Games began more than a week ago, but the girls’ basketball season hit the gas Saturday, when many of the metro’s best teams took part in the Breakdown Tip-Off Classic at Hopkins’ Lindbergh Center.
The marquee matchup of the day was a rematch of this year’s Class 4A championship game, with defending champion and third-ranked Eastview taking on No. 1 Hopkins.
If Hopkins expressed any nerves about playing the team that beat it in the finals, it didn’t show it.
Before the game, Royals superstar guard Paige Bueckers sat along the wall and kept her teammates entertained by lip-syncing and dancing to the music in her headphones.
When the game started, Bueckers did her dancing on the court, toying with the Lightning by slashing to the basket, hitting off-balance pull-up shots and draining long-range bombs, leading Hopkins to a 75-48 victory.
Eastview led 11-10 in the first half before Bueckers took over. She scored six straight points, then began feeding her teammates as Hopkins went on a 26-5 run. The game was essentially over after that.
Bueckers had 25 points for Hopkins (4-0), which earned its third victory of the young season over a highly touted foe, having already beaten Stillwater and Lakeville North.
It was far from the only notable game of the day, however.
Forest Lake, ranked No. 8, survived a challenge from Centennial, winning 57-52. The Cougars were without 6-3 center Sara Stapleton, a Wisconsin signee recovering from a knee injury, and lost guard Taylor McAulay to fouls midway through the second half but managed to cut the deficit to four in the final minute.
Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen arrived just in time to watch one of her future players, Sara Scalia, lead Stillwater over Lakeville South 66-40.Scalia had 24 points and created chances for the other Ponies.
Whalen and Gophers assistant coach Kelly Roysland stayed to watch St. Michael-Albertville face Lakeville North, a duel between two of the state’s best junior guards in the Knights’ Kenzie Kramer and the Panthers’ Lauren Jensen.
Jensen scored 24 points, but the creativity of Kramer, along with the standout efforts from guards Tessa Johnson and Jadyn Hanson, helped St. Michael-Albertville prevail 74-53. Kramer finished with 16 points.
“I played with her in AAU and it’s always fun when you go play someone you know,” Kramer said of Jensen.
Big 12 Classic: Kendall Brown had 26 points to lead four players in double-digit scoring for East Ridge in a 74-65 victory over Hopkins. … Park Center held off a late Prior Lake comeback to win 66-64. … Jacob Beeninga had 18 points and eight rebounds as Wayzata beat Cretin-Derham Hall 69-63. … Tyler Wahl had 28 points and 12 rebounds to lead Lakeville North past Edina 70-62. … In 21 minutes, Jalen Suggs scored 30 points for Minnehaha Academy in a 78-48 victory over Perham.