Both teams entered Thursday night’s game with a 2-2 conference record, each looking for a win to chase down conference leaders EV-W and HLWW. The shots weren’t falling in the first half for the Irish, but they found a spark on the defensive end which ignited a flame on the offensive end. Unfortunately the Irish couldn’t make up their deficit, and lost 60-47. Pierz came out with a flurry and jumped to an early 10-point lead as the Irish struggled to put the ball through the net. Pierz maintained a double-digit lead for most of the first half, and led by 14 points at halftime, leaving the score 30-16. The Irish lacked some intensity which was well needed to get their game rolling. Anyone in the stands could agree that there was a new team on the court the second half. More information and stats appears in this week's Messenger.
This week was one filled with much-deserved wins for the Moose. Hard work and persistence helped the Moose win against the Lightning, along with a win against Buffalo in which the Moose had to come back from a three-goal deficit. Moose 4, Northern Lakes Lightning 1 Thursday evening the Northern Lakes Lightning traveled to the Moose's home rink for the second matchup of the season. Previously, the Moose fell to the Lightning on the road. With the support of a filled arena, the Moose were hoping for a win. The first period of play was evenly matched between the teams. The offense from both teams was able to set up many good scoring chances. The Moose were the first to complete the scoring chance with a goal. With five minutes left in the period, Reese Carstens shot the puck from the corner, which was saved by the goalie. Drew Brockman came in for the rebound and scored. The period ended with the Moose ahead by one goal.
Annandale Advocate The Wright County Conference Tournament was Friday, Feb. 2, at Delano High School. As a team, the Lightning finished in fourth place, with one first-place finish, one second-place finish, two third -lace finishes, three fourth-place finishes, two fifth-place finishes and one sixth-place finish. This was the first WCC tourney since 2003. Hutchinson took first place with 187 points; 2. New London-Spicer, 161; 3.,Glencoe-Silver Lake, 160.5; 4. Annandale-Maple Lake, 138.5; 5. Mound-Westonka, 113.5; 6. Dassel-Cokato, 102; 7. Waconia, 99; 8. Delano, 90; 9. Litchfield, 73.5; 10. Orono, 58. Teddy Erickson, wrestling at 160, came to the tournament with a 24-2 record. At Friday’s tournament he was the Lightning’s only champion. “He absolutely dominated his competition, including his finals match,” head coach Jason Bartels said. Erickson’s first-place finish earned him All Conference honors.
The gymnastics team headed to Rush City to compete in their second to last meet on Friday, Feb. 1. After a very long bus ride, the girls did their best to get pumped up. “I listen to slow songs first then ‘pump-up’ songs. I also take time to focus on the things I need to improve on,” co-captain Courtney Pribyl said. The girls scored a 32.275 on vault. High scorers were Jordan Sifferle (8.65), Pribyl (8.0), and Heather Schlueter (7.9). The final score on bars was 28.4. Pribyl, Schlueter, and Jordan Sifferle were high scorers. Pribyl scored a 7.6 and Schlueter and Sifferle tied with a 7.1. “The girls performed strong and had a great meet even though the scores did not reflect it. The girls are still adding new skills and they are looking great,” coach Kaitlyn Helmbrecht said. The girls scored a 26.875 on beam. Halle Geyen was the high scorer of the night with a 7.0, with Schlueter at her heels with a 6.95. More information and stats appears in this week's Messenger.
The Irish girls’basketball team had a week of very close matches, as they both resulted in overtime. The Irish came out on top of the BBE home match on Tuesday, which happened to be Parent’s Night, but lost Friday night’s game at Rockford. Maple Lake took the first matchup against BBE in a closely contested game 55-47. The Irish got off to a slow start, trailing by as many as nine points in the first half (18-9.) From there, Maple Lake took off on a 15-4 run to close the half and take the lead 24-22. The second half featured five lead changes, with neither team leading by more than four points. Dani Hudek hit a 16-foot jump shot to take the lead, 41-39, with less than 20 seconds to play. BBE ran the floor and called timeout with 13 seconds to play in order to draw up a play from the sideline. After a few screens were set, the Irish defense scrambled to stop the Jags from getting a shot.
With January in the past, the Irish were ready for their first game of February on Friday. As the season winds down, February is a crucial month for teams to get wins to give them momentum heading into the playoffs. A win against the opposing Kimball Cubs would have given the Irish a nice conference win and it would give them confidence to start February, but they fell just two points shy of victory. This as the second meeting between the two teams this year. Kimball had just edged the Irish in the previous meeting by four points, which set the stage for a very intense rematch this time around. The game was very back-and-forth from the start. The Irish attacked the basket and also relied on their outside shooting to give them an offensive balance. The Irish managed to shoot 50 percent in the first half and capitalized on several opportunities. However, defensively the Irish kept allowing the Cubs to create shots of their own.
In the Section 6-2A Team Wrestling Tournament, the Annandale-Maple Lake wrestling team defeated Big Lake in the quarterfinals 34-32 on Tuesday, Feb. 12. The Lightning went on to lose to No. 1 seed Foley in the semifinals 53-16. Foley won the tournament, defeating Becker 35-13, to go to the state tournament. ANML finished 18-6 with four losses by five points or less. ANML 34, Big Lake 32 Many Lightning wrestlers contributed to this big quarterfinal win. Nate Carlson, 106, lost to Logan Donais 11-3. But Coach Jason Bartels said, “Carlson saved us some valuable team points at 106 against a very physically mature, older, and bigger wrestler. I know that Nate was not pleased with the loss, but it was against a really tough kid.” Tanner Vassar, 113, pinned his opponent with only three seconds remaining in the match. “Those three seconds were definitely needed. Without that pin we go to a tie breaker,” Bartels said. Joe Mosley, 120, got a nice pin.
The Moose ended their regular season play with an away game against the St. Michael-Albertville Knights. On Feb. 12, in front of a full arena, the Moose were playing to solidify their spot in the section. The first period was evenly matched as neither team put the puck in the net. Despite a power-play chance for the Moose, there were no goals in the first. In the second period, the Knights started with 45 seconds remaining on a power-play off a Moose penalty. With just seconds left for the power-play, the Knights scored, to take the lead. Five minutes later, the Knights scored their second goal. Spencer Nelson responded four minutes later as he shot and scored from the corner after a setup pass from Oliver Winsor. The second period ended with much more scoring than the first period, though, with the opposing team ahead by one goal. Going into the third, the Moose had to overcome a one-goal deficit.
The Maple Lake gymnastics team finished off their season with a competition at sections against nine other teams. The girls fought a tough battle against Big Lake, Becker, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Sartell, Monticello, Annandale, Dassel-Cokato, Howard Lake-Waverly, and Princeton. After a long, hard day the girls placed seventh with a final score of 127.100. “Going into sections, we knew it would be tough, and it was,” coach Kaitlyn Helmbrecht said. The team score on vault was 34.350. Top scorers were Courtney Pribyl (8.875), Marisa Henrikson (8.525), Heather Schlueter (8.500), and Ellie Haney (8.450). Top scorers on bars were Pribyl (7.900), Halle Geyen (7.425), Haney (7.375), and Schlueter (7.200). The team score was 29.900. The team score on beam was 30.425. Top scorers were Schlueter (7.850), Katelyn Fuller (7.800), Geyen (7.725), and Haney (7.050). Top scorers on floor were Haney (8.275), Pribyl (8.150), Schlueter (8.100), and Henrikson (7.900). The team score was 32.425.
The Maple Lake boys basketball team seemed to have two good opportunities this week to get some much-needed wins and momentum with playoffs just around the corner. Instead the Irish faced difficulty this week as they took on St. John’s Prep and Eden Valley-Watkins. On Feb. 11 the Irish faced off against the Johnnies in a non-conference game. The Irish didn’t look very alive on defense in the first half as the Johnnies showed their sharp shooting skills. St. John’s Prep managed to get quality shots nearly every offensive possession, resulting in a nice first-half total of 42 points. The Irish offense couldn’t match the intensity of the Johnnies on their offensive possessions, and shot well below where they needed to be. At halftime the Irish were down big, 27-42. In the second half the Irish needed to really improve their defensive efforts in order to fight their way back into the game.