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High School Girls: Minnewaska Lakers have some big shoes to fill

The Minnewaska girls basketball team is excited about the opportunity to replace a strong senior class

013120.S.WCT.Minnewaska GBB Avery Hoeper.JPG
Minnewaska forward Avery Hoeper goes up for a lay-up during a Jan. 30, 2020 game against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City from ACGC High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

GLENWOOD — For any school, the graduation losses would seem to be massive.

Emma Thorfinnson, Alexis Piekarski, Hannah Hoffmann, Michele Stai and Elizabeth Murken were the heart and soul of the 2019-2020 Minnewaska girls basketball team.The Lakers fifth in the talented West Central Conference with a 7-7 record, going 12-13 overall and getting edged 39-38 by Benson in the playoffs.

The five departed seniors averaged 33.8 points. Minnewaska averaged 51.3. That means 64.3 percent of the team’s scoring has graduated.

Replacing that group is a tall task, head coach Brett Thorfinnson admitted.

“We had some girls graduate last year who had been playing with us for quite some time,” he said. “So, we have some shoes to fill.
“However, we have a good group of girls ready to step in and do just that.”

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The Lakers do return Avery Hoeper (5-9, sr., F) and Maddie Thorfinnson (5-11, jr, PG) and that’s a great place for Minnewaska to rebuild, with a strong front-court player and a skilled backcourt person to take care of the ball.

Hoeper averaged 3.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season. She was the Lakers’ second-best rebounder.

Maddie Thorfinnson contributed 8.6 points per game, shooting 30 percent from the field and 51 percent from the free-throw line (43 of 83). She led the Lakers with 2.0 assists per game. And had 3.4 rebounds with a team-leading 47 steals.

The head coach, who has a 119-123 record in nine seasons, believes there is enough talent to make Minnewaska successful.

Players to watch include: Mankena Panitzke (Sr., G); Isabelle Ortendahl (Sr, P); Annika Randt (Sr., G); Addy Randt (Jr., G); Emma Kovarik (Jr., G); Olivia Richards (Jr., G); Brecklyn Beyer (Sr., F), Maddy Meulebreock (Jr., G) and Leah Hagen (Jr. G).

“We have some girls who don’t have a ton of varsity experience, but I believe (they) will contribute some really good minutes for us,” Brett Thorfinnson said. “I’m very excited to see what this group can do.”

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013120.S.WCT.Minnewaska GBB Addy Randt.JPG
Minnewaska guard Addy Randt is fouled while going to the basket during a Jan. 30, 2020 game against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City from ACGC High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

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