For the fourth year in a row the Providence Academy Girls Basketball team has made an appearance at the Minnesota State AA Tournament. This is the second consecutive year the Lady Lions are undefeated in the State Tournament and have taken home the championship title. 

There must be a secret to this team’s success. Along with their constant effort the players, coaches, and managers are putting in, there is more behind their accomplishments. Word on the street is the secret to their victories is the bond their team shares. They use “family” as an acronym rather than a noun. It stands for “Forget About Me I Love You.” The team realizes the importance of being the best teammates they can be. They set aside their own goals and instead focus on the goal for the team as a whole. 

Guard Brooke Hohenecker, ‘24 said, “Every year I’ve been on the team, we’re truly been a family. It’s such a big reason as to why we’re so successful. I think it sets us apart from other teams.” 

Paving the way to the State Tournament the girls competed in the MSHSL 2AA Section Tournament. The Lady Lions walked through sections with ease. On March 11th the team played at Augsburg University where they faced Holy Family Catholic High School in the Section Championship game. All season long the Lady Lions outpaced their opponents and found ways to speed up the games, making their competitors adjust to their style of playing. The team secured the title of Section Champions for the fourth year in a row with an impressive score of 89-36. 

Head Coach Connor Goetz said, “Our biggest strength is our ability to play with speed.” 

For the past six years Goetz has been PA’s head coach, and he took what the Lady Lions already had and continued to build the program into what it is today. The team is a competitive, hard working group of girls that the whole state is paying attention to. They have become the team to beat thanks to coaches Goetz, Mark Forbish, Daniel Makepeace and Thomas Gorilla. 

Coach Goetz ponders his next moves. PAW Photo Credit: Tierney Dennison, ’24.

The pressure of being the returning State Champions come with thousands of eyes. The team was not fazed by expectations or nerves as they have had much experience. It is always an advantage coming in and being the favored team and not having nerves play into the game. 

Point Guard Maddyn Greenway, ‘26, said, “We have had experience from past years. There was definitely more excitement [than nerves].” 

The girls basketball team competed at The Barn at the University of Minnesota where they sailed through both the State Quarterfinals and State Semifinals, beating the other teams by twenty or more points to solidify their wins with big margins. Coming into the State Championship game on March 19th the team knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. Both Albany and PA wanted first place, reflected in the game score shifting back and forth throughout the first half. At half time the score was 32-33, with Albany leading. The PA girls took halftime to refocus their minds on the goal they set out to accomplish at the start of season, which was securing another State Championship title. They ended up taking the win over Albany 74-60 and they are once again the State Champs. 

The Lady Lions jump for joy after their big win. PAW Photo Credit: Dennison.

Providence student and fan Jayden Mersereau, ’24, said, “They’ve showcased their talent by winning back to back championships. They represented the program and showed off their skills.” 

With an outstanding season, once again, there is so much than can be said about this team. One major highlight of their season was taking the win over Hopkins High School who is currently ranked No. 1 in MN. The PA girls basketball team ended AAAA Hopkins’s 100 game win streak. The Lady Lions have been able to showcase their talent on so many different levels. 

In addition to coming home with a ring a few other players also received individual awards. Grace Counts, ‘23, and Greenway both won spots on MN’s 2023 all-state team along with MN’s 2023 all-tournament team. Additionally, player Emma Millerbernd, ’27, won a place on MN’s 2023 all-tournament team. 

Millerbernd shuts down Albany’s offense. PAW Photo Credit: Dennison.

Four players will graduate this year. Counts will be moving on to play at the collegiate level at University of MN Duluth. Kyra Miller, ‘23, Marie Heyda, ’23, and Bridget Healy, ‘23, are also departing, but this will be their last season playing basketball. The girls are sad to be moving on, but expect nothing less than success for the PA team in the future. 

“With the win comes the loss of my teammates next year. After spending 6 months+ together for four years they turn into some of your bestfriends and even though I’ll always be a supporter and keep in touch I’ll never be able to play with them again which I’ll miss immensely,” Counts reflected.