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High School Girls: Fighting Saints are on a youth movement

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg will feature one of its youngest teams in recent years

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Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg guard Maret Gjerde drives into the lane during a Jan. 13, 2020 game against Hancock from KMS High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

KERKHOVEN — Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg will be young in 2021.

“We lost three of our top four scorers from last year’s team but still have a solid core to work with,” head coach Justin Johnson said. “We will be a much younger team this year than the past couple, so much of our success will rely on how quickly we can get some girls to that varsity speed.”

Madison Rohner, Morgan Lesteberg and Haylee Johnson were long-time contributors for the Fighting Saints, but also were 2020 graduates. Rohner (17.3 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.9 bpg) is one of the school’s all-time greats.

Lesteberg (7.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.2 spg) and Johnson 94.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg) were solid, key players.

Two starters are back from last season’s 14-13 team that went 9-7 in the Camden Conference North Division: Maret Gjerde and Lauren Krieger.

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Gjerde (5-8, sr., G) was an all-conference last season after averaging 10.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game. She’ll be one of the top guards in the conference.

Krieger (5-4, sr., F) averaged 3.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

“I would expect our team strengths to be solid team defense and (to be) a good outside shooting team,” Johnson said.

Others returning with significant varsity playing time include Josie Gjerde (3.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.3 apg) and Hayley Demuth (4.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg).

Josie Gjerde (5-4, so., G) and Demuth (5-10, jr., F) will be joined by Grace Collins (5-4, jr., G), Julia Carlson (5-5, so., F), Else Gjerde (5-3, so., G) and Shakira Olson 5-10, so., G/F) as players to watch in 2021.

The Fighting Saints, who averaged 50.4 points and allowed 48.9 per game in 2019-20, opened the season Jan. 15 at Canby. KMS plays Lakeville on Jan. 18 in Kerkhoven, then hits the road Jan. 21 to play at Tracy-Milroy-Balaton.

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Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Hayley Demuth looks to dribble around MACCRAY's Kylee Kimpling during a Dec. 2, 2019 game from KMS High School. Patrick Bernadeau/West Central Tribune

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