Milaca girls basketball coach Dave Leom knew his Wolves were in trouble when the Annandale Cardinals took their first shot.
The Cardinals got the tip-off, brought the ball down the court, and hit a three-pointer to start the game.
“After that first shot, I said ‘Oh, oh’,” Leom said.
The Cardinals defeated Milaca 65-47 to end the Wolves’ season and advance to the 5AA North semifinals, where they faced Braham on Tuesday night. The winner of that game faces the Howard Lake Waverly-Watertown Mayer winner Thursday in the section final to earn a trip to the state tournament.
Milaca’s three Ms, Molly Banks, Makayla Paggen and Megan Dahlstrom combined for 39 of the Wolves’ 47 points, but their offensive assault wasn’t enough to stop Annadale, the number one seed in Section 5AA’s north bracket.
“We knew they were going to be a tall order,” Leom said of Annandale.
The Cardinals posed a strong threat to the Wolves continuing their playoff run because they were the number one seed, played a number of Class 3AA schools throughout the season, and had a tremendous size advantage over Milaca.
Using their size, Annandale found early success from behind the three-point arc.
The Cardinals were 7-of-14 on 3-ponters for 21 of their 65 points. Five of those seven 3-pointers came off the bench, with Emma Atkinson connecting on three and Hannah Groth making two.
While Annandale had the golden touch from behind the three point arc, Milaca had anything but.
The Wolves were 3-of-19 in the 3-point zone with Ashley Cassens coming off the bench to make two of her eight attempts for all of her six points.
Milaca was down by eight points, 32-24 at halftime. But the Wolves kept Annandale’s leading scorer, Hannah Spaulding relatively quiet in the first period.
“In the first half, we held in her check,” he said.
But it was a different story in the second half as the Cardinals came out with momentum on their side.
“Everything we tried, they had an answer for. That answer was Hannah Spaulding,” Leom said.
Despite a surge where Milaca nearly cut Annandale’s lead to single digits, the Cardinals played like a number one seed and earned the 65-47 victory.
Spaulding led all scorers with 20 points and was the only Cardinal to score in double figures. She connected on 8 of her 14 field goal attempts and was 4-of-7 from the line. She earned the game’s only double-double by pulling down a total of 15 rebounds.
Paggen led Milaca scorers with 16 points, making four of 12 field goals and shooting a perfect 8-for-8 from the line.
Molly Banks was 6-of-11 from the floor, including a 3-ponter, and was 1-of-2 from the free-throw line for a total of 12 points.
Dahlstrom made four of her 10 field goal attempts and connected on three free-throw attempts for 11 points.
“The three stepped up and did a nice job,” Leom said. So nice, in fact, that the coach predicted Dahlstrom could have scored another 15 points had she had better luck making her lay-ups.
As she has the past four or five games, Cassens also continued a streak of stepping up her game.
“She gave us six points, and still, that’s somewhat misleading,” he Leom said.
“She was all over the place, setting screens, diving for loose balls and setting up our offense,” Leom said. “To her credit, she was always where the ball was.”
MILACA — Alex Ploeger 0-4 0-0 0, Molly Banks 5-9 1-2 12, Makayla Paggen 4-12 8-8 16, Sarah Forker 1-6 0-0 2, Megan Dahlstrom 4-10 3-4 11, Allie Terpstra 0-0 0-0 0, Ashley Cassens 2-10 0-0 6. Totals 16-50 12-14. 47.
ANNANDALE — Sam Navratil 2-5 3-4 7, Hannah Spaulding 8-14 4-7 20, Brittany Reimer 2-7 2-4 7, Maranna Gunnerson 1-3 4-8 6, Emmy Whitesell 3-6 1-2 8, Emma Atkinson 3-6 0-0 9, Hannah Groth 2-3 0-0 6, Morgan Olson 1-2 0-0 2, Kallie Kammer 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 22-47 14-27 65..
Half – Annandale 32, Milaca 24. Turnovers Annandale 14, Milaca 9. Steals Annandale 5, Milaca 0.