January 6, 2005 at 8:28 a.m.
Chisago Lakes 66
The Wildcats were ready for Anoka. Knowing the type of competition the Tornadoes play throughout the season, head coach Ed Wachutka was well aware of Anoka’s skill and style of play. His goal was to get his team ready for it.
And they were.
Chisago Lakes stormed out of the locker room with authority and put up one of their best first quarters of the season. Paced by Courtney Skoog and Jess Peterson, the ‘Cats scored 20 points in the first eight minutes of the game, spotting themselves a 20-15 lead. Skoog and Peterson combined to score 16 of the Wildcats 20 points.
Although the game slowed down in the second, Chisago continued to build their lead with 12 more points- six from Peterson. It was enough to stretch the ‘Cats lead to nine at halftime, 32-23.
“They were pressing us full court and we were able to handle that and we got some easy baskets early,” said Wachutka, Chisago Lakes head girls basketball coach. “They were very physical. We got the ball inside to Jess and she was able to score and that opened some more things up. They were just a real fun team to play.”
The fun continued in the second half. Five different players helped Chisago build their lead to 10 heading into the fourth. Six more points came from Peterson who finished with 24 for the game. In addition, Katie Reed, Genna Wachutka, and Kayla Schultz each added three in the quarter.
Anoka made things interesting in the fourth however. After struggling against the Chisago zone for most of the game, all of a sudden, the Tornadoes began to hit from the outside. With every shot, the Chisago lead began to shrink before the Wildcats switched things up on defense. The move worked.
“I was worried about playing them man-to-man because they had a couple good post players and Kayla Ferris was sick and didn’t play for us. So we decided to play zone against them,” replied Wachutka. “Then they started to hit three’s and the last few possessions we switched back to man-to-man and the girls really did a nice job with that. They were ready for the switch and they did a great job pressuring the ball.”
With their defense keeping them in the game, the Wildcats went to the free throw line to seal the game. Even though they only hit 9 of 19 free throws in the fourth, those nine were just enough to secure a 66-59 win.
“We made enough to stay in it,” smiled Wachutka.
The scoring was spread across the board for the Wildcats who had seven different players score. Five scored seven or more points. Peterson led all scorer's with 24 on 10 of 11 shooting while Skoog chipped in with a season-high 13 points.
Chisago Lakes 66
1 2 3 4 F
Anoka 15 8 16 20 59
Chisago Lakes 20 12 17 17 66
Peterson 24, Skoog 13, Schultz 8, Wachutka 8, Reed 7, Sells 4, Corradi 2.
Chisago Lakes Invite
Chisago Lakes 47
One day later, in the championship game of the Chisago Lakes Invite, in the span of four seconds, it all came crashing down for the Wildcats. After battling back against Cooper all game, Chisago finally took the lead with four-point-five seconds left in the fourth quarter on a basket from Skoog. Cooper immediately answered, nailing a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer, stealing the win away from Chisago with a 48-47 win.
It was a long road back for the ‘Cats who fell behind 9-4 after the first quarter and 26-18 at the half. After scoring in bunches the day before against Anoka, offensively, the Wildcats struggled with their rhythm early in the game. Ultimately, that bad first half would be the difference in the game.
“We played really good defense and and we didn’t bring our A game on offense,” said Wachutka. “We had trouble scoring early. They did a nice job on Jess inside, and since we only had one post, that hampered our movement on offense.”
The second half was a different story- a different game. Paced by nine third-quarter points by Genna Wachutka, the ‘Cats stayed within striking distance before the flood gates opened. That happened in the fourth quarter where Chisago pinned their ears back and made a charge.
Trailing by 11, the ‘Cats exploded back. On offense, five different players stirred the drink, led by Skoog who hit for five in the fourth. And while they were good on offense, defensively, the Wildcats were gold, holding Cooper to just six points on two field goals. The Chisago flurry brought them all the way back, tying the game before Skoog’s 12-foot jumper gave the Wildcats a short-lived lead with four ticks left. However, Cooper got the last laugh at the buzzer, ripping a championship trophy right out of Chisago’s hands.
“Nine times of out 10 we win that game. You have to give them credit, they put the ball in the hoop when they needed to,” commented Wachutka. “Really though, we could have won that game in the first half but we didn’t, and the fact that we actually came back and took the lead, it showed that the girls never gave up. Yes, we’re disappointed with the loss but we saw a lot of positives. But that one hurt, it hurt bad.”
Making matters worse, the loss dropped Chisago back below the .500 mark at 5-6 overall.
Next up is the meat of the conference schedule with their next eight games coming against league opponents.
Chisago Lakes 47
1 2 3 4 F
Cooper 9 17 16 6 48
Chisago Lakes 4 14 13 16 47
Reed 12, Skoog 10, Wachutka 9, Corradi 5, Peterson 5, Schultz 4, Ferris 2.
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