Skippers finish with a flurry

Defending state champs top Edina

Two teams with strong wills to win met in the Section 6 girls basketball title game March 9 at Hopkins Lindbergh Center, and in the end defending state champ Minnetonka won its way back to the Big Dance, 45-40.

The Skippers (16-12) scored the final 10 points of the game to wrestle the win away from Edina, which led 40-35 with four minutes remaining.

During a timeout at that point, Skipper head coach Leah Dasovich told her team, “There are momentum shifts in a game like this … let’s get some defensive stops.”

The Skippers not only got those stops, they surged on offense, as well.

A three-point basket by junior co-captain Megan Walker pulled Minnetonka even at 40-40. Then 6-2 junior center Zoe Hardwick put the Skippers ahead to stay with an offensive rebound basket.

Junior forward Kayla Mershon stole the ball on the next possession and drew a foul. After draining both of her free throws for a 44-40 lead, she rebounded on a following possession, and after drawing a foul made one last free throw to ice it.

Minnetonka guard Megan Walker slips between Edina defenders Bailey Helgren and Annika Jank (25) to score in the Skippers’ 45-40 victory March 9 at Hopkins Lindbergh Center. Minnetonka advances to the State Class 4A Girls Basketball Tournament with a 16-12 season record. (Sun Sailor staff photo by John Sherman)
Minnetonka guard Megan Walker slips between Edina defenders Bailey Helgren and Annika Jank (25) to score in the Skippers’ 45-40 victory March 9 at Hopkins Lindbergh Center. Minnetonka advances to the State Class 4A Girls Basketball Tournament with a 16-12 season record. (Sun Sailor staff photo by John Sherman)

“When we were down by five, we all thought, ‘We’re not losing,’” said Walker after the game.

“Our defense sparked our offense,” said Minnetonka junior point guard Katey Brattland. “This was fun. At state, we’ll do the best we can.”

Coach Dasovich noted that Walker’s unselfish play in the second half was one of the keys to beating Edina.

“She was really good about creating opportunities for her teammates,” said Dasovich.

Going into the game, the Skippers knew they had to play defense on Edina’s 6-3 left-handed forward, Annika Jank. That became problematic when Hardwick and Mershon both picked up their third fouls. Had they not been able to stay in the game, Jank might have tipped the scales in Edina’s favor. As it was, she still poured in the points.

Jank scored the lion’s share of Edina’s points – 27 out of 40. The next highest Hornet scorer, 6-5 senior center Bailey Helgren, only had six. And sophomore guard Macy Nilsen, who had five, was the only other Hornet with more than two points.

“Late in the game, we knew we had to key on Jank,” said Dasovich. And whenever Jank got the ball, all of the Skipper defenders moved into help position immediately to stop her from driving to the basket.

Minnetonka spread the ball around, and Brattland led the attack with 13 points. Walker and Mershon scored nine apiece and Hardwick chipped in with seven points.

Hopkins Wins
The Hopkins High girls basketball team rallied from a 41-29 halftime deficit to beat Wayzata 81-74 for the Section 2 title in Class 4A March 9 at Minneapolis Roosevelt High School.

A big 52-point second half helped the Royals remain undefeated for the season at 29-0.

Ninth-grade guard Paige Bueckers led the Hopkins attack with 27 points and junior guard Raena Suggs added 22. Angie Hammond and Dlayla Chakolis each scored 14 for the winners. Senior guard Sydney Franks scored 22 points for Wayzata and sophomore forward Kallie Theisen sank 20. Senior center Camryn Hay also had a good night for the Trojans with 16 points, as Wayzata finished the season 22-7.

Contact John Sherman at [email protected]