Girls Basketball: New Life Academy, East Ridge, Park reflect on the winter season
The girls basketball season has officially come to an end as every Woodbury and Cottage Grove high school team has been eliminated from its section tournament either Wednesday or Saturday of last week.
For every team, it's always sad to see a season come to an end. But it also means that a new season is coming with returners and incoming impact players for each team.
New Life Academy
The Eagles season came to an end on Saturday with a 92-76 loss to No. 2 seed Concordia Academy-Roseville. Even though it was a large margin, head coach Greg Wilson said these last two section games were some of the best games these girls played all season.
The team shot 14 3-pointers in Saturday's game and scored 76 points, while on Wednesday they scored 70 points. There was some disappointment from the Eagles in receiving the No. 7 seed with 15 wins on the season and other teams above them didn't reach double-digit wins.
Wilson said the team played with some fire under them and had two strong games to close out the season.
New Life only has one senior graduating with Emmy Erickson and Wilson is excited about the future of this team. Juniors Carly Hager and McKayla Montgomery as well as sophomore Bethany Brocker will look to lead next year's team.
"This is probably the most fun season I've had," Wilson said. "These girls worked really hard this season and I'm excited about the next couple of years as we continue to grow."
The Raptors had the No. 6 seed in the tournament and had to face a tough White Bear Lake team. The Bears grabbed an early lead and never looked back with a 51-33 win on Wednesday night.
Even though it was an early exit for East Ridge, head coach Glen Wurm said he couldn't be more proud of the girls for their season. The Raptors improved this season from a record standpoint and a mentality standpoint.
Wurm said he saw growth every day whether at practice or at games and that makes him excited about the future of this program.
The Raptors will have only three seniors graduate this year with Chloe Stoehr, Ellie Swanson and Josie Dorf. East Ridge will have many returning starters on their team next season with experience and confidence to improve their record from this season.
The Raptors will be returning junior Madalyn Slavin, junior Ella Stegeman, freshman Britt Carlson and junior Kate Burns.
For Wurm, he's excited to have a combination of guards and forwards coming back to expand the court more next season.
"These seniors meant a lot to our program and they will be missed next season," Wurm said. "They laid a strong tradition and I'm looking forward to having all this experience back next season."
The Wolfpack's section tournament ended early as well with a 73-42 loss to No. 1 seed Eastview on Wednesday night.
For head coach Stephanie Tolkinen, she doesn't look at the record as much as she looks at the life lessons and experience these girls receive during the course of the season.
With managing their time with basketball, school and a social life as well as community service activities, Tolkinen wants the players to understand what the real world is like and preparing them for the next chapter of their life.
Park will have six seniors graduating this year including Lexi Gerber, Lindsey Strom, Saren Croker, Mallory Hoffman, Annika Theurer and Hannah Schluetter. Tolkinen said these seniors contributed a lot whether it was on the court or in the classroom or in the community.
"They represented Park with everything they did," Tolkinen said. "They will be missed next season, but I know they will do great things in next step of their life."
The Wolfpack will be returning key starters in their lineup like junior Ashanti Boykin, junior Ayanii Satcher and junior Madeline Blumberg.
"I'm excited for the next season because we have some leaders coming back as well as some new faces that will contribute to our program," Tolkinen said.