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Albany wins 2A championship with strong finish against Providence Academy

By RON HAGGSTROM, Star Tribune , 04/09/21, 4:30PM CDT


South Dakota State recruit Paige Meyer keyed a 17-5 run over a four-minute stretch late in the second half to propel the Huskies to a 57-43 victory.

Albany players rush the court as the final horn sounds in Friday's Class 2A championship game at Target Center. The Huskies defeated Providence Academy 57-43. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

Albany senior guard Paige Meyer leapt off the bench when the final horn sounded and raced to midcourt with a huge smile on her face. Meyer and her Albany teammates were in state championship celebration mode.

“I got pretty high there,” Meyer said. “I was pretty excited. There is no better way to end your senior season than with a state championship.”

The South Dakota State recruit had 20 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, helping the No. 4-ranked Huskies pull away for a 57-43 victory over No. 5-rated Providence Academy in the Class 2A finals Friday at Target Center.

“I’ve seen Paige play for a couple of years now, and it doesn’t matter if you double- or triple-team her,” Providence Academy coach Conner Goetz said. “She is so savvy and plays with the utmost confidence. She is the ultimate competitor.”

The Huskies (24-1) held a 35-32 lead with just under six minutes left in the game when Meyer ignited a 17-5 run over a four-minute stretch. She had six points and assisted on the other four baskets during the spurt.

Meyer only had two points in a first half, when both teams struggled offensively in different stretches. She finished 5-for-13 from the floor and 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.

“Our senior leadership was definitely important for us,” Albany coach Aaron Boyum said. “This group is very deserving of a state championship.”

Albany forced the youthful Lions into five turnovers in the first six minutes and raced to a 13-2 advantage. Providence Academy rallied and trimmed the Huskies’ lead to 18-17 at halftime.

“They were clogging up the middle,” Goetz said. “We didn’t have enough space to make good entry passes or penetrate to the basket. Give Albany credit, it had a very good game plan.”

The Lions’ Counts sisters — 6-0 sophomore Grace and 5-11 junior Maria — controlled the rest of the first half to get Providence Academy back in the game. Grace Counts had seven of her nine points and Maria added a basket as the Lions (22-2) used a 15-4 run — including the last 10 points of the half — to pull within one. The sisters also combined for 13 rebounds and blocked four shots each in the opening half.

Grace Counts wound up with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots while Maria finished with seven points, nine rebounds and seven rejections.

Seventh-grader Maddyn Greenway led the Lions with 18 points on 6-for-20 shooting from the floor. The Lions were held to 30% shooting.

Albany's Joran Carlson (33) took a short jump shot over two Providence Academy defenders in the first half of the Class 2A championship game Friday at Target Center. Photo: Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

First report

Paige Meyer didn't let a subpar shooting performance keep her down. She put her Albany teammates on her shoulders with a state championship on the line.

Meyer finished just short of a triple-double (20 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists), helping the fourth-ranked Huskies pull away for a 57-43 victory over No. 5-rated Providence Academy in the Class 2A finals Friday at Target Center.

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