January 20, 2011 at 9:53 a.m.
After starting the year ranked fourth in Class AAA, the Wildcats could have easily thrown in the towel to their season after they lost five games in a row to drop to 3-7.
But, with their full lineup now healthy and things starting to click, the Wildcats have won three contests in a row by an average margin of 21 points a game.
Their most recent one in Fridley, however, wasn't easy. "The games in Fridley are always physical and I thought we adjusted quickly to the style of play, and the officials, eventually doing a little more dishing out then taking," Head Coach Craig Walker said after the 'Cats win. "We still talk about the Benilde St. Margaret's game from early December in reference to physical play and how to react to it and we were able to adjust our game and be successful."
After a fairly quiet night against the North Branch Vikings earlier in the week, Whitney Tinjum blew up on the offensive end, scoring 27 points in the winning effort. Zoe Hansen also put the ball in the basket consistently, scoring 18 points in the win.
The road to victory was bumpy, though, as the 'Cats' most effective post players, Brittney Land and Bryanna Fernstrom, got in foul trouble early, accumulating three fouls in the first half. Coupled with the fact that defensive specialist Hannah Trandahl also picked up three quick fouls, and the Wildcats were going to struggle on defense.
"With those three on the bench for much of the first half, Tinjum and Hansen carried the offensive load," Walker said at the break.
The physical style of play continued in the second half as each team kept racking up fouls and kept going to the free throw line. The difference was Chisago Lakes' ability to hit them at a higher rate than the Tigers could.
"We were able to adjust at half time to free up our point guard with a pick and with Brit and Bry in foul trouble, Whitney was able to get inside and make things happen in the post," Walker said. With Fernstrom and Land still sitting, Kasie Shoberg also had a good second half for CL, getting six of her eight points with some key baskets.
Despite the lack of discipline in committing so many early fouls, the Wildcats still held on as they fended off any Fridley attempts at a comeback with ease. Although they ended the game with four girls having four fouls, they avoided anyone fouling out. Fridley had two girls foul out trying to contain the size that CL brought to the court.
"Overall it was a pretty good offensive game," Walker opined. "We scored in transition and wore them down in the second half. Whitney's points were hard earned and we did a good job moving the basketball in and out. Zoe knocked down a lot of shots off kick outs from the post and even without Brit and Bry, Fridley still had trouble matching up with our size in the post."