St. Paul Central's overwhelming defeat in its first girls' basketball game in the Dick's Sporting Goods Holiday Classic left Minnetonka -- Central's second-day opponent -- unsure of what to expect.
The Minutemen's 41-point loss to host Hopkins didn't look like a performance from a team that was 8-0 entering this tournament. Minnetonka had expected to see a team with quick guards and big centers with an edge down low, which is what it saw Friday night at Hopkins High School.
That impressive style of play nearly ended the Skippers' extended winning streak. But not quite. Minnetonka found a way to slow the game in the final minutes to hold off the Minutemen 53-46 for its eighth consecutive victory.
"That was one of our more challenging games," said Minnetonka guard Anne Hamilton, who finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists. "They had good athletes and were strong. That's what the Lake Conference is going to be like."
With the score tied at 41 with under five minutes to play, the Skippers relied on their standout guards to close out the game. Joanna Hedstrom hit a wide-open three-pointer that made it 44-41, and the Skippers led the rest of the way.
Central wouldn't relent, though. The Minutemen had a chance to tie the score in the final minute but missed a forced three-point attempt, and Minnetonka finished the night on the free-throw line with Hedstrom and Hamilton each making a pair.
"We're not used to being in close games where we have to hit free throws late," Minnetonka coach Leah Dasovich said. "It was good for us."
The Minutemen also considered Friday's result "good." Seeking tough competition was coach Willie Taylor's desire, and center Sade Chatman said she and her teammates entered the tournament with a clean slate.
"We were 8-0, but we didn't think we were playing teams like Hopkins," Chatman said after leading her team with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. "This is a learning experience. All working for February."
Through two days of this seventh annual holiday tournament, the three Lake Conference teams in the field were a combined 6-0.
Eden Prairie 67, Osseo 56: The Eagles benefitted from their bench. Eden Prairie reserves outscored Osseo's 29-12. Jayla Mayes-Jackson scored 13 and Martha Kuderer 12 off the bench. Starting center Samantha Trammel also scored 13 and had 16 rebounds.
Osseo's Phillis Webb also collected a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Hopkins 74, Prior Lake 39: Nia Coffey had 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals as the tournament host Royals cruised to another blowout victory. Unbeaten Hopkins led by 38 at one point, just one point shy of Prior Lake's final total. Deanna Busse led Prior Lake with nine points.