MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kaharri Carter admits he’s not the greatest free-throw shooter. So when the Minnehaha Academy senior guard went to the line with 16 seconds to play and his team only up one with the Class 2A title at stake, he was understandably nervous.
“I was like, this rim seems a lot higher than what it should be,” said Carter, the son of former Minnesota Gopher player Randy Carter. “I shot the first one with a lot of arc and it dropped right through, and I was like, ‘Let’s shoot the second one the same way.’”
The second shot missed, but the Redhawks came up with a big defensive stop to hold off Litchfield 56-54 on Saturday to win their first Class 2A state title. The win was especially sweet for the Tri-Metro Conference school of 486 students in Minneapolis — the school is celebrating its centennial this year.
“Yeah, happy birthday, Minnehaha,” Redhawks coach Lance Johnson said. “That’s another reason why this is real personal, I love this school, and to do this on our 100th celebration is just awesome.”
Marcellous Hazzard led Minnehaha Academy with 14 points and John Pryor had 12. Carter added 11 points for the top-seeded Redhawks (26-6), including three crucial free throws in the final two minutes that helped seal the victory.
With 16.2 seconds to play, Carter made the first of two foul shots. Teammate Thomas Gedion tried to tip the next miss, but the ball ended up in Litchfield’s hands and the Dragons (26-6) called timeout to draw up a final play.
“I was like, ‘This could be a problem,’” Carter said.
Perhaps, especially because Litchfield hit 14 3-pointers the night before against Esko.
“We were concerned about them scoring, period, but giving up a three would’ve been disastrous,” Johnson said.
But Zach Whitchurch’s final attempt in the lane missed off the backboard and Minnehaha Academy celebrated its first title in four state tournament appearances.
Riley Pater led second-seeded Litchfield with 16 points. The Dragons finished as runners-up for the second straight year.
“That’s hard, but personally I congratulate them because we played some awfully good teams in our subsections, the first rounds of the state tournament,” Litchfield coach John Carlson said. “I thought we were playing our best basketball at the end of the year, and that’s always the goal and seldom happens, so I was proud of our guys.”
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