Behind a cyclone of busy hands and blurred feet, Hopkins' whirlwind of activity made life awfully difficult for Wayzata on Thursday, forcing the Trojans to play the type of frenetic pace only the Royals have mastered.
The result was not unexpected as No. 1-ranked and undefeated Hopkins defeated No. 2-ranked Wayzata for the third time this season, 77-60, this time clinching the Class 4A, Section 6 girls' basketball championship. It sends the Royals to the state tournament for the fifth consecutive season and eighth time in the past nine years.
"We beat a really, really good team [Thursday] and we're going to the state tournament, which is a good thing," said Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff, typically understated. "But it's not over. We've got to win six [games to win a state championship]."
As they have all season, the Royals (29-0) set the tone with their swarming defense. Despite having played Hopkins twice, Wayzata (26-3) was overwhelmed by the Royals' energy and unable to generate consistency and rhythm on offense. Hopkins built a 37-25 halftime lead, largely on Wayzata mistakes.
"Some people say it feels like we have seven people on the court because we move so fast," senior forward Dlayla Chakolis said.
Wayzata coach Mike Schumacher said his team made a few too many mistakes in the first half.
"We turned the ball over way too many times," he said. "Their intense pressure was the difference early."
Chakolis led the Royals with 26 points and Paige Bueckers added 23. Kallie Theisen paced Wayzata with 18 points while Mara Braun added 16.
Schumacher said having likely the state's second-best team but being unable to get to the state tournament was disappointing, but he wasn't upset.
"To get there, you have to beat the best," he said. "They were the best."
For Cosgriff, who is known for his attention to detail and laserlike focus, the victory carried a little more meaning, coming as it did on his 58th birthday.
"Best present ever," he said.