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Hopkins wins Class 4A championship at Boys' State Basketball Tournament

March 23, 2019 11:35 PM

Hopkins completed the trifecta of boys’ basketball champions that mirrored the feat of their girls’ basketball team counterparts following a 55-40 over Lakeville North in the big-school championship game.

Junior guard Kerwin Walton led a balanced attack with 17 points and senior forward Zeke Nnaji added 14 points to go with 12 rebounds in powering the Royals (27-4) to their first title since 2016 and eighth Class AAAA championship since 2002. Hopkins also was the state champion in 1952 and 1953 during the single-class format. 

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The final game of the tournament featured cold shooting by each school and long stretches of scoreless play. 
After Lakeville North (27-5) scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 26-24 lead following an alley-oop dunk by senior guard Tyler Wahl, the Panthers went on a scoreless drought that lasted nearly eight minutes. The Royals’ scoreless stretch during that span didn’t last quite as long; theirs was just four minutes long. When Hopkins did find an offensive rhythm, it went on a 14-2 run to build a 40-28 advantage with about six minutes left in regulation. 

Lakeville North shot 28.3 percent from the field (28.3 percent) and Hopkins was just slightly better at 31.1 percent (14 of 45). 

Senior forward Dane Zimmer had seven points for Hopkins and was a major force on the defensive end of the floor with 15 of his game-high 21 rebounds. He also had two blocks and three steals. 

The 40-point output by Lakeville North ties a mark for the lowest point total scored by a second-place finisher. That was by Bloomington Jefferson in a 54-50 loss to Hopkins in the Class AAAA championship game in 2002. Wahl, a University of Wisconsin recruit, finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds for Lakeville North, which began the state tournament as the No. 5 seed. The Panthers were attempting to win their second Class AAAA championship since 2014. They have also finished runner-up on two other occasions; in a loss to Osseo in 2012 and to Hopkins in 2016. 

The victory by Hopkins was the second over Lakeville North during the 2018-19 season. In the third game of the season, Hopkins recorded a 78-72 win. 

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