By Tera White
The Mound Westonka High School girls basketball team finished the 2016-2017 season with a fantastic game that resulted in a 63-60 loss in the opening round of the Section 6AAA playoffs. The No. 5 seed, Westonka, faced fourth-seeded Waconia on their home turf on Feb. 28. Although the White Hawks did not win on the scoreboard, they battled in a fast-paced, back-and-forth contest that was close throughout the game.
In the first half, the White Hawks secured the lead with seven minutes left. With 4:40 left, they pulled ahead by seven points, but the Wildcats tied it up two minutes later at 27 all. Westonka headed to the locker room up by one point (31-30) at half.
Again in the second half, there was a battle for the lead, with the two teams trading the advantage. With just over four minutes left, the Wildcats took a six-point lead. With a minute and a half left, Westonka took over the lead once again. Thirty seconds later, with a minute left, Waconia brought the game within one. Westonka was not able to land a couple of key free throws, and Waconia converted a steal into a basket, taking the lead, 60-61, with 14 seconds left on the clock. This was a heart-stopping game with the excitement of the back-and-forth play and was a strong way to end the season, despite the loss.
- Sophomore Jennifer Schaible had her second double-double this season with 23 points and 14 rebounds
- Junior Abby Wharram showed her passing skills with 11 assists and 5 points
- Also scoring for the White Hawks: senior Claire White, 15 points; sophomore Maya Thurston, six points; junior Makenzie Anderson and sophomore Ela Springer, four points each; and senior Ryann Beyer, three points. This took high energy play from the entire team, doing battle against the deep Waconia bench.
Coach Alan Hiebert’s corner: As a team, we were heartbroken by the loss, but that’s a sign of significant progress for our program. Our kids gave everything and competed for 36 minutes against a good Waconia team. Ultimately, we missed a couple of key free throws and had a critical turnover that we couldn’t overcome. Games like this are what we want to play in, however. Games that matter, games that require focus and intensity and games that result in joy or disappointment, depending on the result. We’ll use this game as motivation going into next season. As a team, the girls displayed significant growth from November until the end. We ended up winning 10 games, which is more than the last two seasons combined, and we also won four conference games, up from zero the last two seasons, so the improvement is undeniable. As a coach, I was extremely proud of these kids. They represented themselves and the community in a way to be proud of. I’m already looking forward to next season.
Photos by Kristen Beyer
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