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Continued: There's fast-paced, and then there's Waconia

  • Article by: RON HAGGSTROM , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 24, 2014 - 11:56 PM

One chant you won’t hear at a Waconia game: “D-e-f-e-n-s-e!” It’s pretty much nonexistent.

Senior captain Kaylee Vanderhoff is referred to as the trailer. It’s a nice way of saying she is the last line of defense.

“I’m usually the one back, trying to stop a lot of 2- and 3-on-1s,” Vanderhoff said. “We do a lot of running around. We really don’t play defense.

“People get on us about not playing any defense. But they say that we’re fun to watch, too.”

Waconia’s opposition has eclipsed 100 points 11 times.

“The one thing I’m getting out of it is a stiff neck,” Orono announcer Brad Olson said. “It’s like watching a tennis match.”

Opposition’s take

After Hutchinson scored 112 early in January, the goal was 120 a month later in the rematch.

“We were a little disappointed that we only scored 103 points the second game,” coach Tim Ellefson said. “It sounds a little funny saying that, but if we don’t miss 34 free throws, we would have met our goal.”

The second matchup featured a combined 121 trips up and down the court, 86 free throws and 69 turnovers. The Tigers rallied for a three-point victory in the nearly two-hour marathon.

“Our players love playing against it,” Ellefson said. “It’s like unleashing all anxiety for our girls.

“As a coach, I don’t look forward to playing Waconia because it is such a different mindset for our players and staff. We need to practice basic skills like 3-on-2 and 3-on-1, which we don’t get very often in other games. We don’t need to practice offensive sets.”

The state’s all-time winningest girls’ coach — Mike Dreier, with more than 800 victories — recently also got a firsthand look at the system. His New London-Spicer squad won 110-99 after giving up 59 points in the first half.

“I think Carl has done an outstanding job matching the skill set of his players with a system that maximizes their potential,” Dreier said. “They are a major challenge to prepare for because of their uniqueness.”

That uniqueness usually leaves both teams exhausted as they leave the gym floor.

“It’s a fun way to end my career,” Vanderhoff said. “I’ll never experience something like this again.”


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  • Guard Anna Schmitt leads the hard-charging Waconia offense. She averages a team-best 30.4 points per game.

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