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by Kristine Giammattei
BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville Bulldog girls’ varsity basketball team aims to bounce back with confidence in the 2021-22 season following a challenging season of injuries, COVID-19 restrictions and low roster numbers.
The Bulldogs finished the 2020-21 season with a 4-14 record (2-11 in conference play) amidst these challenges, including a season-ending ACL injury for leading scorer Jensine Boesl. In her senior year, Boesl had scored 19 points and recovered nine rebounds in the opener before tearing her ACL at the beginning of the second game.
“I thought we would do better last year,” head coach Jay Lagerstrom said. “[Boesl’s injury] was a big hit to the team that we struggled to recover from.”
Additionally, the Bulldogs also lose Kady Grambow, who completed her senior season with an overall 9.5 points per game (ppg) and 7.7 rebounds per game (rpg), top 3-point shooter Mya Lagerstrom (6.1 ppg), who hit 32 percent of her attempted 3-pointers and also led the team in assists, Faith Harnisch (3.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Chrissa Kersten (1.2 ppg).
Moving forward, Lagerstrom looks to returning sophomore Hannah Dunn, who saw varsity time last year as a freshman scoring 6.2 ppg, and sees her as a consistent presence on the court this year.
Alongside Dunn are juniors Rachael Montgomery (3.7 ppg; 5.4rpg), Hailey Hanestad and the team’s only senior Harper Olson.
“[Hannah Dunn] had great experience starting as a freshman last year and had ups and downs but I expect a more consistent season out of her this year,” Lagerstrom said.
“Rachael stepped up from junior varsity after Jensine got injured and improved all season and had some really nice nights later in the year … Hailey is a hard worker on both ends of the court and isn’t afraid to get scrappy …she leaves it all on the court each night and is tabbed as our ‘do everything’ player,” he added.
Lagerstrom noted the Olson, as the group’s only senior, will need to bring leadership to the floor and be more consistent shooting on the perimeter like she was in her sophomore season.
Moving up from JV are sophomores Sarah Stoveren and Jaden Stevens. Stoveren was a stout leader for the junior varsity squad in nearly every game last year and will bring athleticism to the table while Stevens, who was the most improved junior varsity player last year, will be looked to as a solid defensive asset. Lagerstrom will look for quality minutes from her this season.
Also joining the Bulldog roster for the first time is junior Cambrie Reisimer, who Lagerstrom remarks is a hard worker that often draws the tougher defensive assignments.
“Although we have a young team, we have some players in key positions that will come in with more confidence this season,” Lagerstrom said. “We don’t have much for size and we will have to make up for it with physical play and keeping teams to one contested shot.”
The Bulldogs’ main focus this season is improving on stronger shots from both the inside and perimeter as well as keeping turnovers to a minimum.
While this is just his second year as head coach for the Lady Bulldogs, Lagerstrom brings three years of experience as the girls’ assistant coach and nine years’ experience as Boyceville’s boys’ head basketball coach. He will once again be assisted by JV coach Denise Jeske.
Looking at teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, Lagerstrom senses that Colfax, Durand and Elk Mound will contend for the top three spots. However, he will not overlook Elmwood/Plum City and Mondovi as they return with a solid number of players.
The Lady Bulldogs lost their season opener on the road at Chetek-Weyerhaeuser, falling 50 to 36 to their namesakes. They hosted Independence Tuesday and will return from the Thanksgiving break next Monday, November 29 for a non-conference contest in Gilmanton.
Senior: Harper Olson
Juniors: Rachael Montgomery, Hailey Hanestad, Cambrie Reisimer, and Abby Schlough
Sophomores: Jaden Stevens, Hannah Dunn, Sarah Stoveren, Kaci Fisher, and Cora Leslie
Freshmen: Jadynn Traxler, Tori Stender, Laci Link, Makayla Nelson, Delaney Olson, Lexi Schlough, and Ashley Prestrud