SSC, Fulda, Adrian look to repeat as RRC champsWORTHINGTON — While most of the area girls’ basketball teams have already played at least one game this season, all 12 of the Red Rock Conference squads will be in action tonight to kick off the league schedule with a full slate of six games.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — While most of the area girls’ basketball teams have already played at least one game this season, all 12 of the Red Rock Conference squads will be in action tonight to kick off the league schedule with a full slate of six games.
Southwest Star Concept — which went 14-3 and tied with both Adrian and Fulda for the conference title before winning Section 3A and placing fourth in the Class A state tournament last season — opens conference play tonight by visiting Westbrook-Walnut Grove, which went 6-11 in the league a year ago.
Fulda hosts Murray County Central (11-6, fifth in conference) tonight in a key early-season matchup, while Adrian plays at Hills-Beaver Creek (4-13 in league play).
Red Rock Central, last season’s fourth-place finisher with a 13-4 mark, plays its conference-opener tonight on the road against Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin (1-16).
Southwest Christian (10-7) plays at Edgerton (6-11) in a crosstown rivalry game tonight, while Ellsworth (7-10) hosts Round Lake-Brewster (2-15).
Here is a brief look at the 12 Red Rock Conference teams (listed in order of their 2007-08 finish), as well as a preview of Tracy-Milroy-Balaton of the Camden Conference South.
Southwest Star Concept
Having gone 46-12 over the last two seasons — including 23-8 last year — the Southwest Star Concept Quasars are the two-time defending conference champions.
However, six players who contributed to that success the last two years graduated last spring — leaving this year’s Quasars short on varsity experience.
Head coach Les Knutson, who has a career record of 498-248 in 32 seasons, welcomes back seven letterwinners, but just two who played significant minutes.
Sophomore post Katey Granstra (6-1) is the Quasars’ only returning starter, while junior forward Erika Post (5-9) also saw lots of action a year ago.
Senior guard Betsy Voehl (5-5) returns with the third most experience for the Quasars, while senior forwards Michaela Rasche (5-6) and Jenna Leopold (5-6), senior guard Kelsey Beyer (5-3) and junior guard Luanna Henkels (5-5) also earned letters.
Senior Paula Gruener (5-6 forward), and juniors Jenny Doherty (5-7 forward), Erin Liepold (5-10 post), Maddie Collin (5-8 forward) and Megan Thurk (5-7 guard) are among the other players who will look to contribute for SSC.
With six of their top eight players returning from a 17-10 team, the Fulda Raiders are optimistic entering this season.
Just two players (Sam Raddle and Brooke Kuehne) graduated off last year’s team, leaving head coach Gregg Slaathaug (145-35 career record in seven seasons) with a strong returning group of players.
Amy Paulzine (5-9 center) is the team’s only senior and averaged nearly a double-double (11 points, nine rebounds per game) last year, while juniors Lane Gehl (5-8 guard), Mari Holinka (5-11 forward) and Michelle Goedtke (5-5 guard) also played key roles on last year’s team.
Sophomore Brittany Hulstein (5-8 guard) and freshman Courtney Hulstein (5-7 guard) also return with experience, and join juniors Krissa Kramer (5-9 forward) and Sheyenne Wildfeuer (5-6 guard), and sophomores Sabrina Raddle (5-9 forward) and Kassie Wilkening (5-8 forward) among the top-10 players for Fulda.
Three starters who earned all-conference honors last season will look to lead the Adrian Dragons, who went 22-7 and advanced to the Section 3A South championship game.
Bridgett Block and Melissa Weidert received their diplomas last spring, as the Dragons have six returning players with experience.
Senior guards Sam Lynn (5-7) and Erica Thier (5-8) both averaged about 17 points per game last year, while sophomore post Karli Meyer (5-8) averaged 12 points per game.
Head coach Randy Strand, who has a career record of 338-181 in 23 seasons at Adrian, will also look for increased production from seniors Katy Slater (5-10 post) and Mary Loosbrock (5-6 wing), and junior Ashley Thier (5-8 guard) — the top three players off the bench last year.
Juniors Kelsey Altman (5-5 wing), Jerrika Wieneke (5-8 post), Carmen Wieneke (5-9 post) and Whitney Cox (5-8 post) will look to provide the Dragons with depth.
Red Rock Central
Ten letterwinners — including four starters — return for the Red Rock Central Falcons, who were 18-6 in 2007-08.
Seniors Krystle Sell (5-5 guard) and Thea Engen (5-11 forward) headline the list of returning players for the Falcons. Sell averaged 17 points per game last year and scored her 1,000th-career point in Tuesday’s season-opening victory over Springfield.
Engen averaged a double-double (13 rebounds, 10 points per game) last year, while seniors Emily Neperman (5-6 forward) and Abby Furth (5-11 center) also bring ample experience to the team.
Juniors Stephanie Maras (5-6 guard), Jenna Smith (5-6 forward), Nicole Schroeder (5-7 forward) and Mariah Miller (5-6 forward), along with sophomores Cierra Nickel (5-5 guard) and Alyssa Fredrickson (5-11 center), will all likely see lots of minutes, as well.
Head coach Jeff Shaner has a career record of 273-224 in 24 years and lost three players (Kelly Shaner, Shannon Altermatt and Sarah DeCock) to graduation.
Murray County Central
Just one player (Maddy Robinson) graduated off last year’s 15-9 team, as the Murray County Central Rebels will look to have a big season under head coach Tom Pryor.
Senior forward Kate Robinson (5-9) is one of the top Rebels coming back, while junior center Emily Bose (6-1) — one of the state’s top 100 players (along with Adrian’s Sam Lynn) according to Minnesota Basketball News — also returns to lead MCC.
Junior guards Alyssa Schmidt (5-7) and Colleen Everson (5-7), and forwards Kasey Schreiber (5-10 junior) and Abby Van Meveran (5-9 sophomore) also return with lots of experience for the Rebels.
Seniors Sam Leebens (5-8 guard), Heather Nepp (5-8 forward), Alison Grimmius (5-11 center) and Malory Olson-Brown (5-9 forward) are also looking to help the Rebels.
With four players listed at 6-1, the Southwest Christian Eagles will feature a huge front-court and may present matchup problems for many teams this season.
SWC, which finished two games above .500 with a 13-11 mark last year and ranked second in the conference in scoring defense (points allowed per game), has three all-conference performers — senior forward Brianna Spronk (6-1), junior forward Jada Vander Veen (6-1) and junior center Kara Van Dyke (6-1) — returning to lead this year’s team.
Van Dyke entered this season 300 points away from becoming the career scoring leader at SWC.
Guards Abby Hanenburg (5-8 senior), Angie Vermeer (5-11 senior) and Kayla Broekhuis (5-7 junior) return with experience, and junior center Vayla Van Dyke (5-9) is expected to make an impact inside for the Eagles.
Juniors Jenni Vander Veen (6-1 forward), Amy Lubben (5-6 guard) and Kelsey De Kam (5-6 guard) may also see time for the Eagles and second-year head coach Denise Nerem, who lost three seniors (Courtney De Kam, Amber Van’t Hof and Lori Lubben) from last year’s team.
Returning five players with lots of experience and featuring good overall team speed and quickness, the Ellsworth Panthers will look to improve on their 11-14 mark from a year ago.
Brooke Kramer was the only player to graduate last year, giving third-year head coach Justin Hendricks a good returning nucleus to work with.
Junior guard Brooke Kix (5-8), who averaged 14 points per game and was named All-Conference last year, and sophomore guard Andrea DeBoer (5-7) are among the top players coming back for Ellsworth.
Senior guard Rayna Sandoval (5-4) and junior forwards Leah Timmer (5-8) and Darian Herman (5-9) are also veterans, while freshman forwards Emily Timmer (5-7) and Abby Drenth (5-7) figure to be in the mix for playing time, as well.
Up to 10 players may see considerable playing time, as the Westbrook-Walnut Grove Chargers appear to be a deep and athletic team.
W-WG finished last year with an 8-15 record, an improvement of six victories from the 2006-07 season. Head coach Maury Kuehl hopes to see continued progression from his team, which lost two players to graduation in Jenny Hoffman and Erin Vosberg.
Senior center Audra Schmidt (6-1) is the top returning player and started the year 99 points away from eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for her career. She averaged 19.4 points and 12.5 rebounds per game a season ago.
Senior forward Kassandra Jarmer (5-8) and junior guard Kylie Erickson (5-8) are two-year starters, while junior forward Sara Jarmer (5-9) and sophomore guard Chanel Madson (5-9) are among the top newcomers for the Chargers.
W-WG will also seek contributions from juniors Kristie Hoffman (5-5 guard), Morganne Knakmuhs (5-9 forward), Alexis Quade (5-9 center) and Melody Horkey (5-6 forward), as well as sophomore guard Molly Jarmer (5-5).
Bringing back its entire team from last season, the Edgerton Flying Dutchmen are looking to finish in the upper half of the conference.
Edgerton went 8-17 without a senior on its team last year, and the Dutchmen are still pretty young this year.
Senior guards Katie Hadler (5-7), Samantha Vanden Bosch (5-2) and Shelby Lingen (5-5) will look to provide Edgerton with leadership, while seven juniors could all help Edgerton, which is coached by Andrew Fleischman.
Alyson Drooger (5-11 forward), Hailey Van Kley (5-7 guard), Emily Sluis (5-10 forward), Kelsey Wolthuizen (5-10 forward), Macy Butson (5-5 guard), Ashley Bostic (5-9 forward) and Alyssa Claar (5-8 guard) are the team’s juniors.
Nine of the 11 players on Hills-Beaver Creek’s roster are sophomores, as the young, quick Patriots will strive to improve on last year’s 6-19 record.
Brittany Helgeson, Ashley Bucher and Jocelyn Bucher were the team’s seniors last year, so the majority of the players are coming back.
Kelsey Mc Guire (5-9 forward) is the team’s lone senior this year, while sophomores Jayme Plimpton (5-6 guard), Brooke Tilstra (5-8 forward) and Natalie Stueven (5-7 forward) are among the other top players coming back.
Fourth-year head coach Jason Blosmo will also look to sophomores Emily Kruger (5-5 guard), Santana Wysong (5-5 guard), Heather Kerner (5-9 forward), Alaina Van Westen (5-6 center) and Taylor Vaughn (5-2 forward) for contributions.
The Round Lake-Brewster Raiders were hit hard by graduation, losing six players off a team that went 5-17.
Eric Murray takes over as the new head coach, and will look to five seniors — Kim Wiese (5-9 forward), Katy Johnson (5-11 forward), Chelsea Meyer (5-6 guard), April Wallace (5-10 forward) and Anna Obermoller (5-9 forward) — to lead this year’s team.
Juniors Karen Schmitz (6-1 center), Ally Cross (5-9 forward), Roshay Reimers (5-3 guard) and Kristina Colby (5-3 guard) are also looking to help the Raiders this season.
Six players return from last year’s team, as the Mountain Lake/Butterfield-Odin Wolverines hope to turn things around after going 3-23 last season.
Head coach Larry Hempeck, in his second year at ML/B-O, will look to replace three seniors (Kelly Hempeck, Courtney Anderson and Tasha Sipasuet) who graduated last spring.
Forwards Brittany Wenner (5-9 senior), Megan Svalland (5-9 senior) and Karen Herrig (5-9 junior) each averaged about six points per game last year.
Seniors Michelle Dirks (5-10 center) and Hannah Hildebrandt (5-4 guard), and junior Macy Svalland (5-7 guard) also earned letters last season, while sophomore guards Jennie Romsdahl (5-6) and Kaitlin Feil (5-6) are a pair of newcomers who will contribute for the Wolverines.
Camden Conference South Tracy-Milroy-Balaton
The Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Panthers were just 4-21 overall and 3-11 in conference play a year ago and lost five seniors to graduation.
Senior guards Roxy Ryan (5-6) and Bridgit Kirsh (5-6) are two of the team’s eight returning letterwinners.
Juniors Shea Lanoue (5-8 forward), M’Hesi Haugen (5-5 guard), Haley Hebig (5-8 forward), Anna Snyder (5-0 guard), Adria Dolan (5-8 center) and Michelle Lenertz (5-8 center) also return with experience for the Panthers, who are coached by Ryan Kruse.
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