February 11, 2010 at 10:44 a.m.

'Cats rebound from two straight losses

'Cats rebound from two straight losses
'Cats rebound from two straight losses

Chisago Lakes 67, Totino-Grace 57

The Wildcat girls basketball team got their first signature win of the 2010 season when they bested North Suburban Conference rival and two-time defending Section 3AAA champions Totino Grace.

Grace had beaten the Wildcats in seven straight meetings, and the last time CL came out on top was over four years ago in January of 2006.

In their other games against top teams from St. Francis, DeLaSalle and Benilde-St. Margaret's, they had come up short, but this one they didn't let get away.

The Wildcats had a unusually fast start to the game as sophomore Zoe Hansen hit from in close, Whitney Tinjum added two free throws and Kelsey Ristow scored on a baseline drive.

"The girl's were up for this game more than I've seen from them this season, especially Kelsey Ristow," said Head Coach Craig Walker. "She's been a different player in the last two weeks."

The 'Cats weren't able to sustain the early seven-point lead they built, though. The Eagles went on a 13-4 run to take their first lead of the game at 19-17. However, Ristow threw the rest of the team on her back and made three straight three pointers to put the 'Cats back on top 26-19.

The two squads traded baskets throughout the rest of the first half, and CL enjoyed a 32-25 cushion at halftime. Ristow was the leading scorer at halftime, netting 14 points, including four threes. Tinjum had 11 points in the opening frame.

The Wildcats came out on fire in the second half, scoring on four straight possessions to stretch their lead to 40-29. But, the Eagles have made two state tournaments in a row for a reason. The seasoned group battled back to pull within one with a 14-4 run. During that run, Walker burned two timeouts to try to stop the bleeding. "The combination of players we had in at the time were not getting back in transition or locating three point shooters and TG was scoring easily," he said.

The Wildcats returned from the timeout with four of their five starters back in, and the troops responded by scoring on five straight possessions to get the lead back to seven at 53-46. The only non-starter in the game was Brittney Land, and she provided two big baskets during that run. Her size really presented match up problems for the Eagles as their top post player, Kaeli Kraska, was in foul trouble. "When Kraska wasn't on the floor and when she fouled out with around three minutes left, they were a different team," Walker explained.

Down the stretch, the 'Cats made their free throws count, making seven-of-eight, and the Eagles weren't able to mount the comeback they hoped for. In fact, the charity stripe was kind to the Wildcats all game. They made 18 free throws on the game while Totino Grace only attempted six free throws.

The CL defense grounded the Eagles top scorer Gabby Zehrer, holding her to two points on the night and also held Kraska in the second half. The Wildcats used their height advantage to get on the offensive boards and outscored the Eagles on the inside and with second chance points.

Tinjum led all scorers with 24 points and seven rebounds, while Ristow added 20 going four-of-eight from behind the arc. She also added six rebounds.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the 'Cats and moved them in front of the Eagles in third place in the conference at 8-3.

Chisago Lakes 68, Robbinsdale Cooper 42

The 1-15 Cooper Hawks weren't flying too high when they came visiting the Chisago Lakes gymnasium last week.

When they left, they were barely able to limp back home.

The Hawks were overmatched from the beginning against the Wildcats' press defense and the fast-break points it created.

"We were getting great shots in transition in the first half," Walker said. "We were not playing the greatest defense, but were rebounding well on Cooper misses."

Ristow continued her hot streak, leading the 'Cats in scoring at the half with 11 points. Land, who is only a sophomore, also had a breakout game, scoring nine points in the first half. CL led 40-23 at the break.

The second half was much of the same as the Wildcats stayed with what worked in the first half, getting the ball inside to Land against the Hawk zone defense.

Cooper was so focused on what Tinjum was doing that it left plenty of openings for Ristow and Land to hit open shots. Walker said that senior guard Summer Young did a phenomenal job recognizing those openings and getting the ball inside. Young dished out eight assists on the night to go with her 10 points.

Land led the offensive charge, scoring 17 points and grabbing eight boards. She is actually the fourth different Wildcat to lead the team in scoring this year. As reported two weeks ago in the County Press, only Ristow and Tinjum had, but that was incorrect, as Kasie Shoberg led the team in scoring in their loss to DeLaSalle. The Press regrets the error.

Ristow had 13 points and six rebounds, Tinjum had another double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 boards. She also nabbed six steals.

After a NSC match up against St. Louis Park earlier this week, the Wildcats start a two-game hiatus from the conference beginning tonight, Feb. 11, with St. Anthony Village at 7 p.m. at St. Anthony. They also take on Providence Academy at home this Saturday, Feb. 13 at 12:30 p.m.


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