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Basketball champion Minnehaha Academy more than Suggs and Bickham

Posted on 24 April 2017 by calvin

IN THE ZONE by MATTHEW DAVIS

Minnehaha Academy stars Jalen Suggs and JaVonni Bickham have the highlight-reel plays, stats, and NCAA Division I offers to garner the boy’s basketball spotlight in the state.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith all those accolades, they still needed three other players on the court and more off the bench in March to help them win Minnehaha Academy’s third state championship since 2010. Basketball remains a team sport no matter how big and bright the stars get.

“We had a bunch of unsung heroes,” Redhawks Coach Lance Johnson said.

Junior guard Lorenzo Smith provided a staple in the backcourt, especially when the injury bug bit the Redhawks. Smith, standing 5-10, led the team in minutes played and went on fire from three-point during the winter with an 18-22 stretch. He averaged 12.3 points per game.

Johnson said he “shot the ball efficiently for us this year and was often asked to guard the top guard on the opposing team.”

Freshman guard Terry Lockett bounced back from a January thumb injury in time for the postseason. He averaged 10.3 points per game in the state tournament and made the all-tournament team. Lockett also had a solid section tournament performance with 9.3 points per game. The 5-11 guard also had a strong season going before the injury with 12.2 points per game.

Success with freshmen didn’t end with Lockett or Suggs. Forward Kaden Johnson, standing 6-4, started all but one contest this season. Johnson averaged 9.2 points per game.

“He is super athletic and has the ability to shoot threes,” Johnson said.

Senior forward Jose Williamson got to end his high school career in style. The 6-5 big did a lot of the dirty work for the Redhawks.

“He rebounded, scored, defended and was a great team leader this year,” Johnson said.

While Williamson will graduate this year along with fellow senior teammates Donovan Taylor and Nick Hernandez, the Redhawks anticipate having tons of young talent back. It spells big goals for next season, which the Redhawks also had this winter.

“It wasn’t to get to state; it was to win it,” Johnson said. “We dreamt big. With nearly our entire team back and youngsters in our program who will be able to step in and play at the varsity level, our goal is to repeat. We like our chances, but realize that it will be tough.”

Bickham, a 6-6 forward who scored 14.8 points per game, has his senior season ahead. Suggs, a 6-3 guard who led the team with 21.6 points per contest, still has three years to go.

It doesn’t hurt that they also have a formidable supporting cast around in the quest to repeat as Class AA champions.

Johnson said, “I have never seen so many young boys on one team that have their type of athleticism. They are unique.”

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