By Cara L. Dempski
ELK MOUND — The number one rule of basketball is you have to sink shots in order to score.
In order to sink shots, you have to have possession of the ball, which means teams often focus on minimizing turnovers.
Elk Mound’s head girls’ basketball coach Jordan Kongshaug knows smart players value the ball.
[emember_protected] “Statistically, we want to value the basketball,” he explained. “If we turn the ball over less than 10 times a game, we usually have a good chance to win.”
Placing added value on knowledge of the ball’s location, where each player – both defensive and offensive – is on the floor, and smart ball-handling can benefit any team. Kongshaug is hoping it can garner his team a third Dunn-St. Croix championship in a row.
The Elk Mound girls won the outright conference title in 2015-16 and shared it with Durand a season ago, finishing 13-1 in conference play both seasons.
The 2016-2017 season saw the Mounders play to an overall record of 20-5. The team picked up a WIAA Division 3 regional championship trophy at home February 27 in a decisive 43-23 win over the Westby Norsemen before heading to Osseo-Fairchild High School March 2 for a meeting with the Bloomer Blackhawks.
The season ended that Thursday night when the Lady Mounders battled through two halves only to lose the game 54-49 in overtime.
Kongshaug noted it was an outstanding season, despite the disappointing ending and then the loss of a talented crop of senior players.
The Elk Mound squad lost Elizabeth Fasbender, named the D-SC player of the year two years running, was first team all-conference, and made the second team all-Northwest, and Kami King, who earned second-team all-D-SC honors and was honorable mention in all-Northwest.
“Elizabeth was a great all-around scorer, one of the best defenders in the conference, and she was very versatile. She could play any position for us,” Kongshaug said. “Kami was a dynamic scorer. She played with a lot of energy and could run the floor very well.”
Also lost to graduation were Kaitlyn Baier, who presented a solid defense and worked out well in Elk Mound’s press, Riley Radtke and her rebounding skills, Megan Krall and her ability to attack the basket off a dribble, and Grace Peterson, who brought energy and leadership to the team.
Seniors Allie Weber and Hannah Cedarblade return to the team this year as letter winners, and Weber is back after being named to the second-team all-conference and picking up honorable mention for all-Northwest. Weber averaged 9.2 points per game last season, and Cedarblade contributed 2.8.
They will be joined by Crista Sweeney and Madysen Borofka, who will also return to the team this year. Kongshaug is counting on Sweeney, Borofka and Schindler to provide some varsity experience to the team for 2017-2018.
Morgan Radtke returns as a starter for her junior season after pulling off a team-leading 11 points per game last year. She picked up second-team all-conference honors, was named to the all-Northwest honorable mention squad.
Ashley Gunderson-Morris also returns as a junior and is looking to improve on a solid sophomore season. Other juniors looking for some minutes each night will be Victoria Fasbender, Alana and Brook Plaszcz, Sydney Simpson and Mary Tamke.
Sophomores Hailey Blaskowski, Melanie Balts, Sophie Cedarblade, Tessah Tyman and Taya Schaefer will be vying for varsity spots this season.
The Mounders boast no freshman players this season.
Kongshaug sees promise in players like the Plaszcz twins, Bridges, Fasbender, Simpson, Tamke, Blaskowski and Sophie Cedarblade.
The Mounder coach says this year’s team has potential to be a good defensive team, but will need to make sure they score consistently. The overarching goal is continuous improvement while still having fun.
“Our goal is to keep getting better so we can be playing our best basketball in March,” Kongshaug noted.
The coach listed Durand and Colfax as two teams to beat this season, since both the Panthers and Vikings return players from teams who made deep playoff runs last season.
Jordan Kongshaug is in his eighth year coaching and eighth year with Elk Mound, and has a 109-58 record. He will be assisted by Michael Schiszik, Jonathan Chisholm and Michael Wettstein.
The Mounders open their 2017-2018 season November 21 at Bloomer, and will host St. Croix Central November 27.
Seniors: Madysen Borofka, Hannah Cedarblade, Crista Sweeney and Allie Weber.
Juniors: Kayla Bridges, Ashley Gunderson-Morris, Victoria Fasbender, Alana Plaszcz, Brook Plaszcz, Morgan Radtke, Sydney Simpson and Mary Tamke.
Sophomores: Melanie Balts, Hailey Blaskowski, Sophie Cedarblade, Tessah Tyman and Taya Schaefer. [/emember_protected]