‘Cats split home tourney games

The Waconia girls’ basketball team kicked off the regular season over the Thanksgiving weekend, hosting a four-team tournament and finishing 1-1.

Waconia 55, Hudson 40
The Wildcats won their season opener on Nov. 23 against Hudson, Wisc. Despite early turnovers and foul trouble, the ‘Cats stayed close thanks to hot shooting by senior Caroline Jacobs and a strong defensive effort from senior Stephanie Dressen, who had 10 rebounds in the first half and five blocked shots.

Dropping from 15 to eight turnovers in the second half, the Wildcats also won the rebounding battle 40-26. Head coach Carl Pierson credits the entire Waconia bench for staying in the game.

“With two players still sidelined with injury and a few more in foul trouble, our bench players were hugely important to the victory,” Pierson said. “Steph Dressen was a force on the defensive end and Caroline Jacobs hit some key shots, but key contributions from Sarah Christians, Brenna Rice, and Megan Kirsch were also a huge factor.”

Elk Rvr 78, Waconia 75
Defeating Zimmerman by 30 points the day before, Elk River landed in the title game against Waconia on Nov. 24. The Wildcats played sluggishly in the first half, according to Pierson, dropping to a 42-31 halftime deficit.

Elk River opened their lead to 23 points in the second half before things began to turn around for Waconia. In the final 13 minutes of the game, the Wildcats began an impressive comeback on the scoreboard, closing the gap and trailing by one point with two minutes to play. But Waconia couldn’t close the deal and lost to Elk River 78-75.

Four Wildcats scored in double digits, while Jacobs had seven rebounds and Dressen had six. Waconia lost the board battle 42-26.

Pierson was disappointed in the slow start to the game, blaming careless turnovers for the deficit.

“I was proud that our team rallied from a 23-point deficit to be down one with two minutes to go, but you also have to be disappointed that we dug ourselves that kind of a hole when we were clearly capable of performing at a higher level,” he said. “Hopefully we learned how important it is to be focused and intense for the full game.”

He added that the team “can’t pick and choose when we are going to get after the other team. We need to do it every minute of the game.”