Girls Basketball | 2013-14 HVL Preview
Hayfield (10-2 division, 20-9 overall) looks like a tenacious terrier on paper, with not much size but a lot of bite back from a 20-win season. Fred Kindschy enters his 10th season as head coach with a physical, experienced team that's loaded with the 5-5 and 5-6 types. Four returning starters accounted for most of the Vikings' 55 ppg last year; 5-9 senior G Dani Wagner (14 ppg, 9 rpg), who is the tallest player, 5-6 junior G Johanna Bungum (12 ppg, 5 rpg), 5-5 senior G Jessie Foster (9 ppg), and 5-6 junior G Bhrett Zahnle (8 ppg). "Our quickness and experience will be an asset," Kindschy said. "Our lack of size and rebounding will be issues that we will need to address. If we find a little depth with our younger grades we will present some problems for teams." Another season like last would put Kindschy, 53, at 300 career wins; the Wisconsin native and UW-Superior grad begins this season with a 280-204 record.
Kasson-Mantorville (9-3, 19-10)came up just short of its first trip to state since 1997 last season, falling in the Section 1AAA final to Red Wing by 11. K-M scored an HVL-high 63.2 ppg last year, but two 1,000-point scorers accounted for half of that, Erin Schlotthauer and Abby Manitz, and they graduated. Still, coach Ryan Haroldson has what he calls a deep, tall and athletic team led by three returning starters; senior 5-3 PG Cori Kennedy (12.1 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3 rpg, 2.9 spg), 5-9 junior G Taylor Wiebke (5.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.7 spg, 1.5 apg), and 5-9 junior G Taylor Miller (6.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg). Among the new varsity players, Haraldson said look for 6-1 freshman C Krissy Scott to contribute. "We have a nice group of athletes to reload with," Haraldson said. "The team goal is to get back to the conference championship game (which K-M won in 2012), and make it to the section championship for a third straight season."
Byron (6-6, 16-9)set a new program record for wins last year under new coach Darren Nelson, and that record could be in jeopardy again this season. The Bears are probably motivated to extend their season beyond the first round of the playoffs; last year they fell to Kasson-Mantorville 70-62 in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals. Three returning starters provide a strong foundation; 5-9 junior F Vanessa Anderson (16.1 ppg, 9 rpg), 5-6 senior G Reed Klunder (7.8 ppg, 28 3-pointers), and 5-3 junior G Mackenzie Damerow (5.9 ppg, 22 3-pointers). Moving into the starting lineup are 6-1 senior C Lakin Koski (4.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and 5-6 senior G Annie Christofferson (2.3 ppg, 2 rpg). This will be a quick, athletic team with decent size inside. "We have high expectations," Nelson said. "If we stay healthy and improve as the season goes on, we expect to be a factor in the conference race and also be a factor in Section 1AAA."
Rochester Lourdes (5-7, 10-17)had its second straight losing season for the first time in 30 years under coach Myron Glass. The Eagles lacked the firepower with a division-low average of 42.8 ppg, and no player averaged double figures scoring. There were three seniors on the team including leading rebounder Betsey Daly.There is promise with three returning starters. Senior 5-11 C Sara Hobday (4.4 ppg, 4 rpg) and junior G Anna Branstad (5.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.4 spg) will both start for a third season, and sophmore G Katie Helt (9.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.4 spg) is a second-year starter who emerged as the leading scorer last year. Freshman 6-0 C Megan Hobday (4.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg) moved into the starting lineup late last season and gives the Eagles added size near the basket. Glass expects senior F Karrie Virgin to move into the starting lineup.
Stewartville (4-8, 8-18)takes a new direction under new head coach Scott Rindahl, who has coached the last three years in the program at lower levels. The Wisconsin native and Winona State grad replaced Bill Glomski who retired after 42 years teaching and coaching at Stewartville. Rindahl said he believes in pressure defense and getting lots of players involved. He has three of the top six players back from last year; 5-9 senior G Asley Eberle (10.2 ppg), 6-0 senior F Maddie Hettinger (7 ppg) and 5-8 sophomore G Hunter Miller (5.9 ppg). After winning 21 games the season before, Stewartville ended last season with an 8-game losing skid and allowed 50 ppg. The Tigers ended on an up note with a 4-point loss to eventual champ Pine Island in a Section 1AA opener.
La Crescent (2-10, 7-19)has a new head coach in 24-year-old Neal Zygarlicke, who graduated from Viterbo University and was assistant men's basketball coach there last year. He is from Marshfield, Wis., and played four college seasons at Viterbo. He inherits a Lancers team with promise based on three returning starters. Senior 5-11 F Katie Waller (18.3 ppg) and 5-7 senior G Jen Michalke (17.9 ppg) are a proven 1-2 scoring punch, and 5-9 senior F Reilly Hannon (5 ppg) is also back. There is some height inside with 6-0 junior C Clara Horn (3 ppg). Coach Zygarlicke said the Lancers must improve on a defense that allowed 60 ppg last season. "With a first-year coach the girls are learning new concepts. If they are able to catch on quickly, we could surprise some people," he said.
Pine Island (10-2, 26-6) has a hard act to follow coming off its second straight 26-win season and first state tournament trip. The Panthers whipped Caledonia 59-45 for the Section 1AA title and their eight straight win, then lost a defensive battle to Providence Academy, 33-22, in the first round at state. It looks like coach Rick Canton has another contender with a tall and fairly experienced team. Three of the top six players are back from a P.I. team that allowed a conference-low 41 ppg; 6-2 senior C Niki Fokken (11.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg), 6-0 senior F Sam Heeren (5 ppg) and 5-9 junior G Noelle Langworthy (5 ppg). "We look to develop into one of the top teams in our division," said Canton, 55. "We look to be in the mix for the Blue Division title."
Goodhue (10-2, 23-6)has potential and the intent to get back to the Class A state tournament, a trip it made three straight years from 2009-'11. The Wildcats have had back-to-back 23-win seasons end in the Section 1A West final with close losses to Faribault B.A. Coach Josh Wieme has four of the top six players back from a team that averaged 62.8 ppg, chiefly 5-8 senior G Mikayla Miller (22 ppg, 9 rpg, 4 spg, 3 apg) who was an All-State First Team pick and two-time all-HVL. Senior 5-8 F Meredith Watson (6 ppg, 5 rpg) was also all-conference. Senior 5-8 G Kali Ryan (8 ppg, 3.5 rpg) is a third-year starter, and 5-10 junior F Shelby Hinsch (5.5 ppg, 3 rpg) is Goodhue's tallest player. Hinsch and Ryan seem ready for breakout seasons, their coach said. "We try to force the issue on defense by applying great ball pressure and team defense," Wieme said. "We need to stay healthy and find some outside shooting, some consistent scoring outside of Miller."
Kenyon-Wanamingo (9-3, 20-9)will look very familiar and very good, with all five returning starters from a 20-win team. This is a group that coach Brent Lurken took to the Section 2AA North subsection final the last two years, where it lost twice to St. Peter in a pair of close, high-scoring games. K-W had won nine straight before last year's subsection final defeat. All of the top scorers are back from a team that averaged 57.6 ppg; 5-7 senior F Siri Sviggum (15.2 ppg), 5-6 senior G Audra Clark (11.8 ppg), 6-0 junior F Brittney Flom (9.1 ppg), 5-11 junior F Megan Quam (8.5 ppg), and 5-6 senior G Meg Clark (5.1 ppg). K-W aims to get back to state for the first time since back-to-back trips in 2000 and 2001.
Lake City (6-6, 16-10)used a much-improved offense to snap a streak of three losing seasons. Coach Candace (Olstad) Dudley got the Tigers running and scoring 56.6 ppg, nearly 10 more than the season before. L.C. also finished .500 in the division for the first time since 2009. The Tigers look like contenders now behind great height and three returning starters, 6-2 sophomore C Madi Green (15 ppg, 7 rpg), 6-0 junior G Breanna Gates (12 ppg, 6 rpg) and 5-11 junior G Bailey Cronin (7 ppg, 3 rpg). Green was all-conference, Gates and Cronin honorable mention. The team's sole senior, 5-11 F Lindy Holmstadt is expected to lead, and 6-0 sophomore C Rachel Bany provides more height off the bench. Dudley said her team has talent but must find consistency. "With graduating five seniors from last season we will need our younger players to step up and contribute each night," she said.
Zumbrota-Mazeppa (5-7, 9-15)wasn't able to follow up its run to the Class AA state tournament in 2012, stumbling to a 1-7 start last season. Z-Mplayed better in the second half but dropped its last three games last season, including a 5-point loss to Lake City in a Section 1AA opener. Coach Scott Paukert has some big shoes to fill after losing three players who started for three seasons. But he lists seven players with experience including two returning starters, 5-4 senior G Kalli Paukert (5.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2 apg, 21 3-pointers) and 5-9 senior F Carley Henning (6.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg). Senior 5-11 C Aylssa Stehr (4.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg) is tallest player. Paukert, 50, said this is an athletic team with good experience and chemistry, but minus a go-to scorer. "It may take some time to develop our identity, but we are excited about the type of team that we have the potential to become," the coach said.
Triton (2-10, 4-23)has a new head coach in Peggy Moran, who adds a new title after also coaching the Cobras volleyball program for nine seasons. She was an assistant baskeball coach at Owatonna last season. Moran inherits a Triton team that hopes to end a string of five straight 20-loss seasons. The Cobras lost their last 8 games last season and allowed 83 to Southland in a season-ending Section 2AA playoff opener. Defense was the main issue as Triton allowed nearly 63 ppg. It's a veteran squad with nine returning players including leading scorers, 5-7 senior G Haley Staffon (8.2 ppg) and 5-7 junior G Piper Yankowiak (7.4 ppg). Senior 5-10 C Emily Hodgman is the tallest player and expect to lead along with 5-5 junior G Katy Erdmann. "These girls have worked hard in the summer and off season to improve, and to learn my new system," Moran said. "We are improving daily and look to improve throughout the year."
Cannon Falls (0-12, 1-24)is coming off fourth straight 20-loss season and has gone 13-93 the last four years, a long fall from its Class AA state championship season in 2006. The Bombers struggled at both ends of the court last season, averaging an HVL-low 32 ppg while allowing a division-high 63. The encouraging news is that it was a young team most of the players are returners including the top three scorers, senior F Courtney Woodcock (7.6 ppg), senior F Maggie Rutter (4 ppg) and sophomore G/F Grace Rutter (3.6 ppg). Six others averaged 2-3 ppg. Fourth-year coach Eric Mace said depth, chemistry and defense should be his team's strengths, but he needs scorers and rebounders to emerge. "We will improve upon our record from last year, but mostly are looking for the girls to continue to improve as a team," said Mace, 38, a Hastings native who attended Minnesota State-Mankato.