For Minneapolis North’s Tyler Johnson, the basketball season came at just the right time.
Johnson quarterbacked the Polars football team to the Class 1A championship game, where it lost to Minneota 35-18. The University of Minnesota-committed Johnson said it didn’t take long to put the unexpected loss behind him, giving much of the credit to having to prepare for the basketball season.
“It only took me about a day to get over it,” Johnson said. “We made it to the championship game, so that was pretty big. Playing basketball helped. It was something different to focus on.”
Through Tuesday, the Polars are ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Class 1A state poll with a 7-0 record. North had six players averaging 10 points per game or more, led by Johnson, who is averaging nearly 15. With six football players on the roster, Johnson thinks the Polars have a chance to make up for their missed opportunity in football with a basketball championship.
“Football kind of put a chip on our shoulders,” he said. “Right now, I want to have fun and win a state championship. It’s about 50-50 between having fun and winning. I think we can do both.”
A little payback
Before its boys’ basketball matchup on Dec. 12, the last time Maple Grove saw Wayzata the Trojans were celebrating a 77-62 upset in the Section 5 semifinals last March. There was less on the line, but the Crimson earned some redemption with a convincing 70-47 victory in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic at Minnetonka. Tywhon Pickford had 25 points and point guard Brad Divison chipped in with 15 for Maple Grove, which controlled the game from the outset.
Former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie is a native of Canada and a passionate hockey fan. So it makes sense that son Bradley is a freshman starting goaltender for Providence Academy.
Bradley is splitting time in net with fellow freshman Sam Ferreira. Providence lost its first five games but has improved of late, posting a 2-0-1 record before hosting Greenway on Saturday. Bradley has an 0-4-1 record and a .830 save percentage while facing Providence’s toughest foes, including Holy Angels (twice), Orono and Armstrong/Cooper.
• With a scholarship offer to play linebacker at the University of Minnesota awaiting him, Armstrong’s Thomas Barber decided last fall not to play hockey, which he had played through youth levels. But Barber is still with the high school team as a team manager, allowing him the freedom to prepare for a collegiate football career.
• No stranger to playing tough competition, the Breck boys’ hockey team compiled a 6-1 record through Tuesday, with six of its seven games against teams ranked among the top 10 in Classes 1A and 2A. The Mustangs (No. 2, Class 1A) did it in impressive fashion, losing only to Wayzata, the No. 4-ranked team in Class 2A, 2-1 on Dec. 10 while outscoring opponents 39-17.
• Congratulations to the seemingly ageless Art Downey, who is now in his 60th season at the head coach of the Edina boys’ swimming team.
• Edina junior Megan Haug has impressed in her first season as a high school gymnast. Haug, a club gymnast before this season, took first place in the all-around competition in three of the Hornets’ first four meets, improving her score each time. She won the Prior Lake Invitational on Dec. 12 with a season-best score of 36.8.