The West Central Tribune's 2012 All-Area Girls Basketball First Team has some solid size and experience up front, but the rest of the team is an indication that players are developing at younger ages.
Perhaps the area's best player this year, New London-Spicer's Taylor Thunstedt, is a sophomore who already has surpassed 1,000 points and was an All-Area first-teamer last year as a freshman.
Sophomore Carly Sigurdson was the best
player on a BOLD team that won the West Central South Conference championship this year.
And Litchfield made a strong push toward a state tournament berth led by junior guard Greta Walsh.
That doesn't mean the kids completely rule the roost: Hancock senior Kendra Schmidgall and MACCRAY senior Teagan Molden both are repeat All-Area picks, and both joined some exclusive company.
Since the Tribune began compiling career statistics, just four players completed their prep careers having surpassed 1,000 points in basketball and 1,000 kills in volleyball: Kristina Ervin, of MACCRAY, in 1993; Sue Semmler, of NLS, is 1994; Chari Norgaard, of Dawson-Boyd, in 1995; and Leah Ashburn, of Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart in 2006.
Both Schmidgall and Molden accomplished the feat.
Schmidgall ended her Owls basketball career with 1,502 career points and she is the Pheasant Conference MVP, all-state and academic all-state.
Molden, who accepted a scholarship to play basketball at the University of Sioux Falls this coming fall, helped lead the Wolverines to a 65-17 record in her three years as a starter. She's a two-time Camden North Conference MVP and finished her career with 1,129 points.
Thundstedt, who suffered a shoulder injury this year, should easily surpass 2,000 career points if her health holds, needing just two full-time seasons to breeze past 1,000 points. She averaged 25.5 points, 5 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 4.4 steals this season, leading a very young NLS team to 19 wins and a spot in a sub-section title game.
Sigurdson had a similar impact on her team, leading the Warriors to their first conference championship. She averaged 16.5 points but more importantly displayed the confidence usually exhibited by older, more experienced players.
Walsh, too, has no qualms about taking charge. She averaged 17 points per game and showed equal ability shooting 3-point shots and taking the ball to the rim.
This year, the three teams feature two other players joining Thunstedt, Schmidgall and Molden as repeat selections. Benson's Emma Peterson and Yellow Medicine East's Angie Scheffler both were on the 2011 team.
Taylor Thunstedt, NLS -- Averaged 25.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 4.4 steals. Surpassed 1,000 points this season as a sophomore. Hit 119 3-pointers. West Central North Conference MVP. Named to the Tribune's All-Area first team for a second straight year.
Teagan Molden, MACCRAY -- Averaged 16.5 points for a 23-5 team that advanced to sub-section finals. Averaged 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Her 463 points set school's single-season scoring record. Finished career with 1,129 points. Able to handle the ball well for her size. Camden North Conference MVP two straight years and was all-conference three years. Team had 65-17 record in her three years as a starter. Will attend University of Sioux Falls on basketball scholarship next year.
Kendra Schmidgall, Hancock -- Scored 526 points this season (20.23 average). Shot 50 percent on 2's (160/320) and 34 percent on 3's (43/128) and 75.5 percent on free throws (77/102). Pulled down 190 rebounds, had 75 assists, 81 steals and 87 blocked shots. Pheasant Conference MVP, all-state, and academic all-state. Ended career with 1,502 career points.
Carly Sigurdson, BOLD -- Averaged 16.5 points per game for the West Central South Conference champions. Also averaged 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.2 steals. Named to the WCS All-Conference team and named team co-MVP.
Greta Walsh, Litchfield -- Led the Dragons to the Section 6AA championship game. Averaged 17 points and 2.9 assists per game. Shot 40 percent from the 3-point line but is equally adept at taking the ball to the basket. But perhaps her best performances come on the defensive end.
Sydney Larson, ACGC -- A key player, one that Falcons head coach Adam Schumacher said "was the most athletic person on the floor almost every night." Larson averaged 13 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, and she upped her numbers to 24 points and 10 rebounds per game in the Falcons' playoff run.
Abbey Thissen, MACCRAY -- Ended her career leading the Camden Conference in rebounding the last two years, and will head to Southwest Minnesota State University on a volleyball scholarship with 904 points and 839 rebounds in her career. A three-year starter for the Wolverines, and the team was 65-17 during that time. This year, Thissen averaged 12 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 1 block per game.
Jessica Kalenberg, BLHS -- Instrumental in leading BLHS to an 18-8 record and runner-up finish in sub-sections. Averaged 19 points, 5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and almost 5 steals per game. Set single-season school records for assists (163), steals (123), free throws and attempts (154 of 224). She also leaves for college as BLHS' all-time assists leader.
Jessica De Groot, CMCS -- Led CMCS in scoring the last three years, averaging about 15 points per game. Finished her career as the school's leader in 3-point shots with 183 and is 7th among career scorers with 862, and made 72 percent of her free throws. Ended career as a three-time All-Camden North Conference performer.
Emma Peterson, Benson -- One of the area's top scorers this season, averaging 21.4 points per game. Also averaged 7.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.6 steals. Surpassed 1,000 career points and netted a season-high 38 points in a game. Scored 25-or-more points in 12 of 25 games this season. "Emma is a player every coach desires to have and hates to play against," said Braves head coach Chelsea Stiel.
Courtney Kramer, BLHS -- At 5-foot-8, made the adjustment from post player to forward this year because of the Mustangs' roster needs. Averaged 12 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game to help lead BLHS to an 18-8 record and a spot in the sub-section final. "She was an excellent jump shooter who forced teams to decide how to guard us each night," said head coach Josh Tjosaas.
Shelbie Walsh, Litchfield -- Averaged 9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.8 steals for a Dragons team that reached the section finals this season. Led the team in assists and steals and was team's second-leading rebounder. Sacrificed some scoring opportunities this season to create opportunities for teammates, and played "ball hawking" defense, said head coach Bill Huhner.
Amanda Radel, NLS -- A talented ball-handler and shooter who, with Taylor Thunstedt, gave the Wildcats one of the area's top backcourts. Averaged 12.3 points and 6.3 assists per game. She also averaged about 2 steals and 2 rebounds per game. Made 83 3-pointers and was named to the West Central North's all-conference team.
Andrea Schlangen, Paynesville -- A team captain who helped lead the Bulldogs to just their seventh winning season in school history. Averaged almost 12 points per game, 4.5 rebounds, almost 4 assists and 3.1 steals per game. Set single-season school records with 57 3-pointers, steals (92), and heads to Wisconsin-River Falls to play basketball as Paynesville's career leader in 3-pointers (114) and steals (312).
Angie Scheffler, YME -- A three-year starter for a team that reached the sub-section finals two straight years and the section final in 2010-11. Averaged almost 14.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.5 steals this season. One of the Sting's top defenders, Scheffler also surpassed 1,000 career points near the end of this season, finishing with 1,003.