Girls State Basketball: Hopkins beats STMA 72-56 for 8th state championship
Hopkins left little doubt that it was the best Class AAAA girls basketball team during the entire 2021-22 school year. The Royals, ranked No. 6 nationally, completed a season-long run of dominance with a 72-56 victory over St. Michael-Albertville in the Class AAAA championship game on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
The Royals (26-1) didn’t lose to a Minnesota team in winning a Class AAAA championship for the eighth time in program history. The others were secured in 2004, 2006, 2011, 2013, 1015, 2016 and 2019, respectively. The only setback for Hopkins during the season came at the hands of Sidwell Friends School (Washington D.C.), the No. 1-ranked girls team in the country, during a nationally-televised game on Jan. 21.
In defeating St. Michael-Albertville for the third time this season, Hopkins took a moment to get started, but when it did, the Royals didn’t let up. Sophomore guard Liv McGill scored 16 of her 25 points in the first half when the Royals built a 34-18 lead. St. Michael-Albertville led 7-1 in the early minutes, but Hopkins responded with an 11-0 run and never trailed. Later, McGill pushed the lead to 28-15 with 5:16 left in the first half on a fastbreak layup. That advantage grew to 14 points with 1:46 left in the first half after senior guard Amaya Battle feasted on a turnover and turned it into an easy layup.
Hopkins ended a first half of dominance with a baseline drive from McGill that sent the Royals to a 34-18 lead. She had 16 points to power the Royals. McGill was 7 of 7 from the field and made both of her free throws to accentuate a first half where Hopkins did little wrong. A Royals’ pressure defense coaxed St. Michael-Albertville into 11 turnovers in the first half which equated to 17 points.
Freshman guard Tatum Woodson had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Royals and senior forward Maya Nnaji added nine points to go with 13 rebounds of her own. Junior guard Nunu Agara had 11 points.
In the second half, Hopkins led by as many as 24 points.
During the Lake Conference season, the Royals defeated the Knights (24-8) 84-71 on Jan. 28 and then 73-33 on Feb. 23. St. Michael-Albertville was attempting to win its third state title and first in the big-school class. The Knights won the Class A championship in 2001 and the Class AAA crown in 2009;
Junior guard Tessa Johnson scored 18 points for St. Michael-Albertville and senior guard Emma Miller added 15.