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Minnetonka girls basketball defeats Hopkins in Class 4A championship game

The Skippers held off a late run from the Royals to take the Class 4A championship

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnetonka Skippers defeated the Hopkins Royals 64-56 in the MSHAL girls basketball Class 4A title game on Saturday at Williams Arena. It's the Skippers second title in school history. 

Hopkins went on a 12-0 run from 5:45 to 2:38 remaining in the game to cut the Minnetonka lead to 56-54. Hopkins began a full-court press, and the Royals energy and intensity forced turnovers and the Skippers to be out of rhythm. 

"It was just heart," Starks said. "I told them, 'There was a stretch for about three minutes where you guys did what we asked you to do."

The Skippers ended the run when Aaliyah Crump scored a basket and a free throw, but Crump fouled out moments later. Crump still led the Skippers with 23 points in the game.

"Tough battle," Starks said. "I'm going to be honest. I felt like we had some tough calls not go our way and I'm not happy about it. I thought the kids played. I thought Minnetonka played really hard."

The Royals cut the lead back to three with one minute left, and they had an opportunity to cut it to when when Lauren Hillesheim went up for a layup, but senior Tori McKinney blocked her shot.

"I was just focusing possession by possession," McKinney said. "We all contributed and we got the stop we needed."

With 15 seconds remaining, Minnetonka's Celia Nesseth grabbed a rebound, and scored the basket and the free throw for an and-1 to put the Skippers up by five with 16 seconds remaining. 

"I had so much trust in my team," Crump said. "I'm so proud of them. ... I'm just really happy. I don't care that I didn't play those last few minutes. I'm just happy that we won."

The Royals did not start well, and despite the Royals' reputation, this was not as an experienced team as the Royals have had in state championships. And the Royals only have one senior, Liv McGill.

"We were all ready, and we were all pumped, but I think the lights were just too bright," junior Tatum Woodson said.

Minnetonka coach Brian Cosgriff, who spend almost four decades coaching at Hopkins, had a Freudian slip when speaking about the Minnetonka community, calling it "Hopkins." He corrected.

"The Minnetonka community opened their arms to me, and I felt that pressure because I really wanted to do [Leah Dasovich] proud," Cosgriff said. "Sorry. When you're at a place for 37 years."

It was a storybook ending for a Skipper team that was loaded with seniors.

"We had 10 seniors that aren't coming back next year, so I feel like it was a really big deal," sophomore guard Lanelle Wright said.

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- Jack Butler | | @Butler917