With schools closing their doors mere days before the team's scheduled banquet, the Pequot Lakes girls basketball team was forced to celebrate an ultimately successful season via email.

Head coach Katrina Moody sent to her athletes her thoughts on the team’s 2019-20 season, which saw the Patriots lose eight of their first nine games, but finish the regular season on a 12-5 run - where six different players were game-high scorers - and work their way to the section finals, falling to Duluth Marshall in the championship game.

“The ability for these girls to share the ball made them very difficult to scout and harder to defend,” Moody said in her email. “If the other team focused on one player, another player would step up and take the lead.

“My favorite memories of this team was the way they embraced each other’s success,” Moody said. “They knew that they couldn’t make it as far as they did alone, so they encouraged each other the whole time. Practices were fun and competitive, and our bench was involved every game.”

Freshman Maci Martini was named the team’s offensive player of the year after averaging 12 points per game and shooting 80% from the free-throw line. Junior Afton Crocker was named defensive player of the year.

Senior Rachel Voges - whom Moody described as a team spark who had a knack for speeding up the game’s tempo - was named “Miss Hustle,” while senior forward Lola Rysavy earned Most Improved honors.

Eighth-grader Lauren Schultz was named rookie of the year after finishing the season first on the team in rebounds and second in scoring, and senior Emma Benson earned the Patriot Award.

“As a team captain and senior leader, Emma was always a positive, calming role model for our team,” Moody said. “She knew what was expected to get to where we did this year and encouraged all her teammates to reach their potential.”

Martini and Crocker were both named to the All-Mid-State Conference team, while Rysavy and Schultz each earned an honorable mention.

Additionally, Voges, Benson and Cloey Traxler earned academic all-state honors, and the team as a whole finished with a GPA of 3.789.

In total, 14 Patriots earned a letter this year - seven of them for the first time.

The Patriots now part ways with four seniors - Benson, Rysavy, Voges and Traxler.

“Each of them contributed to the team in different ways and their leadership throughout the season pushed us in the right direction after a rough start,” Moody said.

Moody also complimented the efforts of the Patriot C-Team, which finished the year with a 12-10 record, and a junior varsity team she described as “outstanding” after finishing 24-1 on the year.

Moody resigned from coaching duties effective April 21, with middle-level social studies teacher Brian Lempola set to take over next year. However, she had plenty of praise for her final varsity team, which she felt defied expectations.

“It was an honor to be around such a wonderful group of girls every day and watch them succeed together,” Moody said. “They accomplished something not many people thought they could do, but they never gave up and stuck together. This is a season to remember and I am so very proud of this team.”

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.