As a senior captain and point guard for defending Class 3A champion Cooper, Aja Wheeler knows she has to provide leadership.
She also knows her duties extend beyond that. Her experience means she’s the person the Hawks want with the ball in her hands when the game — or the season — is on the line.
Aja Wheeler’s driving lay-up with 11 seconds left sent defending Class 3A champion Cooper back to the state tournament with a 52-51 victory over Waconia on Thursday in the Section 6 championship.
The seventh-ranked Hawks trailed the Wildcats by as many as six points late in the second half at Chanhassen High School, and still trailed by a point until Wheeler’s basket.
Wheeler finished with 20 points. Teammate Andrea Tribble added 21 points, capped by a three-pointer that put the Hawks in front 50-49 with 2:45 to go.
Cooper pushed the tempo early as it charged to a 13-4 lead in the first six minutes.
However, as the pace of the game slowed down, Waconia’s defense packed into the paint and the Hawks failed to take advantage. They made just two of 15 shots from beyond the 3-point line in the half as Waconia climbed back into the game.
Sydni Olson’s driving circus shot with 2:32 left in the half gave the Wildcats their first lead at 22-20.
Check back later for more on the game.