Taylor Woodson

Hopkins High's All-Lake forward Taylor Woodson defends against Cambride-Isanti in the State Class AAAA Tournament. (Sun Photo by John Sherman)

Hopkins head coach Brian Cosgriff made a case that all five of his starters should make the All-Lake Conference girls basketball team for 2019-20, and it was hard to argue with that.

The Royals won the Lake Conference title with a 12-0 record and finished the season 31-0 overall. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Royals were not able to play the state championship game against Farmington, a team they had beaten 77-52 on Dec. 6, 2019.

The Hopkins players selected All-Lake are two seniors, two sophomores and a ninth-grader. One of the seniors, of course, is McDonalds All-American Paige Bueckers, who was recently selected National Gatorade Player of the Year. The other is guard K.K. Adams. The Hopkins sophomores on the All-Lake team are 6-4 center Maya Nnaji and guard Amaya Battle. Making All-Lake for the first time is ninth-grade forward Taylor Woodson. Three other Hopkins players - sophomore guard Alayna Contreras and ninth-grade guards Nu Nu Agara and Kelly Boyle were named All-Lake honorable mention.

Coach Cosgriff talked of his five starters as “a great group of players.”

Bueckers led the team in scoring with an average of 21.3 points per game and also was far and away the assist leader.

“Paige has had a great career here,” Cosgriff said. “She was the MVP of USA Basketball last year.”

Bueckers has won every major award a high school basketball player can win, and she is also the Hopkins Athena Award winner as the school’s most outstanding female athlete.

Adams, whose specialty is knocking down three-point shots, made the starting lineup as a junior and continued alongside Bueckers in the back court this season.

“K.K. is a great shooter, who made a lot of big three-pointers this season,” Cosgriff said.

Nnaji averaged 20 points per game in her second season as a varsity starter. Her brother Zeke is a star freshman forward for the University of Arizona men’s team.

“Maya had a really good year, but her best basketball is still ahead of her,” Cosgriff said. “She showed her versatility in the State Tournament.”

Battle missed half of the season with a back injury, but returned to play well in the Section 6AAAA and State Tournaments. Her role as a floor leader will expand with Bueckers graduating.

“Amaya’s injury had an effect on what she could do this year,” Cosgriff said. “She played really good defense in the State Tournament. Amaya has a ton of potential and is working oh her jump shot and her passing.”

Woodson became a full-time starter in her second varsity season and put up numerous double-doubles. One of her best games was a 21-point scoring night in the Royals’ 66-40 state semifinal victory over Stillwater.

“Taylor is one of our best defensive players,” Cosgriff said. “Sometimes, you forget she’s only a ninth-grader. The keys for her going into next season are working on her outside shooting a decision making.”

Despite losing Bueckers and Adams to graduation, the Royals return five players with at least some starting experience. Both Agara and Contreras had chances to start when Battle was sidelined with her injury.

The Royals will enter the 2020-21 opener with a 62-game winning streak.

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