Paige Bueckers woke up Saturday feeling like doing anything but playing basketball.
"Paige was throwing up this morning and sicker than a dog," Hopkins coach Brian Cosgriff said.
With the Class 4A championship game just hours away, the timing could hardly have been worse.
In the end, it mattered little. Hopkins used a 44-10 second-half blitz to rout Stillwater 74-45 to win the Class 4A state championship Saturday at Williams Arena. It's the Royals seventh state championship since 2004, but the first time they've done it without losing a game, completing the season 32-0.
"This is like the best ever, I'm not going lie to you," Cosgriff said.
Bueckers, Hopkins' scintillating junior guard, said she never entertained thoughts of sitting the game out, no matter how ill she was feeling. There was too much at stake: a state championship, obviously, but also a reputation, with the Royals having lost title games the past three seasons.
"I didn't care what was happening this morning, I was coming to play with my team," she said. "Talk has been I came up short three years in a row. Is my legacy going to be I can get to the state title but I can't win one?"
For a half, Stillwater played the role of dream-killer to perfection.
With their leader hurting, the Royals took a while to adjust. The Ponies took advantage of their uncertainty, building a 29-27 halftime lead. It was the first time all season Hopkins had trailed at halftime.
"We just wanted to keep the intensity we had in the first half and keep playing together," Stillwater guard Sara Scalia said.
It didn't happen.
After falling behind by six points early in the second half, Hopkins exploded. The Royals began to create the turnovers that have been their calling card, which results in a flurry of points. A quick 16-2 run gave Hopkins its biggest lead to that point, 46-37.
Scalia, who led Stillwater with 24 points, hit a three-pointer to give the Ponies a temporary reprieve. But Hopkins guard K.K. Adams followed with three straight three-pointers, effectively taking the fight out of the Ponies.
Despite being sick, Bueckers' contribution was a cantata of versatility, with 13 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals. Meanwhile, her teammates stepped up. Freshman Maya Nnaji scored 18 points. K.K. Adams added another three-pointer and finished with 12 points. Amaya Battle ran the point, handed out 11 assists and never allowed Stillwater's pressure defense to dictate terms.
"This was a complete team victory," Cosgriff said.
Stillwater coach Willie Taylor said, "When they got that run, and they got excited, the team couldn't hear me call plays. It was just too loud. It was tough."
Afterward Bueckers was still feeling ill but enjoying every minute of the victory.
"I'm just so happy I could do this with my teammates," she said. "I definitely didn't play my best game, but there was no way I wasn't going to be out here with my girls."