Boys basketball preview: facing the Trojans

Max Weesner, Sports Blogger

The Hopkins Royals will come into their Lake Conference matchup with the Wayzata Trojans on Friday with a record of 20-0, their best start to a season since the 2009 state championship team finished with a record of 32-0. According to USA Today’s Computer Rankings, the Royals are now the fifth-best team in the country.

Despite missing two starters against Robbinsdale Cooper on Tuesday, the Royals beat the Hawks by a score of 112-70. They were led by Ishmael El-Amin, junior, who scored a season-high 31 points. The team is expecting to be back at full strength Friday, with Amir Coffey and Vinnie Shahid, seniors, returning from illness.

In their matchup with the 13-5 Wayzata Trojans at the Lindbergh Center, the Royals will need to have everyone healthy. Wayzata’s five losses have all come against top-8 teams in the state, and they are currently second in the Lake Conference with a record of 3-1.

In the first matchup between the Royals and Trojans this season, Hopkins won by a score of 79-78, barely surviving a late 28-9 run by Wayzata in the final minutes of the game.

The Trojans will be coming off a 25-point victory over the Minneapolis North Polars, who the Royals beat by two points. In Wayzata’s defeat of the Polars, senior guards Johnny Beeninga and Jack Sowada combined for 44 of the team’s 85 points. The Trojans are on a six-game winning streak and are ranked as the sixth-best team in the state.

Sowada is averaging 20.8 PPG in Wayzata’s last five games. Beeninga is the team’s leading scorer with 15.4 PPG on the season.

The Royals will once again rely on the playmaking ability of Coffey, who is averaging 20.9 PPG and is coming off a 35-point performance against Minnetonka. El-Amin is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.5 PPG.

After their matchup with Wayzata, the Royals will have five regular season games before beginning their postseason hunt for their first state championship since 2011.