Eagles Continue To Soar Despite Playoff Loss
Justin Ekstrom | Mar 5, 2019 AT 10:01 am
(KNSI) - Obviously, a Section 5AAA Semi-Finals victory and a shot at the Championship is what the Apollo Eagles Girl Basketball Team was hoping for.
Despite the 54-45 loss to Wilmar this past weekend, the Eagles accomplished plenty to be proud of.
Not only did Apollo hold their own in a highly contested Central Lakes Conference, they came out with their first record above .500 in recent history.
The Central Lakes Conference currently boasts the talented teams of Wilmar, Alexandria and Fergus Falls, all of which finished ahead of the Eagles.
The Eagles also won a section playoff game for the first time in what head coach, Jill Lipp described as "many years."
Although a team that will lose four seniors, one of which is Division-I commit Lariah Washington (pictured below), would normally focus on the tough road ahead, their coach focused on the ground-work that was paved by her graduates.
"I could not be more proud of our team this year. My seniors have been the core of the program for years and have been so important in bringing the program back to where it is today."
When asked about the future of the program despite losing such a detrimental part of an up-and-coming team, Lipp was excited for the young talent that we may see next season.
"We will return two starters in Chloe Swanson and Lauren Freeman; we have some size in the ninth-grade group, which we have been missing [in recent years]."
Swanson and Freeman are only sophomores and Swanson was third on the team with 249 points.
There is little doubt that the seniors will be missed but having coach Lipp and two starters returning will definitely help the Eagles moving forward.
As for Washington, she leaves Apollo as the All-Time Leading Scorer and will forever be etched in local lore as one of the best athletes this area has ever seen.
Jessica Timpane and Ashley Koepp will also be missed as they both head to play soccer at the Division-II collegiate level.
Coach Lipp (very bottom photograph) will have her work cut out for her but as many will attest, she is always up to any challenge and has faith in the program.
"[The team] is in good shape, we will be young next year but have tons of talent."
Many onlookers will most assuredly look forward to what this program has in store for many years to come.
A special thanks goes out to Sandy Hackenmueller as all the photographs used for this article were taken by her and given to KNSI Sports with consent.