Head coach: Chadd Clarey. Assistant coaches: Kris Whitney, Duncan Kell.
Last season: 5-17 Big Nine, 6-21 overall. Lost 76-29 to Farmington in the Section 1AAAA first round.
Key returners: F Jordyn Sutton, G Addison Clarey, G Taylor Clarey, F Kennedy Speer, G Kjerstin Ritz.
Outlook: Century had some highs last year. Most of them happened in the middle of the season before the youthful Panthers lost their final 10 games. A year older now, expect things to start swinging Century’s way more often. The Panthers graduated just one senior last year, so improvement seems inevitable. The top player back is 5-feet-11 forward Jordyn Sutton. The junior averaged 15 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals per game last year. She is joined in the starting lineup by two speedy guards, junior Addison Clarey and freshman sister Taylor Clarey. They are the daughters of head coach Chadd Clarey. Taylor Clarey made a big jump this past offseason and is expected to be one of the team’s top scorers. Addison is a defensive menace and also someone who can get to the hoop. Century returns 5-10 guard Kennedy Speer, a promising junior who missed most of last season. Senior Kjerstin Ritz gives Century a willing and able senior shooting, and junior Lydia Niederstadt is a high-energy player who is also physical.
Coach Clarey says: “Defense and rebounding are the keys for us. We have to be more responsible at our positions on defense and we have to find players who will make contact when they box out. A lack of rebounding was why we lost so many games (down the stretch) of games.”
Seniors: Kjerstin Ritz, 5-11 guard.
Juniors: Addison Clarey, 5-6 guard; Anna Tauscher, 5-9 forward; Kennedy Speer, 5-10 guard; Lydia Niederstadt, 5-8 forward; Jordyn Sutton, 5-11 forward;
Freshmen: Taylor Clarey, 5-7 guard; Kianna Collins, 5-11 center; Ella Zmolek, 6-0 forward; Audrey Whitney, 5-6 guard; Bailey Klote, 5-10 guard.
JOHN MARSHALL ROCKETS
Head coach: Phil Schroeder. Assistant coaches: Brooke Kosok, Angie Meister, Brett Gorden, Josh Derr, Mike Archer.
Last season: 15-7 Big Nine, 18-10 overall. JM lost 58-41 to Farmington in the Section 1AAA semifinals.
Key departures: G Tori Gateno, G Alexa Motley.
Key returners: C/F Lilly Meister, G Katie Hurt.
Outlook: The Rockets have two of the top players in the Big Nine, junior Lilly Meister and Katie Hurt. The 6-feet-2 Meister is likely THE league’s best and averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds last year, shooting 55 percent from the field (39 percent on 3-pointers). She recently made a verbal commitment to Big 10 Conference school Indiana. Hurt has also verbally committed to a Division I program, Lehigh (Pennsylvania). Hurt is a 5-11 guard who possesses excellent speed and strength and figures to bump up her season totals from a year ago (11 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds). While JM has two sure-fire starters and standouts there, figuring out the rest of the starting lineup and beyond is more uncertain. Senior 5-8 forward Taylor Andersen has looked good early, and JM coach Phil Schroeder has also liked what he’s seen from 5-9 sophomore twins Sarah and Stacie Mullenbach. The toughest part for the Rockets is getting players who had little to no varsity time last year, up to speed with playing at this level.
Coach Schroeder says: “The players who have been here before, they know what this is all about. They are the leaders for us. They’re working hard and working to get everyone up to speed as fast as they can. We just have to see how everyone develops. But this (situation) is definitely going to give some new kids opportunities.”
Seniors: Reese Clarey, 5-7 guard; Taylor Andersen, 5-8 forward. Juniors: Katie Hurt, 5-11 guard; Shaely Nelson, 5-8 guard; Ava Haglund, 5-7 guard; Olivia Gorden, 5-7 guard; Brea Schad, 5-4 guard; Jadyn Currie, 5-5 guard; Elli Biermeier, 5-7 forward; Lilly Meister, 6-2 center. Sophomores: Sarah Mullenbach, 5-9 forward; Stacie Mullenbach, 5-9 forward.
Head coach: Ryan Carpenter. Assistant coaches: Tim Strain, L’Kendra Jacob, Jamison Warner.
Last season: 19-3 Big Nine, 23-5 overall. Mayo lost 62-60 to Farmington in the Section 1AAAA finals. Farmington went to reach the state title game, which was never played.
Key departures: G Jessica Kunkel, F Nancy Soro.
Key returners: C Anna Miller, G Lynnsey Hady, G Elli Collins, G Hannah Hanson, G Mullk Hammadelniel.
Outlook: This Mayo bunch, led by athletic 6-3 senior center Anna Miller, has the potential to be special. It would like to pick up right where it left off last year when it reached the Section 1AAAA finals and barely fell to No. 2 ranked Farmington, 62-60. Miller is another Division I commit, headed to powerful Drake next year. Miller averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks last year. She is a skilled and intimidating force who seems to make a jump every season. Miller has plenty to go with her, too. Another college-bound player next year (junior college North Dakota State College of Science) is senior guard Lynnsey Hady, a 5-11 pure shooter who has excellent speed. And there is plenty more speed after those two, with senior guard Mullk Hammadelniel and sophomore guard Hannah Hanson. Hanson is a lethal defender and played a sixth-person role last year as a freshman. Running the show at point guard for the second straight year is 5-10 Elli Collins, an excellent passer with strength. Mayo blistered much of last season en route to finishing 19-3, including winning 16 straight games heading into the playoffs. The Spartans averaged 64 points per game and allowed 47.
Coach Carpenter says: “I think last year gave us a taste of what we could be. We were on the wrong end of things in the final game, but I thought we played well there and competed against a really good team, one of the best in the state. I feel like we are a good team that can compete with anyone.”
Seniors: Mullk Hammadelniel, 5-6 guard; Lynnsey Hady, 5-11 guard; Anna Miller, 6-3 forward; Aaliyah Ross, 5-7 forward; Mia Harber, 6-0 forward; Elli Collins, 5-10 guard. Juniors: Adit Koth, 5-9 forward; Kianna Young, 5-8 forward. Sophomores: Hannah Hanson, 5-7 guard; Taylor Hill, 5-6 guard; Izabel Ruskell, 5-6 guard; Lauren Brede, 5-6 guard; Gabriele Mutschelknaus, 5-7 forward; Payton Dahle, 5-7 forward; Victoria Marial, 6-2 forward. Freshman: Ava Miller, 6-0 forward; Olivia McNallan, 5-6 guard.
Head coach: Aaron Berg. Assistant coaches: Mark Kellen, Scott Helt.
Last season: 14-2 Hiawatha Valley League, 28-2 overall. Beat Concordia Academy 71-55 in the state quarterfinals before the tournament was halted due to the pandemic.
Key departures: G/F Alyssa Ustby, G Anna Otto.
Key returners: F Sydney Elliott, C Annamarie Sieve, G CJ Adamson, G/F Vivica Bretton, G Emily Bowron.
Outlook: The hope is that the Eagles have gotten over last year’s massive disappointment. Paced by All-State guard/forward Alyssa Ustby, the Eagles looked in good shape to win a state championship. But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, their state tournament run ended in the semifinals, when the tournament was called off. Ustby — last year’s Post Bulletin Area Player of the Year — has graduated and is now a freshman standout at North Carolina. Still, a good chunk of talent returns. Junior point guard CJ Adamson is the best of the bunch. The fourth-year starter might be the fastest player in the state and combines that with plenty of basketball skill. She averaged 12 points (53 percent shooting), 4 rebounds and 3 assists last year. She’s got an excellent shooter next to her in senior Sydney Elliott, a forward who often lit things up from 3-point distance last year. Lourdes should have plenty of other strong contributors, too, including returning starting forward Annamarie Sieve, and top reserves from a year ago Vivica Bretton and Emily Bowron, both sophomores. The biggest question with Lourdes is its bench. Almost all of the Eagles reserves will be getting their first taste of varsity action this year. One of them is 6-1 forward Ella Hopkins, a sophomore with promise. . .The Eagles are likely competing in the top Class AA conference in the state, the Hiawatha Valley League. It is loaded with state contenders led by Goodhue.
Coach Berg says: “Our returners are all looking very good. In fact, I feel like this is the best we’ve ever looked in the first week of practice since I’ve been here. Everyone seems on the same page. It seems like everyone has picked up where they left off.”
Seniors: Sydney Elliott, 5-10 forward; Marissa Houfek, 5-7 guard; Liberty Leis, 5-7 guard; Emma Alcott, 5-7 guard; Annamarie Sieve, 5-9 forward.
Juniors: Kiara Haugen, 5-6 guard; CJ Adamson, 5-9 guard.
Sophomores: Emily Bowron, 5-5 guard; Grace Skinner, 5-3 guard; Vivica Bretton, 5-9 forward; Ella Hopkins, 6-1 center; Allison Ritter, 5-8 forward; Taylor Eliason, 5-6 guard.
Head coach: Kevin Lash. Assistant coaches: Jeff Morgan, Lynn Waggie.
Last season: 3-10 Southeast Conference, 7-20 overall. Schaeffer lost 56-30 to Hayfield in the Section 1A first round.
Key departures: F Julianne Waggie, F Elizabeth Amundson, G Annie Orvis, G Anna Lash.
Key returner: F Katie Friese.
Outlook: The Lions are incredibly young. That’s the case after they graduated four seniors a year ago, all of them starters. Schaeffer will have a starting group of sophomore and third-year starter Katie Friese, junior Faith Monson and freshmen Winona Morgan, Thea Bothun and Linnea Ekbom. The top two players off the bench are eighth-grader Gabriella Buehler and seventh-grader Blythe Morgan. On Schaeffer’s side, though, is that it has some size with that group. Blythe Morgan is a sturdy 5-9, Bothun is 5-9 and Monson 5-8. Not on Schaeffer’s side is scoring. The Lions top returning scorer from last year is Friese and she averaged just four points per game. Schaeffer coach Kevin Lash likes the team’s chemistry, unselfishness and work ethic. But a concern is how they play when the games start, with so little varsity experience.
Coach Lash says: “We are going to need our players to catch up to the speed of the game. How we do in terms of wins and losses is going to come down to how they adapt. But this is an athletic bunch and a bunch of kids who play multiple sports.
Junior: Faith Monson, 5-8 guard. Sophomores: Katie Friese, 5-7 forward; Johanna Tronson, 5-0 guard. Freshmen: Winona Morgan, 5-5 guard; Thea Bothun, 5-9 forward; Linnea Ekbom, 5-8 guard. Eighth grade: Gabriella Buehler, 5-5 guard. Seventh grade: Blythe Morgan, 5-9 forward.