Woodbury girls basketball: Bears end Royals’ season in section semifinalsWoodbury High School’s girls basketball team nearly toppled Section 4AAAA’s top seed Saturday night at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury High School’s girls basketball team nearly toppled Section 4AAAA’s top seed Saturday night at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.
The cheers were nearly deafening after Woodbury’s Marisa Olsen sunk a layup with a little more than three minutes left in regulation that closed White Bear Lake’s lead to 47-46. But the Bears, seeded first in the section, hit clutch free throws and outrebounded the Royals down the final stretch in order to widen its lead and to defeat Woodbury, 51-48.
“It was a game of missed opportunities,” said Woodbury coach Lionel Jones. “We put together a game plan that we thought would work, but we came up a little short. I wanted that game so bad for our team, our school and our community, but it was not to be so. We gave them all they could handle.”
The fifth-seeded Royals lost to Suburban East Conference co-champion White Bear Lake twice during the regular season: A 65-52 defeat on Jan. 10 and a 56-37 loss on Feb. 14. In last Saturday’s playoff game, however, the Royals (10-18, 5-13 SEC) went into halftime ahead 22-20. They also held SEC leading-scorer Alexis Foley (20.6 points per game) to five first-half points.
But the Bears came back. They outrebounded the Royals 13-5 in the second half, drawing fouls and hitting free throws (11-for-17) that allowed them to win by a four-point margin.
Woodbury junior Kristina White scored 21 points and grabbed a team-high three steals, followed by junior Erin Stromen, who had 11 points. Senior Kayla Hinton finished with four rebounds.
White Bear Lake’s Foley scored a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Woodbury advanced to last Saturday’s game after defeating fourth-seeded Cretin-Derham Hall 69-61 last Wednesday in St. Paul. The Royals rallied back from a 21-8 deficit, chiseling away at the Raiders’ lead by penetrating the key, causing Raiders’ foul trouble, and eventually closing Cretin-Derham Hall’s lead to 29-22 by halftime. Woodbury went on to outscore Cretin-Derham Hall 47-32 in the second half.
“As a coach, there is always a point during the season that you wait for, when you say to yourself, ‘They are starting to get it,’” Jones said. “The second half of the Cretin game was it. To be able to come out and score 47 points in the second half and take away Cretin’s inside game was crucial to us winning. I think that same mindset carried over into the White Bear Lake game. I wish we had another month of the season left.”
White led Woodbury with a game-high 24 points, followed by Stromen with 21 points and Mikaela Hunter with 12 points. Hunter led the Royals with nine rebounds, followed by Hinton with four. Hunter and White also made four and three steals, respectively.
Brianna Muetzel led the Raiders with 16 points.
After defeating Woodbury, White Bear Lake (22-6) advanced to tomorrow’s section final game against No. 2 St. Paul Central (20-6). The game will be played at 7 p.m. at East Ridge High School. The winner advances to the Minnesota State High School League state tournament March 14 through 16.
Last Saturday’s loss to White Bear Lake marked the final prep contest for Woodbury seniors Hinton, Kelsey Anderson, Carli Wacker, Raeanna Zellmer, Lauren Haga and Ashley Sha.
“I will miss our seniors tremendously, but I know they are moving on to bigger and better things,” Jones said. “I hope our returning players take the lessons they have learned from our seniors and apply them when they play next season.
“I am excited about next season. The first year anywhere is always tough, but my staff and I have a vision and we will stay the course. My offseason started the day after the White Bear Lake game and we will not rest until we are where want to be.”