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High School Girls: Montevideo Thunder Hawks get a fresh start

New coach takes over a squad with four starters back

010820.S.WCT.Montevideo GB Greta Rongstad.JPG
Montevideo junior guard Greta Rongstad looks for an open teammate during a Jan. 7, 2020 game against BOLD from Montevideo High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

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.

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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.

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They’ll be a challenge for the Thunder Hawks.

010820.S.WCT.Montevideo GB Tenley Epema.JPG
Montevideo junior guard Greta Rongstad looks for an open teammate during a Jan. 7, 2020 game against BOLD from Montevideo High School. Patrick Bernadeau / West Central Tribune

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