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Preller's career ends just short of state bid

Woodbury girls basketball coach Dave Preller waited Thursday for White Bear Lake to receive its Section 4AAAA championship award after defeating the Royals and putting an end to his 24-year career. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker1 / 4
Woodbury center Ashley Sha reacts after time expired Thursday in the Section 4AAAA loss to White Bear Lake. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker2 / 4
Woodbury senior guard Michelle Young drives to the hoop Thursday against White Bear Lake. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker3 / 4
Royals coach Dave Preller gives his team a post-game talk moments after Woodbury lost 42-39 to White Bear Lake. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker4 / 4

Dave Preller's head coaching career at Woodbury High School came to an end Thursday in the Section 4AAAA championship game against White Bear Lake.

The Bears nipped the Royals 42-39, sending White Bear Lake to the state tournament.

Preller said it was odd looking up at the scoreboard for the last time, but said the game won't be one he'll analyze the rest of his days off the court

"I don't know that I'm going to relive any part of this game," said Preller, who coached at Woodbury for 24 years.

Despite the loss, Preller praised his players for a season that he said finished remarkably strong after early struggles.

"The kids left everything they had out on the court," he said.

Up 22-21 after the first half, Woodbury played another closely matched second half, but got into foul trouble about halfway through the second frame. The Bears capitalized on the fouls - converting free throws and beating back the Royals' five-point lead.

"They came back and got that - and then some," Preller said.

Senior standout Michelle Young, who led Woodbury with 12 points on the night, couldn't convert two free-throw shots with about three minutes left. An offensive foul away from the ball by Woodbury put White Bear Lake at the line with less than two minutes to play and led to two more points and a 40-37 Bears lead.

"The game was theirs," Preller said of his team, which returns every player next season except for Young, who received a scholarship to play basketball at Bradley University.

The number of returning players positions the Royals well for next year, Preller said, but will require more leaders to step up with Young gone.

"You've got to replace a lot of points," he said of Young, who averaged more than 22 points per game in the regular season for Woodbury.

Sophomore Marisa Olsen finished with eight points against White Bear Lake, while junior Ashley Sha scored eight points on the night for the Royals.

While Preller steps away from the coaching ranks, he will continue to be involved with basketball at the AAU level, where he serves as vice governor and treasurer. He said he will also stay on as AAU's director for girls basketball.

He did, however, leave the door open for a return to the court.

"If I get that itch, then we'll go some place to get it scratched," he said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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