MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – High school basketball fans witnessed March Madness at Target Center Thursday night as a pair of state tournament semifinal games ended with buzzer-beating shots that went in.
Hopkins and Lakeville North will meet for the Class 4A state championship Saturday night, but both teams needed shots to go in as time expired to get there.
The Royals’ victory was the biggest story of the night, and it wasn’t just about the game-winning shot as some controversy came with it. With the game tied 41-41 with three minutes to go, Hopkins held the ball for the final three minutes to get the last shot. It didn’t fall and the game went to overtime.
The stalling tactic held through four overtimes as the Royals held the ball for 11 minutes of game time during the end of regulation and the overtimes to get the last shot in each extra session. In one of the overtimes, they held the ball for nearly four minutes without getting a shot off.
It was essentially a stare down as Shakopee wouldn’t come out of its zone defense, and Hopkins was in no rush to force the issue without a defender on the ball. That meant the clock just kept ticking.
“Actually coach didn’t want us to hold the ball, that was a player choice,” said guard Kamali Chambers, who was holding the ball throughout regulation and the overtimes. “That’s how the game was going, so we just held the ball because at the end of the second half they kind of sagged back and it was a tie game. We just kind of held it and that’s how the game went after that.”
“Even if it’s four minutes, if you have the ball and you’re guaranteed the last shot no matter what, you’re going to hold it for four minutes,” said Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. “Because we didn’t have to worry about losing it.”
Finally in the fourth overtime, sophomore Amir Coffey made an amazing shot from about 60 feet as time expired to give Hopkins a 49-46 win over Shakopee. It was initially ruled that the shot was taken after the final buzzer, but an official review showed the shot was good and the Royals won the game.
Coffey’s shot was featured on ESPN’s Top 10 plays Friday morning.
“I didn’t think it was going in but when it did it was an amazing feeling,” said Coffey.
The end of regulation and overtime sequences raises the issue of if Minnesota high school basketball should have a shot clock, which has been under discussion for several years. Both Hopkins and Shakopee coaches said after the game they wished there was a shot clock.
In the final game of the night, Lakeville North needed a 3-pointer from J.P. Macura at the buzzer to lift the Panthers over Cretin-Derham Hall 55-52. Macura, who will play on scholarship at Xavier next year, scored 31 points on the night.