Waconia Wildcats 62 Grand Rapids Thunderhawks 52
6-9 all-state center Shelby Moats was a man among boys for Waconia from the opening tip through 11:30 of the 1st half, when his 2nd 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a 16-4 lead. Moats’ 1st 3 had given Waconia a 3-0 lead over Grand Rapids that it would never relinquish. He then grabbed the next 3 available rebounds on either end of the court, and added 2 FT on the offensive end, then hit a 2-pointer that pushed the lead into double figures at 13-2.
The lead reached 20-6, then 29-12, then 37-18 at the half.
Grand Rapids started with 6-7 eighth grader (you read that right) Alex Illikainen in the post, and he got off to a slow start. So Grand Rapids coach Dan Elhard brought in a wider 6-7 post, junior Mike Spoden, but kept Illikainen in the game, and with both of his big kids on the court, the Thunderhawks were able to neutralize Moats the rest of the way.
It was too late for the Thunderhawks to get the win, but not too late for Illikainen to impress. By half-time he had been out-scored by Moats 10-4. By game’s end it was Moats 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Illikainen 12 points and 14 rebounds. Spoden finished with 9 points and 2 boards.
And so, in the 2nd half Grand Rapids got within 54-45, the 1st time in single digits since 13-4, as Austin Pohlen scored 5 straight points for Grand Rapids. Pohlen later canned 4 straight free throws to make it 58-50, but by then time had run out on the Hawks rally.
The final was 62-52, and it came down to nothing more than putting the ball in the hole. Waconia shot 56 percent in the 1st half and 47 percent for the day, while Grand Rapids shot 29 for the 1st half and 38 for the day. Wylie Ferron and Alex Schmidt took over the scoring for the Wildcats after Moats’ early heroics, and they finished with 16 and 15 respectively. Pohlen led the Hawks with 14 to Illinkainen’s 12.
Trench Player: Shelby Moats