High School Girls Basketball Focus: Kasson-Mantorville wins a big one
The Kasson-Mantorville girls basketball team notched a head-turning win last week, beating juggernaut Goodhue.
Did that ever go fast.
There's just one week left in the regular season for Class A and AA girls basketball teams, two weeks for AAA and AAAA.
Kasson-Mantorville made sure it earned at least one big-time win, doing that this past week in beating what still looks to be the pound-for-pound best team in southeastern Minnesota, Goodhue.
K-M coach Ryan Haraldson talks about how his KoMets got it done in this week's High School Girls Basketball Focus. Also find out what makes Kingsland so good again, check out our Top 5 Standouts and Power Ranking, and read a bunch more News and Notes.
TOP 5 STANDOUTS
1. Natalie Bremer, Lake City
It was quite a week for Bremer, a star 6-foot guard. The senior started it by going off for 39 points in a win over Plainview-Elgin-Millville. Bremer hit 13 of 23 shots from the field, including 2-of-6 on 3-pointers. She also made 11 of 13 free throws and grabbed six rebounds. Then, one day later (Tuesday, Feb. 8) she became Lake City’s all-time career scoring leader, girl or boy, with 2,320 points. That beat the former mark held by 2020 graduate Nate Heise (2,307).
2. Kaci Ruen, Lanesboro
Ruen has had some splashy scoring games this season. But never one like Saturday's when she poured in 43 points in a lopsided win over LeRoy-Ostrander. Ruen was 17-for-27 from the field and 9-for-12 from the free-throw line. She also had 19 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Nice night!
3. Megan Morgan, Winona Cotter
Morgan has led a Cotter team that has won 17 of its last 19 games. The senior guard was at her best on Thursday, Feb. 10, in a win over La Crescent-Hokah. She scored 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds, nailing six of the team’s 14 3-pointers along the way. Morgan hit 6 of 9 3-point tries and all four of her free throws.
4. Abigail O’Reilly, Plainview-Elgin-Millville
It came in a loss (68-59 to Lake City on Monday, Feb. 7), but it was still quite an outing for P-E-M forward O’Reilly. The junior scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. O’Reilly was 10-for-17 on 2-pointers and 7-for-10 from the free throw line.
5. Bobbie Bruns, Blooming Prairie
Bruns sank a pair of 3-pointers and finished with a game-best 24 points to help Blooming Prairie to a 51-37 win over Randolph. Bruns shot 10-for-19 from the field, including 2-for-4 on 3-pointers. And the senior guard did a lot more than just score, also with six assists and five steals.
(Editor's note: These rankings are considered "pound-for-pound" rankings, similar to many rankings systems in boxing and mixed martial arts. They represent the best teams in southeastern Minnesota, relative to the class they play in.
1. Goodhue (22-2)
Yes, finally a loss after 13 straight wins for the Wildcats (64-47 on Tuesday, Feb. 8, to Kasson-Mantorville), but they still resonate as the top pound-for-pound team in these parts. Goodhue has outscored its opponents by an average of 67-45 and done it in one of the toughest girls basketball conferences in the state, the Hiawatha Valley League.
2. Hayfield (24-0)
Yes, the No. 3-ranked Vikings have had some close games in the last few weeks. But they’ve won them all. Chances are great that they will finish their regular season unbeaten, with just two games left.
3. Dover-Eyota (21-3)
The Eagles keep winning (12 straight) and getting more and more contributions from a variety of players. On Thursday, Feb. 11, there was Laken Koehler with 20 points and four 3-pointers. Star Malia Nelson was also good for 20 and Olivia Riley had 14 with four 3-pointers. The balance that has been reached with this team is what makes it so dangerous.
4. Winona Cotter (17-4)
The Ramblers had won seven straight and 17 of 18 games before bowing to an impressive-looking Lourdes team on Saturday. Cotter has a bunch of players who can score and defend.
5. Austin (17-4)
The Packers hit a low point at the beginning of February, with three losses in four games. But they rebounded well from that with a 20-point win over sturdy Century on Tuesday, Feb. 8. Hope Dudycha was back to her usual self with 19 points in that one.
6. John Marshall (14-7)
JM is playing its best basketball of the season now and has a five-game winning streak to show for it. In the last two weeks, the Rockets have bounced back to beat a strong Mayo team in overtime and also beat No. 9-ranked Mankato West. JM gets a serious test on Tuesday at Mankato East.
7. Lake City (16-6)
The Tigers have hit their stride once again and done it behind their school’s all-time leading scorer — girl or boy — Natalie Bremer. Bremer had games of 39, 25 and 25 points last week. That’s helped Lake City go on a six-game winning streak.
8. Mayo (16-6)
What a gauntlet recently for Mayo, playing top Big Nine teams Austin (win), John Marshall (loss), Mankato West (win) and Mankato East (loss) in a row. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? The Spartans hope that’s a truism.
9. Stewartville (13-7)
It’s been a strong stretch for the now much healthier Tigers, with four wins in five games. Among those four were impressive ones over tough teams Lake City, Plainview-Elgin-Millville and Byron. The latter was especially striking, with six Tigers scoring between 16 and seven points.
10. Lourdes (15-7)
The Eagles looked like the real deal on Saturday in downing Winona Cotter. Lourdes played exceptional defense in that one and Eagles point guard CJ Adamson showed once again that she's one of the top players in the area with her do-it-all abilities.
NEWS AND NOTES
Kasson-Mantorville stuns Goodhue
Goodhue hadn’t lost a basketball game since Dec. 27, a stretch of 13 games.
On Tuesday, Feb. 8, that streak ended. Kasson-Mantorville — somewhat surprisingly — was the team that did the honors.
The KoMets used overtime to do it, outlasting No. 2 ranked (Class AA) Goodhue 64-57 inside the K-M gymnasium.
The young KoMets entered the game just 8-10, though having made winning more of a habit the second half of the season.
K-M is 5-2 since Jan. 21, also with a win over solid Lourdes mixed in.
But this latest triumph registered differently than the rest. That’s because Goodhue had seemed unstoppable, with a bunch of high-profile wins, almost all of them of the lopsided variety. That included a recent 79-60 win over formidable Stewartville and a 64-43 blasting of a rising Plainview-Elgin-Millville team.
But K-M, a young team that is gradually figuring things out, had an answer for the Wildcats.
“We just kept the game close,” K-M coach Ryan Haraldson said. “Anytime you can keep it close, you give yourself a chance. We also did a better job of running (Goodhue) off the 3-point line this time. We are just starting to grow now. We graduated eight seniors last year and (Aby) Shubert was our only returning varsity player with experience. It’s been fun to see them grow, to have them understand the level and pace of the varsity game.”
And if K-M was going to be limited to one person coming back from a year ago, Shubert was an ideal choice. The sweet-shooting junior guard averaged 19 points per game last year and has upped that to 23 this season.
Kingsland doing it again
The Kingsland “Lady” Knights have a habit under fourth-year coach Steve Hauser.
It’s to win. A lot.
The Knights won the West Division of the Southeast Conference last year. The two years prior to that, they were in the East Division and won those titles.
This year, Kingsland is on pace to do it again, sitting at 8-0 in the West and 13-0 overall in the Southeast.
“This has been an outstandingly fun group to work with,” Hauser said. “They think of new ways to put a smile on my face every day with the quirkiness they have.”
Hauser also sure likes the way this team plays. It’s gotten things done despite not having a single “star.” Instead, it’s got excellent depth and about eight different girls who can be their leading scorer any given night.
None of them are putting up huge offense numbers. Point guard Anika Reiland is the leading scorer at 9.9 points per game (also 8.3 rebounds, 5 steals and 3.7 assists per game). Emily Miner averages 8.9 points per game (4 rebounds per game), Audrey Webster 8.4 points, Katelyn Hauser 6.8 points and Alexys Harwood 5.5 points.
But others are also consistently getting into the scoring act, too. A perfect example is what happened on Jan. 27, with Shelby Beck scoring 18 points and burying six 3-pointers in a win over rival Houston.
“What has made this team so good is that they’ve accepted their roles,” Steve Hauser said. “It’s taking your ego and throwing it into the stands for the benefit of the team. They know that, ‘Hey, it might not be my night, but it might be somebody else’s.’ ”
Hauser says his team has evolved. What he’s looking at now isn’t the same team that he saw the first month of the season.
He’s grateful for the changes.
“We’re meshing a lot better now than we were earlier in the season,” he said. “Our defining time came right after Christmas break. They’re unselfish play now is just outstanding.”
Watson, Esser reach 1,000 points
Just a sophomore, Hayfield star guard Kristen Watson already has 1,000 points. Watson hit the mark on Tuesday, Feb. 8, scoring 15 points in a 59-46 win over Kenyon-Wanamingo. Watson is averaging 20 points per game for the unbeaten and No. 3-ranked Vikings.
• La Crescent junior guard Cali Esser also notched her 1,000th point, getting it done on Monday, Feb. 7. That came after she scored 18 points in her team’s loss to Chatfield.
Lake City’s Bremer sets school record
Lake City fifth-year starter Natalie Bremer became her school’s scoring leader — girl or boy — on Tuesday night when she scored 25 points against Zumbrota-Mazeppa. That gave the 6-foot senior guard 2,320 for her career, besting the previous mark of 2,307 set by 2020 Lake City graduate Nate Heise. Bremer is having a monster season, averaging 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 4 assists. She’ll play next year at Division II Minnesota State, Mankato.
Stewartville at Lake City, Monday, Feb. 14: This matches two teams that seem to be getting hot at the right time. Nobody has sizzled any more than Lake City’s Natalie Bremer, with 39, 25 and 25 points in her last three games.
John Marshall at Mankato East, Tuesday, Feb. 15: JM is playing its best basketball of the season and is on a five-game winning streak. But it will get a serious test at East, which is ranked No. 7 in Class AAA.
Goodhue at Lourdes, Thursday, Feb. 17: The Wildcats don’t look quite as impenetrable now as they did earlier. Kasson-Mantorville beat Goodhue on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and then Byron gave them a run on Friday, Feb. 11, losing by just four. Lourdes looked great on Saturday in beating tough Winona Cotter.
Mayo at Century, Friday, Feb. 18: The Spartans will be out for revenge. Century drilled the Spartans 66-44 in their previous meeting, Jan. 11. But Mayo was missing standout guard Hannah Hanson in that one. Century’s Jordyn Sutton and Taylor Clarey continue to have outstanding seasons for the Panthers.
Lake City at Winona Cotter, Friday, Feb. 18: Lake City has won six straight, while Cotter has won 17 of its last 19 games. That includes a head-turning win over highly regarded Wisconsin team La Crosse Aquinas. Cotter’s collection of guards are tough to beat, led by Megan Morgan.