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Girls basketball: Better days ahead for Winona High? Coach Tim Gleason believes so

December 30, 2018

Winona Senior High School girls basketball coach Tim Gleason hopes his players understand what the program is going through right now.

The Winhawks are seeing “incremental progress,” according to Gleason, even in times where it may not look like it on the scoreboard. They’re aiming to becoming another version of the “Rudy” Ruettiger story.

Saturday, it seems, was another step in the Winhawks’ growth process as Waseca controlled nearly every aspect in beating Winona 74-25 in the penultimate game of the Lewiston Auto Holiday Basketball Classic at Winona State’s McCown Gymnasium.

“There will be better days,” said Winhawks junior Emma Zeller, who had seven points. Phoenix Matthees led the Winhawks with nine points.

The Bluejays, who were led by Madison Gelhoff’s 17-point effort, jumped out to a 15-2 lead, and never trailed. Winona picked up its first field goal on a short-range basket by Lauryn Hamernik, but Zeller made two free throws to make it 10-2. It didn’t get any easier in the second half, as the Bluejays also held the Winhawks to 14 points.

So, what can be taken from the game?

“The intensity with which they play with, they just don’t turn off,” Gleason said of Waseca. “There’s intensity there that we have to find, and I hope we can find it going into the new year.”

While the dream of beating the second-ranked team in MSHSL Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News didn’t happen, Gleason hopes there is an upset or two on his team’s horizon.

“And, that’s the best part about being part of the team,” Gleason said. “It’s the (stuff of) Hoosiers. It’s doing stuff nobody thinks you can do. It’s easy to not have that fight in the tough times.”

The Winhawks’ coach wants his players to remember the losses so the wins can be sweeter down the road.

“This is actually some of the most rewarding parts of the process,” Gleason said. “Here, you can see that incremental progress. I think there’s a tendency that when you turn around and play in two hours, the games don’t matter. I think it does matter. But, I also told them: This isn’t life and death.”

Back when the Winhawks made their runs to sectional tournaments that evolved into state-tournament appearances, Gleason remembered how tough, at times, it was to keep that fighting spirit alive.

“The only way to see progress (with those teams) was when we got back to the section tournament,” he said. “With that group, you had to remind them that this is special.”

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