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Lakeville North takes over in second half, sinks Minnetonka

By Adam Holt, SportsEngine, 11/30/17, 1:15PM CST


Down a point at the half, the Panthers outscored the Skippers 43-32 in the second half.

Junior guard Analiese Tschida (20) takes the ball through midcourt and looks to drive the lane. Tschida led Lakeville North to a 73-63 victory over Minnetonka in a nonconference matchup. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

The way last season ended stuck with Lakeville North. The Panthers are using that as motivation to fuel what they hope is an even better state tournament run in 2018.

So far, so good, even with a trio of former backup guards taking on bigger roles.

Lakeville North, ranked third in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, won a 73-63 road game at Minnetonka on Thursday night. The No. 4-4A Skippers also played in the last two state tournaments, which set up a tough early-season matchup.

Though the Panthers return two senior post players from last season’s fourth-place state finish, this year’s three starting guards all came off the bench a year ago. Thursday, sophomore Lauren Jensen led the Panthers with 23 points, and junior Analiese Tschida had 21, including a lot of hustle plays to help key an early second-half run that put Lakeville North ahead for good over Minnetonka (0-2).

“I’m just trying to get in the flow of things,” Tschida said. “I just want to bring energy to the team and get everyone going. It’s really fun to be out there.”

Tschida was quick to loose balls, grabbing some key offensive rebounds, and scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half. She finished flawless at the free-throw line as well, landing all eight shots.

“[Tschida’s] athleticism is insane,” Panthers coach Shelly Clemons said. “She can run the floor better than anyone and she’s a natural scorer.”

Down 31-30 to the Skippers at halftime, Tschida and Jensen were big in getting the Panthers (2-0) up 39-33 early in the second.

“I think it was a really big turning point,” Tschida said. “We ended the half down one, and we just came out with energy, and tried to get going fast, because they’re a good team and they’re going to come out too. We tried to come out harder and just outhustle and outwork them.”

Panther post players Taylor Brown and Ke James combined for 16 points, and Clemons said they’re big in leading the team. Jensen’s made a name for herself in AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) ball, but this was Tschida’s breakout game as a Panther.

Clemons called senior guard Kari Macura a “caged animal” ready for a breakout season after a pair of ACL injuries — she scored 20 in the Panthers’ first game against Woodbury and had 11 against the Skippers.

In the loss, Katey Brattland led Minnetonka with 15 points, including four 3-pointers. Megan Walker added 13 points, Kayla Mershon had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Zoe Hardwick finished with 10 points and seven boards for the Skippers.

Lakeville North lost a gut-wrenching 57-56 decision in the final seconds of a Class 4A state semifinal game to eventual champion Elk River back in March. So even as a top-three team in Class 4A, the Panthers feel like they’ve got more to prove this season.

“In all honesty, we want to get to the state championship,” Clemons said. “We’re playing this year with a chip on our shoulder. We kind of felt like that [Elk River] game was taken from us last year. That’s sports. But it was by far the biggest heartbreak I’ve ever had as a coach or a player. The girls are just playing with that in their hearts and that in the back of their minds every single game.”

Tschida echoed her coach’s thoughts on qualifying for the tourney.

“We’re trying to go back to the state tournament,” Tschida said. “Just work our hardest and get back there, and really redeem ourselves. It was not a great ending. We’re here to work really hard, and hopefully go back and do really good this season.”

Sophomore Lauren Jensen (15) pulls down a loose ball away from Zoe Hardwick (34). Jensen led all scorers with 23 points in the Panthers' road win at Minnetonka High School. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

First Report

In an early regular season matchup of 2017 state tournament participants, Lakeville North came away with a big road win. The Panthers, ranked third in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News, used an early second-half run to cruise to a 73-63 win at Minnetonka on Thursday night.

Minnetonka (0-2) led 31-30 at halftime and scored the first two points of the second half, but Lakeville North went on a 9-0 run in response to lead 39-33. The Panthers’ scoring frenzy was sparked by junior Analiese Tschida, who finished with 21 points.

Lauren Jensen had 23 points for Lakeville North (2-0) to lead all scorers. Ke James had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Kari Macura added 11 points for the Panthers as well.

Katey Brattland led No. 4-4A Minnetonka with 15 points, including four 3-pointers. Megan Walker added 13 points, Kayla Mershon had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Zoe Hardwick finished with 10 points and seven boards for the Skippers.

Megan Walker (12) drives the lane for the hard layup in the first half. Walker scored 13 points for the Skippers on Thursday night. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

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