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Minnetonka pushes away Hopkins, grabs 4A girls basketball title

Minnetonka's 14-point led dwindled to three late in the second half. Its leading scorer was on the bench with five fouls, and the Skippers' state championship that seemed secure just minutes earlier was in jeopardy.

The Skippers' poise had deserted them, Aaliyah Crump was unavailable and Hopkins was rolling.

But Anna McKinney made a terrific play to squelch an inbounds play by Hopkins with less than 30 seconds left and Cece Nesseth scored five points in the waning seconds on a clutch put-back and three free throws. Minnetonka survived to defeat Hopkins 64-56 in a wild finish to the Class 4A championship game Saturday at Williams Arena.

As has been its MO all tournament, Minnetonka got off to a quick lead, taking a 5-0 advantage.

But this time, the Skippers' opponent kept them in sight. Hopkins responded, tying the game 5-5.

The teams traded baskets for five minutes, with Hopkins manufacturing a 16-14 lead, before Minnetonka embarked on a stretch that would prove crucial.

The Skippers, leaning on their size and transition game, quickly built the lead to seven.

Again. Hopkins rallied, cutting the lead to two, but Minnetonka pushed back. The Skippers withstood the Royals' counterpunches with their up-tempo approach and the talented threesome of Crump, Tori McKinney and Lanelle Wright, reconstructing the lead to 39-30 at halftime.

There was a little controversy in the second half when Crump, who had been dominant offensively, was whistled for a dead-ball technical foul and soon after picked up her fourth foul.

But Hopkins was unable to take advantage as the Minnetonka guards controlled play and helped the Skippers maintain their advantage for most of the second half.

Crump, an All-Metro first-team selection who is ranked by ESPN as the No. 6 junior in the nation, led Minnetonka in scoring with 23 points. Tori McKinney, who has signed with the Gophers, scored 18. Liv McGill, the Metro Player of the Year who is headed to Florida for college, led Hopkins with 18 points.