Girls State Basketball: Providence Academy rallies to complete 3-peat in Class 2A

Girls State Basketball: Class 2A Championship – Albany vs. Providence Academy

Providence Academy became a three-peat champion of Class AA titles on Saturday, March 16, and for its historic feat, had a chance to celebrate twice.

Sophomore guard and prolific scorer Maddyn Greenway gave the Lions the lead for good on a court-length drive with 8.4 seconds remaining in regulation and junior forward Hope Counts made two free throws with virtually no time left to send Providence Academy to an 81-78 victory over Albany in the Class AA championship game at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.

Since the expansion to a four-class state tournament in 1997, no Class AA school had ever won three in a row. Until now when top-seeded Providence Academy was able to defeat Albany for the second consecutive time in the championship game, an intense battle where every trip down the court meant something important.

Albany was within a few precious ticks on the clock and points of the board when a dramatic twist of events ensued. The Huskies held a 78-77 lead when senior guard Savanna Pelzer missed the front end of a 1-and1 free throw with 15.4 seconds remaining. Greenway snared the rebound and weaved her way the entire length of the court and made a creative layup with 8.4 seconds left. When Albany couldn’t convert on the other end in a frenzied finish, Providence Academy (28-4) started celebrating.

But after video review, it was revealed a foul had been called with 0.4 seconds remaining. The teams were assembled for free throws, which Counts made, and the official celebration began as they not only captured another title, but also avenged a loss to Albany on Dec. 19.

Greenway finished with 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Her output places her second all-time in state tournament scoring. In 12 games, she has scored 341 points. She started the day in fourth place, but her production leapfrogged her over Roseau’s Kacie Borowicz (322, set in 2019) and Janet Karvonen of New York Mills (329, set in 1980).

Albany (30-2) had its winning streak snapped at 22 games. The Huskies, who led by as many as 18 points early on, held an 11-point lead at the half. But senior forward Alyssa Sand, who had 20 of her 29 points in the first half. She was assessed her fourth foul in a physical game and was forced to sit for awhile. In that span, the Lions started chipping away at the deficit. Sand finished with 17 rebounds. Teammate Kylan Gerads, a senior forward, had 23 points and 11 rebounds as the Huskies attempted to hang on to a slim lead in the closing minutes.

Senior guard Brooke Hohenecker had 17 points for the Lions while eighth-grade forward Arianna Peterson and Counts chipped in 12 each.

Albany played nearly perfect team basketball in building a stunning 55-44 lead at the half. Sand scored 20 points on 6 of 7 shooting and was 7 of 7 from the free throw line. She also had eight rebounds. Just as important was Gerads, who had 14 points, six rebounds and was 2 of 2 from three-point range.

The Huskies led by as many as 18, 49-31, with 3:33 remaining in the first half. Albany pieced together scoring runs, including a 9-0 spree early on that set the tone for an impressive first half. Albany was 17 of 33 from the field in the first half and 8 of 13 from three-point range.

Providence Academy did not hold a lead in the first half. Greenway had 15 points on 4 of 12 shooting and was 1 of 6 from three-point range and 6 of 10 from the free throw line.

Third place:

Minnehaha Academy 104, Crosby-Ironton 86: In a record-tying performance, Minnehaha Academy outlasted Crosby-Ironton for the third-place trophy at the Gangelhoff Center on the Concordia (St. Paul) campus. Minnehaha Academy junior guard Addison Mack scored 53 points, and on the other side, Crosby-Ironton sophomore guard Tori Oehrlein poured in 46. The combined 99 points tied a state tournament record for total points scored by opposing players in a state tournament game. The record they tied was set on March 30, 2021 in a Class AA game between Duluth Marshall and Providence Academy. Duluth Marshall’s Gianna Kneepkens had 67 points in that game and Greenway scored 32. Oehrlein finished the season with 1,159 points during the 2023-2024 season. She is now in second place on the single-season scoring list, moving past Carlie Wagner of New Richland/Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, who scored 1,147 in 2014. The only player with more points in a single season is Braham’s Rebekah Dahlman, who scored 1,165 points in the 2012-2013 season.