Experienced Bucs expect to compete
Last year the Blue Earth Area Buccaneer girls basketball team had one senior on the roster – Jackie Klinkner.
This year Buc Head Coach Al Cue has nine seniors on the squad, a group that led BEA to their first-ever girls State Tournament appearance.
“We got a little lucky last year,” Coach Cue admits. “We got some girls healthy at the end of the season and we were able to step up our play.”
This year the team is starting out the year at full strength. Last year they had four injured even before the season began.
“We have everyone here, no injuries,” Cue says. “We should be very good right from the start.”
The Bucs have four of their five starters back from last year. They include junior Ashley Olson and seniors Morgan Dickman, Kate Hassing and Hayley Pirsig.
In addition, senior Alicia Rorman started about half of the games last year and will see a lot of playing time this season as well. Another senior, Olivia Skaare gave the team some great minutes off the bench last year, and is expected to do so again this season, Cue notes.
The team will also have senior Meghan Mittelstadt available.
“Meghan missed a lot of the season last year due to an injury,” Cue says. “But she got healthy at the end and helped us out a lot.”
Other seniors are Kari Darrington, Mary Johnson and Mary Warmka.
“There is no shortage of hard work in these girls,” the Bucs coach says. “They are all willing to put in the hard work necessary to have a great season.”
Coach Cue was not doing a lot of season predictions, despite having a strong senior-led squad.
“We are going to have a good team,” he says. “But I don’t know how to read the season, because other teams in our area are also going to be good this year.”
The Bucs open up at Granada-Huntley-East Chain, an excellent team,Cue says.
“We have had our first game against them for years,” Cue explains. “We have lost to them the last two years, and they have four starters back, just like we do.”
The Bucs will get a great sense of how their year will go as they follow the season opener with four games in seven days, including games against Le Sueur-Henderson on Dec. 4, Kasson-Mantorville on Dec. 5, Waseca on Dec. 8 and NRHEG on Dec. 11.
“We are going to play exciting basketball,” the Bucs mentor says. “We will put out a great effort in every game. Hopefully we can shoot the ball better than a year ago. But our defense will be solid again.”
Cue notes that many of the conference teams have a lot of people back, but he expects BEA to be as good as any team around.
“Of course, Fairmont, Waseca and St. Peter will also all be good,” he says with a smile.
In the Sub-Section, Cue expects NRHEG, Hayfield and Maple River to be the teams to beat.
St. Peter and Le Sueur-Henderson are in the Section, which has changed from an east-west look, to more of a north-south arrangement.
The BEA team has 30 girls out in grades 9-12, Cue says. Terry Barnes will again coach B-squad, and Chris Detert the C-squad.
The C-squad will not see as much action as in past years. A lot of teams don’t have enough players to field a C-team, Cue notes.
“New Ulm only has 20 girls total out,” the coach says. “Jackson only has 16 out in high school. They will not have C-teams, and neither will USC or Maple River.”
As far as the varsity goes, Cue says having such an experienced team is great.
“Our intensity at practice has been very good – a huge factor,” he says. “We have been operating at game speed since our first couple days of practice. That is a direct result of the leadership of our seniors.”
With a little luck and the team able to stay healthy, Coach Cue is optimistic it will be a successful season.
“Our fans should see some great games,” he says, and adds, “I am blessed to be able to go out and coach these girls – they are some of the best kids we have in the school.”