By Joe Tischler
Special to The Free Press
---- — MANKATO — It’s been a rough four-year stretch for the Mankato West girls’ basketball program.
The Scarlets have exited in the first round of the playoffs in each of those seasons with their highest win total coming in 2010-11 when they finished with an 11-15 record. For West to have its first winning campaign in five years, second-year head coach Kristin Krusemark says they need more balance.
“We need to make sure we have consistently balanced scoring. We can’t have teams being able to focus on one offensive threat. We need to have a threat from the outside and in our post and in all positions.”
Doing the bulk of the scoring last season for the Scarlets was Cara Christiansen, who is now playing at Gustavus. She averaged nearly 15 points a game playing from mainly the forward and post positions.
It will be a group effort to try to replace Christiansen in the post and one of the main players to try is Lauren Resner. The senior averaged 4.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest a season ago and she worked hard in the offseason on improving her overall game.
“Lauren can bring an offensive threat for sure and she’s a good rebounder,” said Krusemark. “She’s really working on her communicating and working with our guards to get the in-and-out game going. She’s improved with her moves to the basket.”
Joining Resner in the frontcourt are freshman Hannah Hastings and junior Jen Larsen who Krusemark says has gotten a lot quicker and worked on putting more moves in her arsenal.
“I’m working on my post up so I can get open more this year and get more playing time,” said Resner. “Jen Larsen and I are working on a high-low set up.”
To get that balance the Scarlets want, they’ll need to score from the outside, too, and they have two good options in sophomore Lexi Schoper and junior Sarah Buryska. Schoper averaged 11.0 points, 2.3 assists, and 3.7 steals a game last season while Buryska scored 5.8 points a contest.
“Lexi and Sarah should be our main cogs on the outside,” said Krusemark. “They work really well together. Between the two, they get a lot of offense going to the basket.”
Schoper will be moving to an off guard position to get her moving off of more screens while Buryska is expected to handle the point guard duties.
To have a winning season, aside from more balanced scoring, the Scarlets are looking for more team chemistry and communication, something that they feel is already evident.
“A key thing to me is chemistry on the court and we definitely have that this year,” said Resner. “We didn’t have a whole lot of communication last year, but now we’re loud in the gym.”
West’s home opener is Saturday vs. Winona at 6 p.m.