Struggling to find rhythm in its first state game since 2006, the girls basketball team looked to its defense early and often to lead the way.
And its defense delivered.
The Royals forced 36 turnovers in Wednesday’s Class AAAA quarterfinal against Buffalo and earned a 79-62 victory at Target Center in Minneapolis.
The win sends Hopkins to a semifinal date with White Bear Lake on Thursday at 6 p.m.
Royals senior guard Brianna Williams paced the team with 19 points in the game—including 13 in the first half—but she said the key to Hopkins’ quarterfinal win was the turnover battle.
Hopkins (28-2) recorded 47 of its 79 points after Bison miscues.
“We get a lot of energy (from turnovers),” Williams said. “We hang our hat on defense, so to force them to turn the ball over is a good feeling.”
Coach Brian Cosgriff agreed.
“We like to say defense wins championships, and we created a lot of turnovers today,” he said. “We had that in mind going into this game.”
Williams was one of four Royals who scored in double digits Wednesday. Junior Sydney Coffey and sophomore Nia Coffey each had 12, and sophomore Mikaala Shackelford finished with 11.
Cosgriff said Williams has been the leader of this team all season, and she came through again Wednesday.
“She did bring a lot of energy to the floor,” Cosgriff said. “She’s our leader; we feed of her, there’s no question about that.”
Kendra Wycoff and Alexa Thielman each led Buffalo (25-4) with 11 points, and Malorie Schmidt chipped in 10.
But Hopkins was too much, and as a result the Royals ensured they will play two more games in the tournament—and possibly for a state championship.
That’s all Cosgriff said he can ask for.
“Survive and advance,” Cosgriff said. “It doesn’t matter how you play. Survive and advance.”
Buffalo 23 39 — 62
Hopkins 41 38 — 79
Scoring — HOP: Nia Coffey 12, Brianna Williams 19, Julia Wiemer 5, Sydney Coffey 12, Gracia Hutson 4, Chelsey Jacox 1, Ebony Livingston 9, Erin O’Toole 2, Mikaala Shakelford 11, Shannon O’Tool 4, BUFF: Kendra Wycoff 11, Malorie Schmidt 10, Alexa Thielmann 11, Rachel Mussell 8, Molly Muntifering 9, Courtney Daniels 4, Callie Durst 3, Emily Spier 6. Assists leaders — HOP: J. Wiemer 5. Rebound leaders — HOP: G. Hutson 8, E. Livingston 6, M Shakelford 5. Turnovers — HOP: 16, BUFF: 36. Fouls — HOP: 21, BUFF: 24.