Girls' Basketball: Kieger, Hakes lead Royals past Wolfpack
As the gym emptied, Woodbury's Cam Veenbaas walked out of the trainer's room with ice packs on both knees. Minutes later Woodbury star guard Rachel Hakes followed with the same look.
It was that kind of game.
Woodbury prevailed 60-57 in a rough-and-tumble contest Tuesday for a season sweep of the Park Wolfpack. The Royals edged Park 46-44 in the first meeting between the two teams this season Jan. 10 in Woodbury.
Neither was for the faint of heart.
The Royals made 7-of-8 free-throws in the final three minutes to pull out the victory, including 4-of-4 by Hakes and 2-of-2 by Cecile Kieger.
"Tonight I had the hot hand," said Kieger who scored 24 points and repeatedly stuck a dagger in Park rallies. "They weren't able to stop it, so our philosophy was to go with who's hot. In the first half, it was Rach. In the second half, it was me.
"It feels good," Kieger added when asked how it felt when she was so consistently on the mark. "Then I feel in rhythm, and other aspects like defense and everything else becomes easier when you're hitting shots."
Park's Molly Wenner missed a last-second potential game-tying three at the buzzer to end it.
It's been that kind of a season for the hard-luck Wolfpack. Park has lost nine conference games by a total of 58 points, or about six points a game.
"I thought they (the Royals) executed better," Park coach Stephanie Tolkinen said. "And I thought on the defensive end they just kept us off balance a little bit. There were times when our kids made good reads on the defense, and we scored on them, but I thought they just did a little better job of keeping their composure. And I thought they execution on offense was really good."
The loss snapped a three-game Park winning streak.
Woodbury improved to 13-9 overall and 8-5 in the Suburban East Conference.
Park slipped to 9-13 on the season and 3-9 in conference play.
Hakes and Kieger combined for 44 of Woodbury's 60 points.
"They're good basketball players," said Tolkinen. "They're smart basketball players. Cece couldn't miss tonight. She hurt us in every which way. And I just give them a lot of credit. I challenged our kids to be out there and meet her on the catch, and we're just kind of watching her shoot. And if you're going to give her space to shoot she's going to make them, and she did a good job. Rachel played it right to the rim and did a good job of getting us in foul trouble."
The game was tight from start to finish. Park's biggest lead was five, Woodbury's was six.
A three-point play by Park's Hurji Burka tied the game at 54-all with 3:16 left. Hakes made two free throws to give Woodbury a 57-54 lead with 57 seconds left.
Saren Croker scored for Park to trim Woodbury's lead to 57-56 with 33 seconds remaining. But Kieger made two free throws for a 58-56 lead with 22 seconds left.
At the other end, Park's Delaney Young came oh-so-close to making a three-point play, only to have the ball roll off the rim. Young made one free throw to cut Woodbury's lead to 59-57. Woodbury's Elizabeth Jordahl made a free throw with five seconds left. Park called a timeout to set up a 3-point shot, but the missed shot ended the game.
"I think once we got into a rhythm we really shared the ball and worked it around well and knocked down shots, really clutch shots in the stretch," said Hakes.
Burka had a big offensive night for the Wolfpack, scoring 15 of her team-high 20 points in the second half. Burka's offense kept the Wolfpack in the game in the second half as the Royals clamped down on almost everyone else. Croker had 12 points for Park off the bench, while Delaney Young and Wenner had eight each.
Park plays a weather rescheduled game at Mounds View Wednesday, then goes to league-leading East Ridge (18-5, 10-3) Friday.
Woodbury is at Stillwater (8-14, 2-11) Friday, then takes on top-ranked and undefeated Hopkins (22-0) at Hopkins on Saturday afternoon.