Class AAA has been dominated by the DeLaSalle dynasty of the last several years, which may make some of the All-Stars in this group unrecognizable to state tournament followers.
However, the 2013 group chosen to play in the Coaches Association All-Star series is laden with talent. Two of them were named finalists for Miss Basketball: Jessica January of Richfield and Tyseanna Johnson of DeLaSalle. Six of the 10 entries will play at Division I schools, and all of them captivated their local communities.
Johnson and Allina Starr figured to be sure bets, qualifying to the class AAA state championship in every year of high school and winning three titles from 2011-2013. Their success began in the final year of Faith Johnson-Patterson’s regime at Minneapolis North, where they finished second to St. Michael-Albertville. Johnson and Starr moved to DeLaSalle the following year to stay with their revered coach, finishing third as freshmen before winning a trio of titles.
Beyond the monopoly, Richfield also sent a pair of outstanding seniors. January’s acrobatic skills headlined the school’s first two trips to the state tournament in girls basketball, and Sierra Ford-Washington’s bastion of support helped the Spartans blossom in that period.
Red Wing’s Tesha Buck, a finalist in the 2013 class AAA state tournament, was also chosen. She considered Johnson her best friend and mentor, and the two sport a similar style on both offense and defense, which makes their similar career stats seem less surprising.
The class will be shaken up next year as the seniors move on to college and new schools enter the division, but the 2013 field for AAA reached depths that were unexplored in previous years.
Brigette Audette – Big Lake
Audette led the 2013 All-Stars in alphabetical order and will likely do the same when she joins the St. Mary’s University roster next season.
Her basketball origins can be traced to kindergarten, when she made her first layup. From there, she earned three straight selections to the All-Conference team in the Mississippi 8. Her dream job is a detective for a CSI agency.
Tesha Buck – Red Wing
If Tesha Buck isn’t playing basketball, odds are you can find her watching a game, whether it’s the high school, college or professional levels.
She cheered valiantly for the Shimmel sisters, who brought Louisville to a surprise run to the championship round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Like the Shimmels, Buck has Native American ancestry and hopes to illuminate the talents of a demographic not associated with basketball glory.
Her friendship with Tyseanna Johnson is so strong that the two will often share texts before games, including their lone high school meeting in the class AAA championship this year.
Buck will play under Kevin Borseth at Wisconsin-Green Bay next year, and has hopes of making a WNBA roster in the future.
Sierra Ford-Washington – Richfield
Ford-Washington suffered a knee injury in the semifinal round of the class AAA tournament, which may have cost Richfield a chance to rematch with DeLaSalle as Red Wing pulled off the upset bid.
Ford-Washington was an All-State selection in her junior and senior years and will continue her basketball pursuits at Northern Iowa. She would like to be an astronaut and said she would build her own ship if no program is available in the United States to send astronauts to space.
Jessica January – Richfield
Jessica January ended her Richfield career with 2,663 points and is likely the only member of the 2013 class who could perform a cartwheel, somersault, or split when necessary; she competed in gymnastics before entering varsity basketball.
Although January did not win a state trophy in basketball, she emerged victorious three times in the state track tournament and holds the state record for the fastest time in the 100-meter hurdles. Her role models include Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. January will play at DePaul next season.
Tyseanna Johnson – DeLaSalle
Tyseanna Johnson was among the soft-spoken members of the class AAA All-Stars, preferring to let her talents assume her voice.
Johnson crossed the 2,000-point milestone to accompany her three state championships, and the niece of DeLaSalle coach Faith Johnson-Patterson became a sentimental favorite after her brother, Jarvis, survived a heart attack during a boys basketball practice.
Tyseanna etches her personality in prominent fashion on Twitter, and in an ironic twist, would love to be an NBA commentator (her favorite player is Kobe Bryant). Johnson will join Iowa State next season.
Kenzie Kane – Grand Rapids
Kenzie Kane was not eligible to be on any conference lists because her Grand Rapids Thunderhawks play an independent schedule, but the northern Minnesota resident did get noticed by Minnesota-Duluth, where she will play college basketball.
Kane understood teamwork through her time in the sport, quoting the often-used line “You’re only as strong as your weakest players.” Kane hopes to pass on the support given to her over the years, with her dream including the construction of a basketball facility to host weekly tournaments.
Abby Manitz – Kasson-Mantorville
Manitz is among the plethora of fans who idolize Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (her favorite memory is getting within arm’s reach of Rubio at a Wolves game last season), but if plans to cuff Rubio do not work out, she will pursue a nursing major at the University of Minnesota, where she will start classes in the fall.
Manitz was also involved in volleyball and choir at Kasson-Mantorville and got her start in basketball from driveway scrimmages with her father and brother at age four. She said basketball helped her understand how to handle and learn from mistakes.
Clarissa Ober – Glencoe-Silver Lake
Clarissa Ober will become a South Dakota State Jackrabbit next season, joining a steady stream of Minnesota recruits who signed with the Summit League school. Also a member of the prestigious North Tartan AAU club, Ober’s career goal is becoming a nurse practitioner.
If a course change is made, Ober is handy with letters and numbers. Her hobbies including reading books and completing Sudoku puzzles.
Allina Starr – DeLaSalle
Allina Starr adds her name to a family line of players who traversed Minnesota before moving south to compete in Division I basketball. Her older sister, LaRae, played for Tennessee State, and Allina will continue her evolution at Auburn, a school that sent two alumni to the WNBA (DeWanna Bonner and Le’Coe Willingham) and was also the proving ground of cross-over athlete Bo Jackson.
Starr is not concerned about matching their billing yet, but fans will likely find her at the closest basketball gym to work on her skills regardless of the calendar date. Her desire to play began at age three, when she told her father that she wanted to play after watching games now revered as classic contests.
When Starr’s time in basketball ends, she would like to take up law enforcement work.