December 31, 2003 at 1:33 p.m.
Chisago Lakes 58
The Chisago Lakes girls basketball team wanted to send a message early, and they did.
Playing in the first round of the Chisago Lakes Invite, the Wildcats hammered Robbinsdale Cooper in the first quarter for 17 points, 13 of which came from Kari Schmidt. Meanwhile, Cooper was only able to manage seven, putting the ‘Cats in control, a position they never relinquished.
“We started off very well, that was refreshing because that hasn’t always been the case this season,” remarked Ed Wachutka, Chisago Lakes girls basketball head coach. “We brought a lot of intensity. We knew Cooper had a good guard in Kelsy Conrad. She was their leading scorer and was a very good three-point shooter. She only had six points in the game so the girls did a nice job finding her on the floor and shutting her down.”
While Cooper’s leading scorer was held under wraps, the ‘Cats go-to player was on top of her game. After scoring 13 in the first quarter, Schmidt added five more in the second while Abby Bjorkman struck for four, putting the Wildcats in front 29-21 at the half.
Schmidt and company kept the pressure on in the second half. While Cooper started to climb back into the game with their balance, the Wildcats widened the gap with theirs, increasing their lead to 10 after three. With 18 points in the first half, Schmidt struck for eight more in the third. Vanessa Sprecher also added to the attack with five while Katie Reed and Genna Wachutka also scored.
Despite 17 points in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats never let Cooper close, finishing the game with a flurry that saw five different players score in the final quarter, leading to a 58-50 win.
“Yah, I was very happy with our balance,” commented Wachutka. “Abby (Bjorkman) played a very aggressive game, she played very well. Katie (Reed) did a nice job finding some shots. It was a good team effort.”
Schmidt led all scorers with 28 points while Bjorkman finished with nine and Reed had eight. In all, seven Wildcats reached the scoresheet in the win.
The victory advanced the Wildcats to the championship game against Centennial.
Chisago Lakes 58
1 2 3 4 F
Cooper 7 14 12 17 50
Chisago Lakes 17 12 14 15 58
Schmidt 28, Bjorkman 9, Reed 8, Sprecher 5, Ploog 4, Ferris 2, Wachutka 2.
Chisago Lakes 32
Make no mistake about it, Wachutka knew what his team was getting into.
Last Saturday, in the championship game of the Chisago Lakes Invite, the Wildcats faced off with Centennial, arguably the toughest team on the ‘Cats schedule this season. Believe it or not, they were looking forward to the challenge.
“We were looking forward to playing them,” said Wachutka. “They are are very good team. Their defense is wonderful, they really put a lot of pressure on you. We knew it would be a good test and a learning experience, especially for our guards.”
Chisago wanted to keep the game slow and low scoring and that’s exactly they way it started.
The Cougars struck from the perimeter while the Wildcats looked to punch the ball inside. Both gameplans had mixed results, leading to a 9-6 Centennial lead after one.
Both teams continued to play even in the second quarter. While the Cougars continued to do their damage from the floor, the Wildcats kept it close from the free throw line, going 7-9 from the charity stripe, putting the deficit at four at halftime, 19-15.
“The girls came ready to play. I was pleased with that. We still had way too many turnovers but that was a credit to the Centennial defense,” said Wachutka. “We wanted to keep the game slow and try to stay close and we did that.”
They continued to do that in the third quarter, trimming the Cougar lead to three, 26-23, after three.
However, things turned for the worse in the fourth as the Cougars heated up and the Wildcats went cold. Behind the strength of seven quick points by CL Invite MVP Amanda Nygaard, Centennial slowly built their lead before finishing the Wildcats off from the free throw line. The Cougars finished the fourth quarter with as many points from the field as from the free throw line (9).
Meanwhile, despite being open, the ‘Cats struggled from the field, and the free throw line down the stretch. Chisago finished the quarter with three baskets and a free throw percentage of 37 percent (3 for 8). Both translated into a 45-32 loss.
“We had opportunities to score,” said Wachutka. “We were able to reverse the ball against their pressure and get some good shots but we just didn’t hit them. If we would’ve been able to make some of those shots, it might have been a different ballgame.”
Schmidt finished the game with 17 points followed by eight from Reed. Aside from them, every other player failed to score more than two. For her efforts, Schmidt was named to the all-tournament team.
The loss moved the Wildcats record to 5-4 overall. Up next, a section match-up with Fridley next week (Jan. 6) before consecutive road conference games at Mora and Milaca.
Chisago Lakes 32
1 2 3 4 F
Centennial 9 10 8 18 45
Chisago Lakes 6 9 7 10 32
Schmidt 17, Reed 8, Ploog 2, Sprecher 2, Bjorkman 2, Peterson 1.
Sprecher (Chisago Lakes)
Schmidt (Chisago Lakes)