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Girls will field experienced team

COVID-19 has delayed the beginning of this year’s season, but team is ready to play ball

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Jan 17, 2021

Though COVID-19 delayed the start of their season, the BEA girls are ready to start the 2021 season. Pictured in the front row, left to right: Clara Ziegler, Olivia Dutton, Kate Armon, Téa Armstrong, Chloe Groe, Ashlyn Klinkner, Leah Becker. Back row: McKenna Dutton, Sophie Keister, Maddie Schiltz, Lauren Schavey, Aubrey Hueper, Cali Beyer, Arika Howard, Eloise Blair.

The Blue Earth Area Buccaneers girls basketball team is finally gearing up for another season after enduring a delay to the start of competition caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think they were anxious to get back on the court,” BEA head coach Al Cue says. “Now they are working hard in preparation for their first game.”

The Bucs lost two players from last year’s squad to graduation.

“We will miss the defense Kaitlyn Johnson provided,” Cue comments. “She could guard any position and do it well.”

The other player who graduated in 2020 was Kierra Osmundson.

“She was a good all-round player,” Cue notes. “She could play some defense and score some points.”

The plan is to dress nine players for the varsity squad, according to Cue.

“We have five seniors on the team. Téa Armstrong and Arika Howard are the most experienced and have played a lot of basketball over the years,” Cue comments. “We also have McKenna Dutton and Lauren Schavey returning from last year and Cali Beyer, who is back out after missing last year.”

Maddie Schiltz is the only junior on the team. Rounding out the squad are sophomores Eloise Blair, Sophie Keister and freshman Kate Armon.

“Eloise got a great deal of playing time last year,” Cue says. “I expect most of these girls will get quite a bit of time on the court.”

He says he has been pleased with his squad’s approach to the season.

“They have a great attitude and are working hard,” Cue comments. “We have great senior leadership and they set a good example for the rest of the team.”

Besides delaying the season, Cue listed the other changes caused by COVID-19.

“As of now, all players and coaches must wear masks at all times. We try and social distance and do not have small huddles,” Cue explains. “We sanitize the balls, we take breaks to wash our hands and we take attendance so we can do contact tracing should the need arise.”

Then there is the challenge of transporting the players to away games.

“We have a seating chart for the bus,” Cue says. “We are encouraging players to travel to away games with their parents if possible.”

The details are still being worked out on who will be allowed to attend the games but Cue says the players will receive at least two passes each for all games.

“The girls are handling wearing masks pretty well,” Cue says. “I am not saying they like it but if it is what they need to do to play, they will do it.”

He talks about what he sees in his team.

“I think we will be very good defending the perimeter,” the BEA girls mentor comments. “We are very quick and are working on our transition game.”

Cue says he expects all of the teams in the Big South Conference East Division to be improved.

“Fairmont has a number of girls who have gotten a great deal of playing time and St. Peter should be good,” Cue says. “Waseca may be down a little from last year but will still be tough and I expect to see an improved St. James team.”

He expects Fairmont and Waseca to be two of the top Section teams.

The coach, who says he has been active in the girls basketball program for over 30 years, had one other announcement.

“This is my swan song,” he shares. “My wife Terri is retiring from teaching after this school year so I am going to retire from coaching and we are going to spend some time traveling.”