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Meister's season of satisfaction ends with a title: PB's Player of the Year

Lilly Meister spent six years on the John Marshall girls basketball varsity. This past season was her best season ever, with her contributing mightily on the court and off it.

Lilly Meister
Lilly Meister on Friday, March 25, 2022, at John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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Six years of this and there’s no question which one was Lilly Meister’s favorite.

It was this past girls basketball season, which also happened to be her best one.

It was all there for the Rochester John Marshall senior center: winning, leading, maturing, family time, seniors time and — once again — some big, big numbers put up by the 6-foot-2 All-State center.

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The performances this season by so many southeastern Minnesota girls basketball players were often off the charts, a handful of those landing them in their school's record books. Consistently great play from them and others have also earned them a place on this year's Post Bulletin All-Area Girls Basketball Team.

And now, we cap it with this: Meister is our Post Bulletin 2021-22 Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

As amazing a season as Lake City’s Natalie Bremer, Dover-Eyota’s Malia Nelson and others had, no one quite matched the impact of Meister, who will play next season at Big Ten Conference power Indiana University.

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There was all of that production — 22.3 points on 53% shooting, 11.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.

There was all of the JM winning that Meister had such a vital hand in — 21-8 record, a 12-game winning streak late in the season, and a thirsted for trip “downtown” that came to fruition, JM’s season ending at Mayo Civic Arena with a loss to Lakeville North in the Section 1AAAA championship.

John Marshall, Lakeville North Section 1AAAA Championship girls basketball
John Marshall's Lilly Meister (52) goes up for a shot during the Section 1AAAA championship girls basketball game against Lakeville North on Friday, March 11, 2022, at Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo

There was all of that leadership, Meister always encouraging her teammates and heaping credit on ones who barely touched the floor.

“The girls who (had little playing time) had as important a role for us as the starters,” Meister said. “They were always watching film with us and telling us things from the bench. There was just so much bonding on this team.”

And finally, there were all of Meister’s personal touches, ones that longtime JM coach Phil Schroeder will never forget.

“Lilly has that understanding,” Schroeder said. “Two years ago, when I lost my sister to ALS, Lilly was one of the first people to text me to offer her condolences. Late this season, she stopped our (traditional practice-ending) cheer to tell everyone that she first had something to say. Then she told everyone, ‘Hey, (Schroeder) has been named the Section 1AAAA Coach of the Year.’ That’s just the type of kid she is. She checks every box.”

Lilly Meister
Lilly Meister on Friday, March 25, 2022, at John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Total player, person

And now? Well, there is sadness, because it’s over. Schroeder would have loved a seventh year with his senior star. And it’s certainly not just the basketball side of Meister he’s going to miss.

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It’s everything.

“It’s rare that a kid who is such a high scorer as Lilly also be as unselfish as she is,” said Schroeder, who called her up to the JM varsity as a seventh-grader. “It just goes with her wanting to help her teammates and being more into winning than scoring.”

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Rochester John Marshall's Lilly Meister (52) grabs one of her school-record 1,313 career rebounds.
Traci Westcott / Post bulletin file photo

It’s been her parents, Kurt and Angie Meister, who set Lilly on such a winning track, on and off the court.

“Lilly is so much like them, with such a down-to-earth outlook on life and people, and self-deprecating like them,” Schroeder said.

Kurt and Angie Meister were both college basketball stars at South Dakota State University, where they met, and Angie a star center at John Marshall before that, just like Lilly.

They always encouraged Lilly to play basketball, all while never devouring her with those wishes.

Just the right touch

It was a successful approach, Lilly never feeling too much pressure from home, yet Angie and Kurt always there to help her grow in her game.

The biggest leap came this past season. Angie says it was the mental side of things that evolved most for Lilly, who finished her career with the most rebounds in JM history (1,313) and second most points (2,293).

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Bothered in the past by constant double and even triple-teams from defenses, Lilly refused to let it get to her this year.

If she was ever frustrated, she never let on.

“That is something I definitely worked on, keeping a steady mental game,” Lilly said. “My junior year (when she was also All-State), I had some problems, getting frustrated easily when I didn’t score. But I didn’t let all the attention I was getting from defenses bother me this year. I came to realize that scoring will come and go. Still, I think I (always) helped our team out, with passing one of my biggest things.”

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Rochester John Marshall’s Lilly Meister has parents, Angie and Kurt Meister, who played key roles in her basketball development, in part by never smothering her with the game.
Post Bulletin file photo

One player particularly reaped the benefits of Lilly’s presence. That was her younger sister, freshman forward Laynie Meister.

Another tall Meister, at 6-feet, Laynie was one of the first JM players off the bench this season.

Lilly wasn’t sure she was always listened to by little sister. Still, she enjoyed the opportunity to share her knowledge with Laynie and even more to be trotting on the same varsity floor as her.

“That was super cool to be able to play with her,” Lilly said. “I didn’t think I’d ever get that opportunity, with such a big age gap between us. But she grew a lot and got a lot better.”

Meister was just as thankful to be sharing the floor with so many girls who she’d grown up with. There were eight JM seniors on this Rockets team, a high and rare number.

It was eight girls who had so many of their dreams answered, doing it alongside arguably JM’s best players ever.

That was Meister, who next season will take her considerable act to Indiana.

John Marshall, Lakeville North Section 1AAAA Championship girls basketball
John Marshall's Lilly Meister receives her second-place medal after the Section 1AAAA championship girls basketball game against Lakeville North on Friday, March 11, 2022, at Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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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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