Usually, Minnesota basketball prodigies from class A complete their duties with little detection, with press coverage generally limited to their area newspapers and television stations.
As a result, state tournament coverage can sometimes be counter-intuitive as the majority of the target audience is usually away to cheer on their high school brethren.
Fortunately, the small schools get another dose of appreciation through the Minnesota All-Star Series, a two-day event accentuated by the official naming of Miss Basketball Minnesota.
No class A players were among the finalists for the annual award, but the group was highlighted by Onye Osemenam from Maranatha Christian Academy. Osemenam was the lone senior among the class A field to sign with a Division I school, committing to Missouri State.
Osemenam won two state championships with Maranatha, doing so in 2011 and 2012. Although they suffered an upset against Ada-Borup in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 class A state tournament, Osemenam finished her career in the top 10 for rebounds (7th) and blocks (6th).
Joining her in the all-star festivities were Jessie Mathews of Bethlehem Academy and Kathy Ostman of Mountain-Iron-Buhl. Ostman advanced to the final with her Rangers in 2012 against Maranatha, while Mathews reached the semifinal round of the 2013 bracket before losing to eventual champion Minneota.
Mathews earned some hardware of her own though, winning two state titles in volleyball with Bethlehem Academy.
Tarah Cleveland – Menahga
Cleveland was the shortest player to make the All-Star field, but her diminutive 5-foot-1 frame was never to be underestimated, racking up 2,752 points in her high school career.
Cleveland would visit her gym at 6:00 a.m. every morning before a game to get herself in game shape, and said she learned to never underestimate an opponent through her basketball experience.
Tori Davidson – Northern Freeze
Davidson also cracked the 2,000 point barrier with the Northern Freeze, a triumvirate of area schools competing under one banner. Davidson hails from Marshall County Central and scored 2,186 points before hanging up her high school jersey.
Davidson believes teammates would refer to her as loud, hysterical, outgoing, smart and a strong leader.
Alexandra Erickson – Warren-Alvarado-Oslo
Erickson will be joining the MIAC to play Division III basketball at Concordia-Moorhead next season, where she plans to study elementary education.
She said respect was the biggest lesson instilled through basketball, extending that gesture to other players, coaches and referees.
On a more introverted basis, Erickson channels spirituality; her favorite quote comes from the book of Philippians: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Paige Erickson – Westbrook Walnut Grove
The second Erickson (not related to Alexandria) only participated in the first of the scheduled pair of contests, but the Westbrook Walnut Grove graduate was an all-conference honoree in the Red Rock for three straight years.
Erickson applied a calm approach to the game, believing anger would not solve any problems and the outcome was dependent on team execution. Outside of basketball, Erickson played on the school volleyball and golf teams.
Kimberly Frank – Wabasso
Frank will be charting a future in Division II, signing with St. Cloud State in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Teammates of hers next season will include fellow All-Star Kaityln Kuefler and St. Paul Central graduate Betsy MacDonald.
Frank believes basketball taught her tools of teamwork, friendship, responsibility, time management and establishing confidence. She plans to enter pharmacy when her athletic endeavors end.
Sydney Larson – Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City
Larson had the unique distinction of being the only All-Star player from a school whose colors include teal.
Larson credits basketball for teaching the values of discipline and leadership, facets that were likely used playing volleyball and softball. She will attend Presentation College in the fall.
Jessie Mathews – Bethlehem Academy
Mathews won two state tournament championships in volleyball for the Bethlehem Academy Cardinals. Although she could not translate that success to basketball, her versatility was recognized with an All-Star selection.
Mathews will head to the MIAC next year at St. Mary’s University, where she will continue in basketball, a sport she believes passes life skills in addition to the traditional athletic lessons. Mathews hopes to become a physical therapist.
Onye Osemenam – Maranatha Christian Academy
A two-time state championship in class A basketball, Onye Osemenam finished third in blocks for the 2012-13 season. She swatted 563 balls in her career and tallied 1,483 rebounds.
Osemenam will major in biology and plans to apply for medical school upon receiving her Bachelor’s degree. Teammates said that Osemenam’s goofy and encouraging personality highlighted her illustrious tenure with the Mustangs.
While the medical field is her passion, Osemenam’s favorite moment was watching the Minnesota Lynx crown the 2011 WNBA championship in a three-game sweep against the Atlanta Dream.
Kathy Ostman – Mountain-Iron-Buhl
Although her state tournament runs did not include a championship, Kathy Ostman of Mountain-Iron-Buhl balanced basketball with multiple activities including track, volleyball and archery.
The movie buff would like to find a job that allows her to travel. Her favorite quote can be found in the 2010 Christopher Nolan film “Inception,” and the movie’s landscapes could also double for the dreams of Ostman.
Jessica Spray – Clearbrook-Gonvick
Spray was not a statistical factor during the All-Star weekend, but the outgoing senior from Clearbrook-Gonvick made the Northwoods All-Conference team for four straight years.
Her overflowing love of basketball was part of a family line, as she recalls seeing her older brothers play and anticipating the day she would be old enough to compete herself.
A loyal fan of the Minnesota Lynx, Spray would like to become an athletic trainer. Her college plans chart a course to Bemidji State, a Division II school in the NSIC.