The Menomonie girls’ basketball team will have to bring everything they’ve got if they want to compete in a harrowing Big Rivers Conference.
Head coach Storm Harmon is well aware of the bumpy road ahead and plans to prepare his team for what will certainly be a challenging journey to a conference title this 2017-18 season.
Last year, the Mustangs dug hard for their shot in the sectionals, clinching a regional championship with a one-point victory (56-55) over Holmen. They went on to defeat Onalaska 59-53 in the sectional semi-final before meeting with Hortonville in the sectional final, where their season rounded to a close with a 74-44 loss.
Menomonie wrapped up the 2016-17 season with an 18-8 overall record and finished fourth in the BRC at 6-6. The conference title was shared by the three teams that finished ahead of Menomonie — Eau Claire North, Chippewa Falls and Hudson, all of which finished with 9-3 records.
Harmon begins his third year as head coach for the Mustangs and noted that this year’s team will be vastly different than last year’s team.
“We have a new personality this year,” Harmon said. “We have to find out where each of us fits into our role to make the team the best we can.”
Certain roles may already be established with returning starters senior Tyra Boettcher and juniors Kylie Mogen and Lindsey Johnson. Boettcher and Mogen were both first team all-conference selections last season and led the team in scoring, averaging 13 points per game (ppg). Both girls were big presences on the defensive end as well, with Mogen averaging six rebounds per game (rpg) and Boettcher averaging four.
Also returning to this team this year — many of whom saw their fair share of varsity minutes last season — are seniors Annie Behrend, Madison Davis, Elle Hemauer, Sarah Stainer and juniors Destiny Haldeman and Lexi Hastings.
Harmon calls Davis and Hemauer the ‘worker bees’ of the team, as they have been a strong presence on the team over the course of the last two years. He sees them as two players who will turn heads this season.
New faces that can be seen on the floor this season are juniors Jordyn Hagman, Clair Schoenburger and sophomores Olivia Steinmetz and Emily Schwartz.
Harmon is confident in the group he has this season and aims to make the most out of each day they have together.
“Our girls are pretty athletic and like to get up and down,” he said of the group. “We know our success will be based on how well we play through each other and do what we can to help the team.”
The Mustangs will be without the assistance of Mikayla Stai, Gabby Johnson, Lindsey Johnson and Erin Schmidt, who graduated in the spring and were key contributors to last year’s team. Stai had earned honorable mention for the 2016-17 season, averaging nine points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Coach Harmon will be assisted by coaches Scott Harmon, Mackenzie Stutzman and Kayla Hostetter.
Menomonie traveled to Tomah Friday for their season-opener where they fell 60-38. Boettcher led in scoring with 19 points while Mogen followed with nine and Johnson with four. They hosted La Crosse Central Tuesday before their first conference matchup at Eau Claire Memorial on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
Sophomores: Olivia Steinmetz, Emily Schwartz
Juniors: Jordyn Hagman, Destiny Haldeman, Lexi Hastings, Lindsey Johnson, Maddie McLeod, Kylie Mogen, Clair Schoenberger,
Seniors: Annie Behrend, Tyra Boettcher, Madison Davis, Elle Hemauer, Sarah Stainer