In Girls Class AA, O’Gorman comes in at number one, but almost the entire class could make a case for being a contender. Here’s what to watch for in this class.
Last Season: 21-0
Returning Starters: 3
- Hannah Ronsiek, Jr. 13.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG
- Isabelle Moore Sr. 12.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.2 SPG
- Raegen Reilly Sr. 5.2 RPG
O’Gorman has big hopes coming into this season. For the first time in five years, they’ll not have Emma Ronsiek to help lead them, but they do have three solid starters and several other great options to carry them. “I am very excited about this upcoming season,” said Head Coach Kent Kolsrud. “We might be a work in progress for a while but hopefully by the end in contention.” Look for Hannah Ronsiek to step up and expound on her excellent sophomore season. Izzy Moore has quietly been a star for O’Gorman, this season the Augie commit should be one of the best in the state. She can shoot outside, score in the paint, and is very active on defense.
Last Season: 12-8
Returning Starters: 4
- Sydni Schetnan Sr. 6’5 13.3 PPG, 9 RPG, 3.2 bpg
- Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda Jr. 6’2 12.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.4 APG
- Eden Hullinger Sr. 5’4 6.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.3 APG
- Brielle Biteler Sr. 5’8 5.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG
The Warriors may have the most experience in the class and have two division one talents starting with Sydni Schetnan and Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda. The lineup is solid all the way through with Eden Hullinger distributing and Brielle Biteler hitting from outside and Jaden Warner contributing all over the floor. Look for some junior Ellie Walker and sophomores to contribute as well with Taylor Thompson, Brooklyn Harpe and Hannah Harpe. Big goals and big potential for this team.
Last Season: 17-4
Returning Starters: 3
- Brecli Honner Sr. 11 PPG, 4 RPG
- Carolyn Haar Sr. 8.5 PPG, 4 RPG
- Emilee Boyer Jr. 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG
Team Outlook: The Tigers have built a very solid program and this year they should be very good again. It starts with two double-digit scorers back in the lineup in Brecli Honner and Emilee Boyer. Their leadership and experience get it started but the entire lineup is full of contributors, “We feel that our experience and leadership will help us immensely with a very difficult schedule,” said Coach Nick Mayer. Sydney Altenburg and Sydney Hybertson are potential starters with Hannah Eide and Siri Anderson in the mix as well.
Last Season: 12-9
Returning Starters: 3
- Hilary Behrens So. 6’0 12.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG
- Emma Jarovski Sr. 5’9 8.2 PPG, 2.6 RPG
- India Bradfield Sr. 5’5 5 PPG, 2.5 RPG
There isn’t a shortage of talent in Brandon this year. They have several players who are worthy of varsity minutes and a great sophomore in Hilary Behrens to build around. The Lynx go into their second year under Head Coach Mike Zerr. His toughest job might be putting together the right mix of players. “Depth is a strength of ours. We might use ten different starting lineups this year.” They will rely on returning starters Emma Jarovski and India Bradfield but look for big contributions from Kyle Foss, Kennedy Nuebel, Sidney Thue, Grace Gerken, Abby Finch, Taylor Stemen, Tessa Bowar and Emma Kirlin too.
Last Season: 20-1
Returning Starters: 4
- Bailee Sobczak
- Jayda McNabb
- Kenadi Rising
- Grace Ellis
Stevens should be playing for a title this year with so much experience and talent returning. Head Coach Michael Brooks returns on the bench as well, but star Kyah Watson’s graduation leaves a huge void in the team’s expectations. “We look to build on the momentum and success of last season,” said Brooks. He should be optimistic with Bailee Sobczak in the post and an array of guards who take care of the ball and play great defense. They not only return four starters they have Jaden Matkins and Kenya Merival who are top-level talents as well.
The Golden Eagles have four starters back including Abby Kopecky and Brooklyn Kusler leading the way. “Teams that have a deep bench will have an advantage because all of us will play without key players during the season. I like the experience that we have returning but that's no good unless we can stay healthy and that's been an issue the past two seasons,” said Coach Dawn Seiler.
Last season the Lady Pats juggled 10 seniors on the roster, this season most of their scoring will come from underclassmen. Jaydyn Fikse is the only returning starter, but Matt Daly has a lot of good players to rotate. They’ll miss the shot-making from Morgan Hanson and Emma Osmundson but there’s a new crop of players ready to make an impact. Don’t be surprised to see Lincoln in the rankings this year.
The Kernels surprised many by finishing 9-11 last year. This season they return most of their scoring and four starters. Macy Kempf is a double-double machine and with fellow seniors Adaya Plastow, Camryn Krogman and Avia Haley the Kernels could surprise some people. Head Coach Cole Knippling knows It’s a process though, “I think the start of the year will be all about growing as a team. As the year progresses, I think we could develop into a team that can be versatile in the lineups we put on the floor and the way we bring pressure as a defense.”
Last season Roosevelt started mostly seniors, but they have some players who gained valuable experience who are coming back. Roosevelt has a lot of great guards including Kaela Martinez (8.1 PPG). She is a natural baller and could take a step up and become one of the top playmakers in the state. Cierra Watkins (3.2 RPG) is a game-changer and brings a lot of energy and athleticism as the point guard. Taliyahh Hayes is a defensive stopper who’s versatile. Second-year Coach Dakota Barrie likes the mix in the gym this winter, “We lost a great group of senior leaders on and off the floor from last year. We will need some younger girls to step up and fill their shoes for this year but I'm confident that we have the girls to do that. A lot of our guards are very quick and aggressive so we will try to play to those strengths for this year.”
Four starters return to the court but replacing Havyn Heinz’s production in the scoring department will be job one. Bella Shreeve and Tenley Buddenhagen both averaged double figures last year and Heavan Gainey can get on a roll. “We be undersized, so we are looking to push the ball and spread the court,” said Coach Tim Buddenhagen. “We won’t be very tall so we will need to be gritty on defense, we should have much better depth this year.”
The Bobcats are much better suited to compete this season under Head Coach Mitch McLagan. “We let too many games get away from us last year,” said McLagan. “This team will be much more hard-nosed and primed to compete in every game we play.” Look for the Bobcats to be able to score with Ainsley Shelsta and Landree Wilson. Allie Clark will assume a big role as the point guard, she ended up being one of their most valuable players toward the end of last season.
Pat McClemans takes over as the head coach in Watertown, “With a new head coach obviously there will be several adjustments for everyone. We hope to improve throughout the year and be competitive.” They bring back two starters in Maggie Heesch and Abby Bramer. Look for them to rotate several newcomers into the lineup as they evolve this year. Oliva Corey, Jaida Young, Madyson Rhode, Kendall Paulson and Macee Osthus are among those who could earn more playing time.
Kirk Beebout takes over as the girls basketball coach in Pierre. They return three starters from a 7-win team. Caytee Williams is a very athletic player who many think is one of the top players in the state. Kenzie Gronlund and Remington Price also return to the lineup. Beebout likes the team’s makeup, “We have several girls with experience coming back and they already have a defensive mindset and understanding. It will take some time to find cohesion with everything but there are pieces that could fit well together when it's all said and done.”
Head Coach Jordan Proefrock is ready to see what this team can do, “We know that overall, our program's goal is to get better as the season progresses at every level. The AA level, in general, is hard to compete with, but we want to be playing our most competitive basketball at the end of the season.” They have Tatum Ligtenberg and Kaylee Whatley back in the starting lineup. Both started as sophomores last year.
Last season the Gazelles went 15-6 with five seniors starting. This year Trey Krier knows it will be time to build on that success, “This is a great opportunity for a bunch of kids who played a very important role for our team last year on their way to a state tournament berth. This is the time to build on that success and keep it moving in the right direction.” They’ll look to Ellie Karolevitz who was recovering from an ACL injury and Jordynn Salvatori to step up.
Top AA Stars
Other Class AA Players to Watch
- Brecli Honner, Harrisburg
- Brooklyn Kusler, Aberdeen Central
- Macy Kempf, Mitchell
- Bailee Sobczak, RC Stevens
- Jayda McNabb, RC Stevens
- Emily Boyer, Harrisburg
- Jaydyn Fikse, SF Lincoln
- Abby Kopecky, Aberdeen Central