Northland Sports Online

Chaska wins 1st Title Ever

Chaska teammates celebrated their 45-43 win against Rosemount.


The 4A girls basketball finals between Chaska High School and Rosemount High School at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on Friday, April 9, 2021.

NSO- George Bailey


Kaylee Van Eps scored on a back-door layup with 5.2 seconds left to break a tie and lift Chaska to a 45-43 victory over Rosemount in the Class 4A championship.

Chaska (18-0) fought off a sturdy challenge from Rosemount, which tied the game Friday at Target Center with 12 seconds left on a basket by forward Tayah Leenerts.

The Hawks then took a timeout and set up the game-winning play. They got the ball to Mallory Heyer at the high post and she found Van Eps, who was cutting to the basket, with a bounce pass for the game-winning points.

After defeating No. 1-ranked Hopkins in the semifinals, Chaska players were muted in celebration, knowing they had one more game left to reach their ultimate goal.

The Hawks struggled to figure out Rosemount’s defense for most of the game, unable to generate the type of good shots they had in the semifinals.

Rosemount (20-4), with senior Helen Staley running the show, found its offensive rhythm in the second half and never letting Chaska get on a run. Rosemount took its first lead, 37-36, after back-to-back three-pointers by Staley and Nicole O’Neil with seven minutes left in the game.

Chaska retook the lead for good, 39-37, when Kelsey Willems hit her third three-pointer of the game.

Van Eps and Kennedy Sanders each scored 11 points to lead Chaska. Staley, a Miss Basketball candidate, led all scorers with 17 points.

Chaska wasn’t able to solve Rosemount’s switching defenses in the first half in the manner it did against Hopkins, when it used the dribble-drive to break down the Royals’ defense.

Faced with Rosemount’s zone defense on one trip down court and man-to-man pressure the next, Chaska played at a tempo much more to Rosemount’s liking.

While the Hawks were forced to play a more methodical game, their superior firepower helped them build an early lead they didn’t relinquish.

With Chaska’s top trio of Heyer and guards Van Eps and Sanders drawing considerable attention from the Rosemount defense, Willems stepped in to fill the offensive void.

She scored eight consecutive points, including two three-pointers, as the Hawks built first-half leads of 10-4 and 14-7.

Rosemount’s determination to muddy up the game began to have the desired effect shortly thereafter, and the Irish cut the deficit to two with a 5-0 run.

But five quick points from Van Eps, a five-year starter, expanded the lead to 19-12. A late back-door layup by Rosemout’s Alexa Ratzlaff made the score 19-14 at halftime.




You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply