With two seniors having graduated this past spring, the Colfax High School basketball team will rely on a young — yet highly skilled — squad to lead the way this 2017-18 season.
Ally Heidorn and Bryanna Buchanan were the only two seniors on the team last year. With this season's roster brimming with sophomores and incoming freshmen, the Vikings will look to returning all-conference juniors Alyssa Dachel and Savannah Henricks to take command of the team this season.
Both Dachel and Henricks are two-year starters who earned all-conference honors their freshman and sophomore years. Henricks comes off a strong sophomore year with 9.4 points per game (ppg) and led the Vikings in free throws, making 51 of 89 attempted for a 57 percent success rate. Dachel came away in the 2016-17 season with 6.7 ppg, making a majority of her points from beyond the 3-point line. She racked up 39 3-pointers, just behind Heidorn, who had 41.
Alongside the two junior starters will be sophomore Kameri Meredith, who as a freshman averaged 8.7 ppg and held the highest field goal percentage of players who saw minutes in every varsity game at 52 percent. She is also among an arsenal of Viking shooters who pose a threat behind the 3-point line. Meredith also received honorable mention in the Dunn-St. Croix All-Conference for the 2016-17 season.
"Kameri had a great freshman year," head coach Joe Doucette said. "She was one of the best freshmen we ever had (on the team)."
Other returning starters include junior Emma Hurlburt and sophomores Morgan Schleusner and Jayna Bowe. One key player Doucette sees playing a larger role this year is junior Rachel Scharlau, who saw some varsity minutes late last season. Scharlau saw floor time in eight games last year and sank five baskets from the field.
Sophomores Josie Steinke, Addy Olson and Abby Demoe are among a fresh batch of newcomers, of whom Doucette believes will provide a great deal of potential for the team.
"Addy Olson and Josie Steinke really worked hard on their games this summer," Doucette remarked. "Both improved a ton and will help varsity this year."
Though the Vikings may have a young team overall, they yield a great deal of chemistry together, as many of the girls also have played together on the volleyball team in the fall and softball in the spring.
Meredith, Scharlau, Henricks and Dachel were all primary players on the volleyball team, which just wrapped up their 2017 season with the DSC Conference title and a regional title.
The Vikings finished up last year's basketball season third in the DSC (15-10, 9-5) and won the regional championship before falling 47-45 to Durand in the sectional semi-final.
This group of girls clearly have the chemistry to go even further this year. However, Doucette said they will need to improve on more consistent shooting, especially with free throws, if they want to delve deeper into the postseason this time around.
Doucette enters his 28th year coaching the Colfax girls' basketball team and his 31st year coaching overall.
The Vikings kicked the season off Tuesday with a home court match-up against Saint Croix Central, which the Vikings won 49-35. They found themselves on the other end of the stick Thursday when they traveled to Hayward and were beat handily 58-21. (See our story on both games on page B2.)
Juniors: Alyssa Dachel, Savannah Henricks, Emma Hurlburt, Rachel Knutson
Sophomores: Jayna Bowe, Abby Demoe, Kameri Meredith, Addy Olson, Rachel Scharlau, Morgan Schleusner, Josie Steinke, Saville Wilson
Freshmen: Bailey Bradford, Marissa Harmon, Abby Irwin, Addisyn Olson, Ryleigh Parker, Jasmine Paulus