By Tom Larson
or one more year, fans of girls high school basketball have a chance to see arguably the best area player to grace the court.
New London-Spicer junior guard Taylor Thunstedt leads this year’s Tribune All-Area Team, the third time she’s ranked as a first-teamer. And with good reason.
Thunstedt led the Wildcats to a 24-5 record and to within one victory of a spot in the Minnesota state tournament. She averaged 27.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.4 steals and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Her 1,969 points are a school career record and, barring injury, she should become the Tribune-area’s all-time leading scorer sometime around midseason of her senior year. She also had 312 career 3-pointers, just 26 shy of the Wildcats’ career mark.
“We’ve had some really good players come through our school and she’s at the highest level,” said Wildcats head coach Mike Dreier. “She’s an elite player and was the focal point of everything we did this year.”
The Tribune this season changed its All-Area format, selection a five-player first team and acknowledging the talents and contributions of the remaining nominees as honorable mentions.
Thunstedt is one of three repeat first-teamers on this year’s All-Area Team,
Also back are BOLD’s Carly Sigurdson and Litchfield’s Greta Walsh.
Sigurdson led the Warriors to a 26-4 record, a West Central South Conference title – and a victory over state tournament-bound Sauk Centre in the WCC interconference game — and she helped the program earn its first state tournament berth with a victory in the Section 3AA championship game.
Sigurdson, a junior guard, averaged 21.2 points, 3.8 assists, 3.8 steals and 3.3 rebounds per game. She was named the WC South’s Most Valuable Player and a third all-conference selection.
Sigurdson scored 637 points this season – a school single-season record — and her 1,368 career points also are a school record. Her scoring average is a single-season record and the 11 free throws and five 3-pointers she made in games this season are school marks, as well.
“Carly is an elite scorer,” said BOLD head coach Brian Kingery. “She has the ability to take over a game and put up a lot of points. She runs the floor extremely well and can finish. Carly, statistically, had the greatest season ever by a BOLD girls basketball player.”
Walsh’s Litchfield team fell off a bit from a year ago, when she led the Dragons to 20 wins and came a game short of a state tournament spot.
The Dragons were 15-13 this year but won two playoff games before falling to NLS in a Section 6AA South final.
The senior guard averaged 19.3 points, 4 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.1 assists per game this season. She almost certainly will earn her third All-Wright County Conference selection.
Walsh is Litchfield’s career scoring leader with 1,459 and she’s been the team’s top scorer three straight years and she’s able to shoot from the perimeter as well as drive the lane.
“With her tremendous body control and athletic ability, she has produced many incredible baskets in the lane around taller players,” said Litchfield head coach Bill Huhner. “Her tremendous offensive skills have helped the Dragons win many games over her four-year career.”
The only two juniors on last year’s All-Area second and third teams rise up to the first team this year.
ACGC’s Sydney Larson has been one of the area’s premier all-around players the last three years.
The senior forward averaged 19.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game for the Falcons. She earned her third all-conference selection and is one of only 10 Class A players invited to play in the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game.
Larson finished her career with 1,161 points and is the program’s record holder in five categories.
“Sydney was one of the best players to ever put on the ACGC jersey, and one of the best players in the West Central Conference the past two years,” said Falcons head coach Adam Schumacher. “She was an athlete asked to do a little of everything for the team this year. She played all five positions, offensively and defensively, with is a compliment to her athletic ability.”
Like Larson, Benson senior guard Emma Peterson has been one of the West Central Conference’s toughest competitors the last three years.
Peterson averaged 20.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.8 steals, 2.7 assists and 1.1 blocks per game from her guard position. She scored 509 points this season, ending her career with a Braves’ school record of 1,589.
Peterson was a three-time All-WCC pick, all-sub-section three times and a two-year team captain.
“Emma is a very diverse and consistent player,” said Benson head coach Chelsea Stiel. “She’s skilled at every position – note her rebounds and blocked shots for a perimeter player – and she was asked to do it all for this year’s team. Emma is a player every coach desires to have and hates to play against.”
Erica Melbie, senior guard: Averaged 14.5 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game. Melbie hit 64 3-point shots, breaking her own school record, and she made 124 3-pointers the last two years. She was named All-West Central Conference.
Baylie Kubesh, junior guard: Averaged 14.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.3 steals per game. She scored 425 points and made 42 3-point shots to earn her second All-WCC selection. She also set a school record with 4 blocked shots in a game.
Taylor Ebnet, senior guard: Averaged 10.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 4.3 steals. She scored 313 points and made 25 3-point shots. An All-WCC and Academic All-State pick, Ebnet set school records for single-season assists (144), steals (127) and blocks (28), and single-game 3-pointers (5).
Hannah VanderVoort, junior guard: VanderVoort averaged 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 1.7 assists. She scored 234 points, had 100 rebounds, 38 assists and 59 steals in her second year as a varsity regular for the Mustangs.
Michelle Melsha, junior post: Melsha averaged a team-leading 11.4 points and 12.2 rebounds, scoring 250 points. She grabbed 268 rebounds, including 121 on the offensive boards, which is more than 45 percent of her total.
Central Minnesota Christian School
Jaclyn Swart, senior guard: Swart averaged 9 points per game for the Bluejays and she hit 44 percent from 3-point range, finishing her senior season with 56 3-pointers. A solid defensive player, Swart also totaled 67 steals.
Lexi Scott, sophomore post: Scott averaged 10 points and 8 rebounds per game and she had 30 blocked shots and 55 steals. Her 59 assists ranked second on the team and she shot 49 percent from the field.
Karisa Wubben, sophomore guard: Wubben led the Bluejays averaging 10.1 points per game and she led the team with 70 assists, 70 steals and she shot 64 percent from the foul line on 70 attempts. Her 77 rebounds ranked third on the team.
Justine Lee, sophomore guard: Justine averaged 14.6 points, 5.3 steals, 4.5 rebounds and 7 assists per game for the Blackjacks. She shot 47 percent from the field and almost 70 percent at the foul line. Justine is this year’s Camden North Conference MVP and is a two-time all-conference selection.
Mari Lee, senior center: Mari averaged 13.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. She shot almost 50 percent from the field and almost 70 percent at the free throw line. Mari was an All-Camden Conference selection the last two years.
Courtney Greiner, senior center: Greiner averaged 17.4 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2.4 blocked shots for the Owls. She was named the Pheasant Conference MVP this year and is a four-time all-conference pick. She finished her career with 1,107 points and 736 rebounds and plans to play at Valley City State next season.
Ali Clark, senior center: Clark averaged 13.6 points and 7.8 rebounds for the 15-8 Saints, and she also totaled 28 blocked shots, 42 steals and 10 assists while shooting 43 percent from the field. The three-time All-Camden Conference pick finished her career tantalizingly close to 1,000 points (982) despite missing a full season due to injury.
Samantha Dunn, senior guard: Dunn averaged 10.2 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3.2 steals per game while shooting 43 percent from the field. Dunn was a four-year letterwinner and 3-year starter who earned all-conference honors twice.
Bailey Koch, senior forward: Koch’s senior season was hampered by injuries but she finished the season averaging 8.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots per game. A presence in the lane, Koch also is a capable 3-point shooter.
Ashley Hoehne, junior forward: Hoehne averaged 16.2 points, 8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 63 percent from the foul line. Hoehne was an all-conference selection the last two years and her 382 points this season were fifth-most in Thunder Hawks history.
Katie Holzheimer, senior guard: Holzheimer finished the season with 295 points (a 14-point average) despite missing six games. She owns three school records, including 125 career 3-pointers and her 720 career points is fourth-best in school history. She was named all-conference and all-sub-section the last two years.
MaKenzie Smith, senior forward/guard: Smith was a versatile asset for the Tigers, moving from the inside to outside because of a teammate’s injury. Smith averaged 7.6 points, 5 rebounds, 2.2 steals and assists and 1.7 blocked shots and was an all-conference and all-sub-section the last two years.
Olivia Setterberg, junior forward: Setterberg averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds per game for the Wildcats. She was the teams’ top defender around the basket and was named All-Wright County Conference honorable mention.
Lydia Kieft, senior guard: Kieft finished her senior season averaging 6 points, 6 rebounds and almost 3 steals per game. She was named all-conference and Kieft was the team’s top perimeter defensive player.
Erika Schlangen, senior guard: Schlangen averaged 10 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Schlangen played varsity for five years and was a four-year starter. She finished her career with 570 points and 205 assists.
Brooke Wuertz, senior guard: Wuertz averaged 12 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while hitting 47 3-point shots and shooting 78 percent on foul shots. Finished career with 718 points as a four-varsity player and three-year starter.
Kayla Schaefer, sophomore forward/guard: Schaefer averaged 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.6 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. She shot 74 percent from the free throw line. Schaefer has 634 career points with two seasons left to play and she totaled 35 blocks and 122 rebounds this season.
Renville County West
Sadie Treml, junior guard: Treml scored 250 points for an average of 11 per game. She finished the season with 30 assists, 112 rebounds and earned a spot on the All-Camden Conference team. Treml also was her team’s MVP this season.
Anne Dunham, senior forward: Dunham averaged 12 points, 8.5 points and 2 blocks per game which shooting 48 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range. Even as a 6-footer, Dunham is a solid inside-outside player on offense and defense.
Heather Horning, senior guard/forward: Horning averaged 9.5 points, 6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2 steals per game. Horning also hit 30 3-point shots and shot 35 percent from 3-point range. On defense, Horning often was assigned to guard an opponents’ best post player.