The Stillwater girls’ basketball team has had an easy time in the Suburban East Conference this season. But Friday’s contest with Forest Lake (18-8, 12-6) proved to be a test for the Ponies, ranked No. 8 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News. Senior night can disrupt the rhythm and routine a team has taking the court. However, It was senior forward Liza Karlen who was a stabilizing force in Stillwater’s 70-57 victory over the Rangers.
Karlen eclipsed her 2,000th career point total this season, and was named the recipient of the Athena Award which is given to the best female athlete in the school. The award is a testament to how much she has meant to Stillwater sports in her short time at the school.
“I definitely wasn't expecting it, especially as a transfer, but I guess I’m just really lucky and super thankful for the opportunity just to win it,” Karlen said. “There’s really good athletes in this school, so to win it over them means a lot to me.”
Karlen transferred from St. Paul Central in the 2018-19 season. The senior said a lot of people assume she made the switch for athletics. They are wrong.
The balance of school and athletics wasn’t to her liking in the city schools. She thought about a couple schools to transfer to, but the connections she had at Stillwater (20-5, 17-1) brought her to the Ponies.
After trailing early in the contest, Stillwater, ranked No. 8 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, stormed back and took command of the game defending its home court in their final regular season game against Forest Lake 70-57 on Friday night.
Forest Lake came out strong behind the play of sophomore guard Greta Krieger who put in 14 of her 18 total points in the first half. Stillwater took the lead at 30-29 and went on to score seven more points to go ahead 37-29 at halftime. Senior forward Liza Karlen led the Ponies in the opening half with 13 points.
In the second half, Karlen added 14 more points to lead the Ponies in scoring with 27 points. The Rangers gave Stillwater a scare in the second half when it stormed back to only trail by single digits. The effort was quickly shut down as the Ponies started getting back into its efficient offense to pull away in the end.
The MN Girls' Basketball Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.