by Eric Oslund
The Zimmerman girls basketball team experienced something on Saturday, Feb. 11, that they haven’t had to deal with all that often this season, a loss.
They were 20-2 on the season heading into their game against Hermantown; riding an 11-game winning streak. But Hermantown posed some problems for them, most notably their size.
The Thunder are a relatively small team, and Hermantown has five different players that measure in at six foot or taller – a nightmare for the Thunder. Not only that, but the Thunder’s defense just seemed to lack the energy it normally does. Usually their defense is swarming to the ball and creating turnovers, which them leads to points and sparks the offense, but that wasn’t the case Saturday night.
“We struggle with that much size, but they weren’t just big, they were very athletic and they kind of caught us by surprise,” head coach Lance Dalbey Explained. “Our usual energy wasn’t there and we weren’t able to convert early to keep up with them.”
The girls ended up losing to Hermantown 68-53, and how they responded in their next game would say a lot about this team and their outlook for the rest of the season.
They traveled on the road to Chisago Lakes Tuesday, Feb. 14, and came away with a 58-48 win – the best Valentine’s Day gift they could ask for. Not only that, but their energy appeared to be back and their defense was all over the place, which was a catalyst for their offense as they three players finish with double digit points – Alyssa Daugherty (21), Demie Bond (13) and MaKayla Pool (11).
One other player to stand out was Makenna Upton. She may have only scored four points, but she was essential to what they did on the defensive side of the ball.
“One of the best efforts of the game came from junior Makenna Upton who got her first career start last night,” Dalbey said. “She played very well defensively with four rebounds, and five blocked shots to go along with four points. She was a difference maker defensively (Tuesday) night for us.”
The Thunder have just two games remaining in the regular season, at Little Falls Tuesday, Feb. 21, and home against Becker Friday, Feb. 24. They are in control of their own destiny and if they come away with wins in both these games they will secure the program’s first ever conference championship and the No. 1 seed in the 5AAA section tournament, which comes with a first-round bye.