OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The new-look Stillwater girls’ basketball team opened its season with a 46-25 nonconference loss against Edina on Thursday at Stillwater Area High School.
Playing their first game under head coach Gerard Coury, the Ponies also featured numerous players making their varsity debuts after graduating the majority of last year’s roster and with sophomore point guard Erin Thiets suffering a season-ending knee injury in a scrimmage on Saturday.
“It was good to get minutes for a lot of inexperienced varsity basketball players,” Coury said. “Even our seniors, we have five seniors and there was not a lot of varsity minutes with that group last year so we need to get some girls acclimated to the varsity level. There was a lot of anxiousness and they feel better now that the game is over and we realized what we need to work on.”
This was the second game of the season for the Hornets (2-0), who are led by MC McGrory. The Creighton recruit led all scorers with 16 points, but it didn’t come easy thanks to a strong effort from Stillwater’s best defender Annie Lauber. McGrory scored more than half of Edina’s points during a 49-40 victory over Eagan in its season opener.
“Lauber is a fantastic on-the-ball defender and she gave McGrory fits,” Coury said. “She had to earn those 16 points. They had a couple other girls who made some shots, but McGrory had to work. Lauber is really good defensively and disruptive with deflections and getting on the floor. She epitomizes our style of play with her attitude and effort.”
Sophomore Larissa Colvin led the Ponies (0-1) with eight points in her first varsity appearance. Paige Becker scored six points while Meg Pepera, who also took turns guarding McGrory, and Lauber added five points apiece.
The Hornets scored on an offensive rebound after a missed free throw just before halftime to grab a 10-point lead at the break. Stillwater outscored the Hornets 14-9 at the free throw line, but struggled from the field and Edina slowly pulled away in the second half.
“To start the second half we had some good possessions, but just didn’t make baskets and then they went on a run,” Coury said. “I thought we had some good looks, but we went through long stretches where we just didn’t score. Defensively, we were solid most of the game.”
Edina 24 22 — 46
Stillwater 14 11 — 25
Edina (pts): Vivian Engen 6, Hailey Merrill 2, Christine Rodriguez 4, MC McGrory 16, Maddie Nash 2, Annika Jank 5, Jill Morton 6, Jaime Schnell 2 and Bailey Helgren 3.
Stillwater: Annie Lauber 5, Larissa Colvin 8, Rilee Day 1, Meg Pepera 5 and Paige Becker 6.
3-pointers: Ed (3): NA; St (1): Lauber.
Free throws: Ed, 9-14; St, 14-23.