Willmar Cardinals Winter Preview - Girls Basketball
Brad Atchison, 11th year
Jenyne Beehler, sophomores; Jared Eilers, junior varsity; Sally Wilson, freshmen
Willmar is 70-12 the last three winters and won 20 games last year, but fell short in both the Central Lakes Conference race and the Section 8AAA tournament. Willmar lost twice to Rocori and split with Alexandria, which won the CLC title with a 14-2 record. Detroit Lakes (21-6) upset Alexandria and then Fergus Falls, which had ousted Willmar, for the section championship and a trip to state, where the Lakers lost in the quarterfinals to Marshall.
Season/Central Lakes Conference: (scheduled) 7:30 p.m. today at Alexandria.
Home: 7:30 p.m., Friday vs. Sartell
WildCard Invitational: at Willmar Dec. 29-30, New London-Spicer, Hawley, Watertown-Mayer.
(Returning letterwinners in bold)
Laura Nielsen, 6-1 post (16.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 63 percent FG)
Andrea Brown, 5-1 guard (10.2 ppg, 2.6 apg, 40 3-pointers)
Katie Holmgren, 5-11 forward, (4.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
Courtney Arends, 5-10 forward
Stefanie Bredberg, 5-6 guard/forward
Dana Guetter, 5-4 guard
Shelby Warner, 5-10 forward
Whitney Arends, 5-10 center
Britney Bailey, 6-2 post
Whitney Damhof, 5-8 forward
Brin Hanson, 5-6 guard
Kjerstin Knutson, 5-10 forward
Lisa Nielsen, 5-11 post/forward
Hannah Okins, 5-6 guard
Ashley Ryks, 5-4 guard
Megan Brown, 5-1 guard
Brianna Goldschmidt, 5-7 forward/guard
Jamie Wilson, 5-10 forward
Amy Follmann, 5-5 guard; Krista Koenen, 5-8 forward; Jessica VanDenEinde, 5-7 guard; Shannon Juhnke, 5-11 post; Kaley Hanson, 5-9 guard; Kaily Rice, 6-0 forward
Andrea Brown, point guard; Katie Holmgren, forward/post; Laura Nielsen, post; Brin Hanson, off-guard; Brianna Goldschmidt, guard/forward. Brown and Nielsen were both All-Area in 2004-05. Nielsen begins her fifth varsity season -- fourth as a starter -- with 1,156 points and 781 rebounds. The Cardinals career scoring leader (boy or girls) is Lori Roufs (1992) with 1,545 points.
Alexandria lost three All-CLC choices, including four-year starter Jenni Strand. Sartell, the only Central Lakes team to reach the state tournament in 2004-5 (the Section 4AAA champs went 2-1 beating Marshall in the third-place game), lost All-Tournament forward Stacie Oistad, who is now at South Dakota State where she'll be joined by Willmar's Laura Nielsen next fall. Rocori graduated All-CLC center Kari Schroeder. Fergus Falls figures to be a contender in both the CLC and 8AAA, led by 6-foot sophomore Hannah Draxten.
Willmar plays 18 conference games and seven non-conference, including Section 2AAA champ Marshall and 8AAAA champ Moorhead. WildCard defending champion Hawley went on to win Section 8AA.
FROM THE COACH
Brad Atchison (29th year as head coach counting 18 at Clara City/Midwest Minnesota/MACCRAY) comments: "We will have good size, average speed and be fairly deep and more athletic than last year. It's a determined group that worked hard in summer basketball. We'll use four or five off the bench: Dana Guetter, because of swimming, had her first full practice Monday so she won't be used until Friday, at the earliest. Stef Bredberg, Lisa Nielsen, Jamie Wilson and Shelby Warner I expect to play. Lisa can back-up her sister at post or play forward. We're very fortunate to have both an all-conference point guard and a two-time All-State post. Teams covered Andrea (Brown) pretty hard last year, so we've got to find some other (perimeter) scoring. The girls have worked hard to improve on their three-point shooting. Katie (Holmgren) started about half the time last year; she can also play down low. Brin Hanson, who has speed, started for the sophomores and saw action last year starting at the holiday tournament. Bri Goldschmidt is a good outside shooter. Laura played for the Tartan team this summer and got experience playing off the block. I think fans will notice she's extended her game. She even shoots the 'three' now."