In a span of less than 48 hours, the comparative nature of excellence was on full display in the form of the Minnehaha Academy basketball team.
After opening the season with four straight easy victories, winning by an average margin of 44.5 points, the Redhawks faced their first real test of the season Thursday in Wayzata, a perpetual-motion team loaded with gym rats. With veteran stalwarts Chet Holmgren and Prince Ahlegbe scoring 19 points apiece, No. 1, 3A Minnehaha outlasted the relentless Trojans 70-63, strengthening their unofficial claim as the state's top team, regardless of class.
Minnehaha Academy didn't get much time to savor the distinction. Saturday, it hosted IMG Academy, the national power out of Bradenton, Fla. The Ascenders program is similar to that of prep schools, attracting some of the top talent in the country, which they brandish on a barnstorming circuit crisscrossing the country.
They came into Saturday's game with an 18-2 record and left with one more impressive victory to their résumé, running out to an early double-digit lead, and leaving a 73-53 smudge on the Redhawks' record.
Holmgren, whose status as the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation puts him squarely in the defensive sights of every opponent he sees, was held to 13 points, six below his average.
Two things were made clear: It's difficult to argue with Minnehaha Academy's designation at the state's best team. As good as the Redhawks are, however, they're still a step below the top prep teams in the country.
Coming up this week:
DeLaSalle at Richfield, 7 p.m. Can the host Spartans rebound from their first loss of the season against the Islanders? They have two things in common: Both are 5-1 and the only loss for both teams came against Columbia Heights.
Mahtomedi at South St. Paul, 7 p.m. Is South St. Paul becoming a basketball school? Looks that way. The Packers are 7-0 and averaging 85 points per game. Undefeated Mahtomedi will be a great measuring stick.
Cooper at Chaska, 7 p.m. It's fair to assume Chaska's string of routs — the 6-0 Hawks' average margin of victory has been 46 points — will end. So could their undefeated start. Cooper is also unblemished (7-0).
Minnetonka at Chaska, 7 p.m. No time for Chaska to relax. Minnetonka is playing as well as any team in the state.
Mahtomedi at Orono, 7 p.m. Defending Class 1A champ Mahtomedi's three losses are misleading. They've come at the hands of Class 2A powers Hill-Murray (twice) and Benilde-St. Margaret's.
Eden Prairie vs. Wayzata, 2:30 p.m. (at Plymouth). A battle for the top spot in the Lake Conference.
Andover at Centennial, 3 p.m. Andover has allowed just two goals in seven games, bumping the winning streak to 14, dating to last season.