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Depth-filled Lady Lynx also bring height to floor this season
Coach: Team aims to be 'better today than they were yesterday'
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

December 12. 2013 10:00AM
There will be a noticeable difference when the Lady Lynx takes the floor this season.
For the first time in a number of seasons, Brandon Valley has some notable height on its roster.

“We have a little more size this year, so we’ll spread it around and be able to attack in the paint. We won’t be so undersized,” said Lynx head coach Mark Stadem. “I think that’s one of the things you’ll see that’s different. We actually have some big, athletic posts. They’re young, but they’re tall, athletic girls.”

Filling that role are 6-foot-1 junior Carley Kueter and 6-foot-0 sophomore Hannah Paauw.

With 39 girls out in grades 9-12, Stadem is elated with the numbers, and said Brandon Valley is one of four “AA” schools that could play five levels – varsity, junior varsity, sophomore and two freshmen teams – this season.

While five seniors departed from last year’s 4-18 squad, the team returns with another five seniors to fill the void. And that group comes with considerable experience in 5-foot-5 guard Lexi Hoover, who was benched last year due to a knee injury. Also in the ranks is Kara Schroeder, a 5-foot-7 guard, and Becca Long, a 5-foot-7 forward. Both girls saw considerable playing time last season.

Brooke Smith, a 5-foot-5 guard, and Minniya Wilson, also 5-foot-5, round out the senior leadership on the team.

Seven juniors and 11 sophomores complete the 12-member roster.

The junior lineup consists of Emily Anderson, Emily Harris, Lilli Jasper, Michaela Beckman, Paige Drenth, Carley Kueter and Calli Hensley.

The sophomore class offers Carley Gardner, Emma Roach, Pollema, Sommer West, Sydnie Buchheim, Grace Bender, Courtney Bickley, Dana Schroeder, Taylor Thorson and Renae Kribell.

Seventeen freshmen will make up two teams in that division.

In addition to sporting some height this season, Stadem also boasts of the team’s depth this year.

“Right now we’re dressing 12 girls on the varsity, and I think on any given night we could play all 12 girls,” he said. “We have some kids with some experience back, but we’ll need some other kids to step up.”

With a week and a half of practice in the books, Stadem said the girls are playing well together.

“We don’t have one person that we have to go to on offense,” he said. “I think we’re going to be a little more balanced this year, and that’s going to be nice.”

One stat the Lady Lynx would like to improve on is turning last season’s 4-18 record around.

“We’d like to (turn that number around),” Stadem said. “Sometimes, the biggest thing is that it’s not in our control. We’re trying to do some stuff strength training-wise because we would sure like to cut down on our injuries and illnesses. If we stay relatively healthy, I think we’re going to be very competitive at all levels.”

Injuries, illnesses and turnovers plagued the program all last season, forcing Stadem and company to toss players like Schroeder and Thorson into the varsity mix. “There was a learning curve for them, but I think we’re going to see that pay off this year,” he said. “Both of those girls were playing very good basketball at the end of last year and it’s kind of nice that they they’ve got that experience.”

Stadem tags the Mitchell Kernels as the top team in the ESD. “They have the best point guard in the state,” he said.

He also gives a nod to Pierre, who features a pair of Division I recruits, and newcomer Harrisburg.

“They’ve got some nice players in their junior and senior classes, and they won the Class A title last year,” he said.

As for the Metro Conference, Washington, Roosevelt and O’Gorman have his respect, as all three return with the bulk of their teams back. Defending state champs, the Lincoln Patriots, will also be “decent” despite graduating a core group of seniors and fielding a new coach this year.

“It will probably take some time for them to adjust to each other, “ Stadem says. “But it’s going to be a tough conference this year.”

As for the Lynx, Stadem says Brandon Valley has the ability to be competitive in the league. “But it’s going to be tough,” he said. “Early on, it’s tough to compete with that experience because we’ll be working some young kids in. But as the season progresses and kids get more games under the belts, that changes and things have a tendency to even out at the end of the year.”

The Lynx open their 2013-14 campaign this week with a trio of games: a Tuesday night home opener with O’Gorman, a Thursday road trip to Brookings, and a Saturday home game against Roosevelt.

“We’re diving in, but it’s going to be a good way to gauge things early on,” he said.
Dec. 10 O’Gorman
Dec. 12 at Brookings
Dec. 14 S.F. Roosevelt
Dec. 19 Yankton
Dec. 21 at Pierre
Jan. 4 at Huron
Jan. 7 at Mitchell
Jan. 10 Watertown
Jan. 16 at Harrisburg
Jan. 18 at S.F. Lincoln
Jan. 23 Brookings
Jan. 24 Aberdeen Central
Jan. 31 Pierre
Feb. 1 at Watertown
Feb. 4 at S.F. Washington
Feb. 11 at Yankton
Feb. 13 Mitchell
Feb. 15 Huron
Feb. 20 Harrisburg
Feb. 25 at Aberdeen Central
Feb. 28 District 2AA play-in game
March 3 District 2AA
March 6 District 2AA
March 8 Region 1AA
March 13-15 State AAs at Brookings

The Lady Lynx roster lists five seniors this season. They are (from left): Minniya Wilson, Kara Schroeder, Brooklyn Smith, Becca Long and Lexi Hoover. Photo by Jill Meier

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