Lixa Karlen (32) of Stillwater blocks a shot by Shakopee's Natalie Holte (3) in the Class 4A quarterfinals Wednesday at Williams Arena. Photo: RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII ¥ firstname.lastname@example.org
Even with an admitted case of state-tournament nerves, Stillwater proved to have too much for Shakopee, pulling away from the Sabers in the second half en route to a 73-48 Class 4A quarterfinal victory.
The No. 2-seeded Ponies got out to a 12-2 lead but couldn’t pull away from the stubborn Sabers until a late 12-5 run gave them a 37-25 halftime lead.
“The whole team was jittery, including the coach,” said Stillwater coach Willie Taylor, who has coached in seven previous state tournaments, six of them with St. Paul Central. “For these kids, it was the first time. I think we were playing tight.”
Taylor said his biggest concern early was the Ponies’ inability to generate turnovers with their pressure defense, something that doesn’t happen often.
Stillwater's depth proved vital in the first half, helping the Ponies to a 12-point halftime lead despite getting just nine total points from their big twosome of Sara Scalia and Liza Karlen. Their transition offense helped build the lead to more than 20 points in the second half of a 73-48 victory over Shakopee in the Class 4A quarterfinals Wednesday at Williams Arena.
Check back later for more on the game.