MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- When his Minneapolis North squad defeated Hopkins 75-66 in January, Polars coach Brett McNeal remembers Royals coach Ken Novak telling him, "Wait until next time."
McNeal waited, and was only too happy to watch his team again defeat top-ranked Hopkins, this time in the Class 4A semifinals Thursday at the Target Center.
"I told Novak, 'Next time is over. Now go home,"' McNeal said after second-ranked North's 70-57 victory.
In a game many predicted would be the best of the state tournament, North (27-3) took the lead early and never gave it back in dethroning Hopkins (25-5), which won the state title last season.
"I just don't think we played well," said Novak, who declined to comment about his exchanges with McNeal. "Once we started missing shots and pressing a little, and taking more chances, it took us out of what we wanted to do."
The Polars did what they wanted to right away thanks to guard Kammron Taylor, one of five players from the Hopkins-North game who will play at a Division I college next season.
Taylor, who is headed to Wisconsin, scored 11 of his 26 points in the first quarter as North built a 13-7 lead.
"(Novak's comments) just pumped us up," said Taylor, who delivered a verbal jab of his own to Novak near the end of the game.
With the outcome all but decided late in the fourth quarter, Taylor walked past the Hopkins bench during a break and said something to Novak, who responded by shouting, "Shut your mouth! Shut your mouth!" at Taylor.
Both Taylor and Novak declined to comment about the encounter.
Hopkins was led by forward Kris Humphries, who will attend Duke next season. Humphries, who struggled from the field and the foul line in the first half, ended with 25 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out with just under a minute left.
"We knew we had to try and keep the ball out of Humphries' hands," said North's Kevin Henderson, who scored 24 points. "We felt that if we could do that, especially down the stretch, we would be okay."
Things turned out more than OK for McNeal, who was still pumped up outside his team's locker room several minutes after the game.
"We're the number-one team in the state now," he said. "Rank that."
The Polars can lay claim to their rank as the state's best Class 4A team by beating Osseo, which advanced to the championship with a 48-46 victory over Tartan.
The Orioles (23-6) came out flying in their semifinal against the Titans (23-6), grabbing a 20-8 lead after one quarter and leading 29-16 at the half.
"That's our trademark," Osseo coach Tim Theisen said of his team's quick start. "We forced them into an up-and-down style. But then we started making mistakes and got tense in the fourth quarter."
It started earlier than that, actually, when Tartan -- led by Eric Coleman and Urule Igbavboa, who had 14 points apiece -- outscored Osseo 13-8 in the third quarter, making it a 37-29 game.
In Class 3A, Minneapolis Henry (25-6) continued its state tournament dominance, defeating Red Wing 59-54 to advance to its fourth straight final.
Henry will face Sauk Rapids-Rice, which slipped past unranked Como Park, 48-45, to advance.
2003 Minnesota Boys State Basketball Tournament
At Target Center, Minneapolis
Mankato Loyola (30-0) vs. Hancock (17-6), 1 p.m.
Ellsworth (24-1) vs. Red Lake (23-8), 3 p.m.
Semifinal winners, noon
Zumbrota-Mazeppa (27-3) vs. Litchfield (28-2) , 7 p.m.
DeLaSalle (22-8) vs. Esko (29-2), 9 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 2 p.m.
Minneapolis Patrick Henry 59, Red Wing 54
Sauk Rapids-Rice 48, St. Paul Como Park 45
Minneapolis Patrick Henry (25-6) vs. Sauk Rapids-Rice (26-3), 6:30 p.m.
Minneapolis North 70, Hopkins 57
Osseo 48, Tartan 46
Minneapolis North (27-3) vs. Osseo (23-6), 8:30 p.m.
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