Hopkins girls basketball punches state tournament ticket in thrilling victory over Wayzata
March 6, 2020
The Lindbergh Center featured all of the pageantry that one would expect from a matchup between Hopkins Royals and Wayzata Trojans for the Section 6AAAA final, where Hopkins prevailed by a score of 86-76.
The public address announcer gave an announcement twenty minutes before the game tipped off telling fans that they would have to squish in to the stands for the sellout spectacle, letting people know early that this was not going to be a sparse crowd. While the omniprescent Lindbergh Loonies showed out in full force as expected, notables such as members of the nationally-ranked Minnehaha Academy boys basketball team and a handful of Minnesota Timberwolves, including All-Stars such as Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell only added to the energy of the sold out Lindbergh Center.
Senior guard KK Adams summed up the atmosphere of her final home game best: undescribable.
“Everybody came out, and the students and the team are just all one big family at the end of the day,” said Adams.
Towns and his teammates were at HHS to witness firsthand some of the best girls basketball the state had to offer.
“We got two of the best teams in Minnesota here and we came to see the best. Girls like Paige (Bueckers) come out and support us, so the least we can do is support them,” said Towns.
The best is exactly what Towns and the 2,000 or so fans in attendance got.
Early in the game, the Trojans had the upper hand thanks to the hot hand of senior Annika Stewart’s finesse in the post and her incredible performance from beyond the arc, sparking a big 11-2 run that was highlighted with an incredible four-point play. The Trojan 2-3 zone also gave the Royals some problems on the offensive end by forcing turnovers when the ball was worked down into the post.
Royals head coach Brian Cosgriff was not swayed by the struggles in the first quarter of the game and kept with the same game plan.
“We knew they were a good team. We felt we had to make this stop and make a shot the next time down. We just keep grinding cause that’s exactly what the game is,” said Cosgriff.
Hopkins recovered from their early missteps swiftly by embarking on their own 11-2 run to pull the Royals out in front by a score of 41-34 heading into halftime with senior star Paige Bueckers pacing all scorers by dropping 20 first half points.
In the second half, the Trojans put up a valiant effort with Stewart and sophomore guard Mara Braun carrying a bulk of the Wayzata scoring load with 27 and 26, respectively. But the brilliant team effort from Hopkins, which included four different Royals putting up double figures, overwhelmed the Trojans in clinching their sixth consecutive Class 4A state tournament berth.
With this being her final hurrah at Lindbergh Center, Bueckers put on a prime time clinic that few others could, taking home the honor of game’s highest scorer with 35 points to go along with seven boards, seven assists, four blocks and three steals. A play that sums up her performance the best was when she seemingly teleported across the court to pick off a pass with a flight that even Superwoman would be proud of.
When sophomore Amaya Battle was intentionally fouled with less than a minute left to signal a of the white flag from Wayzata, Bueckers let out all of her emotion and pumped up anyone she could in the building, for she, and the rest of her teammates, were heading back to Williams Arena to retain their crown.