Hornets suffer heart-breaking loss

John Sherman
Sports Editor

Edina girls fall to Tonka 45-40

Edina had a golden opportunity to win the Class 4A, Section 2 girls basketball title March 9 at Hopkins Lindbergh Center.

With just over three minutes remaining, Edina’s bench was jumping, as the Hornets held 40-35 lead. Unfortunately for the Hornets, that was all the points they could manage. Minnetonka scored the last 10 points of the contest for a 45-40 victory.

Edina guard Macy Nilsen (10) tries to get a shot off as Minnetonka defender Katey Brattland crowds her during the Section 2 girls basketball title game March 9 at Hopkins Lindbergh Center. (Sun Current staff photo by John Sherman)
Edina guard Macy Nilsen (10) tries to get a shot off as Minnetonka defender Katey Brattland crowds her during the Section 2 girls basketball title game March 9 at Hopkins Lindbergh Center. (Sun Current staff photo by John Sherman)

“We gave everything we had,” said Edina head coach Matt Nilsen. “Defensively, I thought we played great. That was Minnetonka’s lowest point total of the season. It was a back-and-forth game with a great crowd and a great atmosphere.”

There weren’t a lot of smiles when Edina accepted the second-place trophy, but the Hornets held their heads high, knowing they had given a good effort.

“I’m super proud of our girls, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” said Nilsen. “Give Minnetonka credit … they made some big baskets at the end of the second half.”

One of those big baskets, a three-point shot by junior guard Megan Walker, tied the score 40-40. Then, junior center Zoe Hardwick scored the eventual game-winner on a putback. Junior forward Kayla Mershon tacked on three free throws for the final victory margin.

Annika Jank, the all-time leading rebounder in Edina girls basketball history, pulls down a board against Minnetonka. The Skippers scored the final ten points of the game to overtake Edina. (Sun Current staff photo by John Sherman)
Annika Jank, the all-time leading rebounder in Edina girls basketball history, pulls down a board against Minnetonka. The Skippers scored the final ten points of the game to overtake Edina. (Sun Current staff photo by John Sherman)

Six-foot-three senior forward Annika Jank was sensational in her final game as a Hornet, as she poured in 27 points. Senior center Bailey Helgren added six points and sophomore guard Macy Nilsen scored five. Katey Brattland, a junior guard, was the only Skipper player in double figures with 13 points, while Walker and Mershon each had nine.

With Edina trying to catch up at the end of the game, Minnetonka’s defensive efforts were geared to stopping Jank.

Minnetonka forward Kayla Mershon has the ball slapped out of her hands by Edina defender Olivia Coughlin during the latter stages of Minnetonka’s 45-40 victory. (Sun Current staff photo by John Sherman)
Minnetonka forward Kayla Mershon has the ball slapped out of her hands by Edina defender Olivia Coughlin during the latter stages of Minnetonka’s 45-40 victory. (Sun Current staff photo by John Sherman)

“Edina had not been making its outside shots,” said Minnetonka head coach Leah Dasovich. “We wanted to keep Annika away from the basket.”

Each time Jank put the ball on the floor, she was double-teamed, so that prevented her from getting the good looks she had earlier in the game.

With a 2-1 record in the section tournament, Edina finished the season 18-11 overall. The Hornets tied Minnetonka for third place in the final Lake Conference standings. Hopkins was the champion with an 8-0 mark and entered the State Class 4A Tournament this week with an overall record of 29-0.

“We are going to be a lot different team next year,” said coach Nilsen. “That’s the fun of high school coaching – you have to work with what you have.”

While he loses his two tall seniors, Jank and Helgren, along with Maggie Stotts, Quinlan Kile and Julia Eckberg, coach Nilsen will have two starting guards returning, his daughter and Coughlin. Two other players with varsity experience are junior Lauren Oyalo and sophomore Molly McHugh.

Contact John Sherman at [email protected]