There’s a lot to get excited for when Wayzata meets Hopkins on Friday.
Both are contenders for the Lake Conference crown, where they sit atop the standings. They’re Class 4A, Section 6 foes, meaning the winner on Friday earns an edge in postseason seeding (and possibly some confidence). Each also enters the week without a loss on the season, and both have the chance to stretch their winning streak this week, including with a victory on Friday.
Maybe the biggest reason many of the state's girls' high school basketball fans are amped up is the most obvious: The Trojans and Royals are simply the two best teams in Class 4A.
Wayzata, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, and No. 1-4A Hopkins enter the week with a combined record of 36-0 and that record could be 38-0 by the time they play on Friday. Once it’s over, however, one team will see a tally in its loss column.
The Trojans (18-0, 3-0) have been buoyed by an offense that outscores opponents by an average of 23.8 points a game. But Wayzata's win total also includes multiple close games, such as a 78-76 victory over No. 3-4A Stillwater on Dec. 17 and a 69-64 win against No. 5-4A St. Michael-Albertville on Jan. 22.
Jenna Johnson has been Wayzata’s most consistent scorer, averaging 16 points per game and recording a season-high 25 in a victory over St. Francis in November. The Trojans, however, boast seven additional players who have scored at least 10 points in a game this season, including Kallie Theisen — who scored a season-high 24 points in victory over Eden Prairie and averages 14.1 ppg — and Annika Stewart (12.4 ppg), who finished with a season-best 21 points in a win against Minnetonka last week. This gives the team options on offense, where Wayzata needs a few contributors to step up to help shut down Hopkins.
The Trojans defense has been impactful, too, allowing a meager 46.9 points per game. Only Stillwater (76) and St. Michael-Albertville (64 points) and Prior Lake (in an 88-61 defeat) have crossed the 60-point threshold, which may bode well for a Wayzata team hoping to contain the Royals' explosive offense.
Hopkins averages 86 ppg, so the Trojans will have their hands full trying to slow an offense that has helped the Royals (18-0, 3-0) defeat opponents by an average of 36.8 points. Hopkins hasn’t had a game decided by less than 10 points this season, a mark matched in a 80-70 win over St. Michael-Albertville on Dec. 21.
Paige Bueckers, who's averaging 25.7 points and 6.4 assists a game, is the offensive catalyst for the Royals. The 6-foot junior scored at least 30 points five times this year, including posting a season-high 37 in a 99-64 victory over Robbinsdale Copper on Dec. 18. But it's not a one-player show in Hopkins, where Dlayla Chakolis (14.3 ppg) and Kayhla Adams (11.2 ppg) are just a few of the Royals who can score in bunches.