Originally published on Jan. 21, 2022By Ren Clayton

HOPKINS, Minn. (WCCO) — This is as good as it gets in girls prep basketball. ESPNU was in town to broadcast the game between No. 1 in the country Sidwell Friends and No. 3 Hopkins. For the host Royals, who have blown out every opponent so far this season, it was a chance to see how they measure up.

“I was definitely really nervous. But after the first couple minutes you get used to it and it’s just a normal game,” said Hopkins senior point guard Amaya Battle.

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It was back and forth early. But Sidwell began to build a lead and was up by six at halftime.

“I’m pretty sure they’ve won like a ton a games in a row in Minnesota, so we knew that,” said Sidwell’s senior point guard Kiki Rice, the No. 2 recruit in the country. “But we also knew how prepared me were and all the work we put in.”

The stars got their moments to shine. Rice never came out of the game.

“It’s tiring but the environment and playing on this big stage is really motivating to me and I really enjoy it. So definitely got up more for it,” Rice said.

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Minnesota’s top prospect Maya Nnaji and Battle sparked fireworks, too. But the team from Washington D.C. ended Hopkins’ long winning streak, by a 67-55 final.

“I think we measured up pretty good,” Battle said. “Our coach said we need to battle more and minimize mistakes, and I think that game might have a different outcome, or it’s closer at the end. But I think for our first time in this position we did pretty good.”

Battle is part of the best incoming class in University of Minnesota women’s basketball history. Lindsey Whalen was there to watch.

“There’s talent across the board on both sides of the floor,” Whalen said. “So just to play in the those moments and play in that kind of competition I thought she did great. Her poise. Her control of the moment was really fun to watch.”

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The four-team tournament features teams from around the country and totals 13 ranked players. Hopkins will play in the consolation game Saturday at 4 p.m.

Ren Clayton