This time, the Polars were ready.
For the second consecutive season, the Minneapolis North boys’ basketball team carried a No. 1 ranking in Class 1A into a Saturday matinee at Rushford-Peterson, a longtime small-school basketball power located about 50 miles southeast of Rochester.
Having experienced a sound thumping at the hands of the eventual 2015 Class 1A champs, the top-ranked Polars were fully prepared for what awaited them Saturday. They ran out to an 18-point halftime lead, effectively neutralizing a potentially boisterous sold-out Rushford-Peterson crowd, and cruised to a 61-45 victory. Junior guards Isaac Johnson and JaQuan Sanders-Smith led Minneapolis North in scoring with 18 and 13 points, respectively Senior Tyler Johnson, a University of Minnesota football recruit, scored 12 points and added two highlight-reel dunks, including a one-handed alley-oop in the second half that stemmed a Rushford-Peterson rally.
North improved to 16-3 on the season but all three of the Polars’ losses have come at the hands of teams from much larger schools: Pebblebrook (No. 6 in Georgia’s largest class, 6A), Champlin Park and Hopkins (both 4A). It doesn’t get any easier for the Polars this week. The host No. 6, 4A Wayzata at 7 p.m. Monday.
A look at some of the best games this week:
• Tuesday: Minnetonka vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (at St. Louis Park Rec), 7 p.m. Must-see No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup. The Skippers moved into the No. 2 spot in 2A on Wednesday, fell to Wayzata 4-0 the next day but bounced back with a balanced effort in a 5-2 victory over Edina on Saturday. Meanwhile, Benilde-St. Margaret’s (No. 1, 2A) remained undefeated (17-0-1) with victories over Farmington and Bloomington Jefferson.
• Tuesday: Hill-Murray at North/Tartan, 7:30 p.m.
• Friday: Edina at Blake, 6 p.m.
• Thursday: DeLaSalle at St. Croix Lutheran, 7:30 p.m. This will be the second matchup in a 10-day span between two No. 1-ranked teams. Last week, Hopkins (No. 1, 4A) defeated Minneapolis North (No. 1, 1A) 98-96. DeLaSalle (No. 1, 3A) has won eight games in a row. St. Croix Lutheran (No. 1, 2A) had a 10-game winning streak ended last Monday in a 76-55 loss to Wayzata.
• Friday: Wayzata at Hopkins, 7 p.m.
• Thursday: Eastview at Lakeville North, 7 p.m.; Minnetonka at Elk River, 7 p.m.
• Friday: Orono at Hutchinson, 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday: True Team State Meet, at U of M Aquatic Center. Class 1A, 1 p.m.; Class 2A, 6 p.m.