Waseca girls’ basketball looking to build off last year’s state tournament run

Waseca girls’ basketball looking to build off last year’s state tournament run

WASECA, Minn. (KEYC) — The Waseca girls’ basketball team felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic immediately last March after winning in the state quarterfinals.

Before the semifinals game could take place, the Minnesota State High School League canceled the rest of the tournament.

Fast forward almost a year later, and the Bluejays finally returned to the court as a team with winter sports set to make their debut this month.

“We ended unexpectedly last year, so it’s a big deal for us to get back and be able to play again,” senior Gabriela Rodriguez said.

The Bluejays did lose a few key pieces from last year’s state tournament team, but return some starters that gained valuable experience during the run to state.

“It really boosted our confidence and made us believe what we can truly do, what we’re truly about. It gave us a lot of confidence,” said senior Jaden Hiller.

Waseca relied on a strong defensive effort through last year’s section tournament and in the state quarterfinals to get the job done.

Playing tough defense is part of the Bluejays’ culture, making it tough for opposing teams to score regardless of who’s on the floor.

“We have quite a few kids who played last year. They’re going to play different roles, but we’re not going to lose our defensive identity. It’s fun having the opportunity to try and put that back together,” Head Coach Joan Conway stated.

“We love to play defense. Defense comes first, once you do well on defense, your offense will eventually come. That’s what motivates us,” senior Brittney Draeger added.

State tournaments may be coming back this winter, but with the circumstances associated with playing high school sports during a pandemic, Waseca is just hoping to take the floor on a regular basis in 2021.

“We’re just hoping to play two times a week as much as we can. Every one of those games is going to be super valuable,” said Conway.

“Our biggest goals is to keep up our defense, keep up communicating and keep up the energy even with a lack of supporters in the gym,” said Rodriguez.

The Bluejays’ season opener is set for Thursday against St. James Area.

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