by Eric Oslund
The Elk River girls basketball team had a busy weekend that started on Friday, Jan. 27. They hosted the 12-5 Andover Huskies in a game that lived up the hype.
It got off to a fast start that saw 14 three-point baskets made in the first half alone, and 10 lead changes over the course of the game. Both teams were running up and down the court, but the Elks were really able to take hold halfway through the second half – winning by a score of 68-56.
“Our on-the-ball defense was not strong in the first half and we challenged the kids to be better on the ball defensively,” said head coach Jeremy Digiovanni. “I think you saw that midway through the second half when we were able to make that little run. Defense was better, offensively we were more efficient with our possessions, keeping the floor balanced, rotating the ball a little better, just playing with composure at both ends. You’d never guess with our girls that it was a tie game late in the second half. All of a sudden we made that, I think it was a 10-0 run, and then as they come out they want to foul and our kids, you can tell they are seniors. They’ve been there and didn’t let it phase them and were able to close the game out under control.”
Senior guard Gabi Haack has been the team’s leading scorer throughout a majority of the season, but that was not the case Friday night. Instead, it was her younger sister, Lydia Haack, who led the team with 20 points – one more than Gabi.
Lydia is just a freshman at Elk River High School, but she does not play that way. She is composed when out on the floor, even in the biggest of situations. She has great instincts and always seems to be making the right play. The coaching staff did not start her against Andover, but she quickly made the most of every opportunity she got.
Then, after the game, she made sure to let her older sister know which Haack led the team in scoring.
“I didn’t even really notice it until the end, but she came up and told me after the game, like, ‘I scored more than you,’” Gabi said with a laugh when explaining the situation that occurred between her and her sister. “But I was just happy we won the game. I’m happy for her, she’s playing really well and hit a lot of key shots tonight.”
Gabi may have been proud of her sister for the way she has played up on varsity lately, but as any older sibling knows, it does not always sit well when your younger sibling shows you up. Whether her sister’s big game the night before fueled her, or something else was going on in her mind, Gabi had a night to remember on Saturday.
The day started out for her at 7:15am, when the Elks had to load up the bus to take their trip to Moorhead. The trip took them over three hours, with a break on the way to eat at Perkins. The varsity team then had to watch the younger girls play, and at 3pm they got their chance to take the court.
It was another fast-pasted game that saw both teams pushing the ball up and down the court.
“I think one of my assistants said it best, it’s kind of like an NBA game where each team made different runs and we happened to make the last run to close the game out with that comfortable cushion,” Digiovanni said.
And when you look at the box score, another thing on there may remind you of an NBA game, the point total that Gabi was able to record. She finished the night with 45 points, which set the new all-time single-game record for the Elk River basketball program, not just the girls.
The previous record was 44 points, which was set by Skipp Schaefbauer back during the 1992-93 season.
“It’s huge,” Digiovanni said of the record. “Gabi’s come close a couple times, hitting that 40 mark, so she’s been aware it’s there. But we told her, ‘It will come if it’s meant to be. It will come in the flow of the game when we need it the most.’”
Throughout the night, Gabi would hit 12 two pointers, five three pointers and go 6-for-7 from the free-throw line to help her team top Moorhead 87-28.
It wasn’t until the final two minutes of the game that she made the record-breaking basket, and both teams decided to send in their JV kids after that score. Digiovanni didn’t realize how close she was to breaking the record throughout the game, but luckily for her, the coach gave her just enough time to do so.
While Lydia may have been the hot topic of discussion as of late, because she is just a freshman making a huge impact on a senior-heavy team, Gabi reminded people that it is still her court. But regardless of which Haack sister sits atop the score sheet at the end of the night, the Elks are going to need both of them to close out this season strong as seven of their final nine games will be on the road. Then they must go through the section tournament, which has given them fits for a number of years.
Box score vs. Moorhead:
Ava Kramer – 9 points
Lydia Haack – 8 points
Kelsie Cox – 7 points
Sidney Wentland – 8 points
Danielle Lachmiller – 8 points
Gabi Haack – 45 points
Kaylin Plautz – 2 points