Fighting back tears, Hali Anderson gazed through the far wall of the media room with a thousand-yard stare.
“I wouldn’t trade this team for the world,” Anderson said. “We’re with each other through everything…We don’t give up on each other, we push each other, even through the hard times, we’re together.”
Minutes earlier, St. Ansgar’s dream-season came to a sudden halt against a team that looked like they should be competing for a 5A title instead of 1A.
The Saints did what hadn’t been done in nearly two decades in St. Ansgar girls basketball, charging all the way to the semi finals of the state tournament.
“I knew we were going to be good, I didn’t think we were going to be this good,” said Hannah Patterson, the lone senior on the team. “I think we shocked everybody. I’m really proud of what we did this year.”
St. Ansgar’s grit and tenacity wasn’t enough to keep pace with Newell-Fonda, who extended their school’s win streak to 53 games.
Newell-Fonda shot a whopping 60 percent from deep in the first half, jumping out to an insurmountable 59-22 lead when the teams went to the locker room.
The Mustangs also suffocated the Saints defensively, grabbing 20 steals during the contest and limiting the Saints’ offensive chances.
After jumping out to a double digit lead within the first few minutes of the game, Patterson knocked down a pair of three pointers to cut the lead to 18-10, and the senior did everything she could to try and will the Saints back into the game. And for just a moment, the Saints looked poised to claw their way back into the game just like they had all season when faced with adversity.
“I’m so proud of our girls,” coach Scott Cakerice said. “They work hard, they’re so coachable, and they’re great kids. I just love them to death.”
But Newell-Fonda was just too good, too prepared, and too much for the Saints to overcome and went onto win 84-33.
The Saints have a fantastic season to look back on, however, and turned quite a few heads during their run to the semi finals.
St. Ansgar has high hopes on making it back to the state tournament again next year, and with heavy hearts will begin the 12-month journey back to Des Moines.
”We’re a good team,” Cakerice said. “But we don’t want to be a good team. We want to be great.”