Monday, July 19, 2010

Mpls. North Dynasty At An End?

The word on the street (which, as you know, means as read at is the Minneapolis school officials are discouraging kids from enrolling at Mpls. North High School. A 2007 report showed that 72 percent of north Mpls. high school students were failing. The school has been labeled "a dropout factory" and Mpls. City Councilman Don Samuels was widely quoted saying that north Mpls. residents should "burn North High down."

I am not qualified to speak to academics at North High or why the current drama is taking place and taking the shape that it is, though it would appear foolish to think that the academic debate and news from the North High basketball scene are unrelated. Specifically, the word is that the North girls basketball powerhouse is breaking up. Super-7th grader (last season/class of 2015) T. T. Starks has already transfered to Hopkins, and is already playing for the Royals this summer. And keep in mind that Starks is the daughter of North High coach Tara Starks. Meanwhile, star guard Chelsey McGee is rumored to be moving with former North star and now coach Tamara Moore at a new charter school called Prairie Seed.

I haven't heard any word of outbound transfers among the North boys, but of course the North boys didn't lose in the section final last season to the eventual state champ on a last second bucket, as did the girls. The boys didn't come into tis-coming season rated among the top 5 in their class, maybe the top 2, as the did girls. But the boys have won five state titles in the multi-class era in 1980, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2003--more than any school except Hopkins--and produced one of the greatest, if not the greatest Minnesota boys basketball player ever in Khalid El-Amin.

Meanwhile, the Lady Polars played in an unprecedented 9 straight state championship games, winning in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005 under legendary coach Faith Johnson Patterson. Patterson must have seen the handwriting on the wall in deciding to move downtown to DeLaSalle last year.

The immediate impact would seem to be clearing the way for a repeat Class AAA title for Benilde-St. Margaret's. Longer term, we may be seeing one of the top 5 Minnesota high school basketball dynasties falling by the wayside. If so, the quality and style of Polar basketball will be missed.

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