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Minnetonka holds off Hopkins for Class 4A title

The Royals made a furious late push.
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Minnetonka coach Brian Cosgriff knows no lead is safe against top-tier competition. 

So when his Skippers took a 14-point lead about midway through the second half of Saturday's Class 4A state championship game against Hopkins, he knew the game was far from over. And the Royals sure made things interesting. 

That 14-point lead was whittled all the way down to three points, and the Royals had a chance to tie the game, having the ball trailing 59-56 with 56.6 seconds remaining. But Minnetonka's Harley Wock came up with a steal, and while the Royals were able to get an initial stop, CeCe Nesseth came up big on the offensive glass. 

Nesseth grabbed a rebound off a missed 3 from Tori McKinney, got the putback to fall and was fouled on the play. She hit the free throw to all but ice the game.

The Skippers hung on for a 64-56 victory. 

"We knew we were going to have to come out and battle," Cosgriff said. 

Adding to the late drama was Skippers leading scorer Aaliyah Crump fouling out. She was forced to watch the last two minutes — which had plenty of stoppages — from the sidelines, but that hardly mattered with the Skippers securing the title. 

"It was definitely emotional just being on the bench, not being able to play those last minutes with them, but I had so much trust in my team and I'm so proud of them," she said. "Sitting on that baseline, I was with all my other teammates who I love so much, so I'm just really happy. I don't care that I didn't play those last few minutes. We won, and I'm just so proud of my teammates." 

Crump scored a game-high 23 points. 

Cosgriff, the longtime Hopkins coach who won seven titles with the Royals, won a best-of-three battle against his old team after the Skippers (29-2) and Royals (27-4) had split the regular-season series. 

The Skippers led for most of the contest before the Royals made a furious rally. They went into the halftime break up 39-30, with Liv McGill trying to keep Hopkins in it by pouring in 11 of her team-high 18 points in the opening 20 minutes. 

The Skippers then pushed their lead to as many as 14 in the second half. But the Royals wouldn't go down without a fight. 

"We don't quit. There's no such thing as quit in us," Hopkins coach Tara Starks said. "We battled all year. We started out the year with everyone saying we aren't gonna be any good. These guys have fallen in line with everything I've asked them to do all year. They've come in the gym, they've bust their behinds, they have worked, they've bought in to everything we asked them to do. ... I'm definitely proud of them as a team and we'll get to work right away, and you'll probably see us again next year."