It took top-ranked and No. 1 seed Hopkins one minute to set the tone in Thursday's Class 4A girls' basketball semifinal at Target Center.
A Taylor Anderson three-pointer.
A five-second inbound violation on No. 4 seed Eastview.
A Sydney Coffey three-pointer.
Eastview cut into the Royals' six-point advantage only once from there.
Defending champion Hopkins rolled to a 55-31 victory and advanced to the title game at 8 p.m. Saturday. The Royals (29-1) also won 4A titles in 2004 and '06.
"Our goal from day one was to be playing on St. Patrick's Day," Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff said.
Hopkins built a 33-13 halftime lead on strong defense. Coffey spearheaded the effort by guarding Eastview (25-6) freshman Madison Guebert 1-on-1 and limiting the Lightning's top scorer to seven points.
"I expect the world from Sydney," Cosgriff said. "I've had her since she was a freshman so she's someone I hold accountable. This is what I expected her to do."
Coffey set out "to deny [Guebert] the ball 24-7" and mostly succeeded. With Guebert struggling against Coffey, the Lightning's offense quickly unraveled. Hopkins scored 17 first-half points off 10 Eastview turnovers.
Hopkins beat the Lightning 64-22 on Dec. 13, a result that Lightning players had trouble forgetting as the first half got away from them Thursday.
"We would have loved to execute better on offense but that's just a testament to the kind of defense that team plays," said Eastview coach Melissa Guebert, who is also Madison's mother. "You've got to take care of the ball against a team like this."
Coffey led the Royals with 15 points but her younger sister, Nia, made the game's most remarkable play. She caught a ball from Anderson in midair and laid it in, embodying the Royals' athletic advantage in the process.
"That was a designed play," Cosgriff said. "She goes up pretty high and it was a great pass."
Sydney Coffey said the play created infectious energy.
"I love when that happens because it's such a great feeling," she said. "The whole team gets riled up."
The Royals kept the pace after halftime with a 13-0 run. Eastview went scoreless for a stretch of 10 minutes, 42 second before Guebert's two free throws midway through the second half.Osseo 57, Edina 47
Osseo's girls' basketball team did not earn one of four seeds for the Class 4A state tournament. No matter, the Orioles earned a title shot just the same.
Osseo (26-5) used a game-changing spurt after halftime to pull away for a 57-47 upset of No. 2 seed Edina (26-5). The Orioles will face top-ranked and No. 1 seed Hopkins in Saturday's championship game.
"The underdog thing works for us," forward Olivia Antilla said. "We said, 'Let's go out there and show why we should have been seeded.'"
Leading 24-21 at halftime, Osseo controlled the first 7 1/2 minutes of the second half and built a 41-27 advantage. Antilla led the way by scoring her team's first seven points. She finished with a team-high 17 points followed by Mikayla Bailey (12) and Phillis Webb (11).
MC McGrory (20 points) and Katybeth Biewen (16) finished with all but 11 of Edina's points. They combined to score every point of a nine-point burst that cut Osseo's lead to 41-36.
Osseo's lead fell to as little as three points with 2 minutes, 52 seconds to play. Antilla responded with a layup that gave Osseo at least a two-possession lead for good.
"We had to keep the lead so they wouldn't get momentum," Antilla said.
"It was a battle the whole night," Edina coach Matt Nilsen said. "They are athletic and they made plays."