The Eden Prairie girls basketball team finished the season on a high note, defeating Stillwater 69-54 to take third place in the girls state basketball tournament.
After falling to eventual state champion St. Michael-Albertville on Thursday, the third-seeded Eagles bounced back quickly on Saturday at Gangelhoff Center on the Concordia University campus in St. Paul, showing the resilience that brought them to the state semifinals in Class 4A.
Eden Prairie jumped out to a 28-22 halftime lead over the fourth-seeded Ponies, with four players on their way to scoring in double figures.
Senior captain and point guard Molly Lenz led the Eagles with 18 points in the game, including two from three-point range.
Senior guard Ashley Fritz put away 14 for Eden Prairie, including 5-of-7 free throws.
Senior guard Annika Anderson hit three field goals from beyond the arc on her way to 13 points for the Eagles; and sophomore guard Tori Schlagel finished with 12 points and two three-point field goals.
Saturday’s third-place victory over Stillwater marks the final high school game for seniors Lenz, Fritz, and Anderson, along with captain Kylie Bamlett, and forwards Anna Jaeger and Savanna Jones, who has been out the entire season with a knee injury.
Lenz and Anderson were named to the Class 4A All-Tournament team for their outstanding play, and honored on the court at Williams Arena Saturday night following St. Michael-Albertville’s 71-70 victory over top-seed Hopkins in the state title game.
The Eagles finished the season winning seven of their last eight games, compiling an overall record of 22-10, which includes the postseason. They are the champions of Section 2AAAA.
“I think when all of us look back on this with some perspective, we’ll realize what an incredibly special year this was given the obstacles we had to overcome,” Eden Prairie head coach Ellen Wiese said after the Eagles’ semifinal loss to STMA on Thursday, adding, “It’s nothing short of incredible.”
Wiese will lose four senior starters from the lineup, but will have 16 varsity players returning next season, including Schlagel, a starting guard, along with fellow sophomores, Vanessa Jordan, Ella Hardwick and Rae Ehrman, all of whom saw considerable playing time this year.
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