By Jason Hirdler
After nearly two weeks without a home game, the White Hawks girls basketball team flew home to roost. On Jan. 8, the team hosted the Annandale Cardinals at Mound Westonka High School.
The two conference rivals gamboled back and forth, with neither team able to sink the first basket. After the 3-minute tennis match, MWHS junior guard Makala “Chipotle” Shelton dunked the burrito in the hot sauce with a 3-point hot shot from the edge of the White Hawks’ nest. But, before Shelton could finish celebrating, the Cardinals ran the rock down to the other end and plunged in two points of their own.
Again it was the White Hawks’ turn, and Mak-a-roni followed up with a jumper that laced in to make it 5-2. The Cardinals tried to repeat, but senior forward Jen Schaible slapped the smile off the ball’s face and watched as it traversed over Painter’s Creek into Eddie’s Auto and Marine. Eddie, thinking he just found a souvenir to hang on his wall, held up the game, and Coach Butch Humbert had to run to Wayzata and borrow a new ball from the Trojans (actually the second part is not true … he ran to Grandview – and was wearing his mittens).
After more back-and-forth play, the ball soon landed in the hands of junior equalizer and future MMA middleweight Melissa Drill. Drill took off down the court like a Black Friday shopper but was tripped up by a desperate Cardinal, sending her sliding hands first down mid-court. The referee (one of the three Davids) outstretched his arms to signal the “safe” call and blew the whistle.
Another early highlight was when senior center Melissa Christlieb showed off her skills on the scoring end of a textbook “pick and roll” and helped keep the game close. At the end of the first half, the team’s top two scorers, Schaible and Shelton (not to be confused with Schaible & Shelton Attorneys at Law) had a combined total of 19 points. The score at the half was 30 for the Cards, 26 for the Hawks.
Schaible started off the second half with a couple of well-executed rebounds. The Cardinals offense insisted on trying to shoot over the 6’1” Lady Liberty – which is like trying to fly a kite over a Wacky Waving Tube Guy at St. Boni Used Cars. As the second half progressed, Drill woke the crowd up, as she tied up the game 32-32 at the 12-minute mark.
Next in line to ruffle some Cardinal feathers was freshman Megan Wanner. Wanner, being one of the crowd’s favorites, didn’t disappoint her fan base. After stealing the orange pigskin, the Galloping Ghost ran it end-to-end, as an armada of Cardinal defenders clawed and swatted at the ball like it was the last marshmallow in a bucket of s’mores.
Late in the second half, the White Hawks were back on the downside. Annandale, who is always a solid opponent, kept the Hawks from roosting on the rim. But from out of the shadows of the Bat Cave came the Dark Knight, Makman, who regurgitated a 3-point picnic basket that dimmed the Snoras Borealis that was starting to descend on the home crowd. This sparked a glimmer of hope; but to quote Ponyboy Curtis in “The Outsiders,” “Nothing gold can stay.” The Cardinals held on to win 60-51.
Coaches Corner: “We went toe-to-toe with the conference favorite, and I’m very proud of how our kids competed for 36 minutes. We out-rebounded them 38-27, we shot free throws very well and our half-court trap was also effective; we just had a short stretch in the second half where we went a little cold, and they were able to keep us at a 6-8 point deficit. If we can play with that level of intensity and keep attacking our opponents offensively and defensively, we can definitely finish towards the top of the conference.”