BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted was able to slow down a couple of Rockford’s top girls basketball scorers when winning the sub-section game 66-43 Saturday.
HLWW showed why it earned the top sub-section seed in 5AA by employing a potent offense and pressure defense. Offensive rebounds were particularly hard to get for Rockford, lowering the scoring output of its leaders.
Junior Brianna Calder, who leads with 10.9 points per game, was held to four points by HLWW and senior Jordan Weeding scored 2 points after averaging 10.4 points per outing this season.
Senior Abby Botten was able to bust loose when scoring 21 points, while averaging 8.8 on the season. Junior Sam Bagaason added 10 points, ending with a scoring average of 9.2.
“We came out strong against Howard Lake but then some layups and outside shots rimmed out,” said coach James Carr. “The effort was there as we battled the entire way. They shot well, making some timely 3’s.”
The Rockets had a shot at HLWW after defeating Breck at home Thursday 68-37. Calder scored 14 points with 13 rebounds. Caitlin McNeal had 12 points and three steals. Bagaason scored 10 points, while Weeding had nine points and five rebounds and Botten had eight points and four steals.
“We came out very aggressive, forcing turnovers to get easy baskets,” notes Carr. “The girls were fired up to have the experience of having a home playoff game and we had a great crowd.”
Rockford started the season going 2-11, but finished going 13-14, placing third in the Central Minnesota Conference. Carr says getting to the second round of the playoffs will serve as a great experience for a big group of players who will return.
“”We played extremely solid basketball the second half of the year,” says Carr. “The players kept working day in and day out to get better. We will bring back some real good pieces to the team, but lose some big pieces.”
Weeding was a three-year starter. The other seniors are Botten and Megan Westrup. Juniors returning with varsity playing time include Calder, Bagaason and Lily Stecker. Sophomores who contributed on varsity were Caitlin and Allison McNeal, Hnubci Lee, Emma Hawley, Payton Palmer and Lauren Enge.