Wildcats News · Wildcats advance to section championship with win over Mankato West in semifinals

With the bright lights of the late game upon us, Waconia prevailed against a very good Mankato West team 79-60, advancing to the section 2AAA title game next Thursday at Gustavus Adolphus College vs. undefeated Marshall. Stingy defense (especially in the first half) mixed with handling the press and making West pay for pressing on the larger college floor with layups, we were able to put together two quality halves of basketball to get the win. Contributions were evenly-distributed from many different players, and is always key to our success as a team. Audrey Swanson had a monster game, 9-12 from the field, scoring 21, grabbing 6 boards, an assist and 2 steals. Addy Salzer had 12, hitting a couple of big 3’s, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block; Ava Stier had a double double with 11 points, 10 boards, and 2 assists; Dani Dykstra had her best showing of the year with the pressure on with 9 points, 3 boards, an assist and steal, and battled in the post all night, limiting interior shots for West. Mel Honnold had 7 with a huge 3 and layup in the first half, 2 boards, a steal and assist. Jayda Lenz, Allie Zimmer, Natalie Meath, and Tess Johnson all had 4, often setting up others in the fast break – Johnson had 8 assists, Lenz 4, Zimmer with 1. Sydni Olson had 2 and a boards as well. When we play for each other and the defense can’t just concentrate on one player, swing the ball unselfishly, and attack the paint when breaking the press we can be very good and dangerous, and that’s what we are going to have to do against Marshall next Thursday with a trip to State on the line, which would be a first in Wildcats GBB history.
Marshall is famous for a couple of things: their press; their toughness, especially finishing inside; their gameplanning (I’m betting coach Westby has about 10 videos of our games from throughout the year, will probably know all of our plays / sets / press breaks, etc.), and their frequent trips to the state tournament throughout the years. It’s going to take immense concentration and focus throughout the entire game to pull off the upset, but we can do it. The last time we met, we infamously had every possible thing have to go wrong in the last 1:15 to lose our lead and the game, and it did, but now we’ve been there and know what it’s like to know that NO LEAD IS EVERY SAFE against a very tough Marshall team. We must handle the press and take care of the ball; we must finish the paint. We must communicate on the defensive end, bump all cutters, and limit post touches inside, though everyone on their team can really finish down there. If we can do that, we can make history, so 3 days of practice are now absolutely key to our season.