Bloomington Jefferson vs. Robbinsdale Cooper

7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 26

Robbinsdale Cooper coach Broderick Powell said his team is used to being overlooked. And it’s not just because height, or lack of it, has been a perennial issue for the Hawks.

Located in an inner-ring suburb with two neighboring high-profile private schools in No. 2-3A Totino-Grace and No. 5-3A DeLaSalle gobbling up much of the attention, the Hawks often fly under the radar of Minnesota high school basketball fans and media.

So an 11-game winning streak and a climb to No. 6 in the Class 4A rankings is welcome news for the Hawks (11-1), who are starting to draw a little attention to themselves. After a 56-54 victory over No. 7-4A Chaska on Feb. 9, the dueling Hawks share the lead in the Metro West Conference standings. 

Cooper heads into the regular-season homestretch Friday against Bloomington Jefferson (7-4), which trails both Hawks teams in the conference standings by two games. One of those league losses for the Jaguars came against Cooper, a 76-46 blemish on Feb. 3.

Cooper was without leading scorer Tyson Dallas, a 6-1 senior guard averaging 12.2 points, and not in game shape when the season started. Powell said he is pleased with the commitment to improvement his players have shown since a season-opening 67-49 loss to Chaska.

Stamina is a big deal at Cooper, where transfer guard David Osayameh (9.1 ppg) at 6-4 is the tallest player on the team along with 6-4 senior Jeff Cooper (5.1 ppg). Broderick Powell Jr. (10.7 ppg) and Davion Evans (10 ppg) are among the mostly all-guard starting lineup for the Hawks.

“We’re small,” Powell said. “We have to focus on our athletic ability, quickness and smarts.”

That means defense. Continuous, hard and pressing defense. If the other team doesn’t have the ball it can’t score, and Cooper has proved proficient at taking the ball from the opponent. The younger Powell, for example, averages nearly 10 assists and more than five steals per game. As a team, the Hawks average more than 15 steals per contest.

Jefferson, meanwhile, will need more from leading scorers Sam Wanzek (11.5 ppg), Aidan Atkins (9.4 ppg) and Jeremy Wanguhu (9.2 ppg) than it got in the first game against Cooper.