Photo Credit: Minnesota Basketball Hub
The class of 2018 has fulfilled its duties and is now poised to be discharged back into society. Our mission is to follow high school varsity ball and AAU ball beginning the summer after the 8th grade. So we first saw the class of 2018 when some of the more precocious among them started getting varsity minutes, but mostly in the summer of 2013.
Just for the record, that summer we published our 1st ranking of the class of 2018, and the top 10 went like this: 1) Carmen Backes, 2) Kayla Mershon, 3) Sydney Stapleton, 4) Maesyn Theisen, 5) Christianna Carr, 6) Katey Brattland, 7) Sam Haiby, 8) Zoe Hardwick, 9) Erica Hicks, 10) Audrey Gadison. Megan Walstad was #19. Mary Burke, Rachel Hakes and Maddie Loder were on a watch list below our top 50. Yokie Lee, Morgan Hill, Emma Grothaus, Heaven Hamling and Krystal Carlson were nowhere among the 63 players we listed at that time.
Think about that! 2 of our top 10 today, at the end of the 2018’s high school careers, were in our top 10 5 years ago. Just 2! And just 2 others were among our top 63. Now, either that’s a bad, bad list or things change a lot in 5 years. Maybe both. That was, after all, the very 1st year of Northstar Girls Hoops. I think we’ve learned a lot, which is another way of saying that we had a lot to learn. But, I also think that one of the things we’ve learned is that, yeah, things change a lot in 5 years.
So anyway, now we’re at the end of the line for the 2018s, and mostly what we want to say is, Thanks for the memories. I got to see Sam Haiby score 46 points against White Bear Lake this last fall. I saw Carmen Backes play everywhere from the post to the point, before and after a pair of serious injuries. I got to see Megan Walstad progress from a big bundle of potential to Ms. Basketball. I got to see Yokie Lee, period. I got to see Morgan Hill go to the rim, oh, about a thousand times. I got to see Emma Grothaus and Monika Czinano, and Heaven Hamling and Megan Walker, and Krystal Carlson. In all that time, there were just 2 2018s who were ever ranked #1 in the class—Backes and Haiby.
And those, my friend, are our final top 10 among the 2018s, in order, from Haiby (#1) and Backes (#2) to Carlson (#10). Ladies—so long, and thanks for the memories!
As I mentioned, some of the elite 2018s were not on the radar in the summer of 2013 but, truth be told, all of them were on the radar soon thereafter. But, there are a lot of girls who were not on our radar for a year or two (or three) who have since commanded our attention. Some of them made big jumps only as seniors. In fact, in 5 years, I have never seen a senior class that demanded more changes in our rankings as seniors than this one. I attribute that mostly to the late bloomers, though it’s also true that a little bit of the volatility was caused by burn-out, maybe—girls moving the other way on our list.
Here are the late bloomers, mostly, who made a big leap as seniors.
- Kristi Fett, Lyle/Pacelli, 6-5, post, was #21 (Minnesota State-Mankato)
Big girls are almost always the latest of the late bloomers. When Lyle/Pacelli last played in the state tournament in 2015, 2018 point guard Brooke Walter was already pretty much the player she was for this year’s state champions. Fett, by way of contrast, was nowhere to be seen. Well, OK, she played 1 minute in the three tournament games. Since then, she’s developed a pretty good post game, though her range is pretty limited. Still, she is the reason why the Athletics are this year’s Class A state champion. You can’t coach 6-5, and she will get a well-deserved shot to play D2 ball.
- Jaclyn Jarnot, Maranatha, 6-1, wing, was #26 (North Dakota)
The energizer bunny, she just keeps on running. Sure, her big numbers (like Fett’s) are reflective to some degree of a Class A/AA schedule all these years, and it remains to be seen how her game will translate in the more physical environment of D1. But, she runs, she jumps, she shoots it—she offers a very nice combination of athleticism and skills, and reuniting at UND with her point guard sister Alaina provides the optimum opportunity for success, and probably a good bit of fun as well.
- Madi Heiderscheidt, Sleepy Eye, 5-8, point guard, was #58 (St. Ben’s)
Heiderscheidt was highly ranked as a 9th grader, then sat out 2016 with an ACL injury. She finally showed that she was all the way back with a superb senior year, culminating in 2 state tournament wins (as an unseeded entry) in which she scored 49 points, and both a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer and the game-winner in the 1st round. Top attributes: Skilled. Feisty. Not necessarily in that order.
- McKenna Monahan, Glencoe-Silver Lake, 5-9, combo guard, was #54
We probably underestimated McKenna because we loved her sister Maddie (2017, Drake) so much. But McKenna does a lot of what made Maddie so great. They are both very creative playmakers with terrific handles, great court vision and great passers. McKenna may even be a better shooter. I got to see her score her 2,000th point in a section quarter-final game.
- Mariah Alipate, Eastview, 6-0, wing, was #73 (St. Cloud State)
Alipate missed her junior year with a knee, but bounced back to be a major contributor for the state’s best team.
- Kelsey Peschel, Sauk Centre, 5-8, shooting guard, was #86 (St. Cloud State)
Not as good as her big sister, not as good as Maesyn Theisen…. And, so it took us awhile to realize that Kelsey had become a really well-rounded player. We 1st notice in last year’s state tournament, I guess, when she had a super tournament defensively. We had seen her as a shooter previously. But coach Scot Bergman got her attention these past 2 years, and convinced her that winning was more fun even than scoring. Now she’s a winner, and a deserving recipient of a shot at D2 ball.
- Cayle Hovland, Willmar, 5-11, shooting guard, was #142
Hovland is just flat-out a jock. She is Minnesota’s #1 girl discus thrower. On the basketball court, she is so fluid that you hardly notice her. She has terrific height for her skill set, a true 5-11 off-guard with good mobility and quickness. We still like her teammate, junior point guard Hannah Johnson, better, but Cayle made believers out of us with 37 points and 24 rebounds at the state tournament.
- Breanna Wendland, Richfield, 5-9, combo guard, was #173
We missed on Wendland because, well, frankly, she plays for a terrible team. But she scored about 26 ppg and was named the MVP of the Metro West conference.
- Taylor Vold, Hermantown, 6-0, small forward, was #101
May have the best perimeter skills of anybody in the state of her size. Played the now almost forgotten position of “point forward.” Her value to her team became apparent when she went down with an injury. The Hawks were 21-2 before the injury, 1-4 after.
- Hailey Paup, Concordia, 6-0, post, was #156
Proved herself to be a highly skilled post player in her 1st and only year at Concordia.
- Allison Brown, Pine City, 5-11, power forward, was #125 (St. Kate’s)
Flew below the radar until late last year, Brown became a solid, reliable, consistent producer for the Dragons.
- Brooke Filippi, East Grand Forks, 5-10, power forward, was #188
The Green Wave was much improved over the course of this season, mostly due to Filippi’s play. She finished at 16 ppg, the Green Wave at 21-6 with a late-season win over Roseau.
But, now, here are the girls who have flown really under the radar until just now. The following are appearing in our class of 2018 rankings for the 1st time.
- Courtney Gould, Alexandria, 5-11, forward
Had a great state tournament. She is a reliable scorer in the lane.
- Arica Robinson, Concordia, 6-0, shooting forward
Long and athletic, she’ll be running track at the next level.
- Courtney Carson, Eastview, 6-0, wing
Never got a lot of minutes in this loaded program but became a valuable player off the bench in this state championship season.
- Rebecca Tyler, Maple Grove, 5-11, forward
What a threesome of senior forwards—Autumn Mlinar, Katrina Theis and Tyler—and among the three, it was Tyler who got overlooked a little bit. Came up with a nice senior season, helping the Crimson to the state tournament.
- Raiyne Adams, St. Paul Como, 5-3, wing
Andrayah’s much smaller, very quick sister kind of found her role as a senior, doing a little bit of everything for the Cougars.
- Kenzie Schmiesing, Sauk Centre, 5-6, shooting guard
Well, OK, she didn’t shoot it much, she was more of the defensive specialist for the Class AA state champs.
- Brooklyn Erickson, Ada-Borup, 5-9, forward
- Mya Ibberson, Sleepy Eye, 6-0, post
- McKenzie Cselovski, Sleepy Eye, 6-0, post
Three more girls who, like Schmiesing, only really made their mark in their final 3 games, which happened to come in the state tournament. All 3 scored some very valuable points as Sleepy Eye roared to the runner-up spot and Ada to 5th place.
Once again, to these and all of the 2018s, so long, and thanks for the memories.