By Joe Tischler
Special to The Free Press
In Mankato East’s win on Saturday over Winona, junior Claire Ziegler scored her 1000th career point in a Cougars’ uniform. Her teammate, senior guard Minnie Frederick, was seven points shy of equaling Ziegler in the milestone.
Frederick got her seven points and more on Tuesday as the Cougars easily defeated Rochester Mayo 71-44 in a Big Nine Conference matchup at the East Gym.
Early on it looked like Ziegler wanted to add on to her 1000 points in a big way as she scored East’s first six points. Frederick took over from that point. She drained a 3 from the left wing and followed that up with a steal and lay-in to make it 12-6 Cougars.
With 8:53 remaining in the first half, Frederick drove down the left baseline, banked in the shot and was fouled on the play for her 1000th career point.
For Frederick, it felt like a big weight was lifted off her shoulders.
“It was really nerve racking, because at first no one would tell me how far away I was so that was making me anxious,” she said. “I didn’t really care though as long as my team wins and I play my game.”
Frederick scored all of her 14 points in the first half. For the first nine minutes of the second half, she focused on getting her teammates involved as she assisted on four of Ziegler’s baskets in that span.
East head coach Mike Barger says Frederick has a great all-around game, but one thing stands out that makes her terrific.
“Her court savvy, she knows both sides of the floor,” he said. “On offense, she knows when people are open and when to get them the ball.
“On defense, she gets her hand in the passing lane and gets a ton of steals; she’s just a smart overall basketball player.”
With 9:22 left in the game and after her fourth assist of the second half, the crowd went silent. Frederick went up for a steal attempt, collided with a Mayo player and came down awkwardly on her ankle.
“I remember going for a ball and I collided with one of the girls and I heard a snap in my ankle,” said Frederick.
If Frederick misses any amount of time, East will need teammates to contribute and Barger is confident he has the players to do so.
“We have some players that will step up and play,” he said. “You saw Makayla Hager tonight, come in as a freshman, her first two shots were 3’s and she made them both.
“We also have good senior leadership; we’ll be fine.”
Allison Taylor led East with 19 points and Ziegler had 18.
East (20-3, 14-1 in Big Nine) next plays Saturday at Owatonna.