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Girls basketball reaches the peak: Among the best, who's better?

7:18 p.m.

Cosgriff says he enjoyed Hopkins and now enjoys Minnetonka

Minnetonka coach Brian Cosgriff was asked after Thursday's 67-49 semifinals victory over St. Michael-Albertville how he felt about coaching against his former team in the state championship game.

"Well, I've never coached anybody on that team," said Cosgriff, who coached Hopkins to 14 tournament appearances between 2002 and 2020. "I do know some of them from when they were in the traveling association, but I've been gone for four years now."

He added that he cherishes his time at Hopkins and is an admirer of Hopkins coach Tara Starks.

"I have fond memories of the teams that I did coach at Hopkins. And I have the utmost respect for Coach Starks. She does a great job as the coach. I just feel I've found a new home and I love my team this year. I love these girls with everything I have. It's a different era now.

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6:09 p.m.

Albany hits that same barrier again

Albany was the last team to beat Providence Academy in the finals, 57-43 in 2021. The Huskies fell to the Lions 74-60 in the championship last season and 55-48 in the semifinals in 2022.

Until the last nine seconds Saturday, it appeared Albany might knock off Providence Academy again. The Huskies had led the entire way, but the Lions did what they've done to Albany and won.

"If it wasn't for us, they would be a four-time [consecutive] state champion," Providence Academy coach Conner Goetz said. "It was nerve-racking. This is something I've never been a part of, that comeback, that late. That was special. A storybook ending."

. . .

11:30 a.m.

The day dawns with a loaded schedule

The Super Saturday Showdown Spectacular is on for basketball fans across the state.

The top two teams in all four classes will try to become state champions. The girls basketball state tournament finals will get under way at noon at Williams Arena.

Three defending state champions — Benilde-St. Margaret's (26-5) in Class 3A, Providence Academy (27-4) in Class 2A and Mountain Iron-Buhl (29-3) in Class 1A — have their sights set on successful title defenses. Providence Academy is the reigning two-time champion.

In Class 4A, Lake Conference rivals Hopkins (27-3) and Minnetonka (28-2) will meet for a third and deciding time. They split their two conference matchups during the regular season, now meaningless with a state title and bragging rights on the line, not to mention the rightful claim to being No. 1. Minnetonka was rated No. 1 in the final regular-season poll by Minnesota Basketball News, followed by Hopkins. They were seeded in the opposite order for the state tournament.

The same holds true in Class 3A. Benilde-St. Margaret's was ranked behind DeLaSalle (27-3) in the final poll yet was seeded ahead of the Islanders. Each team feels dissed and ready to make a statement. DeLaSalle won the regular-season matchup 78-65 in December, when the Red Knights were without injured Michigan recruit Olivia Olson. More fuel: These private powers have been rivals for a long time.

Providence Academy will play Albany (30-1) in a rematch of last season's championship game, won by the Lions 74-60. They met again in mid-December, and Albany won 72-70. Albany finished the season ranked third and seeded second. The Huskies were ranked behind Minnehaha Academy, the team they beat 60-52 in the semifinals.

In Class 1A, second seed Mountain Iron-Buhl doesn't approve of being seen as an underdog. Goodhue (27-5) is ranked No. 1 and seeded there as well, based on its 67-62 victory over the Rangers in late December. Jordan Zubich, signed with North Carolina, is set on leading Mountain Iron-Buhl to a repeat title.

A lot is on the line for all eight programs. It should make for a fun and intense 10 hours.

The bands will be ready. Cue up Queen's "We Are the Champions."