Holy Family Catholic High School proved to be a tough rival last week for Waconia High School, as the Fire took down both the boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams.
In the Section 6AAA quarterfinals, the Fire eliminated the Waconia girls’ team in a 101-93 overtime game in Victoria on March 4.
The initial 18 minutes of game were tough and messy for the Wildcats.
“The first half was probably the poorest 18 minutes of basketball we played all season,” WHS head coach Carl Pierson said. “Holy Family had something to do with that but we shot ourselves in the foot.”
Eighteen first-half turnovers by Waconia and 16 offensive rebounds for the Fire led to the Wildcats’ 49-31 halftime deficit.
Waconia tightened its play in the second half, locking in on defense and making more offensive shots, outscoring the Fire 53-35.
“In the second half we started to box out and take care of the ball,” Pierson said. “It’s not a coincidence the game turned around.”
Clawing back from a 19-point deficit, Waconia held a three-point lead in the final minute, before Holy Family sunk a three-point shot to tie the game at 84-84 and send it into overtime.
“To fight back from 19 down and take a lead late shows a lot about the character of our team,” Pierson said. “The three the Fire made to tie the game epitomized our season. We played a number of close games, and every time the other team needed a big play they got it.”
In overtime, the Wildcats were outscored 17-9 as the Fire went on their way to a 101-93 victory.
Junior Anna Schmitt and sophomore Madelin Dammann both posted 20-plus points for WHS, scoring 29 and 23 points, respectively. Senior Miranda Schultz added 11 points for the WHS offense. As a team, the Wildcats made 28 of 83 shots from the floor (34 percent). In contrast, the Fire made 39 of 86 attempts (45 percent).
Waconia’s defense wasn’t enough to stop Holy Family’s Michaela Rasmussen, who netted over 30 points, and Molly Smith, who put down over 20.
After 18 first-half turnovers, the Wildcats took better care of the ball in the second half and only turned it over seven times, for a total 25 turnovers. They forced 31 Fire turnovers and also grabbed 24 steals, led by senior Miranda Schultz with five.
Although Holy Family would win the rebounding battle 54-40, senior Kaylee Vanderhoff, Schultz, Dammann, and sophomore Emily Anderson each grabbed six rebounds for Waconia.
After such an emotionally high and low game, Pierson said it’s difficult to walk away from the loss.
“It hurts to lose like that,” he said, “especially in the playoffs and especially to a rival, but our players can be proud of how they battled and they can also be proud of all the things they accomplished this season.”
Waconia finishes the 2013-14 season with a 10-16 record. Look for a full season wrap up in the coming weeks.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com