MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - J.P. Macura went out a winner with Lakeville North.
Macura scored 43 points and Connor Flack's bank shot in the lane gave the Panthers the lead for good with 18 seconds left in an 84-82 victory over Hopkins in the Class 4A boys state championship game Saturday night, the program's first title.
"I wanted to leave everything out on the floor," said Macura, who will play at Xavier University next season.
Kamali Chambers scored 24 points for the Royals (30-2), who were either tied or ahead for more than a 20-minute span from late in the first half until the closing seconds. They had the deeper team. They had six of the past 12 championships among the state's biggest schools. But the Panthers (27-5) wouldn't wilt, starting with their lanky 6-foot-5 leader. Macura went 15 for 30 from the floor, including 5 for 13 from 3-point range, and grabbed 10 rebounds. The Minnesota senior class in this sport was headlined by Tyus Jones (bound for Duke), Reid Travis (Stanford) and Rashad Vaughn (Iowa State), but Macura proved he belongs in the same group.
"I really don't think he got a fair shake," Flack said. "Xavier's really getting something next year."
Jacob Wright made a pair of free throws with 50 seconds left to give Hopkins an 80-75 lead, but Macura swished a fadeaway 3-pointer from NBA range at the top of the key to bring Lakeville North back within two. Wright followed by sinking two more foul shots, but on the other end Macura pivoted out of a double team on the wing to find Drew Stewart in the corner.
Stewart swished the 3-pointer and was fouled by Treyvon Edwards with 22 seconds remaining. He missed the free throw, but in the battle for the ball Flack came down with it and flicked in the go-ahead basket. Hopkins misfired with the chance to take the lead back, and Stewart went back to the line. He made one of two foul shots.
Wright, who finished with 15 points, had a chance to win it but his 3-pointer sailed over the rim. The Royals hung their heads and tugged on their jerseys, a strange sight for the state's most powerful program of this generation. The Panthers sprinted to the corner of the arena and celebrated wildly with their friends in the student section, an exhilarating ending to a truly epic title game.
Lakeville North lost the championship on a buzzer-beater here at Target Center two years ago to Osseo. The football team also lost in the 2012 title game to Eden Prairie. Finally, then, the Panthers broke through.
The only loss for Hopkins this season was to Apple Valley, the top-ranked, Jones-led Class 4A team and defending champion that lost to Cretin-Derham Hall in the section championship. Lakeville North beat Cretin-Derham Hall 55-52 in the semifinals here on Thursday, when Hopkins outlasted Shakopee in four overtimes in the other side of bracket.
Amir Coffey's 55-foot heave and swish at the buzzer broke the tie and gave the Royals the dramatic 49-46 victory. That didn't come without criticism, and not for the usual reasons of alleged recruiting as coach Ken Novak and the program have heard for years. Unable to solve Shakopee's zone defense, the Royals simply stopped trying once the overtime began, a stalling technique enabled by Shakopee's refusal to switch to man to man and the absence of a shot clock in Minnesota State High School League level.
After that uncharacteristically low-scoring, poor-shooting performance, the Royals re-established their fast-paced offense and were in control for most of the game, a slight step ahead of the Panthers. But Macura and his buddies were not to be denied.
"We've been so lucky to watch him," coach John Oxton said.