Willmar Cardinals Winter Preview
Girls Basketball COACH Brad Atchison, 12th year (30th overall) ASSISTANT COACHES Jenyne Beehler, sophomores; Jared Eilers, junior varsity; Sally Wilson, freshmen LAST SEASON Willmar was 23-5 last season, the Cardinals fourth-straight 20-plus win ...
Brad Atchison, 12th year (30th overall)
Jenyne Beehler, sophomores; Jared Eilers, junior varsity; Sally Wilson, freshmen
Willmar was 23-5 last season, the Cardinals fourth-straight 20-plus win season. In the last five years, the program has won three Central Lakes Conference titles and finished second twice, reaching State in 2004 (runner-up to Minneapolis North) and 2006.
Season: Today at Bemidji, 3 p.m.
Home/conference: Tuesday, Alexandria
Wild-Card Invitational: Dec. 29-30 at New London-Spicer (Hawley, Watertown-Mayer).
(Returning letterwinners in bold)
Whitney Arends, 5-10 center
Brin Hanson, 5-6 guard
Kjerstin Knutson, 5-10 forward
Lisa Nielsen, 5-11 center
Hannah Okins, 5-6 guard
Megan Brown, 5-2 guard
Briana Goldschmidt, 5-7 guard
Greta King, 5-10 forward
Britta Pederson, 5-5 guard
Abby Switzer, 5-5 guard
Ali Unger, 5-8 forward
Kelsey Evans, 5-8 forward
Emily Nelsen, 5-9 forward
Mariel Aamot, 5-3 guard
Jena Thompson, 5-11 center
All-time leading scorer and rebounder Laura Nielsen was a five-time letter- winner and four-time all-conference pick, matching the four appearances on the honor squad by Lori Roufs (1989-92). Two-time all-conference point guard Andrea Brown, all-conference forward Katie Holmgren and defensive leader Dana Guetter were also among the graduates. Junior Jamie Wilson, who played a regular role as a sophomore, will miss the season after a volleyball injury led to her third knee surgery.
Brin Hanson and Hannah Okins, guards; Kelsey Evans and Briana Goldschmidt, wings; Lisa Nielsen, post.
Willmar, which finished one game behind St. Cloud Tech in the CLC race, should again contend in both the conference and Section 8AAA. The team scrimmaged at Monticello with Wayzata, Pierz and St. Cloud Apollo and coach Brad Atchison said it was encouraging. Lisa Nielsen, replacing her older sister in the post, looked aggressive at both ends, he said. The backcourt took good care of the ball with few turnovers. Megan Brown, following in her sister's footsteps, provides sure ball control on the perimeter. Whitney Arends will provide defense and rebounding backing up Nielsen in the paint. Kjerstin Knutson has two year's of JV experience and will back-up the wings. Junior forwards Greta King and Ali Unger will be looked to provide points off the bench.
FROM THE COACH
Coach Brad Atchison: "We had three excellent scrimmages. We were aggressive on defense and we looked faster up and down the floor. We should be quicker this year which should make our press more effective. We shot well outside with Goldschmidt and Evans. We expect a big season from Evans, who played jayvee last season and had a good summer camp. She will have to score for us. We don't look for big scoring from our guards, but they should be solid with the ball and able to break down defenses with ballhandling and dribbling. These kids know they are part of a family and team tradition and they want to keep it up."