The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 16, 2014

Schoper raises scoring, nearly sets record

By Chad Courrier
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — Lexi Schoper is taller, stronger and more experienced, and the 5-foot-10 sophomore guard is off to a great start for the Mankato West girls basketball team.

Schoper is averaging 25.1 points, but she’s been more explosive in the last three weeks.

Schoper scored 38 points in a game against Waconia on Jan. 4, just one point shy of the program record, set by Sarah Rippke during the 1996-97 season.

Schoper has scored 31 or more points in four games, including 36 vs. Sioux Falls Lincoln on Dec. 28, 31 vs. Albert Lea on Jan. 9 and 31 vs. Rochester Mayo on Jan. 10. The 36-point effort was the third-best single-game total at West.

“She’s a lot stronger than she was last year,” West coach Kristin Krusemark said. “She’s making better decisions. Last year, she didn’t really want to step on the toes of the seniors so she’s more of a leader this year.”

Schoper, who already has 719 points in her career, is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range, setting a school record with seven 3-pointers against Mankato East on Dec. 17. The previous record was six by Nicole Kenne in the 2002-03 season. Schoper is also shooting 79 percent on free throws and averaging 4.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals.

“She had a good summer of playing AAU ball,” Krusemark said. “She’s able to get to the basket better, and she’s finishing better. We do a lot for her in the motion offense, but we also need other players to score to be successful.”

In the game against Waconia, junior point guard Sarah Buryska made 10 assists, which is one off the program record. Cathy Van Guilder had 11 assists twice during the 1996-97 season.

West (5-7) plays at Austin on Thursday.

East’s Margenthaler out: Mankato East’s senior captain Brock Margenthaler is out for the rest of the season after breaking his arm during a game last week against Rochester John Marshall. He was taking a charge and fell backward, landing on his left (shooting) arm, which broke in two places.

Margenthaler was averaging 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds, with 12 3-pointers in 12 games.

Senior Josh Sloniker has replaced Margenthaler in the starting lineup, with junior Hussein Mohamoud and sophomores C.J Ayers and Sam Ahrens getting more playing time off the bench.

“Some young kids are going to get an opportunity to play varsity minutes,” East coach Dave Makela said. “They’re going to have to step up.”

East (6-8) hosts Marshall on Saturday afternoon. Marshall defeated the Cougars 62-38 on Dec. 26.

Christenson is near Nicollet records: Nicollet senior Matt Christenson is a double-double machine, but last week, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound post put up 22 points and 20 rebounds in a 78-58 victory over Sleepy Eye. It’s the third time in his career that he’s had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game.

“He never quits,” Nicollet coach Jeff Zimmerman said. “And his rebounds are pretty even between offensive boards and defensive boards. He’s always under the boards, crashing the glass.

For his career, Christenson has 902 points and 843 rebounds, which may already be a school record. This season, he’s averaging 15.3 points and 13.7 rebounds, along with 3.9 assists. He’s had 10 or more rebounds in nine of 10 games.

“At his size, he really has good footwork,” Zimmerman said. “He’s a good athlete.”

Christenson is being recruited as a football player.

Games to watch: On Friday, the Fairmont boys (13-2, 5-1 in SCC) play at Waseca (12-2, 4-1) with first place in the South Central Conference at stake. Waseca won the Dec. 6 matchup 67-58 at Fairmont.

The same night, the Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial boys (9-5, 6-0 in Valley) play at Martin County West (6-4, 4-1), which is tied with St. Clair in second place in the Valley Conference.

Mankato Loyola girls’ tough schedule continues against Rosemount at the Simley MLK Classic on Monday. The Crusaders are 11-1, while Rosemount, a Class AAAA program, is 6-6.