Reusse: Transformational drink of water led Breck boys hoops over Minneapolis North

Minneapolis North arrived at Augsburg University's Si Melby Hall on Friday night seeking its 24th appearance in Minnesota's boys basketball state tournament. The Polars have seven state championships and have been waiting since way back in 2017 to claim an eighth.

The legendary coach Larry McKenzie retired in the summer of 2022 after a loss in March to Annandale in the Class 2A final. And the North administration made quite a hire as his replacement:

Ricky Davis, an NBAer of note, was living in the Twin Cities and applied for a job, and how does a high school turn down a mercurial basketball character such as Ricky?

Davis' first North season ended with a loss to Holy Family in the Class 2A, Section 5 title game, and the Polars were back in the same circumstance Friday, with a more high-powered opponent.

Breck School, a team with a fair amount of talent returning, then landed the transfer of the year last July 24:

Daniel Freitag, 1, 2 or 3 among Minnesota prep recruits for 2024, announced he was not leaving Bloomington Jefferson for a basketball prep school in California but rather applying to enroll at Breck.

Harry Sonie, in his second season at Breck, was known to Freitag from Sonie's work with the now-folded Team Tyus and the attempt to merge with Howard Pulley, Freitag's AAU team.

Breck had been looking for a new coach at the same time as the North Polars, and the administration took a chance on Sonie, who is only 29.

Sonie was also on the same court where he was a standout guard for Augsburg, after being a teammate with Tyus Jones on Apple Valley's tremendous prep teams.

The action was as frantic as promised, with these two high-powered, athletic teams. Breck started slow, kicked into high gear, allowed North's combination of wide and powerful center Jordan Hurd and some outside shooting to make it a game in the second half, but then survived:

Mustangs 91, Polars 74.

Hanif Muhammad and Freitag scored 27 points apiece for Breck. Hanif and his brother Mu (a sophomore) fast for Ramadan.

He had to wait until 7:21 p.m. to gulp some water. The aqua kicked in for the second half. He went 5-for-8 on threes.

The Muhammad family lives in Arden Hills. Father Bilal was a college basketball player and turned his sons onto the game about the time they started walking.

The fasting was mentioned to Bilal and he said: "Once Hanif got that drink of water, he started making everything."

Sonie was putting his team through a light practice on Thursday afternoon. The players circled him for a conversation before that started and he was overheard to say this:

Forget the 90-75 win over North early in the season. The Polars were much improved since then, with dramatic evidence on Wednesday night: a 104-86 victory over Holy Family in the section semifinals.

The Breck players saw this improvement immediately, as North scored the game's first seven points and was leading 14-8. And then, presto, Freitag had a quick flurry, and it started a 20-0 run for the Mustangs.

This was going to be easy, right? Wrong.

North had the lead down to six points with six minutes left. Hurd would set up next to the lane, the defender would push against him, to no avail, and he would turn and score.

What to do about that? Get the ball to Hanif Muhammad and have him hit a clutch basket.

"I played with Jordan Hurd on the Spartans youth team," Hanif said. "I played with a lot of those guys. Freitag was on that team, too. When he decided to transfer to us rather than go to the prep school, I knew this was going to be a big year."

This was Day 5 and the second game of the Ramadan fast for the Muhammads.

"I've been doing it all my life, so playing this way was nothing new," Hanif said. "But the way the game was moving, that fast drink of water felt great."

Hanif has a shooting style from outside where he starts the motion almost at his waist, sends it on a very high trajectory and down it came Friday — a splash of water, followed by several splashes from three.