No. 2 ranked Hopkins (Class AAAA) came to St. Francis for a match-up among two of the top programs in the state Jan. 11.
The Royals showed why they trail only the Tyus Jones-led Apple Valley Eagles in the standings after a 98-78 non-conference win in St. Francis.
Hopkins capitalized on five first-half mental errors, turnovers and poor shooting for a 15-point lead by halftime and that proved to be the difference in an energized St. Francis gym on a cold January evening.
“Playing a quality team we need to get rid of those [mistakes],” Saints coach Ryan Hauge said. “We feel good moving forward that we learned some things and can improve upon that loss.
“I saw that we are closer to the top level of basketball in Minnesota but have a ways to go.”
Hopkins standout and The Citadel recruit Jacob Wright had a game-high 22 points followed by Amir Coffey with 13 points and 12 points each from Kamail Chambers and John Warren.
St. Francis countered with 20 points from Northern State recruit Jake Johnson and 18 points from guard Cody Wald. Austin Carlson and Nate Svihel were each held to nine points.
St. Francis came into the game with a 4-1 record over its last five games.
According to Hauge, Johnson proved that he deserves to be mentioned among the state’s best. “Despite his high accolades, he is still probably an underrated player and athlete,” Hauge said.
Facing a perennial powerhouse in front of the hometown fans was special for the Saints faithful. “We really enjoyed playing against a team we have the utmost respect for,” Hauge said. “They have a different caliber of athlete than we see regularly and our system is based on pressure which didn’t work well against Hopkins. We took valuable experience away and I think it will help us going forward.”
Hopkins handled Andover 87-41 in a holiday tournament win at Augsburg Dec. 28. The Huskies upset the Saints in sections last season.
Saturday’s non-conference game was a good test for St. Francis (10-3) coming off wins at Monticello (83-54, Jan. 9) and Delano (60-58, Dec. 28 in St. Cloud).
Andover was sent to its fifth defeat in six games after No. 4 ranked Champlin Park dispatched the Huskies 84-47 in a Northwest Suburban Conference game Jan. 9.
Jeremy Johnson had a game-high 16 points for the Rebels and Northern State-prospect Ian Smith had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists.
Andover, which was led by Jake McNallan and Connor Wilkie each with 12 points each, fell to 5-8 overall.
Andover traveled to Champlin six days after a season-high points total in a 78-62 win over section foe Cambridge-Isanti. The Huskies broke the game open with a 46-30 second half after entering the break tied at 32. McNallan had a spectacular effort earning a double-double with a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds. Wilkie was one point shy of a double-double with 10 rebounds and nine points. Kyle Kettler, McNallan and Wilkie each had four assists and Derek McLaughlin added 17 points.
The Tornadoes fell to 1-11 after Armstrong marked the end of a tough stretch of three games (Park Center and Champlin Park) with an 86-62 defeat in Robbinsdale Jan. 9.
The Falcons were led by Jerome Dixon’s 29 points and Jacob Grow led Anoka with 15 points.
Two days after Coon Rapids was dismissed by Osseo 94-35, the Cardinals nearly upset Irondale in a 70-67 non-conference home game Jan. 11.
Knights junior guard Nick Nelson exploded for a season-high 28 points after hitting the 10-point mark three times this season.
But Coon Rapids couldn’t erase a 35-29 Knights lead at the half.
The Cardinals were paced by junior guards Timmy Nguyen and Chris Buckley with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Freshman post Sam Carver had 11 points in a new season high. He had 10 points against Osseo.
Legacy opened 2014 with a 67-58 loss to Minnesota Christian Athletic Association Conference opponent Heritage Christian Jan. 9.
The loss dropped the Lions into a tie for sixth place with West Lutheran (1-2), despite a 7-5 overall record, with fourth most overall wins in the conference.
Legacy junior guard Nate Bertsch had a game-high 29 points to raise his scoring average to 22.2, among the metro’s best. He also pulled down eight rebounds, had two assists and three steals.
PACT Charter School fell to 6-5 after an 89-66 loss to No. 7 ranked (Class A) Maranatha, Jan. 9.
The Mustangs jumped to a 51-21 lead by the half, but PACT cut the lead by seven points in the second half of the MCAA Conference loss.
Maranatha used 24 points from Jeremiah Hanson and 21 points from Josh Goldschmidt, while the Panthers countered with 21 points from Drew Johnson, 19 points from Daniel Nelson and 11 assists, two steals and eight points from Derek Stone. Danny Mooers had six points, four assists and three steals.
Spring Lake Park
The Panthers opened 2014 with a 65-53 loss at Benilde-St. Margaret’s Jan. 9 and stayed in St. Louis Park to face the Orioles Jan. 14.
Spring Lake Park (6-6) trailed Benilde 36-24 at the break and despite 19 points from TC Robinson and 16 points from Collin Price, the Red Knights were too much, led by Sam Lynch’s 24 points.
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