The Waconia girls’ basketball has improved to 9-5 this season and currently leads the Wright County Conference – East division with a 3-0 record.
Waconia 77, Hutch 71
In a rematch of last season’s conference title game, the Wildcats hosted Hutchinson on Jan. 8. After trailing by eight points at halftime, the ‘Cats do what they do best – rallied late for a six-point victory.
Waconia shot 50 percent from the floor (29-58) and sunk 17 of 21 free throws, led by three double-digit players. Sophomore Anna Schmitt led the team with 26 points (11-14 from the floor), followed by seniors Morgan Iverson (14 points) and Caroline Jacobs (13).
The five-foot-seven Schmitt also led the Wildcat rebounders with five boards, and also snagged six of the team’s 11 steals. As a team, the Wildcats lost the first half rebounding battle 13-9, but rallied in the second half to grab 18 (to Hutchinson’s 11).
Head coach Carl Pierson said the team is beginning to see the importance of defense.
“Our team defense against Hutch was certainly inadequate,” he said. “But if there is a silver lining it might be that our team finally realized that they can’t expect to simply outscore every opponent. It you want to call yourselves champions it has to begin at the defensive end.”
Waconia 76, Shakopee 55
Traveling to Shakopee on Jan. 12, the Wildcats played one of their best defensive games of the season for the 76-55 win, according to Pierson.
“It was encouraging to see our players work together on the defensive end and really limit a talented Shakopee team,” he said.
With five different players grabbing five or more rebounds, Pierson said it was a great sign of progress. Senior Stephanie Dressen had eight rebounds, followed by Iverson (6), junior Miranda Schultz (6), Jacobs (5), and Schmitt (5). As a team, the Wildcats grabbed 36 rebounds to Shakopee’s 28.
The ‘Cats led most of the first half and had extended their lead to as much as eight before the Sabers made a late run to bring the game within one point at halftime (32-31).
Waconia shot 50 percent on the night (25 of 50 from the floor). The team was hot at the three-point line, sinking 10 of 16 attempts. Iverson, with a team-high 17 points on the night, was 6-6 from the arc. Schultz (15 points) was 4-5 in three-point attempts, and junior Nicole Dressen (13) was 4-4.
Pierson said the elevated play from Schultz and Nicole Dressen is promising for the rest of the season.
“If those two play at a high level in conjunction with the consistent production we’ve seen from some other key players, the final six weeks of the season will be very exciting.”
The team will host No. 9 (2A) New London-Spicer on Friday, Jan. 18.