High school seniors gutted by sudden end of MSHSL tournaments

A countless number of seniors didn't get a say in how their prep basketball careers ended.
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Paige Bueckers

In the wake of the cancelation of the Minnesota high school boys' and girls' basketball tournaments, many players saw their prep careers end in unprecedented fashion, as their chances at playing in the state tournament and competing for a state championship were halted by a global pandemic. 

Paige Bueckers, the No. 1-rated recruit in the country, said "Heartbroken isn’t even the word to describe the feeling I’m going through right now." Bueckers and the undefeated Hopkins Royals were stopped in their tracks after advancing to the state title game, where they would've played Farmington on Saturday night. 

On the other end, the Tigers, who featured Creighton-bound Molly Mogensen, were stunned and saddened by the abrupt ending. 

"I am sad today. I am sad for our girls basketball team, our coaches, parents, band and our fans. I am sad because we won't get to see this great team play one more time. We won't get to see their great teamwork, their great work ethic, their great talent, but most importantly their great friendship," said Farmington Athletics Director Bill Tschida. 

"What a joy it has been to watch this team play, and to grow so much. Injuries did not set them back it seemed to only make them stronger. What a great model for others to emulate! You are 'Unbreakable.'"

Meanwhile, Lakeville North's Lauren Jensen, who will attend Wisconsin beginning next season, also used the opportunity to reflect on her five years after her Panthers fell to St. Michel-Albertville in the quarterfinals.

While the girls had a chance to play state tournament games, the boys' tournament never got off the ground with the section finals muted just hours before 16 section championship games were to be played Friday night. Sixteen other teams had already clinched a berth in the state tournament. 

One game that did get played featured East Ridge's Ben Carlson, who saw his team fall to Cretin-Durham Hall on a buzzer beater Thursday night.

While Carlson got to play his final game, everyone from the No. 1-ranked and undefeated Eden Prairie Eagles, who are ranked 10th in nation by ESPN, did not get a chance to play in their section title game. Instead, it was the Eagles, along with DeLaSalle and other teams, who decided to cut down the nets in championship style on their home courts. 

For Pierz, a smaller school in greater Minnesota looking for its first trip to the state tournament in program history, it was a devastating end as they were set to face Esko in their section title game before the coronavirus collapsed itself on the dream. They made the best of a bad situation by one last team get-together. 

Minnehaha Academy's Jalen Suggs, who will head to Gonzaga next season, also felt the shockwave of a sudden ending by trying to describe his feelings during an appearance on Darren Wolfson's "The Scoop" podcast

"As I got out on the court and started playing, I just tried to enjoy my last time out there," Suggs said. "I just tried to have fun, be myself and leave it on the right note. Going back with no regrets knowing that I ended it laughing and smiling and enjoying it with my teammates."

Hopkin's Kerwin Walton, another highly touted recruit who has yet to decide his college destination, echoed Suggs' sentiments on Wolfson's podcast. 

"I figured we had a great chance of making it to the state tournament. I thought we had a great chance to win it all playing the Eden Prairie's and the Park Center's. We were really gassed up to play in it. It's heartbreaking that we didn't get that chance."

All of the above is a small sampling of a much bigger story, filled with seniors who didn't have a say in how their prep basketball careers ended. 

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