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Nia Coffey goes up for a basket against Osseo's Janay Morton (Marlin Levison, Star Tribune)
Hopkins more than made up for a first-half scare. The Royals overwhelmed Osseo in the second half for a convincing 73-50 victory in Thursday night’s Class 4A girls’ basketball state semifinal. The turnaround is what Hopkins needed.
The Royals survived though three halves in the first two rounds of the tournament. They even trailed early in the semifinal. Then the group figured it out by following the example of Erin O’Toole and earned a third straight trip to the championship game.
“I had a lot of energy. I was shooting better and had a lot of confidence,” O’Toole said after scoring 16 points and rebounding eight. “I was feeding off [my teammates], too.”
O’Toole had 12 of Hopkins’ 31 first-half points and was the Royals’ answer when nothing else was working well. The 6-4 center had a five-inch height advantage over Osseo’s biggest player. The difference meant the Orioles’ would hit a brick wall several times throughout the night. Three of O’Toole’s five blocks consisted of Osseo’s shot going directly into O’Toole’s hands and its shooter to the floor.
“It’s hard cause she’s a big body,” Osseo’s Janay Morton (14 points) said. “And a lot of [Hopkins’ comeback] had to do with Nia Coffey finishing.”
Phillis Webb had 13 points and Ayo Porte 10 for Osseo. Hopkins Nia Hollie had 13.
Cosgriff said he loved his star forward, Coffey, in the second half. She scored 16 of 20 points after halftime and made a statement with a steal and full-court dash for her first two of the half.
The first half was a different story as Osseo attempted to run with Hopkins. The game plan that most teams in the state consider impossible had varying results for the Orioles, but kept them in the game and within six points, 31-25, at the break.
“We knew we could run with them. When they got tired they got lazy on D. But when we got tired our offense slipped away.”
1. Nia Coffey, Hopkins
It would be very difficult to watch a Hopkins game and not immediately pick out Coffey from the rest of her own team. Her height, length, and jumping ability were far too much for even the pair of division one players on the Osseo side of the ball. She finished with a game high 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
2. Erin O'Toole, Hopkins
The Orioles were able to contain Coffey for much of the first half. What resulted from this plan was plenty of openings for O'Toole to score down in the post. This University of North Dakota recruit finished the game with 16 points, 12 of which came in the first half.
3. Ayo Porte, Osseo
Giving up size to nearly the entire roster of Hopkins, Porte found open holes in the defense and was quietly the star of the first half. She was a big reason the Orioles were leading for a portion of the first half and kept it close until after halftime. She finished with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
-Jake Lunemann, MN Girls Basketball Hub