1/31/2013 11:47:00 AM Wildcats lose two big leads in as many games After seeing halftime leads of six and 10 vanish in NSC losses, CL looks forward to Fridley match up
Despite a late dribble-drive, CL’s Hannah Trandahl couldn’t make the final play despite heavy contact.
Photos by Doug Berg
BY JEFF NORTON
Robbinsdale Cooper 71, Chisago Lakes 57 In the first half of Chisago Lakes’ match up against Robbinsdale Cooper last week, it didn’t matter that Cooper was already 7-0 on the year in the North Suburban Conference. It didn’t matter that they are a combined 23-2 in the conference over the last two years. It didn’t matter that Cooper had beaten the best team in Chisago Lakes history last year.
None of that mattered because the Wildcats were able to build a six point lead playing some of the best basketball they’ve played all year. Junior Bryanna Fernstrom buzzed by the 1,000 career point mark early in the contest -- she needed only four points to get there -- and scored 16 points in the opening half alone. The Wildcats also only committed two fouls while the Hawks were hacking and chopping their way to eight fouls, putting CL in the bonus late.
Meanwhile, Cooper’s top scoring threat, Chelsey McGee, sat on the bench for much of the first half because of said foul trouble. The Lady ‘Cats also got seven points from Sam Forslund and six points from Sarah Green in the half. Not all news was good, however.
Even with McGee sitting for a good portion of the first half, Cooper’s Laurie Bohler got hot, hitting two threes and two baskets en route to 10 points, which was more than her season average. As the half wore on, the ‘Cats also started to struggle a bit against Cooper’s pressure defense. “We just weren’t bringing the ball up the court,” Head Coach Craig Walker said. Despite the offense going a bit stagnant near the end, the Wildcats still had a 34-28 lead at halftime, and looked to be in good position to upset the NSC-leading Hawks.
Then the second half happened. Everything that could go wrong for Chisago Lakes did. Cooper’s pressure defense continued to hound the ‘Cats up the court and they had trouble getting the ball inside to Fernstrom, who only netted two points in the second half. When Chisago Lakes was able to get the ball inside, usually it was to Sarah Greene. Greene has made a living this year capitalizing on double teams of Fernstrom, but nothing was falling for the sophomore against Cooper.
While things went stale on the offensive end in the second half, the defense began to crumble as McGee reestablished herself in the game. The senior point guard scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the second half. Bohler didn’t slow down either, adding 10 more points.
“Their press wore us down and created a few easy baskets for them and when we were able to get into the front court, we struggled to capitalize by either missing a shot or taking a poor shot,” Walker explained after the game. “Defensively, we couldn't get the ball out of McGee's hands and she made us pay in the second half with either a basket off the drive or a pass to an open teammate for an easy basket.”
Cooper had quickly regained the lead in the second half and began to cruise as the clock wound down, eventually winning by 14 points at 71-57. The ‘Cats can point to a lot of things as the blame for their loss, but ultimately, bad transition defense in the second half and poor free throw shooting did them in as Cooper made their run. The Hawks got a few too many easy baskets as CL struggled to get back on defense at times. And for the game, the ‘Cats shot just 11-of-23 from the charity stripe.
Fernstrom and Greene both had 18 points for the Wildcats while Bohler and McGee each had 20 for the Hawks.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s 46, Chisago Lakes 45 The Wildcats’ brutal one-two step came to an end three days after it started. First, they took on the now 9-0 Hawks and then they had the now 8-1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights.
Both teams have been ranked at different times this year, and both teams provide a different challenge for CL. There was a chance to take sole possession of second place in the NSC on the line in the game, as both team’s only conference loss this year had come to Cooper.
Unfortunately for Chisago Lakes, they played a similar tune to the Cooper game. In the first half, the Wildcats raced out to a double-digit lead at 35-25. They got balanced scoring from some surprising faces. Senior point guard Hannah Trandahl, who is usually a maestro at creating shots for teammates and playing defense, led the ‘Cats with 10 points at the half while Fernstrom had nine and Greene added seven. Katelyn Ramberg, Katie Jennissen and Forslund each added a three pointer to keep CL in front of the high-powered Red Knights for the first 16 minutes.
In the second half, though, the ‘Cats began to miss shots that were going down in the first half, and their poor free throw shooting reared its ugly head again. The team tried to hold off the Red Knights, who were led by Grace Coughlin, a junior point guard already committed to the U of M. Although the defense was still solid in the second half, unlike the Cooper game, the offense never found rhythm. The Red Knights took their first lead of the game with 1:45 remaining.
However, a Fernstrom and-one bucket gave CL the two point lead back temporarily. However, Allie Coughlin tied the game up with her only basket of the game with 56 seconds left, leading to a last minute showdown. The Wildcats drained the clock down to 16 points before Walker took a timeout to draw up a play for the win.
The play called for Trandahl, who had only scored one more point in the second half, to penetrate and dish to one of the open bigs. But, Trandahl raced past her defender and got in the lane to put a shot up, but contact put her on the ground and sent the ball careening out of bounds with four seconds left and no foul being called.
It looked like overtime was in the cards for the two teams as Benilde inbounded the ball to some loose pressure from the ‘Cats. However, near midcourt, the referees called a foul on the Wildcats, and with the Red Knights in the bonus, that meant two free throws.
Junior guard Liz Nicholson stepped to the line and sunk her first free throw to give BSM the lead. She attempted to purposely miss the next free throw by clanking it hard off the rim, but she missed completely, which means the clock doesn’t run.
Although it left the slimmest of hope for the Wildcats, they missed on their desperation shot and a shocked and disappointed Chisago Lakes sulked off of their home court with their second loss in a row. “They are a good team with enough experience in close games and one of the better point guards in the state,” Walker explained. “We knew that if we could keep Grace Coughlin somewhat contained and then keep the others from hurting us, we'd be in it at the end. We just didn't hit enough shots or free throws and turned the ball over while trying to hold on to a lead.”
Walker, who seemed perturbed at the no-call on Trandahl only moments before the referee called the midcourt foul against the ‘Cats, pointed to his team’s miserable free throw shooting as the main culprit to the two losses this week. “After we shot 75 percent and 57 percent in wins over St. Francis and Totino, we shot 49 percent and 46 percent from the line this week,” he said. The Wildcats only had one game this week.
They took on the 1-15 Fridley Tigers earlier this week. They’ll travel to Irondale Tuesday, Feb. 5 and don’t come home until a Saturday, Feb. 9 match up with Hermantown.