Class 4A girls’ basketball championship
Hopkins (28-3) vs. Eastview (31-0), 8 p.m., Target Center
Why Hopkins will win: With their constant pressure creating a streak of turnovers and a relentless attacking style, the Royals force teams out of their comfort zones. Opponents try to prepare, but Hopkins sports a cadre of fleet athletes. And then there’s the Paige Bueckers factor. Bueckers is hands-down the best player in the state and does everything well: pass, score, rebound, run the offense. Few have been able to shut her down all season.
Why Eastview will win: The Lightning is a perennial state tournament presence, making its seventh consecutive appearance. “A lot of people overlook the fact that we’ve been here seven years in a row,” coach Molly Kasper said. No team executes as precisely or efficiently, a credit not only to its preparation but its devotion to teamwork. At some point in each game, all five of starters tend to step forward, making it impossible to take away any single element. And the defense is staunch. Eastview allows just 40.3 points per game.
Key to the game: It’s all about taking care of the ball. Hopkins, which has lost the past two Class 4A state championship games, has looked dialed in during two state tournament games, forcing 45 turnovers. If any team is well-equipped to handle Hopkins’ pressure, it’s Eastview. The Lightning don’t get rattled and are savvy enough to not to get into an up-and-down game with the Royals.
One thing to know: Hopkins and Eastview have met 14 times since 2010 and this is the fourth consecutive time in the state tournament. Hopkins has won all three previous matchups at state, including the 2014 championship game. Eastview won 66-56 when the teams played in December.