Girls’ basketball preview: Can Anoka make a third showing at state tourney?

With five new coaches and an Anoka squad full of experience (five college signees) looking for a third section title in four seasons should make for an exciting girls’ basketball season.

Ashley Bray, left, is one of five Tornadoes looking to play college ball next season. Photo by Bill Jones

Ashley Bray, left, is one of five Tornadoes looking to play college ball next season. Photo by Bill Jones

Andover
2012-13 season: 12-16 overall, 8-12 eighth place in NWSC.
Coach: Robb Belschner, first season, 13th overall.
Returners: Seniors Haydn Becker, Madi Hahn, Katie Yoder and Amelia Leger.
Outlook: Becker and Hahn averaged a combined 19.9 points per game last season and Yoder returns after a major knee injury derailed her junior campaign. The Huskies guard was averaging 4.6 assists per game before the injury. New coach Belscher said Andover might be undersized after graduating two key contributors, but look for the team to be aggressive in a highly competitive Northwest Suburban Conference.

Anoka
2012-13 season: 20-10 overall, 14-6 fourth place in NWSC.
Coach: Scott Antl, first season, 19th overall.
Returners: Senior captains Kyrah Fredenburg, Claire Lundberg and Ashley Bray.
Outlook: Anoka returns nine seniors from a second state tournament appearance in three seasons. Look for newcomers Naomi Torgerson and Abby Slater to help fill out the front court. For the first time in program history, the Tornadoes have five players signed to play college basketball including Lundberg (Seton Hall), Jordan Meyer (North Dakota), Fredenburg (Concordia, St. Paul), Ashley Bray and Amber Bray (Dakota Wesleyan).

Blaine
2012-13 season: 0-26 overall, 0-20 NWSC.
Coach: Chris Brusten, first season, 11th overall in Bengals program.
Returners: Four-year varsity player senior post Amanda Schwengler and senior guard Shona King.
Outlook: Brusten steps in lead the program looking to re-establish the reputation Steve Reiter built in the program during his 30-plus year career. “We have a group of players that are hungry,” he said. “Many of these athletes have a bad taste in their mouth from last year finishing the year without a win.” After working in the offseason he sees an increase in energy, “that was not evident in the past.”

Coon Rapids
2012-13 season: 6-20 overall, 3-17 10th in NWSC.
Coach: Toni Jesinoski, fourth season.
Returners: Seniors Shayla Huffman, Mackenzie Balego, Maegan Mckernon.
Outlook: Huffman, a four-year varsity member, and Mckernon return to the backcourt after averaging 8.1 and 7.3 ppg, respectively. but the Cardinals graduated one of the top posts in the NWSC in Courtney Pasiowitz and her 11.7 ppg. Limited varsity experience means the Cardinals will rely on speed to create scoring chances. Jesinoski said the team has worked hard to adjust to a new philosophy after graduating so many players last season.

Legacy Christian
2012-13 season: 16-13 overall, reached the Section 4A finals.
Coach: Dan Nelson. third season (23-32).
Returners: Senior Kianna Ruf; juniors Lexi Weddle, Kayla Ruf; freshmen Mari Smitsdorf, Haillie Richardson.
Outlook: The Lions finished 2012-13 on a nine-game winning streak, keyed by guard Kianna Ruf’s return from a head injury. She sustained another this fall and might miss the season. Weddle returns as the leading scorer (13 ppg) and Kayla led the team in assists and rebounds as the starting point guard. Freshman Cali Weddle, eighth-grader Gabby Mocchi and sophomore Bekah Kirby will look to continue Kianna’s success in the backcourt. Look for a pair of freshmen centers to continue to develop. Smitsdorf had 100 points and rebounds as an eighth grader. She also had 60 blocks. Richardson will give the Lions another defensively strong inside player to complement Smitsdorf.

Spring Lake Park and St. Francis did not return multiple requests for season preview information.

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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