Hopkins girls' basketball coach Brian Cosgriff has guided the Royals to five state championships. So he's not inclined to look at the Royals' 68-55 victory over defending Class 4A champion and previously undefeated Eastview as anything more than a steppingstone toward a larger goal.

The victory on Dec. 31, in the final round of the St. Olaf Tournament, was a bit of payback for Hopkins (11-1), which had lost to Eastview 75-70 in overtime on Dec. 6. Cosgriff, however, downplayed the importance of the victory.

"Well, it was a nice win, but we didn't put too much stock into it," he said. "Last year we went 23-3 in the regular season and got beat in the section semifinals. It was a good win, no question, but we play Edina Friday and if we lose to them, the Eastview victory does us no good."

Cosgriff acknowledged that the victory over Eastview was the result of the Royals' depth. While guards T.T. Starks — who led the team with 17 points — and Nia Hollie (10 points) get much of the attention, players such as guard Ashley Bates (15 points, 10 rebounds), Viria Livingston (seven points) and Evelyn Knox (nine points) also came up big.

"Ashley has been one of our best players all season. She's a great rebounder, but she flies under the radar," Cosgriff explained. "And Viria and Evelyn really had great games."

The biggest takeaway from the game, Cosgriff said, was that his team was consistently improving.

"We're a work in progress," he said. "Our goal is to get 1 percent better every day, every time we take the court. For the last two weeks, we have been getting better each and every day. Our goal is to be playing our best in late February and early March."

Worth noting

• The Hopkins boys' basketball team, already without star forward Amir Coffey after a knee injury sidelined him for the season, took another big hit when senior guard John Warren, the teams' leading scorer, suffered a broken hand in a 70-55 victory over Eastview on Dec. 31. No word on how long he'll be out.

• The play of sophomore goaltender Justin Evenson was the big reason for the RedHawks' 2-1 record and consolation championship in the recently completed Schwan Cup Open Division. Evenson stopped 100 out of 107 shots he faced in tournament play. On the season, he has a .940 save percentage, second-best in the state among goalies who have played in at least half of their team's games.

Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737