Huskies work speed and effort to win

Making baskets is the best way to win a basketball game. Andover girls’ basketball team is learning how beneficial a hot hand can be and how detrimental a cold night from the field can be.

Andover’s McKenzie Becker, left, shoots over two Park Center players in a 77-74 Northwest Suburban Conference win against Park Center Feb. 19. Photo by Bill Jones
Andover’s McKenzie Becker, left, shoots over two Park Center players in a 77-74 Northwest Suburban Conference win against Park Center Feb. 19. Photo by Bill Jones

The Huskies scored 54 points in the second half to erase a nine-point deficit in a 77-74 win against Park Center Feb. 19.

Huskies senior Olivia Graham had a monster game with 21 rebounds and 17 points, while Park Center’s Cayla McMorris put up 30 points.

The result of Graham’s effort on the boards meant transition baskets.

“Her energy on the court is infectious and really propelled us to the win,” Andover coach Ray Brodeur said. Graham had three assists and steals.

Another key in the second half was McKenzie Becker, who knocked down some big baskets and finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. “She forced the defense to come out and guard her opening up other opportunities inside for [Graham] and others,” Brodeur said.

Andover was playing without starting wing Haydn Becker, who sprained an ankle in a 51-26 loss to Anoka Feb. 15. Twenty-six points was a season low as the Tornadoes exposed the size mismatch against Andover. Anoka won the first meeting of the season 61-44 Jan. 4.

“They are so big and athletic that it completely disrupts what we want to do,” Brodeur said.

Andover was held to 15 percent shooting against a strong 2-3 zone defense that frustrated the Huskies. “If we can’t make shots then we will lose,” Brodeur said. “We are not big enough to match-up with them so we need to be able to create opportunities by running the floor and making shots in transition before they get set up. They forced us to slow down and got us out of rhythm.”

When Andover can shoot 35 percent from the field and play up-tempo, Brodeur believes his squad can compete with anyone. “Our biggest strength is how hard the girls play,” he said.

“We really try to defend all over the court and everyone has to be communicating to be effective. We can get teams on their heels if we defend hard and play together.”

Andover closed out the regular season against top-ranked Hopkins Feb. 22.

Tornadoes end with win

What’s been a resurgent season for Anoka has led to positive vibes throughout the team heading into sections after a 48-43 win at Champlin Park Feb. 21.

Kyrah Frederickson led the Tornadoes with 19 points, six rebounds and three steals. She shot six of 14 from the field, but made all five free throws attempted. Guard Hailee Gifford added 12 points on four for 10 shooting from the field, three of four free throws, five rebounds and two steals. Claire Lundberg had seven points, four rebounds and four steals.

Anoka won 17 games during the regular season, which is more wins than the previous three seasons combined.

The Tornadoes finished fourth in the Northwest Suburban Conference with a 14-6 record which is another high-water mark after seven seasons in the bottom three spots in the standings.

Last season’s ninth-place finish had been the highest finish since at least 2005.

Panthers roller-coaster February continues

Spring Lake Park continued its win-loss pattern with a big 81-58 win against Columbia Heights Feb. 19.

In seven February games, the Panthers are 4-3, swapping wins and losses each time on the floor. The most recent North Suburban Conference home win featured a 49-30 second half as guard Breanna Semanko led the way with 21 points and post Christina Wakeman added 18 points to guide the Panthers.

Legacy builds success into sections

Legacy Christian Academy has won seven games going into sections after a 44-40 win against Hope Academy Feb. 21. No additional stats were available.

The winning streak puts the Lions at 13-12 on the season and sixth in MCAA play with a 4-7 record.

Jason Olson is at [email protected]