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Sophomores typically don't put a lot of thought into the importance of late-season Lake Conference battles.

Not every player is Hopkins' Nia Hollie.

Hollie led the No. 2-ranked Royals with 16 points in their 63-59 win against conference rival No. 3 Eden Prairie (13-4) at Eden Prairie High School on Friday.

This was not just another conference clash between Hopkins and Eden Prairie.

"We knew coming in this was going to be a war," Royals' coach Brian Cosgriff said. "It always is like this."

Hopkins (18-2) is young, but players such as Hollie have already become seasoned veterans and know how to handle high-intensity games the physical battles that come with them.

It is hard not to notice Hollie's mannerisms on the court.

She was once again aggressive in driving the lane and playing hard-nosed defense.

When she hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first half, she had a ferocious look on her face.

"I was pretty excited after that one," Hollie said. "That was until they (Eden Prairie) came back in the second and hit a three to get back in it."

Hollie lives in the present. She doesn't get to high in the good or too low in the bad when it comes to past performances.

When teammate Jazz Martin (8 points) went down with a knee injury, Hollie was the first and most vocal one to rally the troops to get the Royals going.

Martin clutched her right knee and was screaming in pain. She did not return and was on crutches afterwards.

"When you hear a girl scream that loud, it can just take the wind out of you," Cosgriff said. "We pulled through though, and I knew we wanted to do it for Jazz (Martin)."

"When Jazz (Martin) went down I think we picked up the intensity a little more," Hollie said. "We wanted to get this one for her."

Hollie not only talks the talk, she delivers. She had her emotions on her sleeve on Friday night.

She just missed a loose ball near the scorer's table, and, out of frustration, banged her right hand knocking loose a folder.

Grimacing a bit and flexing her hand, she got back and played the tough defense that she has all season.

"It's a big rivalry game," she said. "It's going to be intense and physical, so you have to be willing to do what it takes."

For those watching on the outside, they may have seen one of the more physical games all season.

However, this is just another day at the office for Hopkins and Eden Prairie.

"This is Lake Conference basketball," Cosgriff said. "It's the reality of the whole thing."

Hopkins is 4-0 in the Lake Conference. Eden Prairie drops 1-2 in conference play.

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