Hopkins' Taylor Woodson (32) and Wayzata's Jasmine Smiley (23) collide while going for the ball during the first half Friday at Hopkins. Photo: DAVID JOLES •firstname.lastname@example.org
Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff grabbed Paige Bueckers and wrapped his arms around her in a bear hug.
“I love you,” he laughed into her ear.
Cosgriff’s joy was easily understood. Bueckers wrote another chapter in a career that’s shaping up to be one of the best in state history, scoring 43 points to help Hopkins to a 69-66 victory over Wayzata.
The game on Friday was hyped as the biggest girls’ game of the season and it lived up to advance billing. More than 4,000 fans crammed Hopkins’ Lindbergh Center to see the Royals, No. 1 in Class 4A, host the No. 2 Trojans, both undefeated.
Hopkins had cruised through the season to date, having rolled over nearly every opponent en route to an 18-0 record. Wayzata was far from intimidated. The Trojans ran out to a 16-4 lead, with freshman guard Mara Braun scoring 11 quick points. It was the type of deficit the Royals hadn’t faced all season.
The two teams play again on Feb. 22 at Wayzata, in the last game of the regular season. The head-to-head matchups carry extra signficance because the top seed in Section 6 will host the championship game.