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Waconia Takes 7th at Sweet 16

August 3, 2014
Waconia Girls Basketball MN

     The Waconia Wildcats were honored to be invited to compete against the state’s best teams in the annual “Sweet 16 Tournament”. Our Cats would go 2 and 2 in their matchups with the state’s elite and claim 7th place in the 16 team field.

     In the opening game Waconia rolled over class AA Chatfield 78-42. The “Lady Gophers” were 25-1 last season and graduated only one player so they are expected to be an elite team in AA. The Cats raced out to a 25-12 lead after 9 minutes of play behind some hot shooting, however the second 9 minute segment would not be as kind to the Cats. They could no longer find the range and at halftime their lead was only 33-25.

     The hot shooting and solid defense resumed after the intermission as Waconia would continue to add to their lead throughout the second half on their way to the lopsided victory. Anna Schmitt led the team in defensive points with 12. Halli Koppi and Emily Anderson both contributed 9. A surprising stat given the teams high scoring was the number of turnovers the Cats committed. They had 18 for the first half and 22 for the game. That is a number that will have to come down for the team to experience consistent success.

     As usual, the Cats shot better from beyond the arc than they did in the paint, shooting 30.3% on 2’s and 34.1% from the three point line. The team was just 13 for 21 on free throws (61.9%).

     It was poor free throw shooting that ultimately cost the Cats their second round game against AAAA White Bear Lake. The Bears were 25-4 last season and return their entire core of key players. While the Cats trailed most of the contest, and fell behind by as many as 18 at one point in the second half, Waconia would rally to make it a 3 point game with 15 seconds to play. The Cats had a clean look at a three to tie it, but it wouldn’t go down and after a foul and a free throw the final score was White Bear Lake 75-Waconia 71.

     As mentioned a moment ago, the free throw line cost the Cats dearly. The team was 16 for 32 from the charity stripe, leaving several points off the scoreboard that should have come easy. It is worth pointing out that the Cats didn’t shoot that well from the field either as they were just 11 for 34 on 2’s (32.3%) and 11 for 42 on 3’s (26.1%). So given those numbers, there was reason to be encouraged. Losing to a strong AAAA team by 4 when you didn’t perform well in any key category demonstrates that the Cats will have a chance to beat almost anyone they play.

     Emily Anderson, Kendall Eder, and Anna Schmitt anchored the Wildcat defense with 9 points a piece. Madelin Dammann added 8 defensive points.

     The first game on Sunday was a matchup with a familiar foe. Orono won their first round game and fell to Hopkins, setting up a showdown with the Cats. The Spartans controlled the first half with hot shooting and strong defense and they would lead Waconia 43-23 at the half. As they had done the day before, the Cats clawed back in the second half holding Orono to just 7 points in the third quarter and limiting the Spartans to only 5 made shots in the final 18 minutes of action. However, the Cats offense never really got on track and while they would close to within 6 points in the final minutes, that was as close as Waconia would get. Orono 63 Waconia 53 was the final score.

     So in their fourth and final game the Cats were competing for 7th place in the 16 team tournament and they faced perennial class A power Maranatha Christian. Waconia would build a 35-26 halftime lead, largely behind their strong free throw shooting. While they struggled from the floor, the Cats were a scorching 14 for 16 at the free throw line in the opening 18 minutes.
     The Wildcats would continue to lead the remainder of the game as they earned a 75-64 win.

     The win closed out a strong finish to the summer for Waconia. Now the team gets a well deserved break. Most of the players will head to the soccer field, the volleyball court, or the cross country courses where we wish them wonderful fall seasons. Thank you to all of our Wildcat players and parents for a productive and positive summer!

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