Waconia runs past New Ulm girls

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello New Ulm senior center Olivia Wick takes a shot during the first half against Waconia Monday at New Ulm High School.

NEW ULM — Despite New Ulm’s early efforts to upset Waconia on Monday night at New Ulm High School, the No. 8-ranked Wildcats were still too much for the Eagles to handle as the Wildcats cruised to a 90-69 win in nonconference girls’ basketball action.

Despite the loss, New Ulm (5-9) had five girls in double figures, with eighth-grader Daviney Dreckman leading the way with 12 points. Also for the Eagles, Bryn Nesvold had 11 points, four rebounds, four blocks, two assists and two steals, Hannah Osborne had 11 points and five assists, Olivia Wick had 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists and Kirsten Dennis had 10 points and three steals.

Waconia (11-5) was led by Ava Stier, who had 21 points.

While pressing the Wildcats early in the first half, the Eagles were able to gain the upper hand and take a 9-5 lead after a 3 by Dennis with 14:11 left in the half. The Eagles kept up their press and led 12-8 after a bucket inside by Wick, but after a corner 3 by Sydni Olson cut the Eagles’ lead to 12-11 and Waconia head coach Dusty Neibauer burned a timeout, the Wildcats made the necessary adjustments and began to break the New Ulm press with relative ease.

After a 3 by Tess Johnson and a steal and pass by Johnson to Addy Salzer for a layup, the Wildcats took a 21-15 lead and forced New Ulm head coach Brian Batt to burn a timeout with 10:49 left in the half.

The Wildcats pushed their lead to 41-21 after a steal and an and-one by Audrey Swanson with 5:36 left in the half. Waconia ended up leading 58-27 at the half after Salzer buried a 3 with seconds to go in the half.

“Early on we did all right against them,” Batt said. “Before the game, I told them that the little things were going to be really important. We needed to limit them to one shot, we had to run them off the 3-point line or at least get a hand in their face and not give them any clean looks. Then it got to the point where we were giving them extra looks and giving them so open 3s. And also the other big point I had was I knew they like to run, so we’ve got to sprint back, sprint back, sprint back. Early on we did it, then we stopped doing it.”

A jumper by Olson pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 37, 67-30, their largest lead of the night. The Eagles were able to get something going midway through the second half and went on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 82-57. They continued to chip away at the Wildcats’ lead and cut the deficit to 21, 88-67, after a 3 by Dreckman.

After a Waconia bucket inside, Anna Lee got a shot to fall inside for New Ulm for the final score.

That improved play in the second half was something Batt was hoping to see with a 7:30 p.m. Tuesday home section matchup with Mankato East ahead.

“I told them at halftime, ‘Let’s just make a statement in the second half and carry it over into Tuesday,'” Batt said. “I didn’t tell them there’s no way we can win this game, but I just want to start doing things the right way so that we’re building towards a game that we can win [Tuesday] and a game that we can win Friday.”