Hopkins Senior guard Paige Bueckers (1) scored 27 points against visiting Wayzata Tuesday night. The Royals defeated the Trojans 87-77 at Hopkins High School. Photo by Gary Mukai, SportsEngine
It’s safe to say that Tuesday’s matchup with Wayzata was the closest game Hopkins has played all season.
Outscoring opponents by nearly 40 points per game, the Royals have been dominant all season, continuing their perfect 32-0 campaign from last year that resulted in a Class 4A state championship. However, after tipping off against the Trojans, things seemed different.
Wayzata, ranked No. 2 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, used scrappy defense and spot passing to stay with No. 1-4A Hopkins. Senior forward Annika Stewart, who’s averaging 15.5 points per game this season, helped Wayzata (14-2, 2-1) claim a 35-32 halftime lead.
Hopkins (16-0, 4-0) responded, however, and opened up an 11-point lead thanks to the play of Alayna Contreras, Maya Nnaji and Paige Bueckers. The Royals held off a late Trojans’ run to secure an 87-77 victory at home, extending their winning streak to 48 games.
Wayzata's Mara Braun (10) drives for a layup under pressure from Hopkins' Maya Nnaji (34). Braun scored 22 points and Nnaji tallied 23 points. Hopkins defeated Wayzata 87-77 in in front of a packed home crowd Tuesday. Photo by Gary Mukai, SportsEngine
It wasn’t a blowout by 40 points but it was a still a Hopkins win. The Royals, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, slowly pulled away from Lake Conference foe Wayzata in the second half to claim a 87-77 win Tuesday night at Hopkins High School.
It was a gritty start, with both teams trading buckets. Annika Stewart, Wayzata’s star 6-foot-4 senior forward, connected on three three-pointers to close the first half, giving the Trojans a 35-32 lead. Stewart finished with 22 points and eight rebounds.
Hopkins (16-0, 4-0) responded, with Alayna Contreras and Maya Nnaji providing a spark to give the Royals an 11-point lead midway through the second half. Wayzata (14-2, 2-1) made one last push, cutting the deficit to three with 1 minute, 45 seconds remaining, thanks to Mara Braun who scored 22 points.
Nnaji scored a couple buckets late, while Contreras came up with a steal to put the game out of reach. Hopkins’ Paige Bueckers, a senior guard committed to Connecticut, paced the Royals with 27 points. Nnaji finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Taylor Woodson added 15 points and Contreras scored 11 for Hopkins.
In addition to contributions from Stewart and Braun, Wayzata got a game-high 28 points from Jenna Johnson, a junior forward.
Wayzata junior forward Jenna Johnson (22) brings the ball up the court against Hopkins. Johnson led her team with 28 points but the Trojans fell to the Royals 87-77 on Tuesday night at the Lindbergh Center. Photo by Gary Mukai, SportsEngine
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