As the final seconds ticked away at Saturday’s Class AAAA championship game, the Hopkins girls basketball team flocked together and embraced in one big celebratory hug.
Chanting together after beating Eden Prairie 67-45 for the schools’ first state title since 2006, the display on the Target Center floor illustrated exactly what coach Brian Cosgriff said made this team so successful.
The Royals are more than a team. They’re family.
“This team was a team from the first man to the 18th man,” Cosgriff said. “They love each other, and that was cool to see.”
It was evident on the floor Saturday in Minneapolis, as Hopkins (30-2) seemingly leaned on one another through each stretch of the game. Ten different players scored points in the contest—none netting more than 18—and tied at 22 heading into the second half the Royals began using tick-tack passing to open up a fast-break game Eden Prairie couldn’t match.
Feeding off one another’s energy, the Royals turned a tie at halftime into a 12-point lead within eight minutes.
Much of that was due to a surge by junior Sydney Coffey. The 6-foot guard scored 15 of her game-high 18 points in the second half and helped the Royals begin to pull away.
“She was amazing,” sophomore Nia Coffey said. “She really brought the energy.”
Nia Coffey chipped in 12 points of her own, and Julia Wiemer and Gracia Hutson each had eight points in the contest.
Like a family, Hopkins beat the Eagles (25-6) by spreading the ball around and giving everyone a chance to contribute.
“On any given night it’s anybody’s ballgame,” Cosgriff said.
The win was Hopkins’ third state championship overall—the previous two coming in 2004 and 2006. But it’s the first for this group of players, and the Royals couldn’t help but take in the excitement with each other in a lengthy post-game celebration on the Target Center floor.
“I’ll never forget this moment,” sophomore Mikaala Shackelford said. “I don’t know how to describe it in words. It’s just a great feeling to know we have the same passion and we all have love for each other.”
After all, this isn’t your average team.
“We are no ordinary family,” Nia Coffey said. “We are so close. We have great chemistry. We love each other and that’s really what helped us.”
See what the players, coach and athletic director had to say in from Saturday night's celebration at the Lindberg Center.
Eden Prairie 22 23 — 45
Hopkins 22 45 — 67
Scoring — HOP: Nia Coffey 12, Brianna Williams 6, Julia Wiemer 8, Sydney Coffey 18, Gracia Hutson 8, TT Starks 2, Chelsey Jacox 2, Ebony Livingston 7, Mikaala Shackelford 2, Shannon O’Toole 2. EP: Aubrey Davis 5, Shayne Mullaney 12, Morgan Van Ryper-Rose 8, Jackie Johnson 14, Annie Thul 2, Karly Knutson 2, Taylor Uhl 2. Assists leaders — HOP: S. Coffey 2, G. Hutson 2. Rebound leaders — HOP: N. Coffey 9, G. Hutson 8, A. Garcia 6. Turnovers — HOP: 15, EP: 20. Fouls — HOP: 16, EP: 23.
CLASS AAAA ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Nia Coffey (Hopkins), Ebony Livingston (Hopkins), Gracia Hutson (Hopkins), Brianna Williams (Hopkins), Rachel Banham (Lakeville North), Apiew Ojulu (Lakeville North), Alexis Foley (White Bear Lake), Shayne Mullaney (Eden Prairie), Morgan Van Ryper-Rose (Eden Prairie), Jackie Johnson (Eden Prairie).