At the end of each basketball season, the Tribune publishes its All-Area basketball teams to recognize the top players in the area, with five players from that group are selected to the first team. Here are 10 players to keep an eye on to earn a spot on the All-Area first team in the 2017-18 season.
New London-Spicer Wildcats
Shea Oman is everything a coach would want out of a point guard. She's an elite defender with the ability to shoot and pass, and she can dribble with the best. Perhaps most importantly, though, she's a consistent player that sets the tone for New London-Spicer. Read more about the star guard for the Wildcats in the basketball tab in Thursday's issue of the Tribune.
There are plenty of basketball players that excel at a particular portion of the game but it's tough to find a player who can do it all. Steffel not only does well but she is dominant at just about every point. She tallied a team-high 20.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in 27 games for the Warriors. Those offensive numbers already jump out but her defensive numbers are just plain disrespectful to her opponents: 4.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game. At 5-foot-11 she has length and speed that makes her a nightmare for any player who enters the paint. As just a junior, Steffel is one that could help launch BOLD's offense into the next stratosphere.
Hannah Johnson was the perfect symbol of Willmar's season last year; her numbers don't jump out but she was one of the area's best defenders with a penchant for winning. Exactly what any coach would want, right?
Now a junior with a full season of starts under her belt, Johnson is poised for a strong breakout season. She finished with 7.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.2 assist per game last season and it's not hard to imagine those numbers increasing. She also had 2.1 steals per game in 26:59 minutes per game. She's an ever-present force for the Cardinals who are itching to make it back to the state tournament.
That stuff written about Hannah Johnson? Yeah, most of that applies to her teammate, Carly Wedel, as well. Wedel is a forward who logged a modest 6.4 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game in just over 21 minutes per game. With her size and a newfound gap in the rotation left by Heidi Sellmann, who graduated last season, Wedel will help provide a dominant force in the post with senior Cayle Hovland. Wedel averaged just shy of six shots per game but that should increase this season and, with a slight improvement in field goal percentage, could spell doom for fellow Central Lakes Conference competitors. And all of that is just on the offensive side of the ball. The 6-foot-1 forward finished last season with an average of 2.1 blocks per game. Good luck to anyone trying to enter the paint with Wedel there to leave repeat customers turned away angry.
In her sophomore season, Alex Sather showed a raw ability to score as a guard with decent size for the Blackjacks. With 14.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, Sather helped command a Dawson-Boyd team that showed flashes during the 2016-2017 season. After the graduation of teammate Kaitlyn Willander, Sather could see an even bigger uptick in shots per game than normally expected. Don't expect her to take careless shots from beyond the arc, though. Of the quick guard's 14.3 shots per game, only 2.4 of those came from three-point land. She's the classic guard with an ability to drive and get buckets. If she can prove to be a dangerous drive-and-kick threat as well then Sather could push her team to the next level.
Lac qui Parle Valley Eagles
If it feels like you've been reading Kelsea Lund's name for the last five years it's because you have. The Lac qui Parle Valley senior has been scoring on everybody since she was in eighth grade but now the sharpshooter is ready to wrap up her career with some hardware. Lund already has the school record in points with 1,725. She's more than just a sharpshooter, too. At 5-foot-3, Lund somehow wrangled five rebounds per game last season and finished with X assists. Her cousin, Haley Wollschlager, who also makes this list, ended with more assists but that's not to say that Lund doesn't have a strong passing game.
Lac qui Parle Valley Eagles
Playing the Eagles is a frustrating endeavor for any team in the Camden Conference for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the toughest part is recognizing that even if you can stop Kelsea Lund you need to somehow stop her cousin, Haley Wollschlager. Though Lund often earns the spotlight, Wollschlager is nearly as deserving. She finished last season with 10.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Her all-around game is terrifying for other teams but a joy for her own team. It's tough to forget she's just a junior but her already impressive numbers could look even better this year with yet another year on the court with her Eagles teammates.
Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart Mustangs
Sara Kottke is the type of player for which this list was made. As only a freshman last season, Kottke tallied 12.6 points with 12.1 rebounds per game, churning out double-doubles with ease. Even with her current point-per-game average she showed room for improvement offensively, so don't be surprised if those point totals creep closer to the 20-mark. On the defensive end, Kottke was able to guard multiple positions and earned 1.6 steals per game with 1.2 blocks per game to boot. The trek to Hector is certainly worth it just to see Kottke alone.
Yellow Medicine East Sting
Here's a rule that was just made up right now: any player that averaged a double-double as an underclassman automatically makes the next year's watchlist. You can argue about how important it is to get an even 10 points and 10 rebounds but you can't argue with Anna McCosh's results from last year. The 5-foot-11 center finished the year with 17.1 points, 11.9 rebounds and two assists per game, helping her team to a 10-14 record. The Sting are looking to at least flip those numbers and McCosh gives them a great chance to do just that.
It's OK if Malory Anderson wasn't really on your radar at the start of the year but that needs to change right now. Morris/Chokio-Alberta entered the year looking for a top-notch scorer and Anderson has stepped into that role nicely. Through three games this year, Anderson has scored double-digit points in every game, averaging 20.3 points per game. Defensively, she's been just as strong with 9.3 rebounds and 5.6 steals per game. In her first game of the season, the sophomore Tiger nearly notched a triple-double, falling just one steal shy of the mark. She has the ability to be a double-double machine and should be exactly the type of player the Tigers can build around.