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Waconia Opens Summer Season at Wisconsin Dells

June 11, 2014
Waconia Girls Basketball MN

     The summer season started in fun fashion with a trip to Wisconsin Dells for basketball and team bonding. Both endeavors proved successful as the JV team made it to their bracket's championship and the varsity went 4 and 2 losing only to the eventual 1st and 2nd place teams.

     The first three games were won by the varsity Cats in impressive fashion. The closest contest was decided by 24 points. In the first game against Reedsberg, WI the Cats cruised to a 62-35 win. They committed only 3 turnovers and shot 9 for 21 from the three point line.

     A new stat you'll notice this summer is "defensive leader". That is a stat we are tracking this summer that is the combined total of rebounds plus steals. In the first game Emily Anderson led the team with a number of 9. Abbey Gregor and Madi Schuler both got 7 defensive leader points.

     In game two the Cats faced New Richmond, WI. A school of about 900 students, the Tigers were an impressive 21 and 3 last season and while they held a narrow one point lead at halftime, the Wildcat defense dominated the first 8 minutes of the second half, allowing New Richmond only 1 shot attempt. The Cats swarmed to get steal after steal and they pulled away for a 54-29 win. Waconia was only 4 for 22 on 3's but they had only 5 turnovers. Anderson again was the defensive leader with 8 points. Anna Schmitt had 7 defensive points.

     Tuesday brought two more games for the varsity, the first being against Erie, Illinois. The game was never in doubt as Waconia raced to a large halftime lead and a 64-27 win. Again, the Cats were very prudent with their passing as they committed only 3 turnovers as a team. Madelin Dammann was the defensive leader with 7 points.

     The 4th featured a battle of the unbeatens as Cedar Falls, IA and the Wildcats were vying for the top seed in Wednesday's "Gold Bracket". The loser would get the 2nd seed. Waconia's run of taking care of the ball came to an end as the Cats committed 15 turnovers. That fact, combined with 5 for 22 shooting on 3's meant Waconia was never able to get over the proverbial hump. Despite clamping down on defense again in the opening minutes of the second half (holding Cedar Falls scoreless for 5 straight minutes) the Cats couldn't convert on the offensive end to cut into the Tigers 10 point lead. Four players each had 5 defensive points in the loss.

     On Wednesday Waconia would take on the #1 seed from the Blue Pool, Marquette Academy of Illinois. Marquette was extremely physical but the Cats more than held their own. Waconia even won the battle on the boards despite the copious amount of pushing and shoving that went on under the basket. Another thing the Cats had to overcome was a horrendous shooting performance. Waconia was just 4 for 31 on 3's and shot a paltry 26% from the floor. But in a very encouraging sign, the Cats defense carried them to a 42-32 victory. Last season when shots wouldn't fall, the Cats could not win. It was great to see the defense rise up and win a game. Anna Schmitt was the defensive leader with 10 points. Kendall Eder added 7.

     The win set up a semi-final matchup against Minnesota class A power Mt. Iron-Buhl. The Rangers jumped out to a rapid 9-0 lead just two minutes into the game but Waconia would rally to knot the score at 27 at halftime. The teams traded leads for about 12 minutes of the 2nd half but Mt. Iron-Buhl was able to make a 4 point lead with 2:20 to play into a 61-51 victory. A big key to the contest was the absence of all state guard Anna Schmitt. Schmitt got in early foul trouble and fouled out with 16:34 left to play. Waconia was able to keep the game competitive because the rest of the team elevated their play in their primary point guard's absence. The squad shot a blistering 12 for 28 on 3's but 15 Wildcat turnovers proved too much to overcome. Madelin Dammann was the defensive leader with 6 total points.

     Some interesting stats and trends from the three days...

     *When the Cats committed fewer than 10 turnovers they were 4 and 0. In their two losses they gave the ball away 15 times.

     *As a team Waconia shot 29.3% from the 3pt line (44 for 150) a solid improvement over last season.

     *Opponents got considerably fewer layups or offensive rebounds. Both good signs that the Cats will have a more formidable defense as the summer unfolds.

     The JV Cats claimed second place after going 3 and 3 in their portion of the tourney. They enjoyed a 43-24 win over Hayward, WI and a 31-19 victory over the Lady Chargers. They also won their JV Semi-Final game over Osseo-Fairchild in what was a very well played and competitive game by both teams. The Cats championship game was eerily similar to the varsity's tilt with Mt. Iron-Buhl. The JV found itself down 10 to nothing in the opening moments of the game and they were never able to dig their way back out. In an odd twist, no JV Cat collected more than 5 defensive points in any game.

     Waconia will begin their summer improvement program next Tuesday morning at 7am. This will allow them to work on some of the things they learned about themselves at the Dells tourney. Next game action for both Varsity and JV teams will be Sunday June 29th at STMA high school. 

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