March 12, 2004 at 9:20 a.m.
Chisago Lakes 38
At the section 6AAA girls basketball seeding meeting, Ed Wachutka had Andover seeded second. How they fell to fourth is still anybody’s guess. Nonetheless, a four seed meant that they would face Chisago Lakes, the five seed, in the first round. It wasn’t exactly the best draw the Wildcats have ever gotten.
“I knew they would be tough,” said Wachutka. “They are very physical and they play great defense. I had them seeded ahead of North Branch, and I would’ve probably seeded them in front of St. Michael (the sections top seed) if it wasn’t for their record. I thought they were that good.”
How good? Taking into account that last Thursday, despite playing one of their best games of the season, the ‘Cats still lost. That good.
Chisago controlled things early. Senior Kari Schmidt and junior Katie Reed combined for all nine first quarter points for the Wildcats, leaving the two teams tied 9-9 after one.
“We came out and played very well right away. They (Andover) are very athletic but we handled it very well,” mentioned Wachutka. “They play excellent defense but we did a nice job handling it.”
The second was even better for the Wildcats as they dominated the Huskies on both ends of the court. Schmidt struck for six more points on offense while the Chisago “D” held Andover without a field goal, outscoring the Huskies 10-3 in the quarter, building a 19-12 lead at the half. Things were looking good.
“We built a seven point lead by playing some of the best basketball we have all year,” replied Wachutka. We shot the ball well. Kari (Schmidt) was shooting really well and Katie (Reed) was playing well. We were moving the ball around and getting good shots. Everything was working. On defense, they (Andover) were getting shots but they weren’t falling, so that helped us control the game even more.”
Unfortunately, you can’t keep good shooting teams down for long. In the third, the Huskies woke up.
Andover began to execute out of the break, exploding for 18 points in the third quarter alone, more than they had scored all game. Still, the Wildcats kept pace, thanks in large part to Schmidt’s touch from the outside. The senior continued her hot shooting from the field, sinking three three-pointers while Reed hit one, helping Chisago hold a slim three point lead with one quarter to go, 33-30.
Andover had just begun.
The Huskies kept the train moving in the fourth, continuing to score on offense, lighting up the Wildcats for 14 more points. However, this time, their defense followed suit, holding the ‘Cats to five points down the stretch, jumping in front late and stealing the win, 44-38, putting an abrupt end to the Wildcats season.
At the end of the game, Chisago was left with just questions; no answers. What happened? How can a team play so well and still lose? How can their season be over?
“Andover wasn’t happy with their game in the first half. In the second, they had some of the same shots they had in the first, they just hit them. I don’t know if we played bad in the second half, I think it was just them stepping up,” said Wachutka. “In general, we played a very good game and that’s what’s so frustrating about it. I thought we executed well, the pace was ours. We did an excellent job on the boards but we just came up on the short end.”
A statement that will fall short in comforting the Wildcats four seniors who played in their final game. Going out with a bang, the same way she stepped in, Schmidt scored 24 points. Sarah Ploog and Vanessa Sprecher also played their final game in a Wildcat uniform. Senior Abby Bjorkman was injured and did not play.
“The group of seniors we have had played a lot of basketball. Abby missed the final five games, we were hoping to prolong the season and get her back but that didn’t happen,” commented Wachutka. “Sarah Ploog did an excellent job, especially on the boards. Kari had 24 points. She hit four threes in the second half, so she had an excellent game, and Vanessa handled their pressure really well, she did a nice job. Vanessa is the type of player coaches love to have. She executes to the letter, she knows what you want, she’s just a great player to have. I would just say that all of the seniors finished their careers on a good note. They’ve been a great group.”
As a team, the Wildcats finished the season 19-8 overall.
Chisago Lakes 38
1 2 3 4 F
Chisago Lakes 9 10 14 5 38
Andover 9 3 18 14 44
Schmidt 24, Reed 8, Skoog 2, Sprecher 2, Peterson 2.