WINONA — Basketball has always been ingrained in the Lodermeier family. It’s just what they do. Sydney and Lexie Lodermeier both starred for Goodhue High School. The sisters played instrumental roles in helping Goodhue win back-to-back Class A state championships in 2016 and 2017.
Sydney graduated in the spring of 2018 and headed to Winona State University to play basketball. Lexie stayed back at Goodhue and led the Wildcats to a runner-up finish at state in 2018 before heading to Upper Iowa to continue her basketball career.
They’re more than just sisters. They’re best friends.
Their worlds collided on Dec. 21 when Upper Iowa came to Winona to battle Winona State.
Sydney was in WSU's starting lineup. Lexie started for Upper Iowa. A whole batch of Lodermeiers crammed into the stands wearing Team Lodermeier shirts.
“My dad was super excited just to watch and see what we both did,” Lexie said. “My mom was so nervous on both ends. But they love it.”
Sydney ended up getting the best of her little sister. She scored 11 points and ripped down four rebounds in Winona State’s 79-60 victory. Lexie chipped in four points with five rebounds.
“It was very cool,” Lexie said. “It was kind of weird for a little bit. We had to play against each other in AAU a little bit, but this was way different. We had family and friends from Goodhue come down. It kind of made me more comfortable. It didn’t feel out of the ordinary.”
At halftime, their dad, Dan, coached a scrimmage that featured the Lodermeier’s 11-year-old sister, Mackenzie. After the break, they hopped back in the bleachers to watch Sydney and Lexie battle.
Yes, a basketball family.
FIXING A JUMPER
Sydney Lodermeier had something wrong with her shot. She’s never been a bad shooter. But she wasn’t necessarily known as a knockdown one, either.
Sydney has always had a rainbow-like jumper. But it was tough for her to get her 3-pointer off. Defenders were able to close out and shut her down. As a freshman, Lodermeier only made four triples all season in limited action off the bench.
The Winona State coaching staff got together with Lodermeier and decided she needed to switch things up.
So she got right to work.
Throughout the entire offseason, Lodermeier would spend time with Winona State’s associate head coach Ana Wurtz. When it comes to tinkering with jumpers, Wurtz is a great place to start.
Wurtz goes down as one of the best shooters in Winona State history. She graduated as the program’s all-time leader in made 3-pointers with 254. She’s fourth on the WSU career scoring charts with 1,355 points.
Wurtz did some tweaking with Sydney's approach, working with footwork and her release point.
A year after making only four treys all season, Sydney has turned into arguably WSU’s best 3-point shooter.
The Goodhue native has splashed 31 of them this year. She’s shooting a ridiculous 47 percent from downtown.
“I didn’t know that was my percentage,” Sydney said. “Obviously, every player likes to make shots. But when you work really hard, it’s nice to have a payoff.”
WSU had to replace three starters after a 15-13, 2018-19 campaign. Lodermeier turned herself into one of those starters. She’s started all 22 games this season, and WSU wouldn’t be 14-8 without its 5-feett-11 long-range assassin.
It’s a big change seeing the floor so much this year,” Sydney Lodermeier said. “I knew I would have opportunities, but we also had a very skilled freshman class and a good transfer that came in that played my position. I didn’t know what the coaches would do. Our team has so many well-rounded players. I knew the coaches could go to other players on the team instead, but they chose me. I’m grateful.”
NOT A TYPICAL FRESHMAN
Most freshmen struggle when they get to college. The transition from high school basketball to the college game isn’t easy. The game is faster. The players are way better. A 6-3 center like Lexie Lodermeier might tower over defenders in the Hiawatha Valley League, but that isn’t always the case at Upper Iowa.
It took her a few games to crack the scoring column, but the freshman has had a nice season. She scored 12 points against Augustana. In late January, Lodermeier got a career-high 14 points in a loss to Southwest Minnesota State.
She’s found her groove. She’s comfortable now, having started 18 games in a row for Upper Iowa. It's clear that her future is bright.
But she misses her older sister.
'THAT WAS REALLY SPECIAL'
One-hundred miles separate Sydney and Lexie. With hectic basketball schedules and a heavy school workload, it’s tough for the sisters to spend time with each other.
“(Sydney is) a leader,” Lexie said. “She’s a great role model. She’ll be there for you on and off the court. She’s definitely someone I’ve always looked up to. I’ve wanted to be like her in school and in basketball."
That’s why playing against each other was so special, with so many family and friends in attendance.
“I think it’s been really neat for my family because we were able to keep our careers going and they get to share that with us too after high school, and not a lot of people have that opportunity,” Lexie said. “It’s been so fun. We’ve had grandparents come down to games and they just love it. Our siblings love getting the attention when they come to games, and they’re always asking for gear. They have more Winona gear than Upper Iowa gear at the moment, but it’s cute.”
The sisters are representing more than just the Lodermeier name on the back of the jersey. They’re representing their town, Goodhue.
“It’s easy to distance yourself from high school, but that really showed how I can impact other players and my sisters and anyone else who follows the program,” Sydney said. “I’ll always be tied to my high school because of the things I got to do there and the friends I made and the things we accomplished.”
Sydney and Lexie haven’t played one-on-one in years. Sydney will tell you that she’s always been the more competitive one. Lexie will tell you that Sydney’s speed would give her fits in a one-on-one matchup. There’s no real bragging rights in the Lodermeier household.
Instead, they prefer to work out together in the offseason. They prefer to stay together. Their bond won’t ever go away.
They probably won’t play on the same team ever again.
But they’ll always look back with pride at the years that they got to play together at Goodhue.
“I didn’t realize how special that was until my senior year,” Sydney said. “We played together growing up. We had always played together. My senior year, we were playing next to each other a lot. We both were having an impact on the floor. When we got to make an impact together, that was really special. The time that I got to play with her is something I always want to cherish.”