February 20, 2004 at 10:29 a.m.
More often than not, when the Chisago Lakes girls basketball team wins, they throw the knock-out blow early and ask questions later. Last Tuesday versus Mora, the Wildcats threw a haymaker of gigantic proportion, jumping in front early, rolling to an easy 41-23 win.
After scoring only 16 points in their loss to Cambridge-Isanti last Saturday, the Cats felt a quick start was essential to erase the bad memories. Chisago got exactly that, scoring 11 in the first and 11 in the second while holding Mora to four field goals in the first half. Katie Reed paced the Wildcats on offense, scoring six in the first, Vanessa Sprecher had five, helping to give the Cats a 22-13 cushion at the half.
“We got off to a very good start, good aggressive play, smart play,” remembered Ed Wachutka, Chisago Lakes girls head girls basketball coach. “I think we were pretty disappointed with last week, so there was a little re-focusing that went on. I think we were looking for focus and energy and we got that.”
The ball continued to roll in favor of Chisago in the third as the Wildcats increased their lead to 14, holding Mora to just four points in the third. After scoring five points in the first half, Schmidt equaled that effort in the third with five while Reed and Abby Bjorkman also scored for the Cats. Still, it was obvious to everyone, the key to the Wildcats attack was their defense.
“We played very good defense, they really never got any good looks,” said Wachutka. “I thought we were more methodical and under control, that’s something we didn’t show last week against Cambridge.”
As the game got older, the Chisago lead got larger, putting a final exclamation point on the win with 10 more points in the fourth quarter en route to a 41-23 win. Sarah Ploog led the way in the fourth offensively, scoring four points. It was the perfect way to cap off a strong game for the senior.
“Sarah did a great job rebounding, I think she had seven rebounds after the first half. She really played strong inside and battled hard,” commented Wachutka. “I think everyone scored a little bit, that was nice. We weren’t looking past Mora at all. We were cautious from the beginning not to go in there overconfident and we didn’t.”
Six players scored in the game for Chisago, who with the win, improved to 14-7 on the season and 10-3 in conference. Schmidt and Reed led the way with 10 apiece. Bjorkman finished with eight and Sprecher tossed in seven.
Chisago Lakes 41
1 2 3 4 F
Mora 4 9 4 6 23
Chisago Lakes 11 11 9 10 41
Schmidt 10, Reed 10, Bjorkman 8, Sprecher 7, Ploog 4, Peterson 2.
Chisago Lakes 57
Building off their win over Mora, the Wildcats again disposed of their next opponent early, outscoring Milaca 34-15 over the first 16 minutes of the game last Friday, putting them well on their way to a 57-33 win.
In the first, Reed, Schmidt, and Jess Peterson combined for 14 points, putting the Wildcats in front 14-6. The lead grew from there as the Cats scored 20 more in the second, building their lead to 34-15 at the break. Chisago's balance overwhelmed the Wolves as five players scored in the second, four finished with four or more points. One of those players was Junior Kayla Ferris who got the start after Sarah Ploog sat out because she was sick.
“Kayla had 12 rebounds. She's just very athletic and very explosive,” mentioned Wachutka. “She has a tendency to come out of nowhere for rebounds. Jess (Peterson) also had a strong game. She finished with 10 and almost all of those points came on offensive rebounds, and Katie (Reed) brought tons of energy. She's tenacious. That type of defender can be extremely disruptive the other team.”
Playing with a 19 point lead early in the second half, Chisago mixed things up on defense. However, that change in strategy sparked the Wolves as Milaca scored 14 in the third with eight alone coming from Maggie Doty. Still, the Cats lead was never in jeopardy as Chisago closed out the game, outscoring Milaca 7-4 in the fourth, giving them a 57-33 win. The Wildcats ended up saving their best for last in terms of balance as nine different players scored in the second half led by seven from Kari Schmidt.
“We had a pretty comfortable lead the whole time,” stated Wachutka. “We were doing some things to mix it up and get everyone involved. I was very pleased with how the game went. There were a lot of distractions taking place out there. It was parents night, Sarah was sick, and Abby (Bjorkman) got hurt after the first quarter, but I think we stepped up the challenge and fought through it. We persevered which is what we needed to do coming off two losses the week before. Hopefully we can start to build some momentum back up again heading into sections.”
Chisago Lakes 57
1 2 3 4 F
Milaca 6 9 14 4 33
Chisago Lakes 14 20 16 7 57
Schmidt 19, Peterson 10, Reed 10, Ferris 6, Wachutka 4, Skoog 2, Cunningham 2, Sprecher 2, Schares 2.