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Girls Basketball State Tournament 2024: Class AAAA semifinals

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2024 - 10:15 PM

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Welcome to Hopkins-Minnetonka, Part III.

The Class AAAA powers will play for the third time this season, but this time, it is in the final game of the season and the big-school championship at stake. Both advanced to Championship Saturday behind semifinal victories on Thursday, March 14 during the Minnesota State High School League’s Girls Basketball State Tournament at Williams Arena.

Top-seeded Hopkins had its hands full with No. 4 Maple Grove before recording an 84-78 victory. About two hours later, No. 2 Minnetonka set the state championship game matchup by defeating No. 3 St. Michael-Albertville 67-49.

Hopkins won the first meeting with Minnetonka on Jan. 30 in convincing fashion, 79-62. Two nights later, the Skippers also lost 69-63 to Wayzata. Those are Minnetonka’s only two losses this season. The Skippers, however, atoned by defeating Hopkins 64-61 in the regular season finale.

Fun facts going into the Class AAAA championship game:

Minnetonka High School is a combination of two former high schools, Deephaven and Excelsior, which were both original members of the Lake Conference. Deephaven is on the east side of the Minnetonka School District and Excelsior is on the west. Hopkins High School has a Minnetonka address and is located on the east side of the city.

No. 1 Hopkins 84, No. 4 Maple Grove 78

“Leaving it all on the court,” is a common postgame phrase used by basketball coaches and players. While often overused, it aptly fit on Thursday, March 14 when top-seeded Hopkins and No. 4 Maple Grove played at Williams Arena in the Class AAAA semifinals of the Minnesota State High School League’s Girls Basketball State Tournament.

Back and forth they went assembling run after run and coming up with key baskets, all in pursuit of a title berth in the final game of the season on Championship Saturday. At one point in the second half, there were nine combined consecutive trips where a basket was made in the wide-open display of offense.

The final surges belonged to Hopkins in a closer-than-it-sounds 84-78 victory.

Hopkins (27-3) used a spree midway through the second half to build a 13-point lead, then withstood Maple Grove’s counterpunch when the Crimson (25-5) pulled to within three. Free throws in the final seconds sealed the Royals’ berth in the Class AAAA title game for the second consecutive season.

Senior guard Liv McGill, a University of Florida recruit, engineered the high-octane attack by scoring 16 of her 20 points in the second half, Equally dominant was ninth-grade post Emma Walker, who scored 18 of her 30 points in the second half.

Hopkins is in a Girls Basketball state championship game for the 14th time since 2004. In that span, the Royals have won eight championships. Last season, Hopkins was the Class AAAA runner-up to St. Michael-Albertville.

Maple Grove also had powerful second-half moments. Junior forward Jordan Ode had 12 of her 21 points in the second half and senior forward Claire Stern also had 12 points in the final 18 minutes, giving her 19 for the game. Senior forward Ava Cossette had 11 of her 17 in the first half.

The Crimson, playing in the semifinals for the first time in six state tournament trips, tied the score at 36-all at the half on a long-distance three-pointer by Cossette at the horn.

No. 2 Minnetonka 67, No. 4 St. Michael-Albertville 49

In another Lake Conference-type of reunion, Minnetonka opened the late semifinal with a 13-0 run that set the tone for this third victory over St. Michael-Albertville this season. The loss also dethroned St. Michael-Albertville.

Junior guard Aaliyah Crump powered the Skippers (28-2) with 27 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. Sophomore guard Lanell Wright contributed 15 points and seven assists. Senior guard Tori McKinney, who will play on the Williams Arena court next season as a member of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball team, had 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Despite the large deficits, St. Michael-Albertville (23-8) didn’t wither. The Knights continued to grind and chipped away throughout the first half before the Skippers finished with a surge to hold a 35-16 advantage at the half. St. Michael-Albertville continued to keep coming at the Skippers,  and actually outscored Minnetonka 33-32 in the second half, but couldn’t make a major dent in the deficit.

Senior guard Ja’Kahla Craft scored 16 points for the Knights, and sophomore guard Cali Jahnke added 12.

Minnetonka, making its fourth state tournament appearance, was the big-school champion in 2016.

Consolation Semifinals

Lakeville North 56, White Bear Lake 38: Lakeville North, the No. 5 seed to open the tournament, bounced back from a quarterfinal loss to Maple Grove by zipping past the Bears in the consolation bracket at the Gangelhoff Center at Concordia (St. Paul). Senior post Trinity Wilson powered the Panthers (25-6) with 16 points and senior guard Gabby Betton added 14. Senior guard Elizabeth Wallek had 10 points for the Bears, who finished the season 21-9.

Rosemount 72, Andover 64: Senior guard Avery Moeller poured in 28 points and teammate Amisha Ramlall, a ninth-grade guard, was close behind with 26 to help the Irish (23-7) outlast the Huskies (24-6). Senior guard Anna Vaaler led Andover with 27 points and senior guard Piper Engelby chipped in 17.

Class AA

Consolation Semifinals

New London-Spicer 54, Perham 41: Junior forward Ava Carlson scored 21 points and sophomore guard Ayla Caskey added 20 to spur New London-Spicer (29-3) past Perham at the Gangelhoff Center. Senior forward Willow Thiel had 25 points for Perham (26-5), including 11 of 14 from the free throw line.

Rochester Lourdes 56, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 38: Rochester Lourdes (22-10) bounced back from a loss in the quarterfinals to post a 56-38 victory over Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (19-13) behind 15 points from ninth-grade guard Aaliyah Willams and 14 from junior center Liliana Davick. The Buccaneers were paced by senior forward Claire Bohlen’s 12 points.


Next Article

Girls Basketball State Tournament 2024: Class AAA semifinals