Hopkins is still the state's best girls' basketball team -- healthy or not. It's just a little more vulnerable.
With its top three scorers nursing injuries and two of them unable to play, Class 4A, No. 1 Hopkins (18-0) was still too much for No. 3 Eden Prairie (14-3) on Tuesday night. The Royals scored the first 10 points, built a 25-point lead and then held on for a 65-58 victory at the Lindbergh Center.
"We've had injuries before, but not all in one week," Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff said. "That can affect a guy's season."
If the Royals play like they did the first half against Eden Prairie, it won't affect too much. After their quick start, the Royals closed the first half with an 18-3 run and took a commanding 43-18 lead into the locker room at halftime, to the dismay of Eden Prairie coach Chris Carr.
"The first half we were ugly," Carr said. "With the players they had injured, we should have been able to compete."
The injured list consisted of:
• Senior guard Sydney Coffey suffered a concussion during practice last Wednesday. Cosgriff is expecting her back in the lineup Friday against Wayzata. The Marist recruit is averaging 12.9 points per game.
• Junior guard Nia Coffey injured her back when she was undercut during the second half of a 68-46 victory over Edina last Tuesday. She showed her toughness by playing in pain throughout the night against the Eagles, scoring 17 of her game-high 25 points in the decisive first half.
"That was difficult. I was in a lot of pain," she said afterward. The smooth lefthander is the Royals' leading scorer at 15.9 points per game.
• Junior Mikaala Shackelford was counted on to pick up the slack when both Coffeys missed Friday's game against Park Center, and she suffered a knee injury in the second half of that 65-45 victory. The Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit is averaging 9.9 points per game.
The second half was all about pride, according to Carr. His two Gophers recruits, seniors Jackie Johnson (24 points) and Shayne Mullaney (21 points), rallied Eden Prairie within 52-49 with 3 minutes, 37 seconds left. Hopkins freshman guard Viria Livingston answered with a three-point play, stretching the lead back to six and the Royals were back in control.
"Our goal is get everybody back healthy," Cosgriff said.