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New beginning for Colfax basketball team

COLFAX — Fans at the Colfax girls’ basketball games will need their programs this year if they want to know who is on the court for the Lady Vikings. After losing five players through graduation, this year’s team has only four returning letter winners and only one of them has a lot of varsity experience.

Gone are Dannielle Dachel, the team’s leading scorer and conference Player of the Year along with Chey Olson, Alexis Rudi, Karina Wait and Katie Christoffel. This fivesome accounted for 850 of the team’s 1,110 total points a year ago while snaring 422 of the team’s 663 rebounds. In addition, several players with junior varsity experience elected not to play this season, meaning coach Joe Doucette has a lot of holes to fill rather quickly if they want to repeat as conference champions.

Doucette, who earned his first win as a Viking coach 25 years ago and has added 501 since with 87 losses, will look for Dempsey Fogarty, the lone senior to lead the team. Fogarty is a defensive specialist who guarded the opponent’s best player last year and led the team in steals with 61. Offensively, she averaged 5.7 points a game which was third on the team. Other players who saw some varsity playing time and are expected to help out are juniors Ally Heidorn, Megan Schleusner and Bryana Buchanan. Fellow junior, newcomer Jennifer Huffman will be looking to make the team while sophomores competing are Becca Lee, Hailey Durand-Christianson, Aryan Greenwell and another newcomer Tamara Huffman. Eight freshman fill out the roster including Meghan Wenzel, Hailey Prince, Alyssa Dachel, Erica Kallstrom, Rachel Knutson, Emma Hurlburt, Savannah Henricks and Elizabeth Affolter.

“Dempsey rarely left the floor for us last year and Ally played a lot of big minutes,” Doucette said. “But from there we are still looking for 6-8 players who can play at the varsity level. We had a nice off season and saw a lot of improvement but we will have to improve a ton to think about contending for the conference title.”

Doucette looks for Elk Mound and the new team on the block, Durand to be the teams to beat in the conference this season. The Vikings’ will be challenged plenty with teams such as Hayward, Minneapolis DeLaSalle, Eau Claire Regis, Owen-Withee and Bloomer on the schedule. They open November 24 at Hayward which was originally scheduled for Dec. 14.

“All we can do is roll up our sleeves and work hard,” Doucette said. “We should have some great leadership from the upperclassmen and every year we try to defend and rebound first and take great shots on offense. I think this is a team that will improve a lot as the season goes on,” he added.

Fans may want to take note this year varsity games will be played in two 18 minute halves rather than the four quarters of eight minutes.