Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr.
For the past five years, Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. heard the questions.
“You can’t believe how many times everyone has asked, ‘What’s wrong with you guys?’ ” Novak said.
After a 64-55 victory against Lakeville North in Saturday’s Class 4A title game, Novak and his Royals will get a reprieve from the pressure.
The Royals claimed their first championship since three-peating in 2009, 2010 and 2011. They did it against a Lakeville North program that beat Hopkins in the 2014 championship game.
“Two years ago we should have won it,” Novak said. “We really should have. That one was really hard, maybe the hardest loss I’ve ever had because [the title] was ours. So it was really nice to get this one.”
Hopkins’ crown is the school’s ninth overall and its seventh since 2002.
The Royals won without much doubt. They beat Apple Valley — the state’s top-ranked team entering the tournament — 84-60 in Friday’s semifinal before taking down Lakeville North.
“Being a player at Hopkins, you’re held to a high standard,” senior guard Xavier Johnson said. “You have to work hard every day, focus every day and learn to play a way not a lot of high school teams play.”
After the buzzer, senior Amir Coffey climbed a ladder, scissors in hand, preparing to cut his slice of the Target Center net.
Coffey struggled for a moment separating the thread. Even in victory, things aren’t always easy.
Sometimes that makes it all the more sweet.
“Like Coach said, when you’re not winning state championships, everyone looks at the team or the program like, ‘What’s wrong with you guys?’ ” Coffey said “We haven’t won in a while. It’s a real good feeling to do that, especially with this group of guys.”