Minneapolis North Takes State

MSR News (March 16, 2016)

For Minneapolis North and head coach Larry McKenzie, the third time was the charm. During his post game conference, McKenzie – who led Minneapolis Patrick Henry to four Class AAA titles from 2000-2003 – made it clear that while he was happy to get title number five, it wasn’t just about him or his players. “We are glad to be here,” he said smiling during his opening statement. “We worked hard for this. This championship is for the school and community. “READ MORE…


Back at State, Minneapolis North Inspired and Challenged by Program’s Celebrated Past

Channel 5 Eyewitness News (March 9, 2016)

Minneapolis North Community School’s boys basketball program was as powerful a powerhouse as you’ll see in prep sports. In 23 years from 1980 to 2003, the Polars made fifteen State Tournament appearances. They finished as runners-up three times and claimed five State Championships in 1980, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2003.

The teams from ’95-’97 are regarded among the most talented, if not *the* most talented, in Minnesota high school hoops history. Point guard Khalid El-Amin, who later led UCONN to a college championship, was the leader. It would have been hard to imagine after that most recent State trip in 2003 that Minneapolis North wouldn’t return for 13 years. It also would have been hard to imagine the school would shut down. In 2010, that was the proposal from Minneapolis Schools’ Superintendent. With enrollment depleting and academic standards slipping, the school that had truly served as a “Community School” since 1888 was on the chopping block. READ MORE (AND WATCH)…


Minneapolis North finds fire in tradition of boys’ basketball

The Polars return to the state tournament after a 13-year absence with a goal of honoring their past.

Minneapolis Star Tribune (March 8, 2016)

The basketball history is so rich at Minneapolis North that there are times before practice starts when coach Larry McKenzie calls his players over, has them sit on the court and just look at the championship banners hanging on the wall.

“We use that as motivation,”senior guard Tyler Johnson said. “Do we want to make a name for ourselves? Can we be remembered as one of the great teams in North history?”

The Polars, once considered a yearly state tournament shoo-in, have been conspicuously absent for more than a decade. The last time North – a program with five state titles, 19 state tournament appearances and its distinguished alumni – qualified for the state tournament was 2003.

“Who would have thought North would have a 13-year drought?” McKenzie asked.

That lengthy hiatus is over. Ranked No. 1 for most of the season, the Polars cruised through the Section 4 playoffs and earned the top seed in the Class 1A bracket. They play first-time entrant St. Clair in Thursday’s quarterfinals at Williams Arena, their first step on a path the entire north side of Minneapolis hopes will lead to another state championship. READ MORE…


Totino-Grace boys’ basketball coach teaches through ‘odd one out’ feeling

Robert Ware, the first-year Totino-Grace basketball coach, teaches on and off the court.

Minneapolis Star Tribune (February 15, 2016)

Robert Ware’s first brush with Totino-Grace basketball came in 1998 when his Minneapolis Henry team played the Eagles and star Darius Lane. In those days, hoops fans showed up to the Fridley private school gym by 4 p.m. to ensure a bleacher seat for a 7 p.m. varsity tipoff. Ware grew up in Minneapolis. “My biological dad wasn’t around – ever,” Ware said. “I had a bad relationship with my mom and the different things going on in her life. I stayed with friends from time to time. That really saved me. That and coach [Larry] McKenzie and the basketball family [at Henry]. That kept us out of trouble. Then once I really learned what hard work was about, I bought in. READ MORE…


Basketball Helps Reinvigorate Struggling North Minneapolis High

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) (January 19, 2016)

A huge high school basketball matchup Tuesday night was about more than just the game — the top-ranked North High School Polars faced the top-ranked Hopkins Royals.

And for North High, athletics have helped a struggling school make an incredible comeback.

Long lines of fans leading into a packed house at North High Tuesday were there to watch Polar basketball. The crowd in the gymnasium makes it hard to believe nights like this almost didn’t happen.

“Three years ago or so, they were talking about burning North High down,” Gina Villarreal said at the game. “So just to have revived the Polar pride, and to have the Polar Nation get behind the sports team has been just awesome to watch.”

A few years ago, North had just 67 students enrolled, but a culture change including the addition of an arts and communication academy has brought that number up to more than 300.

READ MORE and WATCH…


Mpls. community members working to stop violence

KARE 11 (January 11, 2017)

Community members in Minneapolis are actively working to stop the violence after a violent 24 hours over the weekend.

The Minneapolis police chief says she has added more resources to protect the Minneapolis’ Warehouse District. The Hennepin County Attorney has sent “nuisance property” letters to business owners. And now we are hearing from community members about what they are doing, what we can do, to stop the violence.

“It’s kind of easy to get drawn into being with the wrong crowd,” said Larry McKenzie, Minneapolis North boys basketball coach and Pillsbury United Communities volunteer. McKenzie is known for his years as a coach in Minnesota high school basketball programs.

McKenzie also calls himself a community mentor, who uses the game of basketball to reach kids. READ MORE…


Four To Enter Basketball Coaches Hall Of Fame

Minnesota State High School League (October 20, 2014)

The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association has named four men who will be inducted into the MBCA Hall of Fame November 1, 2014. The purpose of the MBCA Hall of Fame is to give special recognition to the people of Minnesota who have made significant contributions to promote high school basketball in the state via their achievements and service.

Larry McKenzie led Minneapolis Patrick Henry to four consecutive Class AAA State titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. During Larry’s tenure at Patrick Henry he led The Patriots to six Minneapolis City Conference championships, three Twin City Championships, and six Section titles in addition to the State tournament “ 4 Peat.”His service to the game is exemplified by his participation as a member

His service to the game is exemplified by his participation as a member on the MSHSL Boys Basketball Advisory Committee. He is the author of three books and is a motivational speaker. READ MORE…


Larry McKenzie Feels Back At Home At Minneapolis North

WCCO (December 7, 2013)

Larry McKenzie has been a fixture in Minnesota high school basketball for decades, and now he feels he’s back where he belongs.

That’s in a city gym in Minneapolis.

“I just felt like I needed to come back to the city,” McKenzie said. “Because these are the kids that really, really needed me.”

It was in the city, at Patrick Henry High School, where McKenzie did what no other Minnesota boys basketball coach has ever done: Win four straight state titles.

“We got those kids over there, really, to believe that it was possible,” McKenzie said. “But it was going to take some hard work. And basically, they bought in. And so that’s part of what we’re trying to do here.”

Here at Minneapolis North. A team with just eight wins over the last two seasons and back to back last place conference finishes, McKenzie left a successful program at Holy Angels to take it on.

Larry McKenzie Feels Back At Home At Minneapolis North


AHA Student With CP Lives Basketball, Dreams

WCCO (February 25, 2013)

It’s senior night at Holy Angels, but there is something different in the pre-game warm-ups. A new starter will be unveiled – Nick Anderson. And it’s significant because Nick has been the team manager for four years. He also has cerebral palsy.

Larry McKenzie is the head basketball coach at AHA.

“I made Nick a promise. I said, “Nick, if you stick around for four years, I promise you you’ll play the game. And I know, like most kids, he probably thought I was just another guy,” McKenzie said.

AHA Student With CP Lives Basketball Dreams