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Hopkins routs overmatched Cambridge-Isanti

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 03/20/19, 3:15PM CDT


The Royals' Zeke Nnaji had 25 points, Kermit Walton 19 and Dane Zimmer 15 in their 86-53 victory.

Hopkins forward Andy Stafford (11) went up for a basket as Cambridge-Isanti forward Austin Chromy (23) leapt to defend in the first half. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

Hopkins forward Zeke Nnaji and coach Ken Novak Jr. knew their team was, on paper, better than their quarterfinal opponent, Cambridge-Isanti. The important thing was making sure the team didn’t do anything that could spur an upset.

The Royals did what they had to do, dominating the boards, getting good shots and playing with energy en route to an 86-53 victory Wednesday at Target Center.

“We knew that if we come out slow and take them lightly, they could beat us,” said Nnaji, who led the team with 25 points. “We were a little concerned because we struggle with teams that have five guys who can shoot the ball.”

Novak’s message was simply about how his team played the game. “I said I don’t care if you win or lose, just play every possession,” Novak said. “The process is everything. If you want to be good, you have to put the work in, play the possession itself and good things can happen.”

First report

Hopkins, taller and more athletic, defeated overmatched Cambridge-Isanti 86-53 on Wednesday at Target Center.

Zeke Nnaji scored 25 points, Kerwin Walton had 19 and Dane Zimmer 15 for the second-seeded Royals (25-4), who outrebounded the smaller Bluejackets 43-15 in the Class 4A quarterfinal.

Henry Abraham paced Cambridge-Isanti (17-12) with 17 points.

Check back later for more on the game.

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