When the calendar flips over to April, moments are defined by big players making even bigger plays on the state stage.

Paige Meyer, long established as one of Class AA’s brightest stars, put on a semifinals show that will be remembered in Albany.

The senior guard accumulated an astonishing 27 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists as the Huskies stormed past the Glencoe-Silver Lake Panthers by a score of 72-49 April 6 at Target Center in Minneapolis. 

“I really don’t know if there’s another player in the state of Minnesota that impacts a basketball game in the number of ways Paige does,” said Aaron Boyum, head coach. “She just literally does it all.”

The ever-high stakes did nothing to slow down the decision-making for either team, as the squads adapted to a fast-paced, high-scoring style of play early. Joran Carlson put Albany up from the get-go with a 3-pointer, while Meyer connected on a pair of perimeter shots as Albany built a six-point lead after seven minutes.

GSL, to their credit, fought back behind a crisp shooting effort, using a few 3-pointers and a successful trip to the free-throw line to cut Albany’s lead down to two.

“I think anytime you have your team go into a new venue, new routine before the game, new rules as far as when you can enter, a lot of outside noise, you hope one thing your team can do through that is still come in and play loose and be themselves,” Boyum said. “I thought both teams did a nice job of coming in and playing loose, just being relaxed.”

Even as the Panthers fought to stay close, the Huskies established a size and athleticism advantage underneath the glass. Kylan Gerads registered seven boards in the first half alone and Madi Herkenhoff registered eight rebounds as Albany outrebounded GCL 39-27 on the afternoon, rarely letting the Panthers get any sort of second chances.

“I think rebounding was one area where our depth was really good,” Boyum said. “

Meyer collected 19 points, six boards and seven dishes in the first half alone, helping Albany’s lead balloon from one possession to a 17-point halftime advantage. During one sequence, the do-it-all guard drilled a 3-pointer, grabbed a rebound on defense and launched a cross-court pass to Joran Carlson in stride for two more quick points.

Albany’s positive momentum continued into the second half, as the Section 6AA champions made life difficult for the Panthers. GSL attempted 56 shots as they attempted to climb back into the game, but the three-seeded Panthers converted just 32.1% of their opportunities.

Senior Miah Monahan displayed an impressive skillset despite the loss, grabbing 10 rebounds while scoring a team-high 17 points.

“We tried as best as we could to push the pace on offense to force them to get back on defense,” Boyum said. “If you can make them get back on defense and have the depth to make it a full court game, those jump shots are harder as the game went on.”

The Huskies maintained a lead for 96% of the game and never trailed, utilizing their much-needed depth to provide different looks and present different issues for GSL to face. Abbie Christen put up 10 points and four assists, while forward Alyssa Sand pitched in four points and seven boards off the bench.

Albany compiled a jaw-dropping 53% overall field-goal percentage, made eight 3-pointers, and piled up 22 points inside the paint compared to GSL’s 10.

“It was another great team win,” Boyum said. “I think everybody was really able to embrace their orle within the basketball team and really fulfilled that role really well this afternoon.”

Behind the ongoing support of the Albany community, the Huskies will look to lock up their first state championship since 2008, taking on the Providence Academy Lions at 3 p.m. Friday, April 9, at Target Center in Minneapolis. 

“We can say as a basketball team that our season went as long as it possibly could,” Boyum said. “We feel fortunate for any opportunities we can get, and playing for a state championship at the Target Center on Friday afternoon is an opportunity we will embrace and cherish.”

GSL      29        20        49

ALB      46        26        72

Meyer 27 (7R, 10A, 3S), Carlson 14, Christen 10 (4A), Herkenhoff 9 (8R), Sand 4 (7R), Danica Findley 3, Bailey Keske 2 and Gerads 1 (9R).