By Cara L. Dempski
COLFAX — The Colfax girls’ basketball team did not exactly leap out to a fast, aggressive start last season.
Coach Joe Doucette’s Lady Vikings played seven games between November 18 and the start of Christmas break in 2016, and won only two of them.
[emember_protected] It was due to no small amount of hard work, a pair of senior leaders who refused to give up, and a coach who has an uncanny knack for getting his players to buy into his philosophy that the team finished 2016-2017 with a 15-10 record.
Colfax, who earned third place in last year’s Dunn-St. Croix behind co-champions Elk Mound and Durand, went on to win a WIAA Division 4 regional title, and then lost to conference foe Durand in a 47-45 heartbreaker in a March 2 sectional semi-final matchup.
This year, Doucette is hoping his Vikings will once again be in the mix for a conference title.
But the seasoned coach also has some simple goals for the Colfax ladies.
“Our goal every year is to work hard, improve, and try to reach our potential,” he said. “Our other goal is to impress our great fans with our teamwork and hard work.”
What will make this season one to watch in Colfax is the fact that Doucette returns many of last year’s starters, having lost only two seniors to graduation last year, and has no senior members on the 2017-2018 squad.
The Colfax coach will be missing two-time all-conference honoree Ally Heidorn and senior Bryanna Buchanan – who he says is one of the Vikings’ best athletes – this season. He called the duo two great people who took the good and the bad last season to lead a young team.
Junior Alyssa Dachel, a two-year starter and two-year all-D-SC honoree, will return to the team this season, along with Savannah Henricks and Emma Hurlburt. Dachel picked up approximately 6.7 points per game last year, and was one of the Vikings’ stronger outside shooters, making 39 three-point shots overall. She led the team with 75 assists.
Henricks was named to the second-team all-conference last year, and started as both a freshman and sophomore. She averaged 9.4 points per game last season.
Hurlburt will be a third-year starter with some solid defensive skills who also put together 5.9 points per game last year. The junior used her height to good advantage last year, pulling in 6.2 rebounds per game for a total of 154 on the year.
The trio of juniors will be joined by classmate Rachel Knutson, who hopes to make an impact this season.
Kameri Meredith returns for a second season after starting all year as a freshman in 2016-2017. She logged 8.7 points per game, led the team with 172 rebounds (62 offense, 110 defense), and provided a total of 19 assists.
“She had a great freshman year,” Doucette said. “One of the best freshman we’ve ever had.”
Sophomore Morgan Schleusner played some solid varsity minutes last year according to the Colfax coach, and is a tough kid who will hopefully play a larger role this season. Jayna Bowe played a key part as one of last year’s reserve players, and Rachel Scharlau will have a larger role in 2017-2018 due to her size and strength.
Addy Olson and Josie Steinke are a pair of sophomores who reportedly worked hard on their game this summer, and both saw improvement, and Doucette hopes they will be able to help the varsity team this season.
One downside, is the uncertainty over whether Taylor Irwin will return to the team this season.
“She’s a great kid with great natural instincts,” Doucette noted. “She would be very good.”
Saville Wilson and Abby DeMoe also will be part of this year’s sophomore squad looking for playing minutes.
The Viking head coach welcomes freshmen Addisyn Olson, Marissa Harmon, Ryleigh Parker, Bailey Bradford, Jasmine Paulus, Anna Geissler and Abby Irwin to this year’s team.
According to Doucette, the team’s greatest strength is the number of great players returning to the team and some strong defense. He also noted the team chemistry is excellent. He expressed concern over last season’s occasionally inconsistent shooting and the struggles from the free throw line.
Doucette, who is in his 31st year coaching and 28th at Colfax, sees Durand and Elk Mound as the teams to beat again this year in the Dunn-St. Croix. He will be assisted by Courtney Doucette and John Dachel.
The Lady Vikings hit the court for their first matchup of the season November 14 at St. Croix Central, and will play at Hayward November 16. Colfax will take on the Raiders at Hudson November 21 before breaking for Thanksgiving and hosting Thorp November 28.
Juniors: Savannah Henricks, Alyssa Dachel, Emma Hurlburt and Rachel Knutson.
Sophomores: Kameri Meredith, Morgan Schleusner, Jayna Bowe, Rachel Scharlau, Josie Steinke, Addy Olson, Saville Wilson and Abby DeMoe.
Freshmen: Addisyn Olson, Marissa Harmon, Ryleigh Parker, Bailey Bradford, Jasmine Paulus, Anna Geissler and Abby Irwin. [/emember_protected]