Royals continue Rumble to Playoffs

Prologue
The joys of a late season rescheduled game between traditional powerhouses.  Its yet another trip to Hopkins (31st game there this year) as the #6AAAA Royals host #1A Minneapolis North.  Nice crowd on hand but I expected a very packed house which didn't happen.   The wheat bun for the hot dog is starting to gain some respect with me.  As its a big game, we get none other than The Reverend leading the crew.  Once again he was in fine form.  Great old time music on the public address along with the previous public address guy.

Song of the Day: CCR - Fortunate Son

Number of Teams I've Seen: 154 (54 courts + 5 online).  26 out of state, 13 girls

Beverage Ticker: 1199.6 ounces (13215 Calories)
99 days, 131 games (126 in person), 2 scrimmages added on
  • Pepsi: 320.9 ounces (3760 calories)
  • Coke: 300 ounces (3340 calories)
  • Dr. Pepper: 48 ounces (600 calories)
  • Sprite: 144 ounces (1680 calories)
  • A&W Root Beer : 28.9 ounces (410 calories)
  • Mug Root Beer: 40 ounces (520 calories) 
  • Barq's Root Beer: 32 ounces (430 calories)
  • Red Gatorade/Powerade: 241.8 ounces (1705 calories)
  • Orange Gatorade: 20 ounces (140 calories)
Hot Dog Ticker: 21
Pizza Ticker: 12
Walking Taco Ticker:10

Game Time:
Fast pace and not much defense in this one.  Simon Wright gets off to a super hot start with 3 triples and a pair of buckets.  That's 13 of the 1st 15 Hopkins points and the Royals lead 15-7 at 14:26.  Isaac Johnson was also hot for North.  He goes coast to coast for 2 and buries a triple of his own.  The 12-2 North run gives the Polars their 1st lead of the night.  19-17 North at 11:35.  Joe Hedstrom with back to back hoops for Hopkins before he sits with his 2nd foul at the 7:27 mark.  Hopkins by 3.  Odell Wilson then takes over inside with Hedstrom sitting.  He scores 13 points the rest of the half as Hopkins has no answer for him.  Simon Wright stays hot with 2 more 3s.  North scores 8 of the last 10 of the half to take the momentum to the break.  51-48 Hopkins at halftime.

Hopkins comes out in the 2nd half playing matchup zone which is an incredibly rare sight.  Wright converts a BLOB. Anthony Davis scores.  Ish El-Amin with a block that leads to a Hedstrom putback.  Then its El-Amin behind the back to Hedstrom for a dunk.  But Hopkins wants the immediate MoKiller timeout to get out of the zone.  65-56 Hopkins with 13:32 to play.  Hopkins wasn't rebounding well on the defensive side either.  Zeke Nnaji and Hedstrom trade hi low buckets to keep the lead at 8.  But the dynamic North duo isn't done.  Isaac Johnson for 3 and Wilson scores to force another Hopkins timeout as the lead is down to 3.

The lead is 6 with 8:15 left and Simon Wright picks up his 4th foul.  Isaac Johnson with a free throw and a nice step thru jumper plus a Nasir El-Amin hoop.  Hopkins clinging to a 72-71 lead with 6:59 left and out of sorts on offense.  Timeout Hopkins. Then the coaching move of the game.  Coach Ken Novak takes a long look at Wright on the bench and decides to keep him there.  Senior Darryl Mayfield comes off the bench after not playing all night  After Ish El-Amin goes for 3 and an Isaac Johnson reverse, its Mayfield with a cold blooded 3.  Isaac Johnson 2 freebies countered by an Ish El-Amin jumper.  Tayler Johnson drives and scores and North takes time down 3 with 4:40 left.

Wright stays on the bench.  Mayfield gets the ball reversal and buries another 3.  Hedstrom with 2 free throws and a hoop around a Wilson putback.  Nnaji with a block that Anthony Davis converts.  Wright finally comes back in at 2:20 as there wasn't a stoppage.  But North won't go away.  Wilson seals for 2 on a BLOB that they've run all year.  Isaac Johnson converts a turnover with 1:55 left and its down to 6.  But Mayfield isn't done, he bangs home another 3 with 1:40 left oh my!  Hopkins is up 9 and that should be a dagger.

But Hopkins doesn't close it out like one would expect.  Wilson with 2 easy buckets and Isaac Johnson with an easy hoop.  Simon Wright makes 1 of 2 free throws and Tayler Johnson counters with a 3.  Hopkins then turns it over and all of a sudden North has the ball back down 3 with about 15 seconds left.  But the Polars are out of timeouts.  Isaac Johnson gets 1 good look and can't convert.  But Simon Wright misses a front end and North has 1 last chance.  Isaac Johnson's half court 3 at the horn is no good.  Hopkins hangs on to win 95-92.

Post Game
Isaac Johnson leads Minneapolis North with 33 points.  He made 4 3s.  Odell Wilson was a beast inside with 30 points.  Jaquan Sanders-Smith adds 11 points.  North fought hard but in the end didn't have enough.  North finishes the regular season 24-2 with the only losses to Apple Valley in the opener and Hopkins in the finale.  They'll host Central in the Twin Cities game on Saturday.  Then they'll open section 4A as the top seed a week from Thursday.

Simon Wright scores 22 of his team high 27 points in the 1st half for Hopkins.  All 5 starters reach double figures.  Joe Hedstrom 17, Ish El-Amin 15, Zeke Nnaji 11, Anthony Davis 10.  But it was the 9 down the stretch from reserve Darryl Mayfield that made all the difference.  Hopkins couldn't defend Wilson inside but North had no good answer for the hi low action of Hedstrom and Nnaji.   Hopkins is now 20-5 overall.  They'll finish the regular season hosting archrival Minnetonka on Friday.  In my humble opinion, a win there would give Hopkins the top seed in section 6AAAA.

Despite the number of points scored, both teams will still take away concerns with their shot selection.  Hopkins had issues keeping North off the offensive glass as well.  North's halfcourt execution will be looked at as well but in a game of this pace it didn't really matter.

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