Having to play a team back-to-back is tough. Amplify that by that team being the No. 1 team in the state, a physical, defensive-pressure team that disrupts plays, offenses, etc. through immense pressure, and you’ve got a tough task.
“Chaska was more physical in most aspects of the game, which lead to a lack of offensive flow, rushed/missed shots both at the rim and three,” said coach Dusty Neibauer. “Our defensive plan was to switch up our defenses and try to slow that end down for them, as they are a team with a ton of set plays that lead to mismatches and quick switches. We were on pace to hold them to a respectable amount in the first half, but a couple of quick buckets toward the end of the half got them to 31, while we only had 12. It’s a tough thing to run plays, try to operate against that kind of pressure, which is why they are so tough to compete against.”
While Waconia started to find the bottom of the net in the second half with 30 points in the final 18 minutes, it was too late to come back against the Hawks.
“To start the second half, it was tough to capture momentum, and when shots started to fall a bit it was a bit too late to stay in the game, and we ultimately fell 42-67,” said Neibauer. “You hate to have to go out that way against such a great opponent, but our section is loaded with talent, physicality, and experience. Chaska now faces a very tough Minnetonka in round two, and No. 2 seed Eden Prairie faces No. 3 seed Prior Lake.”
Waconia finishes the season with six wins while facing a schedule littered with the best teams in Minnesota.
“While our win total for this year was not what we wanted it to be, it’s double what we had in the summer season,” said Neibauer. “We have to find ways to play and improve all of our skills to be able to compete against the best teams in our conference, section, and state (many of those teams coincide), as our schedule for next year is similar to this year’s. For basketball coaches, the season never ends, and we have already started the conversations about what we need to do in the future to ascend the ranks of AAAA basketball and put our players in the position to win, and we’ll be aggressive in the summer with reinforcing the values, skills, and qualities that lead to great team basketball.”
While the offseason is a time to look toward the future, the end of the season is also a time to reflect on the seniors who gave so much to the program.
“A word about our seniors that have given so much time, talent, and investment to our program and the game,” said Neibauer. “Bella Hoxie, Clara Smith, Morgan Stock, and Hallie Roitenberg have been great teammates, players, and leaders throughout their careers, and have given countless hours to basketball camps, youth nights, handing out water at races for the team, and all sorts of things, and we really appreciate all they’ve contributed. We hope to give all of our athletes a chance at experiencing meaningful things with great people who are looking our for them and each other, and we appreciate their contributions to that.
“Also, Bree Talton and Becca ‘Coach B’ Harmon have been with us as both players and managers for four years, and they are fantastic people that elevate conversation, knowledge of the game, and the environment they’re in at all times. We’ve loved having them around, and will miss them immensely. While we’re at it, also shouts to Brooklyn Sams and Jordyn Trnka, our other managers this year, who are great people, funny as heck, and did a ton to help the team get better.
“Thanks to the training staff who prevent us from getting injured through countless hours of lifting, training, etc., in Jeff Chrest and Josh Anderson.
“Also thanks to Kaylee Damasin, Jeff Bessire, and Kelsey Wiebusch for giving so much to our program and the players in it. They are constantly looking out for the players and the values that we want to espouse, and their patience and willingness to advocate for joy, intensity, and team basketball is fantastic, and we couldn’t do it without them and their dedication.
We also thank our parents and supporters who come to every game, support the girls no matter what, drive / pick up for early morning practices / lifts, and are there for our players. We appreciate it.
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