This season was one to remember for the Providence Academy Girls Basketball Team. Although the winter sports season got off to a rocky start with the start date being pushed back to January, the young Lions proved that they can handle adversity well. The season concluded last Friday in the State Championship game at Target Center. Only one other team in Providence Academy history has made it this far before and that resulted in a 2012 State Championship for the Lions. While the result was different this year, the Lions can still hold their heads high knowing they made it to the final game of the season and gave it everything they had.
Here is a recap of the State Tournament run by the Lions.
Tuesday, March 30th vs Duluth Marshall
The tournament started off in a non-traditional way where the Lions had to travel to a neutral site, St. Cloud Tech, to take on their opponent the Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers. The Hilltoppers were led by the leading scorer and rebounder in the entire state, Gianna Kneepkens. Kneepkens did not disappoint and lived up to her reputation. The initial game plan was to slow down Kneepkens and try to prevent her from putting up too many points. At halftime, that game plan needed a quick adjustment as Kneepkens had a scorching 26 going into halftime. However, the Lions were clinging to life only down 3 points by a score of 41-38. In the second half, the Lions needed to come out firing and answering every punch that Kneepkens and the Hilltoppers could throw at them. The Lions needed huge contributions from all their players if they were going to keep up with the leading scorer in the state and they got it. 7th grader Maddyn Greenway led the way with 32 points, Sophomore Grace Counts was able to score 25 and the game sealing free throws, Junior Maria Counts scored 16, Senior Carissa Miller scored 9, Freshman Brooke Hohenecker scored 8, and Senior Olivia Klammer scored 4. The Lions needed every single one of those points to overcome the record breaking performance of Kneepkens who scored 67 points in the loss. The Lions were able to prevail by a score of 94-91 which also breaks the state tournament record of most points scored in a game by two teams. A game and a performance that will not soon be forgotten as the Lions punched their ticket to the state semifinals at the Target Center.
Tuesday, April 6th vs New London-Spicer
The semifinals was a game that the Lions had qualified for last year before their season was cut short due to the Coronavirus pandemic. This year the Lions came in hungry and motivated to go out on their own terms. Going into the game the Lions were taking on the undefeated and number 1 ranked New London-Spicer Wildcats. The Wildcats are coached by the winningest coach in all of Minnesota basketball Mike Drier who has amassed over 984 wins in his career. The Wildcats were also led by a group of 4 Seniors who had the size and experience advantage over the young Lions. That would not matter however. In the early going of the game Freshman Brooke Hohenecker got hot and opened up the scoring for the Lions knocking down 4 3 pointers in the first half. The Wildcats were able to hang around for a close halftime deficit however and the Lions went into half with a 3 point lead. The second half saw the emergence of the Counts Sisters as Grace and Maria Counts were able to find their way into the middle of the Wildcat zone and attack the tall posts. Maddyn Greenway also had her own personal 8-0 run to help push the lead for the Lions. The Wildcats would make a run towards the end of the game and actually had a chance for a game winning shot if it weren’t for the defensive heroics of Grace Counts who was able to switch onto a guard and block a shot attempt without fouling. She then was fouled and knocked down 2 more free throws to seal the Lions victory. Leading the way for the Lions was 7th grader Maddyn Greenway with 16 tied with Freshman Brooke Hohenecker with 16 of her own. Maria Counts was able to score 15 points, and Grace Counts poured in 10 of her own all in the second half. The Lions won the game by a score of 58-54 and punched their ticket to the state championship game for the second time ever in school history.
Friday, April 9th vs Albany
In the State Championship game the Lions took on the number 1 seed in the North, Albany Huskies. The Huskies are led by Division 1 Point Guard Paige Meyer and she is everything as advertised. This game was much lower scoring than the previous two as it was a defensive struggle for both teams. Neither team could find their rhythm and turnovers and missed free throws plagued the Lions to start the game. The Huskies were able to take an 11 point lead mid-way through the first half. However, the Lions would respond and were able to go on a 10-0 run to end the half and enter halftime with a 1 point deficit 18-17 and holding Meyer to only 4 first half points. The second half saw a tight back and forth battle with about 6 minutes remaining, Maddyn Greenway was able to knock down a 3 to bring the Lions within 2 points. However, the Lions would get no closer as Paige Meyer assisted or scored on the next 16 points for the Huskies and the Lions cold shooting could not keep pace. In the end, the Lions fell to the Huskies by a score of 57-43. The Lions were led in scoring by Maddyn Greenway with 18 points, Grace Counts with 14 points, and Maria Counts with 7 points.
The Lions would finish the year with a 22-2 record and as State Runner-ups. The Girls Basketball Team would like to thank the entire Providence Academy Community for the support. To the Teachers, Administration, Custodial Staff, Security, Bus Drivers, Parents, Alumni, and Fans we sincerely appreciate all the support you have given us this year. While it may not have been a normal year, we are incredibly grateful for the support you have given us this year. Thank you for everything!
Providence Academy Track & Field
The Providence Academy Track & Field team competed in their first meet of the 2021 season. After not having a track season last spring it sure was nice to be out on the track again!
The Lions hosted a dual meet with the Breck School on April 15. The girls’ and boys’ teams both took first place in the meet. The athletes have been working very hard. I am very proud of these kids for all their efforts they have been putting forth. It definitely paid off in this first meet. Congratulations to senior Jack Wicht who broke the 15-year old school record in the shot put with a throw of 46-04.
The Lions compete next at a dual meet with Minnehaha Academy on Wednesday, April 21.