Hopkins' 74-38 victory over Forest Lake was far from unexpected.
Forest Lake coach Jen Wagner knew her team was at a severe disadvantage. Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff was aware that his group was favored. And the game played out just as most expected, with Hopkins' pressure defense and up-tempo offense overwhelming Forest Lake.
But both coaches agreed after the game that more was accomplished than one might be aware of.
"If you go top to bottom down the line, we all know the type of athletes they are," Wagner said. "It was just matter of getting my kids to believe we could defend them and they did.
"I didn't see fear in their eyes. I didn't see intimidation. I saw them catch and face the basket and go hard."
Cosgriff is well-known for his devotion to preparation. He said he put in more than 30 hours of film study and game-planning to get the No. 2-seeded Royals (27-3) ready to play the Rangers.
"Everyone's a champion, and everyone here is a good basketball team," Cosgriff said. "If you think for a second that you don't have to be prepared is when you get beat. You don't take it ever for granted and you work as hard as you possibly can."
Guard Raena Suggs scored 23 points and forward Dlayla Chakolis 18 for Hopkins, which kept alive its perfect run of state tournament quarterfinals victories. The Royals are 12-0 in opening games of the state tournament.
Abigail Groeneweg led Forest Lake (19-11) with eight points.