By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
One of the best players in the state was on display at last week’s St. Michael-Albertville girls’ basketball tournament.
MC McGrory of the No. 7 ranked Edina Hornets is a Division I recruit of Creighton University. The future Bluejay would lead the Hornets to a championship finish with a 48-46 win over STMA.
In day one of the two-day holiday tournament, the Edina star scored 36 of the Hornets 52 points to lead Edina past Maple Grove 52-39. The win set up a showdown with the No. 11 ranked Knights, who easily defeated Mahtomedi 77-36 in last Thursday’s opening round.
The Zephyrs finished last at the tournament, losing to the Crimson 69-35 in the third-place contest. Mahtomedi was nearly a no-show in Thursday’s tip-off against STMA. With its bus arriving 20 minutes prior to tip-off, Mahtomedi fell behind early and the Knights got scoring from up and down the lineup in the 31-point win.
Five different players scored at least 10 points. Senior guard Natalie Van Wyhe paved the way with 15. Junior forward Erin Autio had 12. Freshman guard Sydney Tracy also had 12. Senior guard Jordan Hansen and sophomore guard Bobbi Brendefur each had 10.
“It’s definitely intimidating coming in,” said Tracy, who currently ranks fourth on the team in scoring (7.8 points per game) as a freshman. “We have some great captains and seniors that offer encouragement and as you start scoring it gives you more confidence.”
The Knights don’t boast that one dominant girl like Edina’s McGrory, who ranks 26th in state averaging 20.2 ppg. Van Wyhe was the team’s leader at 11.7 ppg. But STMA has a cast of characters who have had seven different girls hit double figures this season in the point column.
“We have more even scoring,” Tracy said. “There’s more balance and we have a lot of talent and the subs off our bench always help.”
In Thursday’s blowout over the Zephyrs, the bench contributed 34 of the 77 points. Eighth grader Rae Johnson scored a career high eight points late in the contest.
“Rae is only an eighth grader and you can see how good she can be too,” said head coach Kent Hamre. “She almost had it (double digits) at the end. She’s going to be pretty special for us.”
With two of the top teams in Class 4A battling for the holiday title, the Knights swarmed last Friday night shutting down Edina’s top dog early. McGrory was held to only five first-half points.
“McGrory is the real deal. Going in, we had to know where she’s at on the floor at all times,” Hamre said. “Hopefully you can make someone else besides her beat you.”
Edina still managed to hold a slim 22-20 halftime advantage and it was Edina’s other scorer Jill Morton, helping pick up the slack.
Even though the Knights trailed at one point by 16 points, STMA fought back and held a 46-45 lead with only 54.7 second left in regulation. Edina would score three points in the final minute, which proved to be the difference. Morton finished with 10 points, but it was McGrory’s ability to get to the free throw line – where she scored eight of her 16 points in a 48-46 win.
Brendefur finished with 12 points and Tracy and Van Wyhe each had nine.
The Knights (8-2 overall) should have another good test this Friday at home when they host No. 8 rated Wayzata (10-1 overall) at 7:15 p.m.
“We don’t,” said Tracy, on whether or not the girls look at the state rankings. “We know what we’re ranked. But as a team we just try and do our best instead of worrying about who’s ranked who.”