By Melissa Marohl, Sports Writer
The Waconia High School girls’ summer basketball team wrapped up its summer season by winning the consolation championship at the Breakdown Top 20 Tournament in Lakeville.
Coach Carl Pierson said he has always put a great emphasis on summer programs and feels as if the season prepares the team for the competitive winter season.
"It was great to see so many players demonstrate a desire to improve and show a commitment to making Wildcat basketball an elite program," he said.
At the Breakdown tournament, the ‘Cats faced AAAA power Eastview in the opening game on Saturday, falling 42-32. The Lightning would go on to win the entire tournament.
The Wildcats went on to win a 50-34 game over Jordan. They again shot 50 percent from the three-point line and shot 42 percent overall.
Facing Pine Island for the consolation title, the Wildcats led the entire game for a 37-28 win. Eight Wildcats contributed to the scoreboard for a balanced team effort. The team shot 45 percent from the field and 45 percent from the free-throw line. The Wildcats lost the rebounding battle 23-16, but Pierson said the Wildcats earned their win thanks to an aggressive defense.
After three games on day one, the Wildcats followed the same pattern for day two, losing their opening game, before back-to-back wins for the consolation title.
First falling to Lakeville South in a 43-32 contest, Lakeville South controlled the game. No Waconia player scored more than six points or grabbed more than three rebounds.
Bouncing back to defeat Northfield 38-23, Pierson said the game was not as close as the score suggested, as Waconia struggled right under the basket.
"Perhaps the most impressive stat of the game is that Northfield got only 14 shot attempts in 40 minutes of basketball," Pierson said. "Waconia was very successful at plugging up passing lanes and frustrating the Raider offense."
Waconia faced Stillwater for Sunday’s consolation championship, emerging with a 28-21 victory. The ‘Cats struggled in the field, shooting only 22 percent, but dominated in rebounds with 36.
Pierson said the four wins in two days means a positive end to the summer season. The season was filled with quality opponents that Pierson said will benefit the team when the regular season arrives in mid-November.
"Great teams and top programs engage in an aggressive off-season program because that is what separates them from the pack," Pierson said. "Every team works hard in the winter, but only the best teams bust their tail in the summer."
One midseason highlight included a 42-23 win over Big Lake on June 21, which the Wildcats were able to play at the Target Center, immediately following a Minnesota Lynx game.
Heading into the winter season now, Pierson said as many as 14 players from last season’s conference championship team will return for 2012-13.