Hopkins Free Throws Difference in 4A Title Win Over Lakeville North
The Hopkins Royals captured their 10th Minnesota High School Basketball title with a 55-40 win over Lakeville North in the Class 4A Championship game. Neither team shot very well in what I would describe as a very physical game. The Royals shot 31 percent from the field and the Panthers 28 percent. The shooting from three point range was 11 percent (3 for 27) for Lakeville North and 29 percent (7 of 24) for Hopkins.
The difference in the game was clearly at the free throw line where Hopkins connected on 20 of 31 attempts and Lakeville North cashed in on 3 of 6. In fact the Panthers had 3 more field goals in the game than the Royals. There were 25 fouls called on Lakeville North and 8 against Hopkins. Beginning with 3:39 to go in the contest the Panthers fouled when they couldn't get steals and Hopkins scored 13 points from the free throw line down that stretch. The Royals did not have a field goal in the final 5:36.
Hopkins led at the half 24-17 while shooting 16 of their 21 shots from beyond the three point line. They still were 7 of 8 from the charity stripe while Lakeville North was 1 of 2. The Panthers also attempted more three point baskets (13) than two point baskets (10). Key to the Royals victory was their dominance on the glass. At the half Hopkins had 21 rebounds led by 6'8 senior Dane Zimmer with 12 (he would finish the game with 21). The Panthers collected 10 rebounds in the first half and were out glassed (if that's a word) 47-31 for the game.
Lakeville North started the second half on a run that gave them a 26-24 lead following a dunk by senior 6'7 Tyler Wahl that ignited the Target Center crowd. That dunk happened with 14:29 to go in the game. The very next possession Hopkins senior 6'10 Zeke Nnaji hit a layup to tie the game at 26. That was the score for the next 4:07 before Royals senior Andy Stafford hit a jumper to give his team a lead they would not relinquish.
The Panthers drought would cover 7:39 of the second half. They had many open looks during that stretch but could not get the ball to go in the basket. Lakeville North's next basket was a layup by junior 6'0 Josh Kamara with 6:50 to go. By that time the score was 38-28. The closest the Panthers would get is 8 points with 1:52 remaining in the game.
There were extended droughts in the first half too. Lakeville North did not score in the final 2:40 and Hopkins would not have a field goal in the final 5:13.
The game had 4 ties and 6 lead changes
Wahl tried to put the team on his back finishing the game with 19 points, 17 rebounds while playing every second of the game. Senior 6'5 Jack Rusch added 10 points in 22 minutes of action off the bench for Lakeville North.
Hopkins was led by junior 6'5 Kerwin Walton with 17 points in 33 minutes, Nnaji added 14 points, 12 rebounds in 35 minutes. Senior 6'4 Andy Stafford collected 10 points.
Six different Hopkins players would shoot free throws (Nnaji was 6 of 6 in the first half and shot no free throws in the second half). Only Wahl shot free throws for Lakeville North.
The Panthers finished their season 27-5 with two losses to Hopkins. The Royals ended their 2018-19 campaign 27-4 with losses to East Ridge of Woodbury, Edina, DeLaSalle and Eden Prairie.