As the regular season closes next week, the Waconia boys’ basketball team is currently ranked No. 7 in Class 3A with an 18-5 record.
After losing to Delano last week, the Wildcats are currently second in the Wright County Conference – East standings with a 6-2 record, behind the Tigers (6-1) with just a handful of conference games remaining.
Delano 58, Waconia 57
Head coach Pat Hayes said the Wildcats felt as if they had control of the game until the final three minutes on Feb. 12. After a 20-20 halftime tie, Delano narrowly outscored Waconia 38-36 in the second half, including two three-point shots and 6-6 at the free throw line down the closing stretch.
“Delano is a very good team and had players step up when they had to make big shots at the end of the game,” Hayes said. “Frustrating loss for us, but one hopefully that will help us down the road if we get in the same situation against a quality opponent.”
When the buzzer rang to end the game, Delano led 58-55. But a foul called before the buzzer put Waconia at the free throw line. Senior Josh Lenz sunk both free throws and Delano won 58-57.
Lenz was one of four Wildcat players to score in double digits, netting 11 points. Junior Ryan Boll, who has led the Wildcats in scoring in recent weeks, again led the team with 17 points. Seniors Alex Chandler and Wylie Ferron contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The ‘Cats shot 49 percent from the floor, 23-47, hindered by the 0-5 shooting beyond the arc. They were also 10-15 at the free throw line.
Chandler collected seven rebounds, while Boll (5) and Lenz (5) also grabbed valuable boards for the ‘Cats. Boll and Lenz combined for four of the team’s seven steals. Boll logged four of the team’s six blocked shots.
Waconia 62, Holy Family 44
Bouncing back from Tuesday’s loss, the Wildcats defeated Holy Family on the road Feb. 16. Hayes said the team was able to control the flow on both ends of the court throughout the game.
Leading 38-26 at the break, Waconia extended its lead to 20 points (52-32) midway through the second half. The Wildcats limited the Fire offense to 18 points in the second half, while the ‘Cats scored 24 points.
Boll (17), senior Matt Rachey (14), and junior Jacob Herd (13) led the Waconia attack, which was 22-54 from the floor. Hayes called the team’s free throw shooting “exceptional” as the ‘Cats were 16-18 (89 percent) from the charity stripe.
Solid defense through was carried by the team’s 36 rebounds, mostly from Rachey (8), sophomore Avery Talton (7), Boll (7), and Ferron (7). Rachey snagged four of the team’s five steals, while Boll and senior Austin Fuller each blocked a shot. Waconia committed only eight turnovers during the game.
Waconia will play at Dassel-Cokato this Friday, Feb. 22. The final game of the regular season will be against Mound-Westonka next Friday, March 1, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com