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2008-2009 Women's Basketball Season
Varsity Team-Front Row: Tyseanna Johnson, Cy'erra Mills, Brianna Edwards, Talayiah Rich. Middle Row: Alysha Waddles, Angelic Moore, Chelsey McGee, Sarah Hollingshead. Back Row: Dericka Griffis, Semaj Kennedy , Allina Starr, Judy WIlliams, Kendell Martin.
 Click on the photos to enlarge. (High Quality)

The season started on an extremely joyous note when Senior Brianna Edwards signed her letter of intent to play at Providence College in Rhode Island.  Shortly after the first practice of the season, an ominous pall hung over the team when three eighth grade players were suspended for playing in an eighth grade game after the start of the season.  One of the players made the varsity and two made the J.V.  This put the Polars in a hard spot for their

J.V. Team: Front Row: Ahmani Brown, Keevona Hinton, Azia Jacobs, Melissa Potts. Back Row: Diamond Butler, Sade Chatman, Tuffesha Gatlin, Ceara Hinton.
varisty’s first three games and the J.V.’s first two games. 


The varsity started the season playing in the Pat Patterson Tournament at Hamline University.  The first game pitted the Polars against Hopkins.  Hopkins took a 10 point lead in the first half and extended the lead in the second half, winning 78-59. 

9th Grade Team-Front Row: Keliah Mitchell, Trayshawna Vortice, Taire Starks, LaRoya Davis. Back Row: Coach Lisl von Steinbergs, Mercedes Davis, Cedria Alexander, Anntonia Baker, Shadarryl Harris.
Eighth grader Allina Starr led the Polars with 13 points, followed by Derricka Griffis with 12 and Brianna Edwards with 11.


The second game of the tournament was against Andover.  This is the second year in a row that the two teams met in the second game at Hamline.  Andover led 33-29 at the half, but the Polars came back, led by Brianna Edward’s 32 points to win 74-69.


The Polars came home for their next game, against Waconia. 

Brianna Edwards: Senior—Wears #33 (Varsity)—Fifth year playing basketball—Also played volleyball (one season)—Earned three letters—named All Conference in basketball in 2007-2008—Named Most Valuable Player of the Hamline University Pat Patterson Thanksgiving Holiday Tournament—Signed letter of intent to play college basketball at Providence College in Rhode Island. For Brianna, basketball is a passion. She loves the game and tells younger players to always play your hardest.
The game was a see-saw event.  Waconia led 27-24 at the end of the first half.  The Polars held on to a slim three point lead entering the closing seconds of the game.  With five seconds remaining, Waconia’s Amy Erickson hit a three-point shot to tie the game.  The Polars called a time out to set up the final play, but did not execute and the game went to overtime.  North controlled the opening tap of overtime.  The ball ended up in the hand of Brianna Edwards, who hit a three point shot to give the lead back to North.  North hit six free throws to add to their lead. All Waconia could muster is one
Sarah Hollingshead: Senior—Wears #40 (Varsity) and #54 (J.V.)—Third year playing basketball—Also plays tennis and badminton—Earned four letters (two each in badminton and tennis)—Named Captain of the 2008-2009 North Tennis team—Sarah says it taked commitment and hardwork to play basketball. She like the fact that the team not only works hard together, but that they are like a family.
free throw in overtime.  North won 66-57.


The next game was the first of two against South.  South, ranked #6 in Class AAAA, expected a tough game against North, ranked #9 in Class AAA.  Both teams played a tough game and were led by their stars.  The difference in the game was also the difference in points scored by best players.  South Taylor Hill scored 31.  North’s Brianna Edwards scored 25.  South won 71-65.


Derricka Griffis: Junior—Wears #32 (Varsity)—Fourth year playing basketball—Earned two letters—Named “Most Dedicated Player”—Dericka is returning from a torn ACL injury suffered during the 2007-2008 season. She says basketball is a very complex sport and you have to be committed and dedicated.

North got back into the winning column defeating Washburn 65-43.  Brianna Edwards again led the team with 20 points.  Allina Starr, 13, and Chelsey McGee, 11, also were high scorers for the Polars.


The last game before the holidays had Osseo visiting Jacobi Gymnasium.  In a close game, the Orioles beat the Polars 49-41.  Brianna Edwards again led the Polars with 17 points.


During the holiday break, the Polars participated in the Barron

Angelic Moore: Junior—Wears #23 (Varsity)--Second year playing basketball. For Angelic, basketball is very competitive and is one of her favorite sports.
High School tournament, held at the University of Wisconsin-Stout field house.  The team won both games, defeating Baraboo, WI. 48-36 and Colfax, WI. 54-46.


The team returned to conference play against Southwest.  This was the first conference game that the Polars played in where the new Minnesota State High School League mercy rule came into effect. 

Ceara Hinton: Junior—Wears #21 (J.V.)—Third year playing basketball—Also plays softball and tennis—Earned three letters (two in softball and one in tennis)—Named Most Committed Athlete. Ceara says participating in athletics is like having a second family.
With two minutes left to play, the Polars gained a 35 point lead, requiring the clock to run during all whistles, except for time outs.  The Polars won 72-39.


Roosevelt was the next opponent.  The Polars had a tough time in this game.  It was a back and forth event, with the Polars winning 66-60.


The team boarded a coach bus for their annual trip to Chicago.  The team played Springfield Lamphier,

Keevona Hinton: Junior—Wears #10 (J.V.)--First year playing basketball—Keevona loves the fact that that if you work hard, it shows in the games.
IL. In the forst game and won a close contest 61-57.  The Next game was against Thomas Jefferson High School from New York.  This was again a close game with the Polars losing 69-65 in overtime.


The team returned and played Henry.  Henry had a long season, playing many inexperienced players.  The result was a 100-15 Polar victory.  The last nine minutes of the game were played under running

Kendell Martin: Sophomore—Wears #10 (Varsity)--Fifth year playing basketball—Also plays volleyball, runs track and played tennis—Earned three letters (one each in tennis, volleyball and basketball)—Named “Most Committed Player”—Kendell loves sports. She says most people do not realize how much she enjoys all sports—Kendell will be inactive this season because of an ALC injury, but will still be a part of the team, urging her teammates to be successful.


North then took on Edison.  Again, the Tommies were no match for the Polars.  The team won 88-55.  The last minutes of the game were again played under the running time rule.


North then traveled to South for the second meeting of the two teams.  This looked like a tight game, with South and North both being ranked in the top 10 of the state.  The game was not close, with South winning 74-52. 

Alysha Waddles: Sophomore—Wears #24 (Varsity) and #23 (J.V.)—Second year playing basketball—Also plays tennis and runs track—Earned two letters (one each in tennis and track)—Named “Most Improved Player” in tennis (2008-2009) and was city flight doubles champion—To Alysha, basketball is like a good drug. The first time she played the game she fell in love with it. She became addicted to basketball and is her first and only love. She is thankful for the gift God gave her to play the game. Basketball gives her a reason to want to wake up every morning.
South now had a two game lead for the conference title over the Polars.


The Polars then took on the Millers of Washburn.  The team took out the frustrations of the previous game soundly beating Washburn 74-29.


Southwest came to Jacobi Gymnasium for the next game.  At one time, the Lakers held a nine point lead over the Polars.  However, the North team inched back into the game and won 49-42.


The team then went to

Cy’erra Mills: Sophomore—Wears #21 (Varsity)—Third year playing basketball—Also plays volleyball and runs track—Earned two letters (one each in volleyball and track)—Named “Most Spirited” for the 2007-2008 JV Basketball team.
Wayzata.  The game was closer than the final score showed, with Wayzata winning 62-48.


The team then played Roosevelt at North.  This was a close game, with the Polars sealing the victory at the free throw line, 63-54.


The next game pitted the Polars against Henry.  After seeing the first game , no one expected this game to be close.  Henry had one close game.  That was against Arlington,

Melissa Potts: Sophomore—Wears #11 (J.V.)--Second year playing basketball—also plays basketball, runs track and is a cheerleader—Earned one letter (cheerleading)—named “Heart of the Lady Polars” in basketball (2007-2008) and “Best Hustle”
who also had not one a game this year.  North played a conservative game, sitting in a zone or a soft one-on-one defense for the entire game.  Henry held on to the ball for last last two minutes of the game to stop the Polars from scoring 100 points.  The final was North 96, Henry 18.


North needed the rest in the Henry game because the next day they travelled to Worthington.  This would be a battle of two teams that could meet in the state tournament.  Worthington

Semaj Kennedy: Sophomore—Wears #25 (Varsity)—Second year playing basketball—Played on the 2007-2008 North freshman basketball team that won the Conference and Twin City championships.
was ranked #5 while the Polars were ranked #10.  The Polars team bus left at 8:30 a.m. for what would normally be a three and a half hour trip.  However, at 12:30, the North athletic director received a call from Worthington saying the team has not arrived.  The team bus was slowed by icy roads.  Minneapolis received three inches of snow overnight, but Worthington received only one inch.  The team arrived shortly after 1 p.m., which was the starting time of the Junior Varsity game.  Both games
Azia Jacobs: Freshman—Wears #24 (J.V.)—Second year playing basketball—Also plays volleyball and runs track—Given “Hustle Award” in volleyball (2008-2009) and played on 9th grade conference championship basketball team (2007-2008)—Azia is an all around athlete who enjoys playing all sports because they help keep her in shape
were played in their entirety.  The varsity game was all it was billed to be.  It was a back and forth contest, with the Polars bulling out a final minute win 79-78.


The final regular season game was also the teams final home game.  The team had a ceremony honoring seniors Brianna Edwards and Sara Hollingshead before the game.  Edison was the opponent.


The team entered Region play seeded 4th.  The team was disappointed

Tuffesha Gatlin: Freshman—Wears #40 (J.V.)—First year playing basketball.
because they were seeded behind Waconia, whom they defeated earlier in the season.  The Polars hosted the #5 seed Benilde-St. Margaret’s.  Benilde would be a difficult test for the Polars.  Only a week earlier, the Red Knights defeated defending champion Totino-Grace, who was undefeated and ranked #1 in Class AAA.  The game was a close affair. North lead by one point at half time.  North slowly stretched the lead and won easily 58-45.


The second region game was against #1 seed DeLaSalle.  DeLaSalle finished the season ranked #5 in

Trayshawna Vortice: —Wears #—First year playing basketball.
Class AAA.  North’s speed surprised DeLaSalle.  De tried to physically push the Lady Polars around, but Islanders got in foul trouble.  By the end of the game, the Lady Polars had a 16 point lead and defeated the 2008 State Class AAA Second Place team to advance to the region finals.


The Lady Polars drew Orono in the Championship.  Orono was seeded #3 and ranked in the Final Class AAA poll #7.    Orono had a 19 point lead in the first half and things looked bleak for the Lady Polars. 

Diamond Butler: 8th grader—Wears #44 (J.V.)—First year playing basketball.
By halftime, North closed the gap to 15.  In the second half, North continued closing the gap.  With 12 minutes left in the game, the Orono lead was cut to 12 point.  North then closed the gap to 11, then 10, then 9.  A three point shot closed the gap to 6.  By this time, Orono did not know how to stop the Lady Polars.  North closed to four, then another three pointer cut the lead to one.  With about one minute to play, the Lady Polars took the lead for the first time.  Both teams had a chance to score, but missed key baskets. 
Sade Chatman: 8th grader—Wears #55 (J.V.)—Second year playing basketball.
With seven seconds left in the game, Orono committed a foul.  The Lady Polars made both shot.  Time ran out as Orono threw up a last second desperation shot.  The ball missed the basket and the Lady Polars advanced to their 12th State Tournament!


On March 17, the school held a send-off for the Lady Polars.  The school was energized in a way that has not been seen in a number of years.  The school filled up three fan busses for the first game, with many other students providing their own transportation to the game.  In

Tyseanna Johnson: 8th grader—Wears #22 (Varsity)—Second year playing basketball—Named “Most Valuable Player” on the 2007-2008 freshman basketball team.
the State Tournament, the Lady Polars were seeded 4th.  They drew Grand Rapids at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota Campus. (The State tournament only seeds the top four spots.  The remainder of the spots were randomly assigned.)  Grand Rapids was no match for the Lady Polars.  A complete team effort handed Grand Rapids a 61-33 loss.  The Lady Polars advanced to the State Semi-Finals at the Target
Chelsey McGee: 8th grade—Wears #11 (Varsity)—Second year playing basketball—Earned one letter—Named “Best Passer” on 2007-2008 9th grade basketball team.
Center in downtown Minneapolis.


The Semi-Final game was against #1 seed and #1 ranked New Prague.  The Lady Polars pulled out to a lead, but New Prague kept fighting back.  North had a one lead with four seconds to play.  North was sent to the free throw line for a one-and-one.  The Lady Polar missed the front end.  New Prague took down the rebound and began moving up the sideline. 

Talayiah Rich: 8th grader—Wears #34 (Varsity) —Second year playing basketball—Also plays tennis—Earned two letters (both in tennis)—Named “Most Valuable Player” for the 2008-2009 tennis team—Her father, Taj Rich Sr. graduated from North and also coaches Cheerleading and Basketball at the school—Talayiah is wise for her age saying that to succeed in sports you must work hard and be dedicated. Basketball is a family event for two reasons, first the team becomes a family and second because of her personal family history in the sport.
The New Prague Player heaved the ball as time expired.  The Lady Polars advanced to the Championship Game!  But wait, one official called a foul on the Lady Polars.  The officiating crew huddled for a conference.  They then went to the television monitor to check the replay. (MSHSL allows replay at state tournaments only.)  After about five minutes, the officals rule that a North player pushed the New Prague player out of bounds with 0.7 seconds remaining in the game.  New Prague would get a one-and-one.  Both teams came back on the floor. 
Allina Starr: 8th grader—Wears #3 (Varsity)—First year playing basketball—Also plays tennis.—Allina has played basketball since she was 3!
As the official was about to hand the New Prague player the ball, North Coach Faith Patterson called her last time out.  The teams returned to the floor.  The New Prague player shot the ball.  It hit the rim, bounced off and Tyseanna Johnson leaped high for the rebound, sending the Lady Polars to their 9th Chamionship game.


In the Championship game, the Lady Polars played St. Michael-Albertville.  The Lady Polars ran all over SMA in the first half, building up a 20-4 lead. However, St. Michael was not out of the game.  They

Keliah Mitchell: 8th grader-- Wears #13 (Freshman)—Second year playing basketball—Also plays tennis.
slowly inched back into the game.  Bu the end of the game, SMA won their first championship, 63-50 leaving the Polars for their 4th second place finish.  The nine championship games is more than any school has been in since the inception of girls’ basketball in the MSHSL.  Only one school, Rochester Lourdes, has more championships. (All eight of Lourdes championship game appearances resulted in wins for the Eagles.)  Four Lady Polars were named to the All-Tournament team: Briana Edwards, Tyseanna Johnson, Allina Starr and Chelsey McGee.  No second place team has ever had four players named to the All-Tournament team.

Anntonia Baker: 8th grader—Wears #25 (Freshman)—First year playing basketball—Also plays volleyball and runs track


The younger teams also had successful seasons.  The 9th grade team tied for the conference title, but could not defend their Twin City title.  The conference rule is that if there is a tie, the team that has not played in the Twin City game the longest represents the Conference.  Since North played in the game last year, South, wo also finished with a 9-1 conference mark, represented the city.


Ahmani Brown: 7th grader—Wears #14 (Freshman)—First year playing basketball.

The Junior Varsity also tied for the championship with South.  However, since South played in the game last year, the Polars represented Minneapolis this year.  The Polars defeated Highland Park 56-50. 

Awards were given at the end of the season banquet for the following players: Varsity Most Valuable Player: Briana Edwards; Varsity Defensive Player of the Year: Tyseanna Johnson; Varsity Most Improved Player: Anna Moore; Varsity Spark Plug Award: Talayah Rich; Varsity Sportsmanship Award: Sarah Hollingshead; Varsity State Assists Champion: Chelsey McGee. 

Taire Starks: 6th grader—Wears #22 (Freshman)—First year playing basketball—Taire is another of a long list of students who has a parent that attended and played for North. Taire’s mother, Tara Starks, played basketball and is currently the Lady Polar’s J.V. head coach.
Junior Varsity Awards were as follows: Co-Most Committed Players: Kevonna Hinton and Ceara Hinton; Leadership Award: Melissa Potts; Hardest Worker: Azia Jacobs.  The 9th grade awards were: Most Valuable Player: T.T. Starks; Heart of a Lady Polar Award: Ra’Kelle Hall; Dedication Award: Anntonia Baker; Co-Most Improved Players: LaRoya Davis and Mercedes Davis.  Edwards, Starr and Johnson were named All-Conference.