Two Cardinals want top perch
There's another 20 days left of Willmar girls basketball in the regular season, but Friday night is an all-Cardinals super bowl. Alexandria invades the Willmar Senior High gymnasium to decide the Central Lakes' lead and quite possibly the confere...
There's another 20 days left of Willmar girls basketball in the regular season, but Friday night is an all-Cardinals super bowl.
Alexandria invades the Willmar Senior High gymnasium to decide the Central Lakes' lead and quite possibly the conference championship.
After all, both teams are 11-1 in the CLC. Alexandria's lone setback in conference play was to Willmar, 74-72 in overtime; Willmar's only loss was to Brainerd, also in overtime, a loss that the Cardinals vanquished on Monday, at Brainerd, 54-44.
"As regular-season games go, they don't get much bigger than this," commented Brad Atchison, the Willmar coach. "Alex is a very quick athletic team that loves to run the floor, press and fast break. They can score lots of points quickly."
Willmar fans will see one of the state's top-rated players in Angela Christianson, a 6-foot senior who missed the game here her junior year due to illness. The program's all-time scoring leader scored her 2,000th career point last weekend in a victory over Brainerd.
"She creates a lot of problems for defenses," said Atchison. "She can hit the three or post up in the paint."
Willmar held the Drake University recruit to 15 points in the Jan. 5 meeting.
Like Atchison, Alexandria coach Wendy Koehler (396-189) puts out a veteran team with balanced scoring, behind Christianson's 27 points-per-game average, but it can also play grinding defense. Third-year starter Gracie Bruzek is a 5-foot-5 defensive dynamo and the main cog in a 1-3-1 full-court press.
Willmar will have the size advantage inside, but not by a lot: 6-footers Alli Haar averages nearly 11.0 ppg and Sam Trumm 9.0 ppg and 11 rebounds.
Atchison adds that his Cardinals must limit fast-break points for the visiting Cardinals and take care of the ball.
"We have to keep our turnovers down," he said. "We committed 24 in the first game. Too many."
Willmar secured the ball in the win at Brainerd (15 turnovers), which they were unable to do against the Warriors' press in the team's only CLC loss.
Willmar has never enjoyed such balance in all phases of the game. Just look at the last outing, Monday's win at Brainerd: 5-foot-5 guard Mariel Aamot was the leading scorer with 13 points, tying her season high; Hannah Smith, who plays mostly on the perimeter, had 12 rebounds plus six points; Jenna Thompson supplied eight points, seven assists and four steals; Jen Knake three assists and three blocks; Sara Kalloff and Kayli Gimse a combined 13 points off the bench; and center Alex Lippert had 12 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
Lippert, a 6-4 senior, has averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in the team's six-game win streak.
Alexandria (14-3) has won eight straight since the loss to Willmar, never scoring less than 72 points. Willmar (16-2) is 28-2 in conference games the past two seasons and is looking for its second straight CLC title.
Sports on block
Athletics won't escape cutbacks to solve the most recent revenue shortfalls. Proposals include particaption fee hikes, admission increases, losing assistant coaching positions and cutting entire sports. Tennis, golf and skiing were the first mentioned at Monday's school board meeting, but up to 11 of the 25 athletic programs could be axed under one extreme projection to help come up with $2 million in cuts.
Henrickson at 250
Bonnie Henrickson, the first girl in Willmar basketball to achieve 1,000 career points, achieved her 250th career win as a major college basketball head coach on Saturday when her Kansas Jayhawks whipped Big 12 rival Missouri 61-59 in Columbia. She is 92-86 at Kansas added to a 158-62 mark at Virginia Tech.
On the fly
Taylor Filipek is one of 19 Minnesota senior boys who are a 2010 McDonald's All-America Game nominees. Alex Hanks of St. Cloud Tech is also named.
Kelsey Evans, a first-year player at Briar Cliff (21-3), is averaging 6.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg and has 17 blocks and 40 steals in 23 games.