Minnesota's Tessa Johnson inspires following championship win

History was made in Cleveland, Ohio when the South Carolina Gamecocks finished their undefeated season by winning Sunday’s national championship game.

Minnesota-native Tessa Johnson of St. Michael-Albertville (STMA) led the team in scoring with a career high of 19 points.

A peak audience of 24 million viewers were watching as she took over, including her former high school coach Kent Hamre.

"My palms were sweaty, I was nervous," Hamre told FOX 9. "It was like I was coaching the game for a while."

Johnson's performance off the bench even grabbed the attention of LeBron James.

But her popularity might be the strongest in the Twin Cities area.

"We are really proud of Tessa here at STMA, not just who she is as a basketball player, but her whole family, how they represent our community and what they mean to STMA," activities director Keith Cornell said. "This will really do great wonders for our program for the next 10 to 12 years, because kids want to be like Tessa."

"It helps our youth program. It helps our current athletes," coach Hamre added. 

Johnson has already done a lot for the community. 

The McDonald's All American and 2023 Minnesota Ms. Basketball winner turned down opportunities to leave for elite high schools, instead deciding to stay home and deliver a state championship in her senior year. 

Now, Johnson is delivering more motivation for the next generation of players, and an example of how to succeed at the highest level.

"I’d be willing to bet she’s in the gym today, because that’s who she is," Hamre said. "She’s always in the gym getting better… What she does on the floor is things that you don’t see a lot."

STMA basketball fans hosted a watch party at the movie theater during Sunday’s game.

"Hopefully she can come back, and we can do some sort of celebration when she gets back home too," Hamre finished.