Girls Basketball: Patriots eye return to state with veteran roster
Leading scorer Maci Martini returns after being named conference player of the year
PEQUOT LAKES — The Pequot Lakes Patriots girls basketball team has a good chance to return to the Class 2-A state tournament this season with 10 letterwinners returning.
“We will be formidable if we can stay healthy, take care of the basketball, and rebound consistently on both ends of the floor,” said Pequot Lakes coach Brian Lempola, whose team is scheduled to open Thursday, Dec. 1 at home against Pillager.
Last season, the top-seeded Patriots earned their first trip to the state tournament in six years after topping No. 3 Pierz 70-54 in the Section 7-2A championship game. They advanced to state with a 24-game winning streak and fell to Fergus Falls 71-55 in the quarterfinals. The Patriots then rallied to defeat Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 66-43 in the consolation semifinals and topped Montevideo in the consolation title game 60-44 to finish fifth as Maci Martini had 18 points and Isabel Larson added 16 as the Patriots finished 31-2 overall.
The Patriots are led by senior guard Maci Martini, an all-state and Mid-State Conference Player of the Year (19.5 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game), all-conference junior guard Isabel Larson (12.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.5 APG), all-conference junior guard Kelsi Martini (10.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.5 SPG), all-conference junior forward Lauren Schultz (7.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG) all-conference junior forward Ella Kratochvil (6.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG), all-conference senior guard Kaitlyn Geschwill (2.0 PPG, 2.1 RPG) and sophomore guard Reese Laposky (2.9 PPG, 2 RPG).
Maci Martini, Kelsi Martini and Schultz were first-team selections and Kratochvil was a second-team pick to the Brainerd Dispatch All-Area squad.
Also competing for playing time this season will be juniors Aubrey Larsen and Emma Flaws, sophomores Morgan Dotty and Genevieve Birkeland, and freshmen Alexa Pietig and June Ruud.
“I feel like we have some skilled and talented front line players that not only challenge opposing teams offensively and defensively, and we can also count on our great depth to wear teams down,” Lempola said.
“We want to be a solid defensive team, control tempo, and execute in the half court. The girls had an outstanding offseason and really committed themselves to getting stronger in the weight room. They are determined and have once again set high goals and expectations for this season.”
The Patriots finished 10-0 in the Mid-State Conference last year. Besides the Patriots, other conference favorites this winter according to Lempola are Detroit Lakes, Crosby-Ironton and Park Rapids. The Patriots will be one of the section favorites, along with Duluth Marshall, Esko, Mesabi East, Proctor and Rock Ridge.
This will be the third season for Lempola as head coach. He will be assisted by Bret Sergent, Scott Ebnet and Mackenzie Nelson.