by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Last March, the Anoka girls basketball team made some history by reaching the state tournament after a 2-23 regular season.
That’s the most losses ever for a state qualifier in Minnesota, but the Tornadoes earned some long-absent respect with four sectional upsets.
With mostly the same lineup this year, and still a young team, the Tornadoes started out just last year, losing their first eight games, but picked up their third straight win Tuesday night, beating Elk River 60-53 on the Elks court.
No longer an easy mark, they snapped a five-game Elk win streak and notched their first conference win.
“Anoka has size, athleticism, with tall guards, and they run the floor and they shoot pretty well,” said Elk coach Reed Caouette. “Definitely the best Anoka team we’ve faced in my six years here.”
Anoka led 25-11 in the first half. The Elks tied the score three times in the second half, the last time at 47.
Anoka led by seven with 1:05 left but the Elks got a slashing layup from Jordyn Sohns and a 3-pointer by Shelby Gracik to pull back within 54-52.
Anoka held on, pulling away with six straight free shots, four of them by Claire Lundberg, 6-foot soph guard who led them with 20 points.
“We did a good job coming back,” said Caouette, “but once you get the game tied, you’ve got to make the big stop on the other end, and we didn’t do that. The one time we did, we didn’t get a good shot on our end.”
Gracik, sophomore guard, tallied 18 points, after scoring 17 her last game. Junior guard Jordyn Sohns and senior post Victoria Jenson added 11 points each.
The Elks had to cast from outside much of the game because the lanky Tornadoes sealed off the inside pretty well.
Hailee Gifford, 5-10 junior guard, added 17 points for Anoka.
Anoka made 15 of 20 free shots with Lundberg 8-for-8. The Elks were 16-for-26, after making their last six down the stretch.
Elk River (1-5 conference, 5-6 overall) will play at Blaine on Friday evening.
Elk scoring – Shelby Gracik 18, Jordyn Sohns 11, Victoria Jenson 11, Dani Detloff 5, Dani Edwards 4, Mikala Macombber 2, Michelle Botts 1, Anna Rollag 1