#2 Lakeville North took on #1 Hopkins in the Boys Baksetball Class 4A State Championship. Lakeville North who were making their 3rd straight tournament appearance looked to win the first ever Boys Basketball Championship in the history of Lakeville. The Target Center was rocking by 9 PM when the game started and Lakeville North had an uncharacteristically large student section.
Hopkins opened the scoring but Panther Star and Xavier commit JP Macura cut the lead in half with his first free throw. Bronson Bruneau picked up his first foul early in the game and Hopkins pushed the lead 4-1. Stewart hit his first of many clutch 3 point shots and gave the Panthers their first lead at 6-4. Drew hit his second clutch 3 with 11:48 left in the first half to push the North lead to 13-11. Hopkins them had a large run that was finally stopped by Macura on a smart backdoor cut. Bruneau kept doing what he does best; drawing charges and North was able to cut the lead to 27-22 after a JP 3. JP then tied the game after a 5 point scoring spree. He started with a behind the back dribble drive layup and then hit a 3 on the next possession. Bronson did a good job of staying out of foul trouble in the first half only picking up his second with 2:05 left in the half. Alex Reiland hit one of his big 2 three's for North at the end of the half. The crowd booed when Kamali Chambers held for the last shot with 42 seconds left. It was reminiscent of Hopkins previous game where they held it for minutes at a time especially in Overtime. Hopkins putback of a rebound at the buzzer gave them a 41-36 lead at halftime.
The Starting five came out to start the second half for both teams. JP Macura fittingly started the half by tracking down his own rebound for the score. He was unstoppable the whole game en route to 43 points. Macura said down the stretch he just told himself “just stay calm and shoot as good of shots as you can.” JP continued his dominant ways with a 3 to cut the lead to 46-43 just into the second half. Bronson Bruneau cut the lead to two points after the media timeout. Macura sent the crowd into a frenzy when he threw down an astonishing dunk slashing through the lane and finishing with authority and tieing the game. North was brimming with confidence and it led to them taking bad shots on the next possessions. Hopkins extended their lead to 57-50 with 9:50 to go and it looked like the overconfidence of North would hurt them dearly. It seemed like this was the point Macura really left his biggest mark on the game. First he hit a 3 to cut the Royal lead to 4. Just 30 seconds later he drove the lane and got fouled and converted the free throws. The game really opened up after this and the North offense started fireing on all cylinders. JP, Stewart, Reiland and Pesola all hit clutch three’s that kept North in the game. The problem was the Panther defense. For every point North scored Hopkins answered right back maintaining a narrow 5 point lead with 5:37 to go. The crowd roared to life during a timeout as the Lakeville North Pep Band played the Iconic drum cheer “bikes.” The JP showed rolled on and he cut the Hopkins lead to 4 after another electrifying slam! It seemed like Hopkins was pulling away under 3 minutes when they increased their lead to 6. With the atmosphere palpable in the Target Center Cal Pesola hit a clutch 3, his only basket of the game to bring North within 3 with 1:31 remaining. North fouled Hopkins on the following possession and they made both free throws. Again JP Macura came up with a clutch shot sinking another 3 to cut the Hopkin’s lead to 80-78. The Panthers once again fouled Hopkins with under a minute to go to extend the game and give themselves a chance. It truly seemed like Hopkins was going to walk away with the game until the pinnacle and one of the most bizarre plays in basketball happened. Drew Stewart recieved the pass on the elbow just outside the 3 point line and went up for the shot. Not only did the shot go in but he was fouled in the act of shooting, giving him the chance to shoot the free throw, a four point play and the tie! The four point play is rare because it involves not only making a 3 point shot but also getting fouled. Stewart stepped to the line to shoot the biggest free throw of his young career. What happened next was even more special. Stewart’s shot clanged off the rim and was tipped high into the air. Connor Flack of North perhaps became the hero of the game when he coraled the offensive rebound and finished the layup giving North the Lead! Flack said, "I was doing anything I could to get that ball." The highly improbable comeback was completed and North took the lead 82-81! The final play of the game had Drew Stewart at the free throw line shooting 2, North leading 83-82 7.5 seconds left in the game. Stewart made the first. Then his second rolled in and out giving Hopkins one last chance to win the game. You could feel the intensity North had on defense. Hopkins attempted a 3 point shot but it was beautifully defended by Stewart who was able to watch the ball sail well wide of the hoop. As the ball flew out of bounds the horn sounded giving Lakeville North their first ever State Title in Boy’s Basketball!
The Panthers won the Class 4A title the first in Lakeville history. Senior Alex Reiland said post game “I have a lot of confidence in this team, we’ve got a great player like JP and we played our butts off the whole time.”
Lakeville North Panthers 84 vs Hopkins Royals 82
Lakeville North Wins the State Championship!