Chaska girls basketball players reflect on program's first state title |

Chaska girls basketball players reflect on program's first state title

Chris Long
Updated: April 18, 2021 12:49 AM
Created: April 18, 2021 12:14 AM

Just a few days after claiming their program's first-ever state championship, members of Chaska's girls basketball team were still abuzz having fulfilled a dream they'd all shared in the years they've been playing together.

Click the video box on this page to watch KSTP Sports conversation with Chaska players and newly-crowned state champs Kaylee Van Eps, Mallory Heyer and Kennedy Sanders along with head coach Tara Seifert

The Hawks won the state title in a 45-43 thriller over Rosemount in the Class AAAA State Championship.

Kaylee Van Eps scored the eventual game-winning basket, taking a pass from Mallory Heyer off a superb backdoor cut in the final seconds. While they'd practiced the play - called "Lightning" - the championship-winning moment was the first time they'd run it in a game all season.

The Hawks emerged as champions only after a last-second three pointer by Rosemount's Helen Staley sailed just barely off target at the horn.

Chaska earned the right to play for the title when they halted Hopkins' state record-tying 78-game win streak in the State Semifinals. Hopkins was the #1-ranked team in the nation heading into the game, and was regarded by most as heavy favorites to retain the state title they'd won in 2019.

No champion was crowned in 2020, after the tournament was called off in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

The trio of Van Eps, Heyer and Sanders led the charge all season for the Hawks, who survived COVID-pauses and re-scheduling headaches to finish a perfect 18-0.

Van Eps is headed to college at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania where she joins a roster that already features a half-dozen Minnesota-natives. 

Heyer, a junior committed to the University of Minnesota, and Sanders, an uncommitted sophomore, both return next year with hopes of defending their title.

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