Hopkins girls basketball coach used an old song title from the late James Brown when asked how he felt about the current state of his Royals as they get ready to play their first game Wednesday morning against Buffalo in the State Class 4A Championship Tournament.
“I feel good.”
Cosgriff has reason for guarded optimism.
His team has come back and beat the two teams that previously beat them for their only two losses of the season—Eden Prairie and Minnetonka—and is playing as well now as it has all year.
If there's one area of concern, it's backup point guard Taylor Anderson—who will miss the tournament with a high ankle sprain. Anderson, just a sophomore, is also lightening fast; she was the runner-up last year in the state 100 meter championship.
“We will move Brianna Williams (the regular No. 2) guard to point when we need to rest Julia Wiemer, our starter," Cosgriff said.
The Royals are very deep on the bench, something they'll need against a good Bisons team.
“They are like a hockey team—they run five in and five out,” the coach said.
Cosgriff scouted Buffalo on Friday night when it beat St. Michaels-Albertville to get to the state tournament.
“They play very hard and have a couple of good-sized kids,” he said.
Like Hopkins, the Bisons have only two losses on the year, one to St. Michael- Albertville in the regular season and the other to Wayzata, who the Royals beat twice in regular season play.
Coming into the tournament with regular season losses is not of concern. Both the 2004 and 2006 teams, which Cosgriff led to state championships, went to the big show with blemishes on their records.
The Royals are doing what they have done all year: not relying on any one or two players to carry them. The team has had a very mixed bag of individual game scoring, rebounding, assists and steal leaders. , and even eighth grade star reserve , have been top scorers for Hopkins in at least one game or more this year. Center Gracia Hutson has also been playing well late in the season, while reserves Ebony Livingston and Mikaala Shackelford have gotten the hot-scoring hand lately.
If they get past Buffalo, the Royals will play the winner of the Maple Grove-White Bear Lake game. The other side of the eight team bracket consists of Eden Prairie and Rochester Mayor, plus Lakeville North and the Cinderella team, Anoka, which had only six wins in the regular season but has suddenly played very well to earn a trip to the Target Center.
Hopkins, Eden Prairie and Lakeville North are undoubtedly the favorites, but as Cosgriff said, “Everyone is tough and we either win Wednesday and move on or if, not we are heading home. It’s as simple as that.”
Why makes Hopkins so good?