 4 reb

SG- Aaliyah Crump, Minnetonka, 6-1, junior, 38 pts, 14 reb. 6 asts, 3 stls, 4th Winter Classic MVP

SG- Rhyan Holmgren, St. Peter, 35 pts, 8 reb, 5 asts, 3 stls