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High School Girls Basketball Focus: Lourdes has found a new gear

The Lourdes girls basketball team is playing at its highest level right now. Good timing, because the playoffs begin this week.

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Lourdes' CJ Adamson controls the ball while defended by Kasson-Mantorville's Makenzie Carrier during a girls basketball game Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at Lourdes High School in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

Here we are. It’s playoff time for Class A and AA girls basketball teams.

But before that happens, we’ve got another installment of High School Girls Basketball Focus. Here’s a look at how Lourdes has taken off, Dover-Eyota has been a season-long surprise, a couple of 1,000-point scorers and a bunch more good stuff.

Gobble it up.

TOP 7 STANDOUTS

Mayo, John Marshall girls basketball
John Marshall’s Lily Meister (52) is introduced during a girls basketball game against Mayo on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, at Mayo High School in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

1. Lilly Meister, John Marshall

Meister is the best player in southeastern Minnesota and one of the top five to ever play in this corner of the state. She showed off all of that talent again on Saturday, Feb. 19, with a monster game against Owatonna. The 6-foot-2 senior, who will play next year at Big Ten Conference power Indiana University, had an incredibly efficient 35 points. She was 13-for-17 from the field and 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. She also grabbed 12 rebounds.

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A look at southeastern Minnesota girls basketball scoring leaders.
SECTION 1AA
FIRST ROUND

2. CJ Adamson, Lourdes

Adamson is without question one of the elite guards and players in southeastern Minnesota, in her fourth year as a Lourdes starter. The senior was at her best against the best on Thursday, Feb. 17. The speedster poured in 21 points in guiding Lourdes to another in a recent string of impressive wins, this one 56-54 over No. 2-ranked Goodhue. On Tuesday, Feb. 15, Adamson scored 24 points with three 3-pointers in a lopsided win over a Lake City team that had been on a seven-game winning streak.

3. Lauren Queensland, Grand Meadow

Just a freshman, Queensland went on a scoring spree against Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, scoring 27 points. Her efficiency was off the charts, as she hit all five of her 3-point tries and was 11-for-18 overall. Queensland also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out four assists.

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Kendra Harvey (24) has been a huge piece for Byron this season.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

4. Kendra Harvey, Byron

Harvey, just a freshman, sure didn’t play like one on Friday, Feb. 18. The sweet-shooting guard scored a career-high 35 points, draining six 3-pointers en route to a win against Zumbrota-Mazeppa. Harvey blistered the nets all night, hitting 10 of 17 field-goal tries, including 6-of-10 3-pointers. She was 9-of-11 on free throws, and also had seven rebounds and five steals.

5. Natalie Bremer, Lake City

The senior did it again on Monday, Feb. 14, helping the Tigers come up with a 63-52 win against formidable Stewartville. Bremer scored 30 points, getting it done on 9-for-16 field-goal shooting and 6-for-7 accuracy from the free-throw line. She also had 7 steals, 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

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6. Kaylee Ruberg, Rushford-Peterson

Ruberg, a junior forward, scored 25 points on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in a 63-50 win against LeRoy-Ostander. That put her over 1,000 points for her career. Ruberg also had 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists against L-O, and shot 50% on 2-pointers and 33% on 3s.

7. Jordian Leahy, Spring Grove

The senior guard did a whole bunch of her damage on Friday, Feb. 18, from the free-throw line in a win against Lyle/Pacelli. Leahy hit 18 of 21 free throws en route to a 33-point effort. She also drained 5 of 8 3-pointers.

POWER RANKINGS

(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. Hayfield (26-0)

It’s time to slip the Vikings back into that No. 1 spot. Hayfield is the only team in southeastern Minnesota which will have finished the regular season unbeaten. After a little bit of slippage in their scores a couple of weeks ago, the Vikings are back to blowing out opponents. The only question about this team is the level of competition it’s played.

2. Dover-Eyota (23-3)

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It’s been a loooooong time since D-E has lost a game — Jan. 4, to be exact. The Eagles have been the most surprising team in southeastern Minnesota this season, having graduated a pack of top players last season but come back to be even stronger this year. Malia Nelson has likely had the best season ever by a D-E player, and she’s also gotten plenty of help the second half of the year from teammates.

3. Lourdes (17-7)

This is a massive jump for Lourdes, from No. 10 in this Power Ranking last week, to No. 3 now. But what a week it was for the Eagles. In succession, Lourdes ended its regular season with wins against dynamite teams Winona Cotter (57-45), Lake City (65-44) and No. 2-ranked Goodhue (56-54). Lourdes’ defense has been fantastic and star point guard CJ Adamson has been at her career best the last chunk of the season. And, oh yes, 6-foot-2 center Ella Hopkins has been dominating the paint, especially offensively.

4. Goodhue (23-3)

The Wildcats looked virtually untouchable for the longest time. So much speed, so much playmaking and so many capable scorers. However, teams are catching up to them, or at least so it seems. Kasson-Mantorville beat Goodhue two weeks ago, then sizzling Lourdes did so on Thursday, Feb. 17. Still, nobody will be in a hurry to face the Wildcats in the playoffs. Goodhue is ranked No. 2 in Class AA for a reason.

5. John Marshall (17-7)

John Marshall has gone from looking like a good team to looking like a great team. That transition began at the beginning of February and has JM on its current eight-game winning streak. Those wins include especially impressive ones against ranked teams Mankato West and Mankato East. JM is riding excellent defense. In that stretch of wins, it held its opponents to 53 (in overtime), 16, 27, 41, 49, 44, 46 and 37 points.

6. Winona Cotter (19-4)

What a rugged schedule to end its regular season. The Ramblers played challenging opponents in Lourdes (lost 57-45), Caledonia (won 74-57) and Lake City (won 68-54) to close things. Only Hayfield, Dover-Eyota and Goodhue have better records out of southeastern Minnesota than Cotter.

7. Austin (19-5)

The Packers spent a chunk of time this season at the top of this power poll. But losses in the last three weeks to Mankato East, Mayo and Owatonna hurt their standing a bit. This remains an excellent team, though, and one that most favor to reach the Class AAA state tournament, led by senior point guard Hope Dudycha.

8. Lake City (17-8)

The Tigers strung together seven straight wins, then ended their regular-season with consecutive losses to section title contenders Lourdes and Winona Cotter. Natalie Bremer and Mya Shones are as good a senior combination as you’ll find in Section 1AA.

9. Mayo (17-7)

Mayo can be great, as shown with wins over powerhouses Austin and Mankato West. The Spartans are coming off a loss to Century (second time this year) in which they fell in overtime and never really got things together. On Tuesday comes another big test, at Austin.

10. Stewartville (15-8)

The Tigers are still trying to get all of their pieces perfectly assembled, with injuries and sickness having taken a toll on them all season. But maybe they can glue things together just in time, the playoffs now upon us. There is talent here, for sure.

NEWS AND NOTES

Lourdes, Lake City girls basketball
Lake City’s Natalie Bremer is defended by Lourdes’ Vivica Bretton during a girls basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at Lourdes High School in Rochester, Minnesota. Bretton has been a part of a Lourdes defense that has been stellar recently.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

Lourdes is peaking

It's tough to find a team in a better spot than Lourdes.

The Eagles are on a seven-game winning streak entering this week’s playoffs. Better still is the quality of those wins. In order, Lourdes took down powers Winona Cotter, Lake City and Goodhue to end its regular season.

Goodhue is ranked second in Class AA. Cotter and Lake City were both on seven-game winning streaks when Lourdes beat them.

Lourdes’ defense was stellar in all of those seven wins, allowing just 40 points per game.

“Our defense has definitely been a team effort,” said Aaron Berg, who took over as Lourdes’ head coach on Feb. 6 after Mark Kellen resigned. Berg had been the Eagles’ head coach the previous seven years.

“We’ve really been connecting on the floor,” Berg said. “We’re rotating well and playing good all-around half-court defense.”

Another massive difference maker has been the play of senior point guard CJ Adamson. A fourth-year starter, Adamson is playing the best basketball of her life the last month, directing this team and now scoring in droves. Adamson had 21 points against Goodhue and 24 against Lake City, and has beautifully handled defensive pressure with her ball handling, speed and cool.

Berg has essentially told Adamson, “Take over.” She’s complied.

“I’ve basically given CJ control,” Berg said. “She has a lot of freedom to do the things she’s been doing. I told her I’ll reign her in if I need to. But I haven’t had to do it. With her composure and her leadership, she’s like another coach on the floor.”

Adamson will play next season at Division II Augustana University, in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Lourdes drew the No. 2 seed in the Section 1AA playoffs. Goodhue is No. 1.

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Dover-Eyota's Olivia Riley (13) steals the ball from Chatfield's Tessa McMahon (5) during a girls basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Chatfield. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Traci Westcott

Dover-Eyota a big surprise

Not a whole lot was expected of the Dover-Eyota girls basketball team this season.

Not even longtime Eagles coach Brian Harris was feeling too sure of things.

The trouble was all of the players that the Eagles had lost from their strong 2020-21 team. D-E graduated a whopping 10 seniors from that group.

“I always think we’re going to be good,” Harris said. “But during the summer, we didn’t win a ton of games, though we do play such tough competition.”

A couple of early-season losses, 71-52 to Goodhue and 70-59 to Lake City, suggested this might be a difficult season for D-E.

But then, everything turned. Since Dec. 11, the Eagles have gone 18-1. Mixed in have been wins over powerful teams Winona Cotter, Byron, Stewartville, Chatfield and Plainview-Elgin-Millville.

Dover-Eyota has gone from a team that looked like a one-girl show, with Malia Nelson scoring 41 and 42 points in her first two games, to beautifully balanced.

Players who got scant varsity playing time last year are now playing like veterans, and dangerous ones at that.

“We’re playing well as a team,” Harris said. “We’re not just Malia anymore. When we played Stewartville, we had four players in double figures. Any given game, we’ll have two to three players in double figures, and we’ve had a substitute do it. We’ve melded into an exciting team.”

Dover-Eyota has three girls averaging between 26 and eight points, led by Nelson. The non-stop Nelson has continued to be as dominant a player as Dover-Eyota has ever had, averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds and 6 steals, while shooting almost 50% from the field. Sophie Andring is at 13 ppg. and Olivia Riley 8.

Riley has also proven herself to be irreplaceable at point guard. One of five senior starters, she’s been solid with the ball and is a superior defender who has 79 steals.

And really, it’s defense that makes this team go. D-E is relentless with it, going full court and never stopping.

“This has been fun,” Harris said. “We’ve got a team giving maximum effort, and they know they have to defend.”

Rotary Holiday Classic - John Marshall vs. Bloomington Jefferson
John Marshall's Katie Hurt (2) takes a shot during a Rotary Holiday Classic girls basketball game against Bloomington Jefferson Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Bloomington Jefferson beat John Marshall 53-48.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin file photo

1,000 points for Hurt, Ruberg

John Marshall senior Katie Hurt has nicely kept the family tradition alive. And it’s not an easy one to maintain.

Hurt, the youngest of three siblings, became the third member of her family to score 1,000 points. She polished that milestone off on Thursday, Feb. 18, scoring 11 points in a win over Red Wing.

Older brothers Michael and Matthew Hurt were also basketball stars at John Marshall, with both going on to play at Power 5 schools. Michael went to the University of Minnesota, Matthew to Duke University.

Katie, who will play next season at Division I Lehigh University, has been a key piece for a John Marshall team that is raging right now. The Rockets have won eight straight, including knocking off Big Nine Conference leader Mankato East on Tuesday, Feb. 15.

• Rushford-Peterson has taken things up a notch this season, going from a combined 7-38 the previous two years, to 11-14 this season.

Prolific scorer Kaylee Ruberg has been a big part of that upswing. On Tuesday, the junior forward scored 25 points in a win over LeRoy-Ostrander, putting her over 1,000 for her career.

For the season, Ruberg is averaging a lofty 20 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals per game.

Century, Red Wing girls basketball
Century’s Taylor Clarey (1) tries for a 3-pointer during a girls basketball game against Red Wing on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, at Century High School in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

Century’s Clarey a record setter

Just a sophomore, guard Taylor Clarey is already in the Century record book.

Clarey has done it with her 3-point shooting. She now owns the single-season record for 3-pointers made — for a girl or boy — with 63. The prior record holder was Elizabeth Bruss, with 61. Century has two regular-season games remaining.

For the season, the speedy and quick Clarey is averaging 14 points per game.

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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