Boys State Basketball: Annandale beats Minneapolis North 60-49 for first state title

Annandale opened the season with two losses in its first four games with those setbacks to Maple River and Albany. The Cardinals believed, however, that something special was in store and early-season panic wasn’t welcomed on the to-do list. Instead, the Cardinals answered with calm and remined focused on the endgame with bringing Annandale the first boys basketball championship in school history.

Twenty-nine consecutive victories later, mission accomplished.

Annandale, the No. 3 ranked team in the Class AA field, recorded its second upset in an 18-hour period with a 60-49 victory over top-seeded Minneapolis North in the championship game on Saturday, March 26, 2022 at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. Senior forward Hawken Miller led a balanced attack with 18 points and senior forward Robert Olson chipped in with 16 to help the Cardinals (31-2) stun the Polars (27-7). It is Annandale’s first championship in two title-game appearances. In 2014, the Cardinals were the Class AA runner-up to Esko. In Friday’s semifinals, Annandale defeated No. 2 Caledonia to earn a championship berth.

Minneapolis North was seeking to add to its rich tradition of state tournament success with an eighth championship in 12 title-game appearances. The Polars last won a championship in 2017 when it won the second of consecutive Class A titles.

Annandale built a seven-point halftime lead and built on that for the remainder of the game with a patient attack that was equal parts efficient in ballhandling, timely shooting, assist distribution and strong rebounding process. The Cardinals had 26 of their 32 rebounds on the defensive end of the floor.

Senior forward Brady Spaulding, arguably Annandale’s best ball-handler against Minneapolis North’s pressure defense, was 6 of 7 from the field, making most on short-range jumpers. He also had six assists.

Senior guards Demeiko Anderson and Willie Wilson paced the Polars with 14 points each. It was North’s first loss this season to a Minnesota school that wasn’t in Class AAAA.

Annandale built a 30-23 halftime advantage behind 10 points from senior forward Brady Spaulding and seven each from senior forward Robert Olson and senior guard Bryce Fobbe. The Cardinals shot 58.3 percent from the field and held a 14-10 rebounding edge over the Polars. In addition to Spaulding’s points, he also had four assists.

Minneapolis North held a five-point lead with 7:53 remaining in the first half following a 7-0 run. But that yielded to a 10-point run by Annandale that created a seven-point halftime lead.

Senior guard Demeiko Anderson paced the Polars with seven points in the first half and senior guard Rio Sanders added six.