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Basketball preview

Fri, Dec 2nd, 2011
Posted in Sports

Girls Basketball

The 2010-2011 GBB season was good for three Fillmore County teams. Kingsland (13-7, 17-11), Chatfield (13-7, 17-10), and Fillmore Central (14-6, 20-8) all put together successful seasons, the later just clipping the formers for 2nd place in the Three Rivers (behind Caledonia). Rushford-Peterson (5-15, 9-18) was competitive, but struggled late in games. The counties two SEC teams, Mabel-Canton (6-12, 8-17) and Lanesboro (6-12, 6-20), both had rough years. But 2011-2012 is a new season. As ESPN's Chris Berman says, 'anything can happen...and that's why they play the games!'

Chatfield (which lost to La Crescent in the Sub-Section 1AA East semis a season ago) should've been the headlining county girl's squad. They still could, but they'll have to do so without All-Conference performer Karen Sass (17 per game), lost for the year due to ACL surgery. They'll also have to fill the void left when their other returning A-C performer, Kenna Moechnig (6'2" senior C), didn't go out for basketball. A team that in April had four returning starters is down to two, senior G's Sarah Costello (5'8") and Erin Kammer (5'7"). The Goph's saving grace is their entire bench returns. MaKenzie Miller (6'1" junior C) and Sydney Irish (5'3" sophomore G) have an opportunity to shine. Returnees Kileigh Dudek (5'6" junior G) and Kyndra Neis (5'5" senior G) will also be counted on to pick up the slack. Junior Traci McDonald gives Brian Baum a second 6'1" gal on his roster. The cupboards certainly not empty. It's just different than expected.

Kingsland (who lost in the Sub-Section 1AA West semis to Stewartville) watched a pretty talented piece depart via graduation. Molly Greiner scored over 1,000 points in her career and averaged 17 a game in 2010-2011. The Knights will have to compensate for those lost buckets. But things should still be good for black/silver fans. Three starters return, senior G/F Lindsay Tart (5'8"), senior PG McKayla Pruter (5'1"), and junior F Cheyenne Losey (5'11"). Losey was the Knight's second leading scorer (9.9 per) and All-Conference a year ago. Seniors Mackenzie Marzolf (5'9") and Nicole Swanson (6'2") also played in 2011. And thus, interim coach Eric Breitspecher definitely has some size and talent to work with.

Fillmore Central (who lost to Spring Grove in the Sub-Section 1A East finals) will be taking a different path in 2011-2012. After graduating five of nine players off last season's team (including three starters and ultra-good WSU recruit Connor Nagle), the Falcons are, in a word, depleted. They have one experienced senior, returning starter and second leading scorer Alex Peterson (5'11" C), one junior (Jordan O'Connor), and then all sophomores, freshmen, foreign-exchange students, and an 8th grader! Because of the youth, Sarah Tollefsrud's team is playing an abbreviated (only R-P from the 3-Rivers South) varsity schedule.

Rushford-Peterson (who fell to FC in the Sub-Section 1A East semis) has the luxury of returning their top two scorers. Kenzie Lind (5'10" senior) and Amy Todd (5'9" junior) sparked the Trojan attack a season ago, averaging 11.3 and 9.6 per respectively. Lind was All-Conference. Guards Cody Manfull (5'7" junior) and Kendra Crawford (5'6" sophomore) also saw extensive action a season ago, adding backcourt support. The Trojans have only nine gals on the varsity roster (at season's onset), having lost one to graduation and two other minute-getters to non-participation, but Dave Lind's club should be a factor, particularly come Sub-Section 1A tourney time.

Lanesboro will take the court in 2011 with new coach, Ryan Scheevel. He'll have a few assets back from 2010-2011. Senior 6'0" All-Conference F Paige Hungerholt heads the cast. She led the Burros in scoring with 11.2 per game. Other experienced holdovers include Bryn Harmon (5'8" senior G), Alisa Warnes (5'10" junior F), Karlee Ruen (5'6" senior G), and Johanna Bearson (5'6" junior PG). Four players graduated, but only one averaged over five a game. Nonetheless, coming of a difficult season, Coach Scheevel has his work cut out for him.

Mabel-Canton is similar to Lanesboro. They too welcome a new coach, former FC headman (circa the turn of the last century) Doug Carlson. They too struggled a season ago. They lost some assets (three seniors plus a sophomore VB defection). They have four key players back, sophomores Lydia Geving (5'8" F) and Carly McCabe (5'4" G), juniors Christy Welscher (5'9" F) and Amanda Rasmussen (5'11" F). Coach Carlson appears to be in about the same situation as Coach Scheevel (building).

Clutch FT's Ensure Gopher Win

No Gopher gal's b-ball fan, at the end of last year, would've expected their team to take to the court in game one of the 2011-2012 season minus All-Conference players Karen Sass and Kenna Moechnig. They did. Their new cast of characters, in a phrase, found a way in Stewartville. The visitors got a leg up early on the home Tigers. Chatfield led the first 11 minutes. But they hit a scoring drought while Stewie used the 1-and-1-bonus to their advantage. A Sarah Schrandt buzzer-beating three gave the Tigers a 25-20 lead at the half. Chatfield upped the defensive intensity in the second stanza. They got to shooters better, and limited the Tiger offense to 16 second half points. Even so, it took a 7-0 run, one spurred by a Kileigh Dudek 3-point play and capped by a MaKenzie Miller rebound-put-back, to erase a 36-30 deficit. The 37-36 Gopher lead at the 3:22 mark was their first since 16-15 at the 6:10 mark of the first half. In the final three minutes, the teams traded the lead three times before Gopher sophomore guard Sydney Irish hit her second triple of the game. It propelled the visitors ahead 42-40. Then, with less than 30 seconds to go (trailing 42-41), Stewie was forced to foul. Gopher senior Erin Kammer stepped to the line and sank both freebies (her only two points). The Tigers got just one last desperate heave. It came up short, leaving Chatfield to prevail 44-41. Reserve center Traci McDonald and starting guard Sarah Costello paced the Goph's with 10 apiece. Miller added nine. Stewartville's Katie Bauman led everyone with 13 (including three threes).



Kingsland 41, Sioux Central, Iowa 50 in OT (K: Cheyenne Losey 17 pts, 6 ass, 6 stls; Lindsay Tart 8 pts, 3 rebs, 4 stls, 3 ass. S-C: Morgan Walker 26 pts, 8 rebs. Knights led with 50 seconds to go in regulation, got outscored 9-0 in overtime, committed 31 turnovers. Central won Byron's 4-team tourney)

Lanesboro 40, Dover-Eyota 77 (L: Paige Hungerholt 15, Alisa Warnes 8. D-E: Sarah Pease 17 pts, 5 ass, 5 stls; four other Eagles in double-figures. Dover-Eyota Tournament Contest)


Kingsland 50, St. Charles 43 (K: McKayla Pruter 10 pts, 4 stls; Lizzie Tart 10 pts; Mackenzie Marzolf 7 pts, 6 rebs; Losey 8 pts. SC: Leah Putzier 14 pts. Saints led 30-18 at half; Putzier had 11 pts. Knights outscored SC 32-13 in 2nd half; Putzier got just 3 pts. Kingsland made 13 of 18 FT's)

Lanesboro 41, LeRoy-Ostrander 43 (D-E Tournament Contest)

Boys Basketball Preview

The 2010-2011 boys county picture saw Kingsland (14-6, 15-12) and Rushford-Peterson (12-8, 20-9) finish 3-4 in the Three Rivers, behind heavyweights PEM and Caledonia. Lanesboro finished tied for third (with Houston) in the SEC (14-4, 19-8) behind Glenville-Emmons and Spring Grove. Chatfield (7-13, 10-17), Fillmore Central (4-16, 8-19), and Mabel-Canton (7-11, 7-18) each finished below five hundred. Each squad has things to be optimistic about in 2011-2012.

Kingsland, who ended their season with Sub-Section 1AA West quarterfinal loss to Z-M, lost some talent. Seven seniors who saw minutes graduated, most notably All-Conference guard Joey Strike, and 6'5" center/forward Jake Harder. But coach Paul Eckheart has some key players back, headlined by 6'1" senior A-C G Tanner Lange. Sam Eberle (6'1" senior G), Soren Grandall (6'1" senior F), Devin Pokorney (6'4" senior F) and Spencer Klevan (6'4" senior C) also saw some action in 2010-2011, as Eckheart used his bench liberally. The Knights will have solid size from top to bottom too, as none of the above players is less than 6'1". Lange and Eberle could make a dynamic backcourt duo. And thus, the Knight cabinet has assets.

Rushford-Peterson will return just three players who saw extensive action a season ago (on a Sub-Section 1A runner-up team). The nice thing, one is All-Conference F Nick Thompson (6'4" senior) and the other is All-Conference G Trent Vix (5'9" senior). Each can light it up from distance. Thompson averaged around 17/per contest, Vix in double-figures. Nick's younger brother Seth (6'0" sophomore G) is the third. R-P will have plenty of 'role' minutes to fill though, as five senior contributors graduated (headed by marksmen Ben Krambeer). The cast that does so in 2011-2012 is likely to be bigger than their predecessors, as a number of R-P youngster's elongated in the off-season. Thompson won't be the only player significantly taller than 6'0". It's probably a good bet Coach Tom Vix utilizes that size. It's probably a good bet Vix and Thompson get open and drain threes. It's probably a good bet R-P puts together a successful season.

Chatfield appears primed for improvement. Only one senior contributor from 2010-2011's campaign graduated, G Erik Hilgren. And though he was an A-C player, the Gophers will return the other four starters, G Jake Peterson (5'9" senior), G Mitch Narveson (5'11" senior) F Jesse Julian (6'2" senior), and C Tyler Lund (6'2" senior). The bench is also chopped full of experienced players, sophomore Nate Skare (6'0" G), senior Tyler Grover (5'10" G), senior Josh Bernard (6'0" F), and junior Luke Isensee (6'2" F). Tom Bance's club should trend upward.

Fillmore Central will likely heavily rely on their back-court. Starting G's Tyler Eickhoff (5'10" senior) and Zach Olstad are Heath Olstad's two best returnees. On the inside, Isaac Sveen (6'4" senior), Ryan Mayer (6'3" senior), Mitch Johnson (6'0" senior), and Dan Gatzke (6'3" junior) played a season ago, at varying levels. They give the Falcons some size and athleticism in the post. FC lost four seniors who contributed a lot and/or started. It's hard to tell just what the season will hold for the Falcons. Could their basketball campaign mimic their football season (be marked by improvement)?

Lanesboro made it to the Sub-Section 1A East semifinals a season ago, falling to R-P. The Burros lost four contributors to graduation. They return two starters. One is G Cory Strom (6'1" senior). The other is 2010-2011's leading scorer, 6'2" multi-talented senior All-Conference G/F Braden Hanson. The classmates are a nice duo for head coach John Smith. With fellow experienced perimeter players C.D. Hanson (5'11" senior) and Erik Peterson (5'8" junior), the Burros don't lack in the back-court. Up front is a different story. And thus, the orange and black will do a lot of 'driving' and 'kicking'. However, in the small school SEC, where size is at a premium anyway, that could be a recipe for success.

Mabel-Canton returns the county's most physically imposing player, 6'2" 245-pound Steven Smith. The burly C was a 20-10 guy last season. M-C struggled getting consistent production outside of Smith though. Dalton Stoen was their second leading scorer, but he graduated. Jacoby Bigalk (5'9" senior G) and Gabe Lind (5'8" senior F) are two Cougar returning starters who could help Coach Doug Wyffels when it comes to the questions, who are your second and third options? Nonetheless, the success of the Coug's season rides on how far Smith's broad shoulders can carry them.

Competition in Three Rivers teams begins in Plainview. PEM, who didn't lose a conference game in 2010-2011, saw their state championship hopes shattered when Lourdes (a team they pummeled in late January 81-45) shocked them in the Section title game 53-49. The Bulldogs lost the 4th biggest (scoring) piece in Minnesota High School hoops history, 3,055-point career scorer Cole Olstad. Landon Flies, a fellow All-Conference performer, also graduated. But guard Cory Speer and forward Sam Ruth return, leaving the defending conference champs with more returning A-C players then everyone else (accept R-P). From there, one would think Caledonia, last year's conference bridesmaid, would also factor into the equation. The Warriors lost four A-C players, but they also lost a ton of talent from their 2010 state champ football team. That didn't dissuade them from repeating as champs in 2011. It's not hard to surmise their basketball team won't drop off too much either. From there, no Three Rivers club returns an All-Conference (1st Team) player. Southland and Lewiston-Altura, teams that finished in the middle of the pack a season ago, both return some key pieces. The Reb's and Card's are the most likely to jump up and factor into the Conference title picture, in some way or form.

In the SEC, Glenville-Emmons took home the title (16-2 in SEC play) in 2010-2011, but lost leading scorer Andrew Lau (and notable other key players). Houston finished third (14-4), but is in a similar, though more sternly built, boat as G-E (lost Chris Stackhouse and Connor Caruso, return Hans Lundberg and Josh Vix). That leaves Spring Grove as the de facto favorite. With senior scoring machine Aric Elton, plus Blaine Storlie, Jake Kraus, and Eli Gleason (all integral pieces a season ago), the SEC boys basketball race (just like the girls) seemingly runs through the Grove.

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