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Tate Hinkemeyer '23

St. Thomas Academy is back! After two years of single digit wins, this year's team is on fire, posting a 15-11 record and surprising everyone with a rapid return to prominence under the guidance of new coach, Khalid El-Amin. Even after losing multiple seniors, STA basketball is on a path to success.

STA basketball is rebuilding its name one game at a time, starting with their rival school of Cretin Derham Hall for the first game of their season. Although St. Thomas lost 54-63, it was a great showing for the team as they competed with a top-tier Cretin team. Despite facing the goliath of Minnesota basketball, the team was able to fight, persevere, and stay in the game. Everybody outside of the program had their doubts going into the game, but the team proved them wrong by keeping it close with Cretin, having multiple opportunities to win. 
Even with the introduction of a new head coach and coaching staff, you still need great players to execute, and St. Thomas has those great players. Nathan Johnson leads the team in scoring with 16.1 points per game and complete dominance in the lane. Alongside Nathan Johnson are other great scorers like Michael Kirchner, who averages 14.9 points per game, and Jack Chamberlain, who scores 11.1 points per game. Both are great shooters who can also score in the paint in a variety of ways. Not only can Kirchner and Chamberlain create opportunities for themselves, but they also generate opportunities for other players, making them a dangerous offensive threat, solidifying STA as a real contender.

The new winning culture has even gotten the student body excited about basketball. With a steady student section for every home game, people have finally seen the improvements and accomplishments that cadet basketball has made. This new found support from students has no doubt led to a more invigorated and motivated team, creating an atmosphere unparalleled in previous years.

Although the team is extremely similar from last year, the thing that has had a drastic impact on the program is the new coaching staff.

Coach Khalid El-Amin has had a long relationship with basketball. He played at Minneapolis North, winning three consecutive state championships, one of which was against St. Thomas. He then furthered his basketball career by playing college ball at the University of Connecticut, picking up a National Championship. As if dominating America wasn’t enough, Khalid took his reign overseas where he won several professional championships. El-Amin certainly knows the game as a player, but he has also proven to be a great coach as well. He knows how to put people in the right places to succeed. 

When asked about his goal for the St. Thomas Academy Basketball program in an interview with KSTP, El-Amin says that “[a]s long as I can help a young man to better his game and as a young man in general, to understand life in general, I think I’ve done my job.” Alongside Coach El-Amin is assistant varsity coach Jacob Sand. Sand and El-Amin compliment each other’s coaching styles to produce a veteran coaching staff adept at handling in-game adjustments. Coach Sand pours hours into film defining each player, creating a strategy for victory.

Excellent chemistry and performance by both the staff and the players, fueled a rapid turnaround from the last two years. I am proud to say that the winning legacy of Cadet basketball is back. The team has reawakened and is ready to take it to the next level.