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What’s buzzing, and what should be buzzed about, in the wide world of Minnesota high school sports.

All eyes on Friday's Hopkins-Wayzata girls' basketball game

Wayzata guard Mimi Schrader drives on Hopkins' guard Kayhla Adams in a 2018 Wayzata victory, 70-66

Taking a broad perspective, the girls’ basketball game between the top two teams in Class 4A, No. 1 Hopkins and No. 2 Wayzata on Friday is simply one of 26 games on the schedule.

But what fun is that?

Let’s call it what it is: The biggest and most highly anticipated matchup of the girls’ basketball season to date.

To wit: Both teams are undefeated with 18-0 records. Both are led by high-level upperclassmen: Paige Bueckers and Dlayla Chakolis of Hopkins, Mimi Schrader and Kallie Theisen of Wayzata. Both have rosters chock full of young talent. Hopkins has two freshmen, Maya Nnaji and Amaya Battle, who have already been offered scholarships from the University of Minnesota. Wayzata's leading scorer, sophomore Jenna Johnson, has been one of the season’s breakout stars.

Both are Lake Conference rivals and reside in Section 6, which means only one of them will get the chance to advance to the state tournament. Throw in that Section 6 representatives voted in the offseason to move the championship game to the home of the highest-seeded team, instead of playing it at a neutral site, and you’ve got a must-see basketball event.

“This is what high school sports is all about,” said Schrader, the Trojans’ point guard, senior captain and veteran leader. “I’m going to tell the team to embrace the rivalry and the atmosphere. It’s going to be super fun.”

Even the coaches aren’t bothering to downplay the game’s significance. After a recent 44-point victory over Holy Angels, Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff answered a question about his team's penchant for big games with a two-word comment. “February 1,” he said.

Hopkins has played in the last four Class 4A state championship games, winning it all in 2015 but falling short in the last three. The Royals have looked practically unbeatable this season. Relying on the vast skill set of Bueckers to run their offense and a defense that rattles opponents and turns turnovers into points quickly, the Royals score in bunches. They average 86 points per game with a margin of victory of more than 36 points.

Bueckers averages 25.7 points per game but is equally good at distributing the ball. With Chakolis -- a force on the boards and perhaps the state’s best closer -- and a cadre of young and gifted players, all of whom have star potential, Hopkins comes at opponents in waves. It’s a style that intimidates opponents even before they take the floor.

Hopkins' Dlayla Chakolis passes through the Wayzata defense in 2018

“Everybody comes in wanting to give us their best game, but we want them to be afraid of us,” Chakolis said.

With the downtime the two teams have had due to this week’s brutal cold, Chakolis said the Royals have used the time to study video of Wayzata.

“We’ve watched a lot of film,” she said. “We want to know more about them than they do themselves.”

Schrader said the Trojans, who split two regular season games with the Royals last season, have to make sure they don’t fall into Hopkins’ trap.

“They do a good job of speeding up the game and getting other teams to play faster than they’re capable,” Schrader said. “My job is to make sure we stay calm among the chaos.”

Adding to the hoopla, the Hopkins and Wayzata boys’ teams, both top 10 teams in Class 4A, will meet as an opening act for Friday’s main event. Both games are at Hopkins’ Lingbergh Center, with the boys set to tip off at 5:30 and the girls to follow 20 minutes after they conclude.

The game will be livestreamed by

“It will be fun having the boys play first,” Chakolis said. “It’ll will bring more people to our game.”

Said Schrader “It’s going to be a fun night of basketball.”

The two teams are scheduled to meet again in the regular-season finale on Feb. 22.

Hopkins girls' coach thrilled players getting renewed attention from U

The game was a rout that surprised no one. Undefeated Hopkins, with a host of elite level players led by the No. 1-rated junior in the nation, Paige Bueckers, routed injury-riddled Holy Angels 87-43.

Bueckers had 20, mighty-mite Dlayla (LayLay) Chakolis, the best under 6-foot interior player in the state, added 14 and the Royals put the game away early with a 30-0 run.

After the game, Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff talked about his talented young lineup and how it's caught the eye of University of Minnesota womens’ basketball coach Lindsay Whalen.

Where former Gopher coach Marlene Stollings was nearly non-existent in high school gyms around the state and didn’t prioritize the recruitment of local players, Whalen has made it a priority.

Among the Minnesotans to whom she’s extended scholarship offers, three play for the Royals: Bueckers, considered the top recruit in the country in the Class of 2020; freshmen Maya Nnaji, a 6-2 post, and Amaya Battle, a smooth 5-11 point guard. Cosgriff said he expects a fourth Gophers’ offer to come soon for 5-11 eighth-grader Taylor Woodson.

“There’s still a lot of excitement,” Cosgriff said, referring to the local buzz around Whalen and her coaching staff, which includes another former Minnesota high school standout and former Gopher, Kelly Roysland. “But it’s going to come down to recruiting. You can X and O all you want, but you’ve got to have the players.”

So far, Cosgriff said, so good. He’s impressed by the commitment the staff has made toward recruiting Minnesota kids. Stillwater guard Sara Scalia signed with the Gophers’ last fall. He expects more to follow suit.

“They’re working hard,” he said. “They’re building relationships. They’ve got a great relationship with the coaches of Minnesota. Everyone seems to really be embracing them.”

The Gophers’ recent slump, having lost five of their last six games after a 12-0 start, doesn’t concern him in the long run.

“The Big Ten is tough this year and I think they’re figuring that out,” he said. “They’re got their work cut out for them, but I think they made a great hire.”

Holy Angels, which entered the game ranked No. 3 in Class 3A, played with a marked disadvantage, made more pronounced because of the opponent. The Stars were without sophomore Frankie Vascellaro, who tore a ligament in her right ankle in their previous game against DeLaSalle and sat on the Holy Angels bench with a walking boot on her leg.

They also lost sophomore forward Rachel Kawiecki, the team’s second leading rebounder and a force in the lane, to a left ankle injury suffered in practice Friday.

The versatile 6-foot tall Vascellaro has been having a breakout season, leading Holy Angels in scoring and rebounding (21.4 points, 7.5 rebounds per game). She’s also been vital in helping the Stars retool their offense since the transfer of two of their top players from a year ago, Destinee Oberg (Bloomington Kennedy) and Kaylie Vanderwerf (Burnsville). Once a team married to half-court sets, Holy Angels has adopted a more up-tempo style.

Holy Angel's Frankie Vascellero in action earlier this season

“It’s kind of allowed us all to be a little more free and play the whole court,” said Vascellaro, shown above in a game earlier this season.

Her father, WCCO-TV news anchor Frank Vascellaro, said the team has surpassed expectations. “When I looked at the schedule at the start of the season, I was thinking ‘Uh-oh, we could be 1-8.’ Instead, they came out and won, like 10 in a row, 11 of 12, something like that.”

The hope for Vascellaro’s injury is a return in four weeks, just in time for the section playoffs, but nothing is certain. She’ll know more after a doctor’s visit next week.

“It couldn’t have come at a worse time,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll be back in time.”