After two losses last week to No. 10 (3A) Delano and No. 6 (4A) Eden Prairie, the Waconia boys’ basketball team has dropped to No. 8 in Class 3A, down five spots from one week ago. Despite the losses, the Wildcats retain a strong 10-4 record.
Delano 65, Waconia 62
At Delano on Jan. 15, the Tigers controlled the first half and led 41-28 at the break. Waconia head coach Pat Hayes said the Wildcats struggled defensively in the first half, while the Tigers led on the scoreboard thanks to nine three-pointers.
Hayes said the Wildcats had much better defense in the second half and were able to attack the Delano zone, but the first half deficit was too much to overcome, as Delano continued to make big shots.
“We had a three to tie at the end,” Hayes said, “but bounced off the rim.”
Three Wildcats scored in double digits, led by senior Matt Rachey (17), senior Alex Chandler (12), and junior Ryan Boll (10).
Chandler led with a team-high 10 rebounds, followed by Boll and Rachey, who each grabbed four boards. Rachey also collected four of the team’s eight steals.
Senior guard Josh Lenz went out with a concussion during the game, and now joins junior Tommy Gove on the Wildcats’ injured list. Unlike Gove (who is out for the season), Lenz is expected to return.
Eden Prairie 65, Waconia 49
Hosting the Eagles two nights later, Hayes said the deep Eden Prairie team challenged the Wildcats, who are trying to adjust to new roles on the team with the recent injuries.
“Wrong night to play one of the top six teams in Class AAAA,” Hayes said, “but I thought our kids played well having to adjust roles, especially in the backcourt.”
Eden Prairie opened an 11-point first half lead by forcing multiple Waconia turnovers. Hayes said the ‘Cats handled the pressure better in the second half, but the Eagles wore the team down.
Boll led the offensive attack with 14 points, along with Rachey (11) and junior Jacob Herd (11). As a team, the Wildcats shot 46.5 percent from the floor (20-43) and were just 2-8 from the three-point line.
Rachey led the team with eight rebounds, while senior Wylie Ferron grabbed seven and Boll collected five.
Waconia 84, New London-Spicer 51
Finally having adjusted to their new roles, the Wildcats picked up a win at New London-Spicer on Jan. 17.
“Finally played better in our new roles and just defended better as a team from the start of the game all the way through,” Hayes said. “Played unselfish basketball which led to easy shots and took care of the ball better than the previous two games.”
Shooting was up for the team, as Waconia shot 63 percent from the floor (29-46). The Wildcats made five of eight three-point shots and sunk 21-25 free throw attempts (87.5 percent). Waconia led 43-24 after the first half and dominated the second half as well, outscoring the other Wildcats 41-27, cruising to the easy 84-51 win.
Boll once again led with 25 points. Rachey (18), Chandler (15), and Herd (10) also scored double digit points.
“Boll was strong inside and out and we shot our best percentage from the [free throw] line for the season,” Hayes said. “Rachey played his best game so far moving to the [point guard] position.”
Boll, Ferron, and Rachey each grabbed five rebounds, complimented by four from Chandler. Rachey (3), Ferron (2), and sophomore Avery Talton (2) grabbed seven of the team’s 10 steals.
The Wildcats are set for a string of home games, beginning with Litchfield (Jan. 25), Shakopee (Jan. 26), and Holy Family (Jan. 29).
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com