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Girls basketball: Introducing the 2023 West Central Tribune All-Area Team

Senior class leads the way for area's top players

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Montevideo senior Avery Koenen, center, battles for a rebound with BOLD junior Mackenzie Visser, at right, and Mari Ryberg during a game at Montevideo High School on Friday, February 3, 2023.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

This year's West Central Tribune All-Area Team brings loads of experience.

Of the 15 players selected, 11 are from the senior class, including four each on the all-area first and second teams.

There was plenty of late-season action. Three area teams made it to the state tournament.

BOLD (26-6) made it to the Class A state championship for the first time in program history as the three-seed. The Warriors finished as the runner-ups with a 2-1 showing at state after losing 52-21 against Mountain Iron-Buhl.

Lainey Braulick and Mari Ryberg represent the Warriors on the all-area team.

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Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa and New London-Spicer both made it back to the state tournament for the third time in the past four seasons.

BBE (27-5) entered the Class A state tournament as the fifth seed. The Jaguars took third place at state with a 65-54 victory over two-seed Hayfield.

BBE also has two entrants on the all-area team: Abby Berge and Tiyana Schwinghammer.

NLS (30-2), the fourth seed at the Class AA state tournament, won the consolation championship with a 65-38 win against Perham. The Wildcats won their first 24 games of the season.

The Wildcats are represented on the all-area team by Avery Rich and Jaden Coahran.

Montevideo also placed two on the all-area team: Avery Koenen and Tenley Epema, as did Lac qui Parle Valley, which has Camryn Lee and Taylor Shelstad.

Also represented are: MACCRAY's Brielle Janssen, Willmar's Telilie Lange, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Madelynn Luft, Litchfield's Ryanna Steinhaus and Paynesville's Katie Uhlenkamp.

In total, 10 teams are represented.

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Here is the all-area girls basketball team:

First Team

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BBE's Abby Berge.
Courtesy of the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa girls basketball team

Abby Berge
Sr., 5-11 guard, BBE

Berge averaged 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals per game and was named the Central Minnesota Conference Player of the Year,. She earned her third straight appearance on the West Central Tribune All-Area Team.

A Class A All-State pick for a second straight season and a CMC All-Conference selection for a third consecutive season, Berge recorded her 1,000th career point in her senior campaign.

Also a Class A All-Tournament Team selection, Berge will participate in the 2023 MN All-Star Game before taking her talents to Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

"Abby had a great senior season to cap off a legendary career at BBE," Jaguars head coach Kristina Anderson said. "Abby is a long guard who has a knack for scoring the basketball and is an excellent defender. She is a tough match-up for teams as she can score in transition, from the perimeter and the paint.

"She is a level-headed player who gets the job done night in and night out, defensively and offensively. She often draws the opponent's best defender and is also put on the other team's leading scorer."

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BBE senior Abby Berge splits a pair of defenders while attacking the rim during the Class A semifinal against Mountain Iron-Buhl at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Friday, March 17, 2023.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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BOLD's Lainey Braulick.
Courtesy of the BOLD girls basketball team

Lainey Braulick
So., 5-8 guard, BOLD

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Braulick took off in her third year as a starter β€” averaging 20.1 points and 5.1 steals β€” to earn her first appearance on the West Central Tribune All-Area Team.

A Class A All-Tournament pick and the West Central Conference Offensive MVP, Braulick surpassed 1,000 career points in her sophomore season. Her 152 steals also comes as a program record in a single season.

"(Lainey) is a prolific scorer," BOLD head coach Brian Kingery said. "(She) can score in transition, has a great mid-range jumper and can shoot from deep.

"Lainey's quickness and instincts allow her to be a force defensively. Lainey had a great sophomore season and was a focal point on our state runner-up season."

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BOLD sophomore guard Lainey Braulick takes a mid-range shot against United Christian Academy in the Class A quarterfinals on Thursday, March 16, 2023, at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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Montevideo's Avery Koenen.
Courtesy of the Montevideo volleyball team

Avery Koenen
Sr., 6-3 post, Montevideo

A member of the Class AA All-State Team and the West Central Conference MVP for a third consecutive season, Koenen also makes her third straight appearance on the West Central Tribune All-Area First Team after averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Thunder Hawks.

Koenen, who's committed to North Dakota State University, finishes her Montevideo career with 2,213 points, 1,192 rebounds and 296 assists. She holds the program record for points, rebounds, field goals and free throws.

Koenen helped Montevideo to a 22-4 record. The Thunder Hawks reached the Section 3AA-North final, where they fell to NLS.

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"Avery has been a tremendous contributor to this basketball program," Montevideo head coach Anthony Jackson said. "She is a very capable scorer on the court. She is also an excellent and very skilled passer on the court. Her ball handling has also been a significant asset for our team for the past few years."

Montevideo senior Avery Koenen, 22, looks to get by Sauk Centre's Madelyn Schuster during a West Central Conference game on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023 at Montevideo.
Montevideo senior Avery Koenen, 22, looks to get by Sauk Centre's Madelyn Schuster during a West Central Conference game on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023 at Montevideo.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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NLS' Avery Rich.
Courtesy of the New London-Spicer girls basketball team

Avery Rich
Sr., 5-6 guard, NLS

A returnee from the 2022 West Central Tribune All-Area First Team and a 2023 Class AA All-State pick, Rich averaged 17.0 points, 5.3 steals and 4.2 assists for the Wildcats.

Also a member of the Class AA All-Tournament Team and the All-Wright County Conference West Division Team, Rich scored 551 points on 43% shooting from the field. She also shot 32% from beyond the arc and made 73% of her free throws.

Rich overcame an ACL injury her freshman season and was on the Wildcats' varsity team since eighth grade. She was a Class AA All-State Honorable Mention and WCW All-Conference selection in her junior campaign.

"She's been a leader for many years," NLS head coach Mike Dreier said of Rich, who was also an Academic All-State pick this season. "She's run the show on offense and is an excellent defender, an excellent all-around player and leader. She'll be tough to replace."

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New London-Spicer senior guard Avery Rich dribbles across the court against Minnehaha Academy in the Class AA quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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LQPV's Taylor Shelstad.
Courtesy of the Lac qui Parle Valley girls basketball team

Taylor Shelstad
Sr., 5-10 guard, LQPV

Shelstad averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.6 steals per game for the 25-4 Eagles. She shot 44% from the field, including 32% from beyond the arc.

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Shelstad recorded 370 points and 210 rebounds in her senior season. Her 155 assists and 103 steals ranks No. 1 all-time in a single season in program history.

"Taylor is the ultimate competitor," LQPV head coach Dylan Erickson said. "She never backs down from any situation or any challenge. She is a selfless leader on and off the court and took on a different role this year of not having to score, but do all the little things to make our team be as balanced and most successful as possible."

With plans to attend Minnesota State University-Moorhead to pursue physical therapy, Shelstad finishes her career as a four-time All-Camden Conference pick, a two-time Class A All-State Honorable Mention and a two-time Academic All-State and all-conference member.

Shelstad's 424 assists and 313 steals rank No. 1 all-time in program history. Her 1,441 points and 648 rebounds rank No. 3 and No. 6, respectively.

"(Taylor) has been a force in the Camden Conference for many years and been the focus for many opposing teams," Erickson said. "She is the definition of a complete basketball player and leaves her name stamped in the LQPV girls basketball record book with many accolades and honors."

LQPV senior Taylor Shelstad looks to run upcourt during a Section 3A-North quarterfinal game against D-B on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 at Montevideo.
LQPV senior Taylor Shelstad looks to run upcourt during a Section 3A-North quarterfinal game against D-B on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 at Montevideo.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Second Team

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NLS' Jaden Coahran.
Courtesy of the New London-Spicer girls basketball team

Jaden Coahran
Sr., 5-5 guard, NLS

After being a member of the West Central Tribune All-Area Third Team in 2022, Coahran kept her foot on the gas to move up to the All-Area Second Team.

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Named an All-Wright County Conference West Division member for a second consecutive season, Coahran averaged 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. She shot 40.3% from the field, 33.1% from 3-point land and 64.7% from the free throw line.

"Inch for inch, Jaden is as good a player as I've ever coached," Dreier said. "She can rebound, played forward on defense for us, and didn't back down to anybody on the boards. And it was essential to our defense to be able to do what we were able to do. She's a very versatile offensive player and a good passer, who created an awful lot of our offense in the half-court."

She plans to attend Ridgewater College to further her career and education. She also was a 2023 Academic All-State pick.

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New London-Spicer senior guard Jaden Coahran dribbles the ball across the court against Minnehaha Academy in the Class AA quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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Montevideo's Tenley Epema.
Courtesy of the Montevideo girls basketball team

Tenley Epema
Sr., 5-9 wing, Montevideo

A selection of the West Central Tribune All-Area Team for a second consecutive season, Epema averaged 13 points per game for the Thunder Hawks to move up to the all-area second team.

Epema, also named to the All-West Central Conference team, finishes with three program records: 291 career threes, 83 threes in a single season and seven threes in one game.

"Tenley is one of the most pure shooters in this region. She is a dynamite shooter on the basketball court," Jackson said. "She is also one of the smartest high school players that you will find. Her basketball IQ has helped our program, offensively and defensively."

Epema will continue her basketball career at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota.

Montevideo senior Tenley Epema puts up a 3-pointer against the West Central Area defense during a Section 3AA-North semifinal game on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023 at the Big Red Gym in Willmar.
Montevideo senior Tenley Epema puts up a 3-pointer against the West Central Area defense during a Section 3AA-North semifinal game on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023 at the Big Red Gym in Willmar.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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MACCRAY's Brielle Janssen.
Courtesy of the MACCRAY girls basketball team

Brielle Janssen
Fr., 6-0 forward, MACCRAY

Janssen picked up right where she left off in her eighth-grade season for the Wolverines, who finished with a 15-11 record in 2022-23.

Janssen averaged 18.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 5.8 steals per game to become the Camden Conference North Player of the Year and earn all-conference honors for a second straight season.

Janssen holds the program record for most points in a single game (33). She has 760 points, 447 rebounds, 246 steals, 99 assists and 82 blocks so far in her career.

"Brielle was one of the most dominant players in the area," MACCRAY head coach Shaun Condon said. "She played all five positions for us. She was able to put up incredible numbers, even while being the focal point for opposing defenses. ... Brielle is a rare talent that is really fun to coach."

MACCRAY freshman Brielle Janssen puts up a layup in the first half of a Camden Conference game against Lakeview on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023 at Clara City.
MACCRAY freshman Brielle Janssen puts up a layup in the first half of a Camden Conference game against Lakeview on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023 at Clara City.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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LQPV's Camryn Lee.
Courtesy of the Lac qui Parle Valley girls basketball team

Camryn Lee,
Sr., 6-1 center, LQPV

Lee returns to the West Central Tribune All-Area team for a second consecutive season after a senior campaign where she averaged 16.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

A Class A All-State Honorable Mention, Lee's 289 rebounds this season rank No. 1 all-time in a single season in program history.

"Camryn has been a dominant force inside for many years and has commanded so much attention drawing double and triple teams on a nightly basis. Her game has grown tremendously the past few years," Erickson said. "She has really good hands and feet in the paint and is able to finish through a ton of contact and physical play every night. She has been super fun to coach and is one of the most coachable kids you can find."

Lee finishes a three-time All-Camden Conference pick and a two-time Academic All-State and all-conference selection. Over her 101 career games, she notched 1,397 points, 791 rebounds, 139 blocks, 105 assists and 101 steals. She shot 53.7% from the field and 71.8% from the free throw line.

"(Camryn) has a physical nature and style of play, but is one of the best teammates and respectful players you will meet," Erickson said of Lee, who plans to study elementary education in college. "She leaves the program with her name etched in the record book and leaves a lasting impression on LQPV girls basketball."

LQPV senior Camryn Lee puts up a shot in the paint during a Section 3A-North quarterfinal game against D-B on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 at Montevideo.
LQPV senior Camryn Lee puts up a shot in the paint during a Section 3A-North quarterfinal game against D-B on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 at Montevideo.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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BOLD's Mari Ryberg.
Courtesy of the BOLD girls basketball team

Mari Ryberg
Sr., 5-11 guard, BOLD

Making a leap from the West Central Tribune All-Area Third Team to the second team, Ryberg averaged 13 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game in her fourth year as a starter for BOLD.

Ryberg's consistency throughout the season, where she surpassed 1,000 career points, propelled her to All-West Central Conference and Class A All-State Tournament Team honors.

Ryberg finishes her career with 1,289 points, 782 rebounds, 345 steals, 264 assists and 38 blocks.

"Mari was our glue for for the state runner up team. (She) does all the little things β€” she can score, rebounds well, plays great defense, passes really well," Kingery said. "Mari had a great career for the Warriors and was a big reason we were successful."

Ryberg will attend the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to continue playing basketball and begin her path to becoming an elementary school teacher.

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BOLD senior Mari Ryberg defends Jenna Christopherson of Hayfield during the Class A semifinal at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Friday, March 17, 2023.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Third Team

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Willmar's Telilie Lange.
Courtesy of the Willmar girls basketball team

Telilie Lange
Fr., 5-7 guard, Willmar

After serving as the main ball-handler on an 11-17 Cardinals team, Lange makes her first appearance on the West Central Tribune All-Area Team.

She averaged 8.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game. That stat line earned her All-Central Lakes Conference honors on top of being named the team MVP.

"She also would guard the best wing or guard on the opposing team every night. She did a fantastic job doing this despite the fact that she was often undersized in the match-ups," Willmar head coach Brendan Hedtke said. "On top of her scoring and her defense, she was a great rebounder for her position and did a nice job pushing the pace on offense and finding her teammates.

"She was voted our MVP because we knew how much we would've missed her if she wasn't on the court. She also had some of her biggest games in the biggest moments this season, which is impressive for a freshman."

Lange shot 44.7% from the field, 42.6% from beyond the arc and 59.3% from the free throw line this season. She has 290 points, 164 rebounds, 106 assists, 89 steals and four blocks in her career.

"Telilie carried a huge load for us this year. She handled the bulk of our ball handling duties and did a great job. She's a huge reason why were able to win many of our games," Hedtke said. "Without her, we would've had many more turnovers. She was a very efficient scorer for us. She shot the ball really well from three this season, and honestly, she could've taken more of them. She was also very effective getting to the rim and scoring the ball inside, which is really impressive for someone at her size."

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Willmar freshman guard Telilie Lange leaps up for a layup against Big Lake on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, at the Big Red Gym.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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KMS' Madelynn Luft.
Courtesy of the Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg girls basketball team

Madelynn Luft
So., 6-1 forward, KMS

Luft posted averages of 11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds and 6.0 blocks for the 22-7 Fighting Saints to help her earn a spot on the West Central Tribune All-Area Team for the first time.

Also an All-Camden Conference pick, Luft shot 46.4% from the field and 36.8% from beyond the arc.

"Maddie protects the paint so well for us with her ability to block shots without fouling. She had double-digit blocks twice and two more she missed by one," Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg head coach Justin Johnson said. "She is a great rebounder on both ends of the court. She was our second leading scorer, who proved she can score on the low block and step out and hit the three ball."

Luft has 563 points, 487 rebounds, 243 blocks, 80 assists and 79 steals in her career.

KMS sophomore Madelynn Luft, 30, puts up a shot in the post during the Section 6A-South championship game against Hancock on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at Minnewaska High School in Glenwood.
KMS sophomore Madelynn Luft, 30, puts up a shot in the post during the Section 6A-South championship game against Hancock on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at Minnewaska High School in Glenwood.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
Tiyana Schwinghammer (2023).jpg
BBE's Tiyana Schwinghammer.
Courtesy of the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa girls basketball team

Tiyana Schwinghammer
Sr., 6-0 guard, BBE

A 2023 Class A All-Tournament Team selection and two-time All-Central Minnesota Conference pick, Schwinghammer makes her first appearance on the all-area team.

Schwinghammer, averaged 12.6 points on 43% shooting from the field and 5.2 rebounds per game.

"Tiyana had a breakout junior season and continued right where she left off, having an even better senior season," Anderson said. "Tiyana is a long guard who can score in the paint, has a great mid-range game and also can score from the perimeter. (She) is a great rebounder and runs the floor well in transition.

"Tiyana was a big part of the Jaguars' third-place finish in the Class A state basketball tournament this season."

While Schwinghammer is undecided on where she will attend college, she does know one thing: she plans to play basketball.

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BBE senior Tiyana Schwinghammer shoots the ball during the Class A semifinal against Mountain Iron-Buhl at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Friday, March 17, 2023.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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Litchfield's Ryanna Steinhaus.
Courtesy of the Litchfield girls basketball team

Ryanna Steinhaus
Sr., 5-6 guard, Litchfield

An All-Wright County Confere West Division pick and Academic All-State and all-conference member, Steinhaus makes her first appearance on the all-area team.

Steinhaus finishes her career with 545 points, 309 rebounds, 215 assists and 162 steals. She shot 36.0% from the field, 35.4% from beyond arc and 69.7% from the free throw line.

In her senior season, Steinhaus recorded 254 points, 114 rebounds, 82 assists and 80 steals. She made 75% of her free throws and shot 40.6% from the field, including 39% from beyond the arc.

"Ry has been an outstanding floor general for the past two years. She rarely gets out-worked as the smallest player on the court and she rarely leaves the floor," Litchfield head coach Eric Hulterstrum said. "She battled injuries this year with her ankles and that was the only way to force her off the court.

"She turned into a bigger scorer this year for us. Ryanna holds herself and her teammates to a very high standard. And I am extremely thankful for that."

While Steinhaus' basketball chapter comes to a close, she plans to play tennis at the College of Saint Benedict or Bethel University.

Litchfield vs. NLS, Section 3AA-North semifinals, 022823.001.jpg
Litchfield senior guard Ryanna Steinhaus directs the Dragons' offense in the Section 3AA-North semifinals against New London-Spicer on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at the Big Red Gym in Willmar.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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Paynesville's Katie Uhlenkamp
Courtesy of the Paynesville girls basketball team.

Katie Uhlenkamp,
Sr., 5-11 forward, Paynesville

A four-year varsity player, Uhlenkamp makes her first appearance on the all-area team.

Uhlenkamp, also selected to the All-Central Minnesota Conference First Team, averaged 12.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Bulldogs, who finished with an 11-14 record. She shot 44.4% from the field and made 60.2% of her free throws.

"Over the four years of coaching her, (Katie) has developed into a well-rounded player on the court who could match up with a team's best interior player and be our player when we needed a bucket," Paynesville head coach Jake Heimerman said. "With her being left-handed, she could sneak up on defenders. She has the ability to finish on the left and right side of the rim."

Uhlenkamp recorded 919 points, 700 rebounds and 113 steals in her career. Her 158 defensive rebounds in 2022 is the most in a single season in program history.

Earning 2023 Academic All-State honors, Uhlenkamp will continue her education and track career at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

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Paynesville senior forward Katie Uhlenkamp takes a shot over New London-Spicer senior center Katelynn Tortorella during a game between the Bulldogs and Wildcats on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, at New London-Spicer High School in New London.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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