The balance Litchfield girls basketball coach Ian Anderson has talked about most of this season played a big role as the Dragons won a pair of games last week.
Nowhere was the balance more evident than their 41-39 win over Wright County West rival Annandale Feb. 16.
Litchfield had no one reach double figures, but nine players scored in the win.
“It was one of those games where they did a pretty good job taking away Syd (McCann), and Lily (Osterberg) didn’t have a real good shooting night,” Anderson said. “But we got good contributions from other people, from Kylie (Michels) and Maggie (Boerema). Those games when Syd and Lily don’t get their 15 or so each, it’s big to have those other girls get their 8, 10 points.”
Michels, a sophomore guard, had a team-high nine points and senior guard Janessa Olson had seven points for the Dragons. McCann had eight points, and Osterberg and Boerema had five each.
Annandale surged to a six-point lead at halftime, which could have been a negative sign for Litchfield, which has struggled to win at Annandale the past several seasons. But the Dragons surged back, opening the second half on a run that saw them not just erase the six-point deficit, but building their own six-point lead.
“I thought we would have a chance to pull away at that point,” Anderson said. “But they came back and tied it and then it was close the rest of the way.”
Annandale played without one of its top players, but Anderson still credited his team with a strong effort to earn a tough win on the road.
“I was talking to Zach (Piepenburg, assistant coach),” Anderson said. “He’s been around for a while … and he said it has been at least four or five years since we beat Annandale in Annandale, so that was a nice win. It always seems to be a struggle for both teams when we go to Annandale for some reason.
“But any way you can get a win on the road, especially in the Wright County, is huge,” he added.
That road success continued Friday as the Dragons rolled past Dassel-Cokato.
It was the kind of game that can make coaches nervous. A winless opponent, a Friday night game with the weekend looming, and two big conference games on the horizon.
“We talked about how, coming off a big win on Tuesday, it’s easy to look ahead to next week,” Anderson said. “We didn’t want to have a letdown. It can kind of be a trap game … (with) the potential of not being mentally focused. But the girls did a really good job of coming out, being ready to play. For lack of a better term, they just dominated them right away.”
The Dragons ran to a 33-point halftime lead behind 15 first-half points from McCann, who finished with 16 points. The senior guard was the only Litchfield player in double figures, but 11 different players scored in the game.
“Syd got to the rim a ton,” Anderson said. “She was crashing the offensive glass hard. That’s something we’ve talked about (because) when someone shoots, we turn into spectators. We need to go hard on the offensive board. (McCann) did that. She got a lot of rebounds and layups to get her that 15 in the first half.”
Anderson said he hoped the pair of wins give the Dragons momentum going into a pair of big WCC games — Tuesday against Glencoe-Silver Lake and Friday at Watertown-Mayer.
“We have got a really tough week, a couple of tough games,” he said. “We have some positive momentum. If we can steal one of these games, that would show we can be in that upper echelon in the conference.”