The Royals’ Maya Nnaji goes for a layup Thursday night during Hopkins' 82-53 victory over Lake Conference foe Minnetonka to remain undefeated. Nnaji had 20 points in the game. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
If there’s any doubt, Maya Nnaji would like to squash it.
After Nnaji and her Hopkins teammates went toe-to-toe with Minnetonka in a one-point win on Jan. 26, she put her foot down to help the Royals separate in the second half Thursday for an 82-53 road victory in the Lake Conference rematch.
The triumph extended Hopkins’ nearly three-year winning streak to 72 games — just six away from matching Fosston’s Minnesota State High School League record of 78 set in 2002.
Along with the tight defeat of Minnetonka three weeks ago, Hopkins, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, was also tested in a 70-65 win on Feb. 9 at Eden Prairie.
“This whole week we were hungry,” Nnaji said. “We know people are starting to doubt us, starting to think they can beat us. So it reignited a new fire within us, a new passion. We were playing way harder. We wanted to execute and make sure the refs didn’t dictate the game.”
Hopkins' Amaya Battle, who had 20 points Thursday, drives to the basket in Minnetonka during the Royals' 82-53 defeat of the Skippers. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner SportsEngine
A highly anticipated rematch went Hopkins’ way over Minnetonka Thursday night.
A back-and-forth game in the early going gave way to Hopkins dominating the last 20-plus minutes en route to an 82-53 win over Lake Conference rival Minnetonka at Minnetonka High School.
The Royals, ranked No. 1 in the Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, extended their nearly three-year win streak to 72 games. The closest result in that streak, which approaches Fosston’s state record of 78 straight wins, was a 63-62 Hopkins defeat of Minnetonka back on Jan. 26 in Hopkins.
Both Lake teams settled into playing at a brisk pace to open the game. The No. 10-4A Skippers called a timeout with 8 minutes, 56 seconds left in the half and were up 14-13.
Hopkins, however, began to assert itself in the paint and soon retook the lead for good, helping the Royals (10-0) to a 40-26 lead at halftime.
Hopkins continued to push ahead in the second half with a 10-2 run, feeding the ball to one of the nation’s top post recruits, junior forward Maya Nnaji. She had 17 of her 20 points in the game's final 18 minutes.
Sophomore forward Taylor Woodson put in a game-high 21 points for Hopkins. The Royals did much of their work in the paint and got a third 20-point scorer Thursday in junior guard Amaya Battle, who got most of her 20 points on dribble penetration.
Desiree Ware, a junior guard for the Skippers, had a team-best 13 points. Junior guard Ki’ani Lockett, a transfer from DeLaSalle, had 11 points and senior forward Molly Oehme added 10 points for Minnetonka (8-4).
Hopkins extended its conference winning streak to 35 games, which includes 11 triumphs in a row against Minnetonka. The Skippers last defeated the Royals in the 2016 Class 4A state championship.
Minnetonka senior Sophie Haydon (33) goes for a basket during the first half of Thursday's Lake Conference home game against Hopkins, the top-ranked team in Class 4A. Photo by Earl J. Ebensteiner, SportsEngine
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