McCluer North High School sits atop the high school basketball mountain in the state of Missouri once again after winning its second Class 5 state championship last weekend in Columbia.
As a 1982 graduate of McCluer North and a former player, it’s always nice to see the old school hoist that state championship trophy once again.
So, I hope you will indulge me for a moment while I get my clown on while talking about the alma mater.
The Stars concluded its championship season with an impressive 63-53 victory over Troy last Saturday night at the Mizzou Arena. The second state title cements McCluer North’s status as one of the top high school programs in the state.
It also establishes head coach Randy Reed’s mounting legacy as one of the most successful mentors in the Show-Me State. When Hall of Fame coach Floyd Irons departed the coaching ranks after the 2006 season at Vashon, it brought to an end of one of the great dynasties in high school basketball.
The closest thing to a large-school dynasty in recent years has been manufactured by Reed, who was a star player for Irons at Vashon during the late 1970s. In the past seven years, Reed has directed McCluer North to five district championships, three Final Four appearances and two state titles. The Stars annually play in one of the state’s toughest districts with their Suburban North conference rivals.
Poplar Bluff is the only other school to win two Class 5 state titles since the Missouri State High School Activities Association went to a five-class system. McCluer North’s three Final Four appearances have come in a five-year period. No other Class 5 school has been able to match that.
McCluer North’s venture to a state championship was a wild and eventful ride. After winning their first 20 games of the season, the Stars hit a snag in February when they lost four out of five. They lost to Belleville West, McCluer, Hazelwood Central and Chaminade. The 76-58 loss to Chaminade was particularly humbling because it was nationally-televised on ESPNU for the entire nation to see.
McCluer North would not lose again. En route to the championship, the Stars defeated their Suburban North rivals McCluer and Hazelwood Central to win the district title. The biggest win of the season came on March 5 when the Stars upended Chaminade 57-56 in the quarterfinals in front of a standing-room only crowd at UMSL.
The Stars rode the considerable talents of 6’3” senior guard B.J. Young, who concluded a rollercoaster ride of a high school career at the pinnacle of high school basketball. Not only was Young’s great talent on display for the rest of the state, but his maturation as a overall player came to the forefront at the Final Four. You all sides of B.J.’s game at
Mizzou. He was terrific.
In North’s dramatic come-from-behind 62-59 victory over Lee’s Summit North in the semifinals, Young turned in one of his super-human closing acts when he scored 19 breathtaking points in the last six minutes and 40 seconds to rescue the Stars in what was easily the most exciting game of the weekend. Young finished with 30 points.
In the championship game, Young scored a game-high 21 points, but he became more of a facilitator than a scorer. He picked his spots when to score, but he spent much of the game finding open teammates for easy baskets. As the season wore on, Young discovered the rare talent of making his teammates better and that was when McCluer North took off as a team.
Junior center Jordon Granger was a 6’8” tower of strength in the middle with his long wiry body, deft shooting touch and shot-blocking ability.
Senior forward Akintoye Okinrunboye was an unsung hero of the team with his boundless energy on both ends of the floor. Okinrunboye scored 12 points in the semifinals against Lee’s Summit North and 15 points in the championship game.
The rest of the team consisted of a collection of quick and athletic players that kept the Stars pressure defense clicking, especially in the postseason. Juniors Tremayne Garrett and Galen Brown were athletic swingmen while small guards Tephon Lindsey, Byron Ray and Caleb Bush provided the quickness. Senior Keaton Turner provided a little muscle off the bench.
McCluer North’s schedule provided the Stars the opportunity to play several top teams as Randy takes on all comers. Any time. Any place. He will play you. In addition to defeating Chaminade, Hazelwood Central, McCluer and Troy, the Stars also defeated Southwestern Conference co-champions O’Fallon and Belleville West, along with Belleville East, Indiana state power Gary Lew Wallace, plus district champions Cardinal Ritter, Fort Zumwalt North and Illinois Class 3 regional champion Salem.
The McCluer North took on and defeated the best that the state of Missouri had to offer (and some of Illinois as well).
Now, they are on top once again. McCluer North, your 2011 Class 5 State Champions.
That sounds nice. Real nice.