The sound was music to Juan Mitchell's ears.
When the Shakopee girls' basketball coach entered the Eden Prairie gym ahead of Friday's Class 4A, Section 2 championship game, he heard his players singing their unofficial team song, "Glorious" by Macklemore.
"I knew we were loose," Mitchell said.
The Sabers then went out and proved it on the court, outhustling and outplaying No. 1-seeded Eden Prairie for most of the game en route to a 41-39 victory.
Losing its last three games of the regular season saddled Shakopee with nine losses and the No. 3 seed in the section. But Mitchell felt that seeding didn't accurately reflect the team he knew. Even though five of Eden Prairie's six losses on the season came at the hands of the top three teams in Class 4A — twice each to Hopkins and Wayzata and a loss to Stillwater — Mitchell felt like the Sabers were anything but underdogs.
"Our last four games [of the regular season] were against South Suburban Conference teams Lakeville North, Apple Valley, Farmington and Eastview," he said. "That's four of the best teams in the state. The South Suburban is the best basketball conference there is."
After a slow start, Shakopee (20-9) started attacking the Eden Prairie defense. The Sabers' athleticism proved difficult for Eden Prairie to handle as they built a 23-21 halftime lead.
Shakopee, brimming with confidence, went on a 9-0 run early in the second half to extend that lead to 32-23 before Eden Prairie scrapped its tall lineup and went with a smaller, quicker crew.
The Eagles (21-7) subsequently rallied and took a 35-33 lead when freshman Nia Holloway hit a shot off the glass.
But Shakopee never wilted. With the score tied 37-37 and less than two minutes left, senior guard Jaley Coplin her third three-pointer of the game, giving Shakopee a 40-37 lead it would not relinquish.
She admitted she'd never hit a bigger shot.
"I'm a shooter. That's what I do," said Coplin, who finished with 13 points. "I put so much time in the gym. That's what I live for. That's the biggest shot I've ever made. It feels amazing."
Sophomore Kelley Brennan led Shakopee with 15 points. Abby Johnson paced Eden Prairie with 12 points.