MONTEVIDEO — Welcome Anthony Jackson as the new head coach of the Montevideo girls basketball team.
He takes over a squad that went 2-12 in the West Central Conference last season and was 6-18 overall. Jackson replaces Steve Rohloff, who retired.
The Thunder Hawks averaged 49.9 points and allowed 56.0, meaning they suffered a lot of close calls in 2019-20. There were eight losses of nine points or less, including a stretch from Jan. 16 to Jan. 24 when all four losses were by five points or less. They fell to Melrose (52-48), Yellow Medicine East (70-66), MACCRAY (60-550 and Minnewaska (59-56) in the midst of a nine-game losing streak.
Count Jackson among those excited to get going. He said Montevideo will be able to score from a variety of options from multiple places on the floor.
“We are a well-balanced team that can score inside and outside,” Jackson said.
The Thunder Hawks first must replace Jasmine Kronback and Kaylee Pauling from last year’s squad.
There are, however, four starters back, including two all-conference players.
Avery Koenen (6-0, so., P); Tenley Epema (5-10, so, W); Liv Gades (5-7, sr., G) and Greta Rongstad (5-9, sr., W) were all key contributors last season. Koenen and Epema earned All-West Central honors.
Players to watch include Keely Foley (5-6, jr., G) and Hailey Dirksen (5-11, so., P).
Jackson likes what he has seen so far.
“Every player in the program brings a great attitude and work ethic, which will help us reach out potential,” he said.
They’ll deal with a West Central Conference that was led last season by state-power Sauk Centre (28-4), Melrose (19-9), BOLD (18-10), Morris/Chokio-Alberta (17-10), Minnewaska (12-13) and Benson (16-12).
Sauk Centre went 14-0 in conference play, advancing to the state tournament and playing two games before it was postponed because of pandemic concerns.
They’ll be a challenge for the Thunder Hawks.