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Legendary Minnesota high school basketball coach Larry McKenzie to 'hang up the whistle' after 42 years

In a tweet, McKenzie said the "difficult decision" came after much "thought, prayer and conversation with my family."

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis North head boys basketball coach Larry McKenzie announced Monday that he will retire from the game after 42 years.

In a tweet, McKenzie said the "difficult decision" came after much "thought, prayer and conversation with my family."

"Words cannot express my gratitude and appreciation to my players, assistant coaches, parents and administrators who have supported me on my journey," the post read in part.

McKenzie's retirement comes after his ninth season coaching for Minneapolis North High School. Before he took the helm for the Polars, he led basketball programs for a time at both Patrick Henry High School and the Academy of Holy Angels. 

In 2017, McKenzie became the first coach in Minnesota high school basketball history to lead two separate schools to multiple titles — Minneapolis Patrick Henry and Minneapolis North. Patrick Henry won four straight state titles with McKenzie between 2003 and 2006, while the Polars won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. 

In 2014, McKenzie became the first African-American coach selected to the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

In his most recent role with North, McKenzie immediately took his team to task, stressing the importance of education. KARE 11's Kiya Edwards spoke with McKenzie earlier this year, who said the team GPA at the time of his hiring was under 2.0, but now is around 3.4 — while 92% of the team is comprised of A/B honor roll students.

This was achieved as the team endured the trauma of losing teammate Deshaun Hill to gun violence in February, and receiving a racist message following the team's win over Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta at the state tournament in March.

"In North Minneapolis, what tends to get told is the drama. The stuff that's happening out in the streets. I think it's important to celebrate these kids now before we have situations like we had here two weeks ago where we lose a 15-year-old," he said at the time of Hill's death.

In response to McKenzie's retirement announcement Monday evening, Minneapolis North basketball thanked the coach for his contributions to not only the school and its students but also the community.

Last fall, McKenzie learned he was named to the Minnesota State Basketball Hall of Fame Class for 2022.

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