Girls tip-off season on Tuesday
Al Cue uses the word ‘competitive’ often when talking about this year’s Blue Earth Area girls basketball team.
A word the Bucs head coach doesn’t use is ‘rebuilding.’ That is despite the fact he lost all five of his starters from last season’s team to graduation.
The Bucs have 30 girls in grades 9-12 out for basketball this year.
“We have one senior, eight juniors, nine sophomores and 12 freshmen,” Cue says.
Jackie Klinkner is the lone senior, and she is the only player who started a couple games on varsity last year.
“The juniors are ready to be the starters, they are ready to be the varsity,” Cue says. “It is just a matter of them raising their level of play. They have been winners all through their basketball careers, from sixth grade through B-squad.”
Despite the loss of players such as Hayley Darrington and Meagan Grandgenett from last year, Cue says there is a lot of talent on the current team.
“The cupboard is definitely not bare,” he says. “These girls have a lot of ability.”
Cue points to the fact that the team played in an area scrimmage after one week of practice, and was competitive with everyone they faced.
The coach is more concerned with injuries than anything else. There are four players on the team who have faced knee surgery, and three players are on the injured list as the season begins.
“Our depth is shaky, mainly due to injuries,” he says. Sydney Ristau and Mara Johnson are playing but nursing their injuries. Meghan Mittelstadt and Ashley Olson are also not at full speed.
Coach Cue says Fairmont is the pre-season favorite in the conference.
“They were loaded last year, and have everybody back,” he says. “It will be hard for us to match up with them, but we do think we will be able to play with them.”
Waseca will also be tough, the coach says. The section has a lot of talented teams, including Maple River, Blooming Prairie, New Richland and Hayfield.
The Bucs open their season on Tuesday in a game against Granada-Huntley-East Chain.
“We faced them in the first game last year, and lost to them,” Cue recalls. “It was one of our three losses.”
GHEC is well coached, Cue says, and has two players over 6 foot tall. The Bucs coach says it will be a good test for his team.
“We need to be strong on defense,” he says. “We won’t be a high-scoring team. We will be patient on offense, and that will keep the games low scoring.”
The Bucs have Terry Barnes as the B-squad coach, and Chris Detert as coach of the C-squad. Todd Schmidtke coaches eighth grade, and T.J. Schmidtke seventh grade.
“The varsity girls have been working hard in practice and have a really good attitude,” Coach Cue says. “We won’t win 24 games like last year, but we are going to be competitive in every game we play.”