By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
Thursday’s game against Chisago Lakes was the tale of two freshmen; Lizzy Heil and Rae Johnson. The two combined for 45 points, just four less than the total amount scored by the entire Wildcats team.
Heil made her impact mostly in the first half. When senior leader Erin Autio got into early foul trouble, Heil came in and provided a spark with 11 first half points, helping her team to a 30-26 advantage at halftime. Her fellow freshman Johnson scored 10 points in the first half, including a three point play right in front of the intermission.
The second half belonged to Johnson, who seemed to hit every three point shot she attempted. In reality, she hit seven, which tied a school record. At the time she stopped scoring, she had amassed 32 points; just 11 points shy of the school record for points by a player in a single game (Jeannie Dehmer, 1985).
As Johnson kept scoring, STMA pulled further away. Even sitting on the bench for a spell did nothing to cool her down. The Knights won 76-49 behind Johnson’s huge effort. Heil finished with 13 points, and Autio returned in the second half and chipped in with 11.
Coach Hamre said that the team is really gelling at this point of the season.
“When one person is down, the next person picks ‘em up, and I like to see that,” he said.
Johnson had trouble finding the right words after her huge night.
“I feel good, I feel pretty good. I just need to keep up the intensity and energy, and keep up the teamwork.”
Johnson preceded her own big night with a huge game winning shot in a low scoring showdown against the Cambridge-Isanti Blue Jackets. As the fourth game in six days, this presented the Knights as an exhausted group of girls.
After building a 14-4 lead and being up by as many as 13 points, exhaustion set in for the Knights and the Blue Jackets made their way back into the game, settling in with a 25-20 Knights halftime lead.
Exhaustion continued to rule the Knights in the second half. On a night where no STMA player scored in double figures, Bobbi Brendefur and Autio led the team with nine points each, combining for exactly half of the team’s points.
Down the stretch, the Knights scored just three points over the final 10 minutes of play. With seconds left, the teams were tied at 34. Rae Johnson hit the game winning layup with just under three seconds remaining for a 36-34 victory.
Coach Hamre said the game was the lowest scoring output he had seen from any of his teams in his career.
“We scored 36 points and won, so a win’s a win, we’ll take a win, especially with the schedule we had.”
Another round of the polar vortex canceled STMA’s game against Orono. The Knights return to action on Thursday at Princeton and Saturday against St. Cloud Tech.