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Posted On: 01/27/19 7:59 PM
It’s our stated purpose at Prep Girls Hoops to identify, profile and rank girls basketball prospects, i.e., future collegiate players. Sometimes, though, we need to pay attention at those who have gone before to get a more complete picture of what this process is all about. Today is one of those times as we look back at the Week That Was #10 and some incredible collegiate performances by three highly accomplished Minnesota graduates: Kristin Scott of Kasson-Mantorville, Taylor Koenen of Shakopee and Danielle Gitzen of Chanhassen.
Kristin Scott, sophomore post, Iowa State – Scott had a dream outing on Saturday in a win at Oklahoma State. The 6’2 post, who was the #2 player in the PGH Class of 2017 behind her ISU teammate Rae Johnson of St. Michael-Albertville, was basically perfect. Scott made 11 of 11 field goal attempts, including 7 of 7 from three-point range. She also cashed in on both free throw attempts for 31 total points. No Power 5 conference player – not Breanna Stewart or Maya Moore or Aja Wilson or anyone else – has scored more than 30 without missing a shot in the last 20 years. She also collected 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the year. Scott, who played for the Minnesota Fury, is second on the team in scoring and rebounds, and is shooting 69% from the field and 49% from three.
Taylor Koenen, junior guard, North Carolina – Koenen is having an outstanding career with the Tar Heels, on and off the court. On Sunday the 6’2 Koenen played 38 minutes as Carolina stunned #1 Notre Dame. Also a Fury alum, Koenen had game highs for rebounds (7) and steals (3). Taylor has started every game for North Carolina this season, and is averaging 35 minutes, 10 points and 7 rebounds per game. She also has 57 assists and 30 steals, and was the #1 player in the Prep Girls Hoops Class of 2016.
Danielle Gitzen, senior guard, Missouri State – Gitzen has also had an outstanding D1 career with the Lady Bears. She has always been a workhorse, and one of the most complete players we have seen in Minnesota. The 5’10 Gitzen, who became a starter for MSU as a sophomore, was named the Missouri Valley Conference player of the week for the first time. Gitzen was #7 in the class of 2015, which produced such outstanding collegiate players as #1 Madison Guebert of Eastview (South Dakota State), #2 TT Starks of Hopkins (Arizona) and #4 Alex Wittinger of Delano (Illinois).
Kenisha Bell, senior guard, Minnesota – This week Bell was honored at Bloomington Kennedy where she graduated in 2014. The Gophers’ captain returned to the Eagles home court to have a banner raised in recognition of her outstanding high school career. Kenisha was Big East Freshman of the Year at Marquette before moving back home to Minneapolis. She was the #3 player in the 2014 class and played AAU ball for North Tartan.
Meanwhile back in high school these things happened last week…
Senior Tori Nelson of Henry Sibley, who is headed for South Dakota State in the fall, collected the 1,000th rebound of her high school career last week in a road win at Mahtomedi. Nelson is #10 in the Class of 2019.
Sara Scalia is the #2 player in the senior class. The Minnesota commit passed the 2,000-point mark in win over Woodbury last week. Sara wasn’t the only one to do it as Olivia Lane of Pequot Lakes also reached 2,000 Jan. 18 against Esko. Her fellow senior, Mariah McKeever of Ada-Borup, reached 1,500 career points. Junior Lily Wilson of Pine City also reached the 1,500-point plateau over the weekend while her teammate, sophomore Ellie Hasz, hit 1,000. Other players passing the 1,000-point mark this week include:
St. Anthony junior Sam Sibbett had a career-high 32 points against Concordia Academy. The game featured an encounter between two high-skill, low-profile point guards as sophomore Ivane Tensaie of the Beacons had 23. Sibbett is ranked #30 in the Class of 2020; Tensaie is #23 in 2021.
Sophomore Audrey Martinez-Stewart of Cretin-Derham Hall had a moment to remember Tuesday night as she nailed a corner three at the buzzer to give 9-9 Cretin a one-point win over their rivals from Roseville (16-3). Martinez-Stewart is a speedy little guard who began her high school career in 7th grade at St. Paul Highland Park before moving to CDH as a freshman. She is #56 in 2021.
Lauren Jensen (36) and Sarah Kuma (26) combined for 62 points on Friday to lead Lakeville North to victory over their in-town rivals from Lakeville South. That was a career high for Kuma. Meanwhile, up the road in Brooklyn Park, Adalia McKenzie (37) and T’Naye Griffin (25) also pooled their resources for a 62-point night as 15-2 Park Center knocked off Osseo. It was the 7th time this season that McKenzie, the #1 sophomore in the state, has topped 30 in a game.
Junior forward NJ Weems scored 32 for DeLaSalle in a win over Fridley as the Islanders’ surge continues. Meanwhile, 6’1 sophomore Mya Seuss had a big night for Kasson-Mantorville in a win over Triton with 17 points, 25 rebounds and 7 blocks. Her fellow sophomore Avery Irish added 16 and 10.
IT’S A TEAM GAME
With the maturation of its three core sophomores, it was reasonable to project that Becker would be better in 2018-19. After watching them in fall league, however, I can’t say I expected the Bulldogs to be 16-2 in late January. Becker is undefeated in the Granite Ridge Conference. Since losing to Willmar on opening night, the team’s only defeat is a one-point loss to Cambridge-Isanti. As mentioned above, sophomore shooting guard Julia Bengtson has already reached the 1,000-point milestone, and her 19.4 points per game on 46% shooting is a big reason why Becker is playing so well. You can also credit the development of her Minnesota Comets’ teammates Courtney Nuest and Megan Gamble. The wildcard, however, has been the emergence of freshman guard Adeline Kent, who plays summer ball for Marqus McGlothan’s DTA Academy. She’s averaging 17.7 ppg on 48-percent shooting, and has a 38-point game on her resume. After a planned trip to Becker had to be scuttled last week, I expect to see them Feb. 9 at the Breakdown Winter Lakes Classic in Alexandria.
On Tuesday Minnehaha Academy came from 18 down to beat a hot-shooting Providence Academy team by one. That was the only time the Redhawks led in the game. After beating Mounds Park Academy on Friday Minnehaha is 14-5 with 11 straight victories.
Willmar is another team on a roll. Their last loss was to Minnehaha, and that was on the day after Christmas. Since then, the 14-2 Cardinals have won nine games in a row, including a pair over previously undefeated Alexandria. Willmar played in the state tournament last year and it’s starting to look like they might have a shot to get there again.
One of the most surprising results of the week was Simley’s 51-39 win at Hill-Murray. The Pioneers have been terrific all season while the Spartans were up and down in the early going. Freshman post Champ Danso had 16 points and 8 rebounds against H-M, helping Simley (now 14-4) to its 8th win in its last 9 games. The Spartans’ only loss this month was to Eastview.
This past week we chronicled the return of sophomore forward Nora Francois to the DeLaSalle lineup and just how much it means to the Islanders. This week sophomore Ella Hronski returned to action at Mahtomedi following knee surgery. After easing her way back into action, Ella put up 19 points on Friday while tying the school record for threes in a game with five. The Zephyrs, now 5-12, desperately need Ella’s help. Mahtomedi is led in scoring by junior Julia Salmen at 15 point per game. She is on the comeback trail, too, having suffered through a pair of torn ACLs in the past couple of years.
Meanwhile senior guard Ashley Gustavson of Mankato West has had her career cut short, also thanks to a torn ACL. It happened Jan. 5 against Mankato East, just one game after Gustavson scored her 1,000th career point. The Wayne State commit will be sorely missed by the Scarlets.
Promising freshman Sadie Voss is also done for the year at Jackson County Central. She suffered a high ankle sprain with some ligament damage Tuesday in a loss to Marshall and will be out at least 3-4 weeks. That will be too late for JCC, which is currently 5-12. Watch for Voss in the updated Prep Girls Hoops player rankings coming soon.
WHAT’S AHEAD THIS WEEK
This week I saw six more teams for the first time since fall league: Chanhassen, Mounds Park Academy, St. Paul Johnson, Apple Valley, Spring Lake Park and Hutchinson. After taking the weekend off to work on player rankings, that brings my season total to 119 teams seen since the season opened.
This week’s highlight games include Roseville at Stillwater on Tuesday, along with 18-0 Wayzata at 18-0 Hopkins on Friday. In between we’ll see Concordia Academy for the first time this season when they face DeLaSalle on Wednesday. Thursday I plan to take in Edina at Shakopee. Saturday is the Breakdown Community Clash at St. Michael-Albertville where we’ll see Jordan, Rockford, Monticello, Coon Rapids and New Prague for the first time. There are also five games involving Minnesota teams scheduled for Saturday at the Fargo (ND) Civic Center.