December 4, 2003 at 1:50 p.m.
Chisago Lakes 56
Roch. John Marshall 33
It wasn’t exactly what Ed Wachutka wanted to see when he woke up last Friday. The first state girls basketball rankings of the season compiled by Minnesota Basketball News. Rated number four in Class “3A” was Chisago Lakes. Not necessarily the attention this teams needs at this point in the year.
“We didn’t really talk about it all, I don’t even think the girls saw it to tell you the truth,” laughed Wachutka. “It’s a little over blown. We’re a team with a lot of potential but we’re certainly not at that level right now.”
Last Friday, the Wildcats did their best to back up the ranking in their first game of the season, facing Rochester John Marshall in the first round of the Red Wing Tournament. Based on the first half of play, Wachutka was right on, they’re not at that level, at least not yet.
The game started like you would expect the first game of the season to start, sloppy and slow. Offensively for Chisago Lakes, the ‘Cats managed just eight points in the opening quarter, all coming from senior Kari Schmidt. Meanwhile, John Marshall got scoring from four different players, putting them in front 10-8 after one.
In the second, Schmidt got some help as Abby Bjorkman, Katie Reed, and Diane Reineccius each scored, however, despite the improvement on offense, Chisago trailed 23-21 at the half.
Looking for a spark, Schmidt gave the ‘Cats the life they needed, charging out of the gates in the third on a mission. The senior went back to her scoring ways, dropping in a three to kick start a Chisago run. Minutes later, two more threes, and quickly the Wildcats had the lead.
“We’re working on moving the ball up the court and you could tell late in the second half that wore them down a little bit,” said Wachutka. “We started to get some stops on defense. Along with Kari, Katie Reed added a big three down the stretch. We were able to wear them down. We came out with a lot of energy.”
When the third quarter finished, Chisago Lakes had exploded for 18 points, 15 alone came from Schmidt, giving the ‘Cats a 39-32 lead heading into the fourth. Through three quarters, Schmidt already had 28 points.
“She really dominated inside,” remarked Wachutka. “Just look at her numbers. She was 11-13 from the line, hit four 3-pointers, she just really had a good game. They didn’t know what to do with her. She really sparked us, especially in the third.”
Schmidt and company kept the pressure on down the stretch, on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Caitlin Cunningham and Jessica Peterson were thrown into the mix with three and four points respectively, and of course, there was Schmidt who added seven more in the fourth for a game total of 35.
On defense, the Wildcats performance was even more impressive, holding John Marshall to one point, leading to a 56-33 Chisago win; advancing them to the championship game versus River Falls, Wisconsin.
“We had a lot of players score and contribute,” said Wachutka. “It didn’t really show in the book but Abby had a couple of nice buckets. So did Katie, and Diane had a huge rebound late in the game. Defensively, I was really happy with our effort, especially in the second half.”
Schmidt led all scorers with 35 points while Reed added six. Peterson and Bjorkman each had four. Schmidt also led the rebounding department with 12 boards while Reed dished out three assists.
Chisago Lakes 56,
Roch. John Marshall 33
1 2 3 4 F
John Marshall 10 13 9 1 33
Chisago Lakes 8 13 18 17 56
Schmidt 35, Reed 6, Bjorkman 4, Peterson 4, Cunningham 3, Ferris, Reineccius 2.
Red Wing Tournament- Championship
Red Wing 32
Chisago Lakes 25
After outscoring Rochester John Marshall 35-10 in the second half the night before, the Wildcats were hoping to carry that momentum into their championship match-up with River Falls, Wisconsin last Saturday. Needless to say, it never happened.
Offensively, Chisago Lakes struggled early, late, and everywhere in between, scoring just two points in the first quarter and 25 in the game, falling to the Falcons 32-25. The loss evened the ‘Cats record at 1-1 on the season.
“We weren’t very sharp on offense,” stated Wachutka. “Our shooting was poor, we only shot 17 percent for the game. We hurried shots, took poor shots. We just weren’t disciplined.”
From the opening tip, River Falls was a step ahead. The Falcons hounded Kari Schmidt on defense, holding her to two points in the first quarter (the only two points scored by Chisago Lakes), and nine in the game.
While slow at times, River Falls executed their offense, just enough to sneak by with a win. Leading 6-2 after one, River Falls added 11 more points in the second to take a 17-12 lead at halftime. With more games under their belt, it was obvious that the Falcons were more prepared to play.
“They had an extra week on us, their season started earlier than ours did,” said Wachutka. “Plus, they had a good team. They were very poised and knew what they wanted to do at all times.”
Things slowed down to a snail’s pace in the second half for both teams, good news for River Falls who was denying Chisago Lakes the inside every chance they got. The strategy worked as the ‘Cats were only able to muster seven points in the third quarter, two coming from a post player (Sarah Ploog).
“We were having problems entering the ball, they were doing a good job on Kari and everyone else, covering up the post,” remarked Wachutka. “Then, when we did get the shots we wanted, they just didn’t fall.”
Trailing by six going into the fourth quarter, the Wildcats were able to trim the deficit to three at one point but never closer, falling by seven, 32-25. For the game, the ‘Cats only made seven field goals and one 3-pointer, Schmidt led the team in scoring with nine points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t a good game for her (Schmidt) and some other girls. It was a painful loss to watch,” commented Wachutka. “I think if we would’ve played well, we would have beaten them. Our defense was excellent but offensively, we didn’t get it done. I think we’re behind schedule a little bit, I’m a little disappointed with the way we are playing. We have a lot of players back, I think the girls are playing anxious because they want to play and they want to win. We just need to learn how to relax and have some girls settle into their roles.”
Already behind schedule, this week the ‘Cats will be working overtime to close the gap. After all, they need to with section power Mahtomedi next on the schedule. The Zephyrs come to town on Friday night.
“We went through eight practices prior to the two games and it shows,” remarked Wachutka. “Now, we have four more practices to get some things done which is good. We plan on using them.”
Friday night’s game versus Mahtomedi will also be the Wildcats last non-conference game before starting Rum River conference play. The conference opener takes place next Tuesday versus Big Lake.
River Falls (WI) 32
Chisago Lakes 25
1 2 3 4 F
River Falls (WI) 6 11 8 9 32
Chisago Lakes 2 10 7 6 25
Schmidt 9, Wachutka 4, Sprecher 4, Reed 2, Skoog 2, Ploog 2, Peterson 2.