Class 2A girls basketball state semifinal: Providence Academy rushes past Minnehaha Academy

The question was simple. The answer was even simpler.

Asked what she was going to remember most about this particular group of girls basketball players, Minnehaha Academy senior Aniyah Reuben didn’t hesitate. “The fight,” she said.

That was embodied in victory time and time again as the Redhawks fought their way back to the Class 2A girls basketball state tournament. It was embodied in defeat, as well, Friday as Minnehaha Academy battled until the end in an 83-63 loss to Providence Academy at Williams Arena.

In a battle between two of the state’s best scorers — Minnehaha’s Addi Mack and Providence Academy’s Maddyn Greenway — the Redhawks couldn’t get over the hump against the Lions. They fell behind early, and after cutting the deficit to single digits down the stretch ran out of gas.

In the end, Greenway led Providence Academy into Saturday’s championship with 35 points. She was a walking bucket. Just as everyone expected.

But as dominant as Greenway was, Minnehaha Academy coach Matt Pryor wondered if things could have gone differently had his team gotten a friendlier whistle in the early stages.

“We went in with a game plan of taking charges on her,” Pryor said. “We thought they missed a couple. I was very, very proud of our execution with the defensive game plan. We get a couple more of those charge calls going our way early there in the first half and it’s a totally different ball game.”

That said, the Redhawks struggled to create offense against an aggressive 2-3 zone deployed by the Lions. Mack, usually a walking bucket herself, finished with 19 points while cashing in only once from long range.

“I’m really proud of our team,” Mack said. “All season we’ve come out there and tried to put our best on the floor every night. There were some things that didn’t go our way tonight. Even though we didn’t have shots falling, we still fought all the way until the last buzzer went off.”

There’s yet another reference to that word. Fittingly, it’s exactly how Pryor is going to remember this particular group, as well.

“We have a lot of girls on this roster who have been through a lot on the floor and off the floor,” Pryor said. “This group embodied the fight and it’s unfortunate it didn’t work out for us tonight. That said, what these girls are going to be able to translate from the lessons they learned on the court to the rest of their lives is going to be really cool.

“That’s what is always special to see as a coach, just the hardships we go through as a team and how that translates beyond basketball. These girls are going to be very, very successful. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Maybe as soon as next year.

“This is a young team; I’m the only senior,” Reuben said. “It’s a growing experience for everyone, and I’m excited to see where this team is going to be next year at this time.”

If the fight to this point is any indication, this setback for Minnehaha Academy could pave the way for a major comeback.

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