Boys basketball climbs to top rank in state

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  • Xavier Johnson, senior, plays defense against the Wayzata Trojans.

  • Ishmael El Amin, senior, dribbles down the court against the Wayzata Trojans.

  • Amir Coffey, senior, throws a free throw in the game against the Wayzata Trojans.

  • Ishmael El Amin, senior, dribbles down the court against the Wayzata Trojans.

  • Xavier Johnson, senior, looks for a pass in the game against the Wayzata Trojans.

  • Amir Coffey, senior, prepares for a free throw. Coffey leads the Royals with 19.4 PPG.

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Max Weesner, Staff Reporter

After matching up against two top-ten teams in the state, the boys varsity basketball team proved they deserve to be the top-ranked team in Minnesota.

On Friday night, the Royals travelled to Wayzata High School for their first conference game of the year against the Wayzata Trojans. The Trojans entered the game as the seventh-ranked team in the state, according to Minnesota Basketball News.

In the first half of the game, the Royals got off to a good start, ending the half with a 43-28 lead. Amir Coffey and Xavier Johnson, seniors, combined for 25 of Hopkins’ 43 first-half points.

However, Wayzata refused to go away and began the second half on a 12-4 run, narrowing the lead to seven. The Royals then went on a run of their own, jumping out to a 20-point lead with six minutes to play.

In the last six minutes, Wayzata dominated. The Trojans outscored Hopkins 28-9, making 11 of their last 14 field goal attempts. The Trojans’ point guard Johnny Beeninga led the charge, scoring 22 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.

However, it was too late for Wayzata to make a comeback, as the Royals held off the late charge to win 79-78. Coffey led Hopkins scorers with 25 points. Ishmael El-Amin, junior, made his return to the court, adding ten points of his own, including a pair of clutch free throws to help the Royals hold on for the win.

After defeating the seventh-best team in the state on Friday night, the Royals had no time to rest. They played the top-ranked Apple Valley Eagles Saturday afternoon at Minnetonka High School.

Heading into the game on Saturday, the team felt good about their chances.

“We had nothing to lose. So I think our confidence was as high as it could be,” said Vinnie Shahid, senior.

Despite their confidence, the Royals got off to a slow start against the Eagles. Halfway through the first half, Apple Valley led Hopkins 26-16. Gary Trent Jr. was a big reason for the Eagles’ fast start as he scored eight of the team’s first 16 points.

However, Trent went cold. He finished the half by making only one of his last seven shot attempts. Trent’s struggles opened the door for Hopkins.

The Royals went on a 19-4 run to close out the first half, heading into the second half with a 45-40 lead. As the second half began, Hopkins picked up right where they left off, beginning the second period on a 10-1 run.

The Eagles battled back, however, tying the game at 70 on a Trent 3-pointer with four minutes to play. In the last four minutes of the game, the Royals outscored Apple Valley 19-11 to upset the number one team in the state by a winning score of 89-81.

Shahid scored 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting. He also had six assists and seven rebounds. El-Amin added 16 points to go with seven boards.

Coffey once again led the Royals with 22 points. In the individual battle of Trent and Coffey, Trent outscored Coffey by five points. However, Coffey was more efficient from the field and added ten rebounds and five assists.

“Playing against Gary was fun,” Coffey said. “He’s a top player in the country for his class and a great competitor, so it was fun going at it with him. I know a lot of people doubted us and didn’t think we could win, so I’m proud of the way we played and that we proved people wrong.”

When the next rankings come out, there will be a new number one team in the state of Minnesota: the Hopkins Royals.