Providence Academy staked its claim to being the best girls basketball team during the 2022-23 season, regardless of enrollment size. That proclamation gained the muster needed after the Lions completed a run of dominance that culminated with their second consecutive Minnesota State High School League Class AA championship.
The top-seeded Lions turned away an early upset bid with a second half of dominance that paved the way to a 74-60 victory over No. 3 Albany in the Class AA title game. Providence Academy (30-2) finished the season on a 29-game winning streak. Freshman guard Maddyn Greenway was the typical spark plug for the Lions with 31 points, five rebounds and four assists to help Providence Academy become the first back-to-back Class AA champions since 2014 when New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva won the second of two consecutive crowns.
Providence Academy’s only two losses this season were to Bishop Garrigan (Iowa) on Nov. 26 and then Becker on Dec. 3. The Lions reversed that result against Becker on Jan. 5. Becker was the top seed in the Class AAA field for this season’s state tournament. Two days later, Providence Academy defeated Mountain Iron-Buhl. Mountain Iron-Buhl would become the No. 1 seed in the Class A field and win their first championship two hours prior to Providence Academy’s victory over Albany. And in late January, Providence Academy defeated Hopkins, who is the top seed in Class AAAA and playing for its second championship in a row later Saturday night.
Providence Academy opened the second half with an 8-0 run to turn a one-point deficit at the break into a 40-33 lead with 14 minutes remaining in regulation. Sophomore forward Hope Counts pushed the advantage to 45-35 with 13:41 left by converting a three-point play. Moments later, the lead grew to 47-35 after a steal and fastbreak layup by Greenway.
The lead would remain in double digits after Greenway made a layup with 10:19 remaining in regulation time that pushed the Lions; lead to 53-42. Less than a minute remaining, it would become 56-42 after a power layup from eighth-grade guard Emma Millerbernd following a nice feed from Greenway. Millerbernd finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Albany wasn’t intimidated by Providence Academy’s up-tempo attack that feasts on open-court play. The Huskies matched that with height and physicality, and sprinkled in some finesse of its own in taking a 33-32 lead into the break. Junior guard Savanna Pelzer gave the Huskies that lead by making two free throws with 45.8 seconds left in the back-and-forth first half.
Junior forward Alyssa Sand paced the Huskies in the first half with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Tatum Findley, who played a late starring role in Albany’s semifinal victory over Goodhue, had 11 points in the first half.
Greenway paced Providence Academy in the first half with 16 points.
Sand finished with 29 points and 21 rebounds for the Huskies (30-2). Albany, the Class AA champion in 2021, was attempting to become the second No. 3 seed to win a championship. Minnehaha Academy accomplished the feat in 2019.