Recognizing the finality of the situation with a wary nod to the opponent, Anne Soenneker admitted she was more nervous than usual Thursday.
It was senior night, the St. Cloud Tech post player’s last regular-season home game. And the opponent, St. Cloud Apollo, had given Tech all sorts of trouble the last time the teams played.
This time around, Tech had its point total the last time beaten by halftime, leading by 22 on the way to a 78-48 rout.
“I was actually kind of nervous coming into this game,” said Soenneker, one of two seniors in the Tigers’ lineup this night, with Aleatha Phommyvong also getting a rare start. “It was my last regular-season home game and I have some very good friends on this team.”
Added Soenneker: “You have a different kind of bond with teammates and I’m not in any way ready to be done with this season.”
The Tigers led 46-24 at halftime and did everything it needed to going to the playoffs, shooting well, passing well and out-rebounding the shorter Eagles.
It was a far cry from the last time the teams played, when Tech edged Apollo 44-37. Thursday’s victory makes Tech (10-6 Central Lakes, 16-10 overall) a little more confident heading into the Section 8-4A playoffs, which are seeded today.
Coaches do the seeding. Tech head coach Sascha Hansen anticipates a top-four seed with St. Michael-Albertville No. 1 and Tech likely to host a home playoff game Tuesday. The semifinals are March 2 at St. Cloud State and the final is set for March 8 at St. John’s.
“We didn’t shoot well the first time we played (Apollo),” Hansen said. “They’ve got some good players and we didn’t do a good job stopping their penetration.
“They kept shoving it right down our throats.”
“Since the last game, we’re playing a lot better, playing together as a team better and having a lot of fun,” Soenneker said.
Hansen said she gave her team the day off after the last Apollo game.
“And it wasn’t for being good,” she said.
It’ll be different this time around. Tech did a lot of things well. Kaila Burroughs led the way. The junior forward had 22 points, including 16 in the first half that included four three-pointers, the last of which was just before the buzzer and highly improbable.
Kaelyn Angell came off the bench and had 12 points for the Tigers and Soenneker had a good night: 10 points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
“Tech played well,” Apollo head coach Nik Peterson said. “Burroughs is a good player. She made a lot of shots and they out-rebounded us (40-22). Apollo played hard. The shots didn’t fall.”
Senior guard Abby Notch led the Eagles with 16 points.
Apollo (4-12, 6-16) learns of its seed today in Section 5-3A, where the QRF rankings on Minnesota-Scores.net are used.
Peterson anticipates a sixth seed and a road game Tuesday, likely Delano or Dassel-Cokato.
The Section 5-3A semifinals are March 2 at Buffalo. Buffalo is host to the section final March 8.
“They (the Eagles) just kept hung in there and kept fighting,” Peterson said. “I’m proud of Apollo. They played hard.”
APOLLO – Katrina Johnson 9, Abby Notch 16, Alyssa Steve 3, Liz Lowery 2, Melissa Gebhardt 9 (2 steals), Sabina Babic 4, Morgan Tesch 3, Lauren Brutger 0, Brooke Benner 2, Mary Thuok 0, Mickie Sarclay 0, Taylor Gustafson 0, Paige Huewe 0.
TECH – Leah Wurm 6 (5 assists, 2 steals), Elizabeth Krippner 9 (4 assists, 2 steals), Aleatha Phommyvong 0, Kaila Burroughs 22 (6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals), Anne Soenneker 10 (5 rebounds, 3 blocks), Kaelyn Angell 12, Jill Kedrowski 2, Tiana Brown 7 (8 rebounds, 3 steals), Sam Boettcher 7 (3 assists), Nyadak Riek 3, Vera Lindhorst 0.
Halftime: Tech 46, Apollo 24.