February 18, 2010 at 9:47 a.m.
The Wildcat girls basketball team had a tougher time than expected with the St. Louis Park Orioles early last week, but in the end, they toughed out the win and grabbed another North Suburban Conference win.
Senior forward Kelsey Ristow, who has been playing lights-out the past three weeks, went down early with a hyperextended knee, and that was cause for concern for the 'Cats.
No worries for sophomore sensation Whitney Tinjum though. She scored 17 of the Wildcats' 25 first half points. "Whitney carried her teammates as other players struggled to find shots against the Oriole defense.
Zoe Hansen also stepped up in Ristow's extended absence, scoring six first half points from down low, but the 'Cats still trailed by one at halftime with the score sitting at 26-25.
By the start of the second half, Ristow was ready to return, and she immediately sparked the Wildcats, hitting a three-pointer to open the frame. Not to be outdone, Tinjum hit a three on the next trip down the court as the pair combined to score the first 10 points of the second half for the 'Cats.
The Orioles started guarding Tinjum a lot more physically, and all it did was send the sharpshooter to the charity stripe. In the second half, she went six-for-six from the free throw line, and was 10-of-11 on the game.
After that initial burst by Tinjum and Ristow, the Wildcats never gave the lead back to the Orioles, and they ended up building a 10-point cushion by the time the buzzer sounded. "Our defensive goal was to limit Kika Greenlee and Reed Maday below their averages on the year -- Greenlee averages 15 per and Maday 11 per game -- and they each finished one point below those marks," Head Coach Craig Walker said. "Maday and Greenlee are the Orioles best players and each scored 20 against us earlier this year."
Tinjum led the way with 30 points and 10 rebounds and Hansen added 10 points and eight rebounds in the winning effort.
Chisago Lakes 89, St. Anthony Village 63
The Wildcats felt pretty good after leaving St. Anthony High School with a 26-point win over a 14-6 section opponent. "We were in a situation where the officials let the girls play, and we used our height to our advantage, especially on the offensive glass," Walker explained.
For the game, the 'Cats grabbed 20 offensive boards. "The Huskies are a good team. They have 14 wins and scored 32 points on us in the first half, but everything was going right for us offensively," Walker said.
The big guns for the Wildcats were the primary options again, as Ristow and Tinjum combined to shoot six-of-eight from beyond the arc, and they combined for 49 total points in the win.
Walker explained though that the big key for the Wildcats was just all the girls stepping up in a big game against a section team. "If we had dropped this game, it would've made our earlier victory over Totino Grace basically meaningless from a section ranking standpoint," he said.
With the offense fueling on all cylinders, the Huskies were never much in the game, and they struggled to keep it respectable even.
On the night, Tinjum scored 29 points and had 15 rebounds. Ristow was back to form after her tough St. Louis Park game, as she scored 20 points and had eight rebounds. Those two are starting to form a deadly one-two punch for the 'Cats.
Hansen and Summer Young also scored in double-digits on the night, with Hansen netting 13 points and Young scoring 12.
Chisago Lakes 48, Providence Academy 45
The Wildcats' third and final game of the week was their toughest match up. Providence Academy was another 14-6 team that came in boasting a few quality wins on the season. "We knew this would be a close game based on the Lions' style of play," Walker explained. "They hold the ball offensively, using back cuts and a lot of back screens and wait for you to make a mistake defensively."
The game was a stark contrast of the 'Cats 89-point outburst a few nights earlier, but it just proved that CL can get it done against a lot of different styles of play. "Scoring chances were limited for us due to the offense, but we continued to hit our free throws," Walker said.
The charity stripe allowed the 'Cats to take a 27-23 lead at halftime, with Tinjum scoring 10 and Ristow netting seven.
As the Lions' kept control of the ball, they started to find some minor holes in the 'Cat defense. They started exploiting those holes, and all of a sudden, they took a 45-43 lead late in the contest.
The Wildcats came up with two empty possessions after they lost the lead, and things started to look tough against the patient Lions. The 'Cats were forced to start fouling the Lions to speed up their possessions.
The strategy paid off as the Lion shooter missed the front end of her one and one and Tinjum secured the rebound for CL.
Now down two, the Wildcats put Whitney Tinjum inside and got the ball to her in the paint. She scored to the tie the game at 45 and was fouled. This is where things got truly wild. Tinjum, who rarely misses a free throw, clanked the shot off the rim, but she was able to secure her own rebound after the miss. The Lions proceeded to foul her again, and this time, Tinjum made them pay, draining both shots to give the 'Cats a 47-45 lead.
The Lions took an ill-advised shot on their next possession, as a shooter tried to maneuver around Tinjum, but was shut down. Hannah Trandahl grabbed the ball and was subsequently fouled. She made the back-end of her free throws, giving the 'Cats a three-point lead with just under one minute left.
Despite being down by three points, the Lions still elected to hold the ball for the remaining minute and try to tie it with a three-pointer.
As they finally took a shot, Ristow got her long arms up enough in the air to tip the ball to Young. The Lions held the ball for the last shot and Kelsey Ristow got a finger on the ball to alter the shot with Summer Young rebounding the air ball and securing the 48-45 victory for the Wildcats.
The Lions fans and coaching staff erupted in a furious haze as they thought their shooter was fouled. "Their player took a dive after the shot attempt, and Ristow fell over her," explained Walker.
"Whitney took over for us late in this game. We shot well, but didn't get the ball as much as we're used to offensively. We did fall asleep defensively on a couple late possessions giving Providence easy baskets inside and letting them back into the game and they also took it to us on the boards out rebounding us 29-14," Walker explained. "Obviously we need to do a better job holding our position while blocking out and not relying on our height to get rebounds."
Tinjum led the way offensively for the 'Cats scoring 23 points, Ristow added 10, to go along with Trandahl's seven.
The three wins stretched the 'Cats winning streak to six games -- they also had a seven-game streak earlier this year -- and put their record to 17-6 on the season. The end with three winnable games in North Branch, Spring Lake Park and Irondale. They beat both the Panthers and Vikings by 10 or more points earlier this year. Although Irondale beat them by seven in their first meeting, the Knights were in the middle of a white-hot eight-game win streak. They've gone 1-3 since that streak ended.
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