The upstairs gym at Bloomington Kennedy High School may not exactly be Tiffany’s, but they serve one heck of a nice breakfast there anyways. At least that was the case very early on Saturday morning on day two of the…
The upstairs gym at Bloomington Kennedy High School may not exactly be Tiffany’s, but they serve one heck of a nice breakfast there anyways. At least that was the case very early on Saturday morning on day two of the Minnesota Girls AAU State Basketball Championships. The head chef in this case was coach Josh Hersch of the Minnesota Stars, whose recipe for success with his 2018 squad is certainly pleasing to the palate. Hersch inherited this team from the legendary Willie Taylor, and it appears as though they were well-trained.
Hersch’s breakfast special on this day came in the form of #14 seed High Impact Caddy. Think of this High Impact squad as Mountain Iron Buhl in the Witness Protection Program. Four of the nine players on the roster wear the colors of the Rangers during the high school season, while the other five hail from Bigfork, Esko and Bemidji. Of particular interest to me were guard Ally Negen and center Mary Burke, two well-constructed, workman-like players for MIB who ride shotgun for headliners with names like Mason and Buffetta.
The 5-10 Negen is not fancy, nor particularly efficient, but she is the kind of junkyard dog that every championship team needs. Relentless probably isn’t a strong enough adjective in this case. Negen has overcome injury and is improving significantly. She is currently ranked 47th in Northstar’s class of 2019 and is only going to get better. Think of the 5-11 Burke as the bouncer at the front of the club who is out there to make sure the queens of the court arrive safely at their destination with basketball in hand. If you don’t have the right credentials, this bouncer just might rough you up. Not many girls up north visit Burke’s rough-and-tumble neighborhood a second time around. Lest you think she is all brawn and no brains, that Burke is averaging 10 points a game this weekend. She is currently ranked 35th in the class of 2018 but has been as high as 17.
On this day, however, there was little Negen nor Burke could do. The girls of Club Hersch had come to breakfast in red Ferraris and they were doing 185 in the fast lane with the windows rolled down. All of their speed and athleticism, their flash and their dash, was simply too much for the ladies with the lunch pails. Hersch jumped out to a 13-3 lead which soon became 20-5 and more as the speedometer made its way into the red zone. The Stars led 41-11 at halftime and coasted home to a 66-27 victory.
Burke finished the game with 9 points to lead High Impact while Negen added 5. Kristi Fett may not exactly be the second coming of Audrey Hepburn, but the Stars’ 6-foot-4-inch center from Lyle-Austin Pacelli was the leading lady at this breakfast with 14 points. Jaclyn Jarnott of Maranatha had 10 while Claire Orth (Centennial) and Taylor Brown (Lakeville North) added 8 apiece. The always-dangerous Krystal Carlson of Hastings had 7.
This Hersch squad appears to be for real folks, with a truckload of scholarship-level talent and a unified sense of purpose. Later on Saturday they knocked off North Tartan Nike Elite 52-34 and will now face #2 seed Minnesota Fury Elite at 12:40 p.m. Sunday in the D1 semifinals. The winner of that game will take on the winner of the game between #1 North Tartan 11 EYBL and #4 Metro Stars Weise for the state championship at 4:10 p.m. All three games are at Bloomington Jefferson.