Hopkins girls’ basketball coach Brian Cosgriff sat at the postgame interview table after the Royals’ 68-63 loss to Eastview in the Class 4A championship game, a pair of teary-eyed players to his right.
It was the third consecutive season that Hopkins lost in the finals. If Cosgriff had been frustrated or bitter or dejected, no one would have blamed him.
But when he was asked if he was tired of being runner-up, his response was firm.
“Nope,” Cosgriff replied. “We’d like to win it, of course, but at the end of the day, we’re here. Sixty-two other teams aren’t. We had a shot tonight. If you’re going to tell me we can be here again at this time next year, maybe it will be different, but I’m just going to tell you I want to be back here. We’re not tired of being runners-up. We’re here.”
Before his closing remarks, Cosgriff was asked about the impact of something as simple, and out of one’s control, as the bounce of a ball.
With Hopkins trailing by three with five seconds left, Raena Suggs’ three-point attempt caromed not once but twice off the rim before falling off.
“I thought it was down,” Cosgriff said. “I’ve been doing this so long and I’ve been around the game, I’ve seen a lot. The game humbles you and life humbles you.”
Cosgriff, who has coached six previous Hopkins teams to state championships, focused on the lessons learned despite the defeat.
“What we told our kids is that for the last three years we’ve been here but we got to play together to the last day. That, in and of itself, is huge. Medals and trophies are going to sit on a shelf and collect dust, but memories and experiences are going to last a lifetime. This is just fun being here. I’ve been excited for the four days.
“I’ll tell you what: I’m hoping we’re here again at this time next year.”
North’s upset loss
Minneapolis North boys’ basketball coach Larry McKenzie said he could see it brewing the day before.
The Polars were to play Brooklyn Center in finals of the Class 2A, Section 5 playoffs. Everyone expected North, the two-time Class 1A champion that moved up to Class 2A this season, to make another state tournament appearance. North had made short work of Brooklyn Center earlier in the season, winning by 22 points.
Instead, Brooklyn Center upset the Polars 81-76 for their first tournament appearance since 1983.
“I could see it coming on Thursday,” McKenzie said. “It’s hard to get kids sometimes to understand it’s single-game elimination. They had already beat Brooklyn Center and they’re kids. They didn’t think they could lose.”
It didn’t help that North got into foul trouble quickly, forcing McKenzie to turn to his bench and use players who had played sparingly during the season.
“I had to use guys that hadn’t played all year,” McKenzie said.
Brooklyn Center ran out to a 37-27 halftime lead. North finally got on track in the final minutes of the game, but the Polars, who had been ranked No. 1 in Class 2A for a chunk of the season, saw their comeback fall short.
“We tried to come back, but we ran out of time,” McKenzie said. “If the game was two minutes longer, we might have won. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”