As the Providence Academy girls basketball team was celebrating its state Class AA championship at Target Center on Saturday, I scanned the crowd of pumped up fans that stayed to watch the post-game festivities.
I was looking for Father Andrew Cozzens, a priest of the archdiocese who currently serves at the St. Paul Seminary. Several weeks ago, I learned that his niece, senior AnnMarie Healy, is one of the team’s top players. This discovery came as I worked on a feature story on her scoring 1,000 points and, in turn, giving $1,000 to the charity of her choice, thanks to an anonymous donor.
Sure enough, Father Cozzens was in the stands watching Lions players cut down the net. With very little prompting, he came down from the stands and onto the court to greet his niece and get a photo taken with her. I was only too happy to oblige.
It was a touching scene, with Father Cozzens turning to hug her after I snapped a few photos. He was instrumental in helping Healy pick her charity, the newly-formed Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus in the Diocese of New Ulm. Who knows? Maybe Healy will join them someday. She certainly is open to that possibility.
But, for the moment, she is busy celebrating the first state title for her team. There could be more. She is only one of two seniors on the squad this year, along with forward Katie Nordick. There are a bunch of talented players returning next year who could make another run at the title. And, with a talented coach, Ray Finley, who now has won state titles with three different schools, there’s no telling what this team could do next year and beyond.
Congratulations to Healy and all of her teammates on a job well done! They appeared to be in trouble during the state finals against Sauk Centre, but they came on strong in the second half to erase a five-point deficit and win, 46-40. Don’t be surprised to see the Lions back in the state tournament next year!
Q: What is your favorite memory of this year’s state girls basketball tournament?