Girls basketball | 2013-14 season preview (Red Wing, GM, LO, BP)
Red Wing (9-5 Missota, 23-8 overall)made a tough act for itself to follow last season, rolling to a runner-up finish at the Class AAA state tournament. Red Wing used a high-powered offense (60 ppg) to get to state for a third straight year, and the 65-50 loss to DeLaSalle in the final was the Wingers' best finish. It'll be a new challenge this season for coach Dave Muelken, minus the program's all-time leading scorer Tesha Buck, and also last year's second-leading scorer Macy Kelly. Buck scored 2,402 points and averaged 23.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.8 steals as a senior, and is now playing at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Two starters are back, senior 5-8 G Kara Norvet and 5-8 junior G McKenzie Muelken (10 ppg). Two experienced seniors step in as starters, 5-7 F Hailey Kuhl and 5-10 F Maddie Faas. Two sophomores expected to contribute are Kenzie Cota and Becca Swenning. Cota is out until mid December with a shoulder injury. "We look to compete night in and night out," Muelken said. "Playing in the Missota Conference will provide challenges every night as the conference is as good as any from top to bottom."
Grand Meadow (13-5 SEC West, 16-11 overall)has a new head coach with Lisa Glynn replacing Dawn Baudoin. Glynn, 41, spent the last 15 years teaching at Austin, where she was the assistant varsity coach for several seasons. Glynn inherits a rebuilding project because last year's solid team was led by six seniors. The Superlarks came on strong in the second half last season, going 12-5 after the new year, and finished second in the SEC West behind Lyle/Pacelli. Grand Meadow won its first Section 1A East playoff game before a season-ending 22-point loss to Spring Grove. This team has no seniors, and will look for leadership from three juniors, G Rachel Oehlke (7 ppg), F Allison Gehling and C/F Jamie Stevens. Sophomore C Rio Landers (8 ppg) came off the bench last year and was the third-leading scorer. "We lost a lot of our offensive punch to graduation and this gives our girls an opportunity to step up and provide the leadership in all areas for us," Glynn said. "The girls will need time to get the varsity experience to mold as a team."
Le Roy-Ostrander (11-7 SEC West, 13-14 overall)would like to get off to a better start than last season when it began 0-6. The Cardinals rebounded nicely in the second half of the season, winning 8 of their last 12 in the regular season and five straight before a season-ending 32-point loss to Rushford-Peterson in the second round of the Section 1A West playoffs. The Cards finished third in the SEC West Division. Fourth-year head coach Aaron Hungerholt will be working with a mostly new lineup this season, with only one returning starter, senior G Becca Bunne. Two others have varsity experience, senior G Laura Stevenson, who is co-captain with Bunne, and sophomore F Samantha Siskow. Coach Hungerholt said L-O has good height, but experience and depth are lacking. "We are looking for younger girls to step up and contribute," Hungerholt said. "We will probably lean heavily on Becca Bunne to lead the team."
Blooming Prairie (10-4 Gopher, 17-9 overall)is coming off a strong season in which three leading scorers were underclassmen, so there is optimism in the Blossoms' camp. Blooming Prairie had a pair of five-game winning streaks and finished third in the Gopher Conference behind eventual Class AA state champion NRHEG and Faribault B.A., which ended the Blossoms' season in the Section 1A West semifinals. Head coach John Worke expects Blooming Prairie to be stronger, led by 6-1 junior C Taylor Hagen (14. ppg, 8.3 rpg), 5-10 junior F Madison Worke (11.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg), and 5-6 senior G Sara Noble (8.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg). Worke and Hagen are two-time all-conference picks, and Hagen set a single-season school scoring mark last season and could reach 1,000 career points this year. Worke enters his 21st season as head coach with an outstanding 336-162 career record, although he notes the Blossoms have made just one state appearance in 1999. "With another year of experience under them and a solid youth group, we hope to improve on our 17-win season last year," Worke said.