In a strong, balanced Mississippi 8, the Magic girls basketball team can’t afford to let losses turn into losing streaks if they want to contend at the top.
Thursday, despite going into a tough gym against a tough opponent, Grace Sawatzke made sure the Magic didn’t start their first skid of the season.
The junior guard put together one of the best all-around performances of her career, tallying 25 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists to lead Monticello to a 67-58 victory over Cambridge Isanti.
“That’s a huge win,” said Coach Craig Geyen. “It’s a tough place to play.”
Monticello, which was coming off a loss to conference-leader STMA, has gotten roughed up on their past few trips to Cambridge, but it was clear early that the same thing wouldn’t happen on this trip.
The Magic came out of the gates quickly, taking care of the ball against Cambridge’s run and jump defense and making them pay by knocking down early shots when they caught the Bluejackets out of position. Monticello jumped out to a ten point lead early, before extending it all the way to 32-18 at the half.
In the second half, CI tried multiple times to close the gap, but Monticello stood strong.
“They made their runs,” said Geyen. “But we held on, and we did a lot of good things.”
As a team those good things included limiting turnovers (only 13 of them for the game) and knocking down shots, including seven three pointers.
Individually, those good things were spearheaded by Sawatzke, who finished with her third double-double in four games, and came up just two assists shy of a triple-double.
“Unreal,” said Geyen. “I can’t say enough good things. That was one of the best games I’ve seen her play.”
The deeper numbers backed up the obvious numbers for Sawatzke. She shot well (6 for 11), got to the line (10 for 13), and took care of the ball (two turnovers).
“She broke their jump and run [defense] pretty much by herself,” added Geyen.
But as is evident by her eight assists, along with the team only allowing 18 first half points, Sawatzke got plenty of help.
Offensively, Christine Lui added 12 points for the Magic, Bailey Bechtold scored ten, and Alyssa Lentner finished with 8 points.
Defensively, Monticello gave up 28 points to Cambridge’s star player, but they forced her to take 30 shots to get there.
Overall, it was a big win for the Magic. It came on the road, it came after a loss (just their third of the year), and it came against a 4A school (good for section reasons).
“It’s a good test for us,” said Geyen, about the four game road swing the girls are currently in the middle of. “It was good for us to come out of there with a win.”
The Magic will look to start a winning streak as they continue their road trip with a game at Rogers at 7:15 tonight. The Royals and Magic are tied for second in the Mississippi 8 with a record of 3-1.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at email@example.com