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Lady Vikings look to defend conference title

COLFAX — So how do you top the season the Colfax girls basketball team had last year? The team won yet another Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship with a perfect 16-0 record, lost just one regular season game to powerhouse Minneapolis DeLasalle, won a regional and sectional championship and their first game at the WIAA state tournament, then brought home the silver ball after a final loss to Algoma.

 Head coach Joe Doucette, entering his 24th season leading the Vikings, knows the road is not always easy when you have titles to defend.

“Our first goal is to work hard and improve, and represent our school and community in a classy way,” he said. “Our next goal is to win an always competitive conference championship. We will assess things after that.”

Gone via graduation from last year’s team that set a school record for most wins with 26, are five players including two starters, defensive specialist Ryleigh Prochnow, a Second Team All Conference pick and Hannah Hover, a two time First team AC player who led the team in three point shots. Top reserves Brittany Rothbauer, McKayla Harmon and Kenna Breckner all gave the team some much needed depth as the long season went on.

The team should have plenty of fire power however, with three starters returning and their first two players off the bench. Senior Mallie Doucette, a newly signed recruit for Minnesota State-Moorhead is back after leading the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game, rebounding at 4.6 a game, assists with 58 for the year and steals with 57. She was second on the team in three point shots made with 31 and tied for second in free throws made, canning 76 of 95 for 80 percent. Doucette was a First Team AC selection, First Team All Northwest and an All State pick.

Senior Braanna Steen really came around the second half of the season, according to coach Doucette, and finished second on the team in scoring with a 9.9 average, and in rebounding with 4.1 per game, earning her a Second Team All Conference pick. Point guard  Dannielle Dachel begins her junior year with two years of valuable experience behind her. She plays both ends of the court, makes timely shots, is very competitive and is not afraid of anything, Doucette said.

Senior Taylor Shipman and junior Alexis Rudi saw plenty of playing time as reserves last season and along with junior Chey Olson, will be expected to play key roles this year. Rounding out the varsity are seniors Kaitlin Sauerwein, Emily Halpin and Jessica Moonen, juniors Karina Wait and Katie Christoffel and sophomores Dempsey Fogarty and Andrea Brantner.

“Last year was a great year for us and the best ever for our program,” coach Doucette said. “A lot of things went our way and we had a lot of kids have a great year. We have a tough schedule that will test us this year. If we stay healthy, we can have a very good team. We have tough kids who love to play and they all get along great. We are not real big, however. And we will miss our players from last year.”

Doucette expects Mondovi, Elk Mound and Boyceville along with his Vikings to be highly competitive in the conference this year. Assisted by John Dachel, the Vikings will open the season Nov. 26 at Elmwood, then begin their home season against Hayward Dec. 3.