Hopkins senior Ishmael El-Amin shoots a step back jumper over Wayzata's Bryce Hempel (23). The Royals beat the Trojans 70-62 on Friday night at Hopkins High School. Photo by Tim Bykowski, SportsEngine
The last time Hopkins faced Lake Conference foe Wayzata, the Trojans ran away with an 81-55 victory. It appeared that the Royals were in for a similar fate when the Trojans took a ten-point lead early in the second half, but Hopkins turned up the defensive pressure and used a pair of scoring runs to close the gap and ultimately secure a 70-62 victory.
In the first half, the Trojans (19-3, 4-2) were getting what they wanted on the outside which let them build a lead, while the Royals didn't help themselves much, struggling to find open shots and turning the ball over.
Once Hopkins (17-5, 4-2) upped the intensity of its defense, the game turned in the Royals favor.
"They got a few loose balls that we didn't get," Wayzata head coach Bryan Schnettler said. "We needed to get those balls. That hurt us in the end."
In the second half Hopkins, ranked No. 6 in Class 4A according to Minnesota Basketball News, started to close out on the Trojans' shooters that had been open in the first. Wayzata's Ryan Lindberg had 14 points, mostly from the outside, in the first half, but the open jump shots dried up and Lindberg only scored four points in the second.
"They are good, and they are well coached," Schnettler said. "They have been for a long time. The game was physical."
Offensively, Hopkins (17-5, 4-2) was able to take advantage of the physical play by getting to the rim and either converting or getting to the foul line.
Schnettler – who in three seasons has taken a Trojans program from the bottom of the Lake Conference into a tie for first this season– felt Hopkins' consistency on Friday night was the reason the Royals played so much better against his team in comparison to their Jan. 13 meeting.
An 11-0 Hopkins’ run early in the second half erased a 45-34 Wayzata lead.
During that run and throughout the game, the Royals were led by a freshman – Blaise Beauchamp – and two seniors, Ishmael El-Amin and Simon Wright. During the second half, Beauchamp found the range from the outside, and El-Amin and Wright penetrated the paint and either scored near the rim or got to the free throw line.
No. 5-4A Wayzata would fight back one more time and tie the game at 60, but defense and free-throw shooting keyed Hopkins' game-ending 10-2 run.
El-Amin and Beauchamp led the Royals in scoring with 16 points each.
Wayzata's Jacob Beeninga drives to the hoop against Hopkins' Joe Hedstrom (34). Photo by Tim Bykowski, SportsEngine
After being trounced 81-55 by Wayzata on Jan. 13, Hopkins made sure to protect its home court, defeating the Trojans 70-62 on Friday night at Hopkins High School.
It was a game of runs in the first half, with both teams taking turns dominating play. The Royals (17-5, 4-2) led by as many as nine in the first half, but Wayzata took a seven-point lead into the locker room.
The Trojans’ late surge in the first was led by the outside shooting of Ryan Lindberg, who scored 14 points in the half. Wayzata, ranked No. 5 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, extended the lead to 45-34 with thirteen minutes to play.
Hopkins rallied by upping its defensive pressure and going on an 11-0 run to tie the game half way through the second half. Offensively, the No. 6-4A Royals were led by the shooting of freshman Blaise Beauchamp and seniors Ishmael El-Amin and Simon Wright.
With the game tied at 60, Hopkins went on one last run and put the game away. Defensive pressure led to easy baskets and when the Trojans (19-3, 4-2) were forced to foul, the Royals made their free throws and ended the game on a 10-2 run.
Wayzata's Lindberg paced all scorers with 18 points, while Hopkins was led by Beauchamp and El-Amin who both had 16 points in the game.