Two straight games against Edina with two identical results.
But we’re not only talking about the pair of Eden Prairie victories by the girls basketball team. We’re also referring to two Eagles’ players who reached 1,000-point milestones.
Wednesday night at Eden Prairie High School, senior guard Ashley Fritz surpassed the 1,000-point mark in her high school career in the Eagles’ 68-37 win over Edina in the Section 2AAAA quarterfinals.
“It felt really good,” Fritz said after the game. “It’s a goal that I’ve wanted for a while so it was nice to get it.”
Fritz’s accomplishment follows that of senior captain Molly Lenz, who reached 1,000 career points in Eden Prairie’s win over Edina last Friday to close out the regular season.
The two seniors had hoped the chase for the lofty number had concluded on the same night, but it gave the Eagles reason to celebrate their high-scoring teammates in two consecutive games.
“We were keeping track,” Fritz said. “It was pretty back and forth. Either of us could have gotten it at any moment and we thought it’d be cool to get in the same game, but Molly got it first, which I’m so proud of her for.”
Fritz was 9-for-9 from the field and 3-of-4 at the free-throw line on Wednesday, leading all scorers with 22 points in the game. She put down 16 points in the first half, which was the exact number she needed to reach 1,000.
“I don’t think Ashley missed a shot besides one free throw in the first half,” Eagles head coach Ellen Wiese said. “For her to get 16 points in the first half to get her 1,000 was amazing.
“I never would have guessed that and she just played within the game. She did not take bad shots. She was just taking stuff that came to her. I was super proud of her.”
Lenz, who finished with 14 points, was determined to see Fritz join her in the 1,000-point club.
“Oh, that was super cool,” Lenz said. “I knew she needed 16, so I told her before the game I was like, ‘I’m gonna get you a bunch of assists.’ And then, when she needed one more point, I knew. It was a fast break, so I was looking for her on that. So I’m super happy for her.”
Timeout was called to celebrate the moment, prompting the entire Eagles’ bench to rush onto the floor to congratulate Fritz, whose 1,000th point was the final score before halftime, giving the Eagles a commanding 37-16 lead at the break.
“I thought we were spectacular in the first half,” Wiese said. “Our defense definitely pressured them into some turnovers and that’s how we were able to play fast.”
Following the first-half excitement, the Eagles came out sluggish after the intermission, with the Hornets going on a 7-1 run to start the half.
The malaise didn’t last long.
Eden Prairie went on a 16-6 run themselves, punctuated with a steal by Rae Ehrman and a fast-break pass to Lenz, whose layup drew the foul for a three-point play.
At that point, the Eagles led 54-29 with seven minutes to play. The margin allowed Fritz to take a curtain call, followed by other starters, giving the Eagles’ bench a chance to see plenty of action.
“I think we played really good as a team,” Fritz said. “We were able to get a lot of fast breaks, which is nice considering there’s no shot clock in the sections.”
The Lake Conference instituted the shot clock this season, but was the only conference to do so. Consequently, all sectional and state tournament games are being played without the countdown.
“I love the shot clock. It just makes it a better game,” Wiese said. “We played with it all season. We loved it. And then I think when you don’t play with it, it’s not like it’s hard to adjust to not having it, but it just slows the game down.”
Wiese said she’s looking forward to next year, when the shot clock will be required in all games in every conference, including the postseason.
“It helps the kids,” she said. “Many of them are going to play in college. They’re going to have to play with a shot clock. So it’ll be good next year.”
Eden Prairie’s two 1,000-point seniors will both be playing at the college level, with Fritz heading to Moorhead State and Lenz attending Illinois State.
In the meantime, Lenz is doing her best to play without the countdown above the backboard.
“That was annoying,” Lenz said with a laugh. “I missed it for sure. A few times, we’re down here for what felt like a minute and a half. So that was really annoying, but we’ll just have to learn how to play without it now that we’re in sections.”
Despite the absence of the ticker, the Eagles cruised to an impressive win, with 14 players seeing minutes and 12 getting in the point column.
“We’re super confident, especially getting a good 20-plus-point win tonight,” Lenz said. “And now we’ll play Prior Lake, who we beat earlier in the year, which doesn’t mean a ton, but that gives us some confidence going into that game.”
The Eagles squared off with Prior Lake almost three months ago, coming away with an 81-55 win on Dec. 7. The Lakers defeated Shakopee 41-35 in their section quarterfinal on Wednesday.
Despite the regular season win over the Lakers, Wiese and the Eagles are well aware it’s “win or go home” in the section playoffs.
“It doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season,” Wiese said. “It matters to get you the seed you want, and we worked our butts off to get that two-seed. But now it means nothing.
“They’re veteran players. They know that if you have a bad game, it could be the end. So there’s definite urgency.”
The Eagles and the Lakers square off in the Section 2AAAA semifinals at noon on Saturday in the main gym at Eden Prairie High School.
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