Willmar girls basketball preview
Brad Atchison, 14th season (32nd overal)
Jenyne Beehler, JV; Sally Wilson, sophomores; Emily Swierenga, freshmen
12-14 overall. 8-10 in Central Lakes Conference; Lost in Section 2AAA semifinals to Worthington, 73-55.
Season/home/CLC opener: Tuesday vs. Sauk Rapids, 7:30 p.m.
Wild-Card Invitational: At New London, Dec. 29-30 (Benson, KMS, New London-Spicer, Willmar)
Section 2AAA:March 3, 7, 12
State tournament: March 18, 19, 21 at Target Center and Williams Arena.
(Returning letterwinners in bold)
Lesley Christianson, 5-8 forward
Kelsey Evans, 5-8 guard/forward
Hannah Murphy, 5-5 guard
Emily J. Nelsen, 5-10 forward
Mariel Aamot, 5-3 guard
Alysha Cuchna, 5-5 guard
Laura Dunlavy, 5-3 guard
Jackie Goldschmidt, 5-3 guard
Karlee Johnson, 5-6 forward
Jennifer Knake, 6-0 forward
Alex Lippert, 6-3 post
Kasey Scheffler, 5-9 forward
Jena Thompson, 6-0 post
Hannah Smith, 5-8 guard
Kayli Gimse, 5-10 forward/center
Sara Kallhoff, 5-4 guard
The starting lineup for the season opener looks like this: Kelsey Evans and Mariel Aamot at the guards, Hannah Smith and Emily Nelsen at the forwards and Jena Thompson at center. Evans is a two-time all-conference and a first-team All-Area pick as a junior when she averaged 16 ppg, 7 rpg, and three steals. She also led the Cardinals with 41 treys made. Thompson, an all-CLC choice, averaged 13 points and eight rebounds and was selected third-team All-Area. Aamot, who often started, has point-guard quickness, while Smith can help at guard or small forward. Nelsen will be counted on to go hard to the boards. Alex Lippert, listed at 6-foot-3, provides depth at post, while senior Lesley Christianson will be a reserve at forward. St. Cloud Tech went 18-0 last year and comes back as the team to beat. But the first-division teams were senior dominated so look for a more wide-open race this winter.
FROM THE COACH
Coach Brad Atchison: "We looked very good in our four scrimmages in Monticello (Nov. 22). I think we'll have a nice squad. Evans shoots well from the outside and Smith is a great shooter. Aamot can hit three-pointers and Thompson has really improved at post; she's really worked on her game. The transition game looks good, so look for an up-tempo press-and-run style. We're quicker and should score more this season. The CLC is up for grabs. We should move up into the front ranks of the conference again but I look for Tech to be tough again and Alexandria and Brainerd both will have nice teams. Worthington and (defending champion) Marshall will be teams to beat again in Section 2AAA."