The Wildcats have been sole conference champions in 2010, 2011, 2012, and now 2013. They shared the title with Delano in 2008-09. Not since the 2007-08 season, when Waconia finished third in the WCC, have the Wildcats not been conference champions.
In the last home game of the regular season, the Wildcats took down Mound-Westonka March 1. WHS head coach Pat Hayes said there was great support from both the community and the school.
“Great night for basketball with our senior night and a full house,” he said.
In front of that crowded gym, the Wildcats didn’t disappoint. A good first half allowed the ‘Cats a 12-point halftime lead, 35-23.
“We played solid defense and limited their second chance opportunities,” Hayes said.
The White Hawks rallied in the second half, outscoring Waconia 34-27, and had many good looks, and baskets, from the three-point arc, according to Hayes. Mound-Westonka finished the night with 10 three-pointers.
With the game close at 51-50 in favor of Waconia down the home stretch, senior Matt Rachey hit a big three-point shot to give the Wildcats a cushion. With some important free throws by senior Josh Lenz in the closing minutes, the Wildcats were able to secure the win and sole possession of this year’s WCC title.
Rachey and senior Alex Chandler both netted 14 points for Waconia, closely trailed by junior Ryan Boll (11) and Lenz (9). Chandler was 7-10 from the field and Rachey was 6-8, while Lenz was a hot 7-8 at the charity stripe. Lenz also grabbed four of the team’s six steals.
The Wildcats totaled 28 rebounds, 20 from Boll (10), Chandler (5), and Rachey (5). Boll also blocked three shots.
The Wildcats were seeded No. 1 in Section 2AAA and faced No. 8 Dassel-Cokato on March 5. The Chargers have yet to win a game this season and are 0-24. These two teams met just a few weeks ago on Feb. 22; Waconia won 76-33.
The winner of the Waconia/D-C game advances to face the victor of No. 4 Willmar/No. 5 Hutchinson on March 9 at Minnesota State University – Mankato. That game begins at 6 p.m.
Other Section 2AAA games earlier this week included No. 2 Marshall versus No. 7 New Ulm and No. 3 Mankato West versus No. 6 Mankato East. The Cougars of Mankato East, who defeated Waconia in the section final game last season, have just six wins this year. Marshall, a team that is ranked No. 3 in Class 3A, has just two losses this season.
Update: The Wildcats handily defeated Dassel-Cokato on March 6, after the game was delayed because of Tuesday’s weather. Waconia was victorious 58-22 and will play Willmar on Saturday, March 9.