Marvin Singleton wasted little time. With seconds remaining in Saturday’s Class AAAA championship game, the Hopkins boys basketball senior raised three fingers to the crowd and let his emotions known.
“Three of them,” he said to the Royals faithful.
Hopkins solidified its place in school history Saturday at Target Center, earning its third straight state championship in a 64-52 win over Eden Prairie in Minneapolis.
It is the school’s sixth title since 2002 and eighth overall, but it’s the first time in three chances the Royals were able to claim a third consecutive championship. Hopkins won two straight in 1952-53 and 2005-06.
“A bunch of Hopkins alumni come to practice sometimes and they said go get it,” Singleton said. “They had a chance to get a three-peat and they never got it. This is for every Hopkins basketball player to ever play basketball at Hopkins.”
The mood was all about tradition Saturday. The Royals (31-1) were able to beat the Eagles thanks to a healthy distribution of scoring—Joe Coleman had 22, Singleton had 15, Siyani Chambers had 12 and Zach Stahl finished with 10—but coach Ken Novak, Jr. was quick to point out it was the players before them that made this Royals group strive for championships.
“They’d better make sure they thank the Blake Hoffarbers, the Kris Humphries, the Dan Colemans, the Zach Puchtels,” Novak said. “We’ve had good players ... that come and play with them all the time. They set up a standard for these guys that they have to reach.”
Against an Eagles squad that handed Hopkins its lone loss of the season, a 75-71 defeat on Feb. 1, the Royals were never threatened. They trailed twice by two points in the first half and held onto their four-point halftime lead for the duration of the contest.
Again, Hopkins controlled the pain. The Royals outscored Eden Prairie 32-22 inside while also holding an 18-8 points off turnover margin.
Defensively, Hopkins held the Eagles’ (27-5) two most dynamic scorers in check. Connor Nord and Dylan Stewart average 18.5 and 23.5 points per game, respectively, in their first two state tournament contests, but they finished with six and eight on Saturday.
“The kids gutted it out, grinded it out,” Novak said.
Now, the Royals are state champions once again. Singleton said he likes the sound of that.
“It means everything,” Singleton said. “To play for Coach Novak and the Hopkins community, with all the fans and support, it feels great.”
Eden Prairie 28 24 — 52
Hopkins 32 32 — 64
Scoring — HOP: Joe Coleman 22, Demetrius Martin 5, Marvin Singleton 15, Zach Stahl 10, Siyani Chambers 12, EP: Jack Klukas 7, Grant Soderberg 16, Derek Dedeker 8, Dylan Stewart 8, Connor Nord 6, Sander Mohn 7. Assists leaders — HOP: S. Chambers 5, D. Martin 3. Rebound leaders — HOP: J. Coleman 8, Z. Stahl 8. Turnovers — HOP: 9, EP: 16. Fouls — HOP: 10, EP: 16.
CLASS AAAA ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Joe Coleman (Hopkins), Marvin Singleton (Hopkins), Zach Stahl (Hopkins), Siyani Chambers (Hopkins), Conner Nord (Eden Prairie), Dylan Stewart (Eden Prairie), Grant Soderberg (Eden Prairie), Cortez Tillman (Cretin-Derham-Hall), Terez VanPelt (Osseo), Joey Sonnenfeld (Osseo).