Avalanche!

[Parents night for the Cardinal girls’ basketball season opener against Little Falls.]

[The Competition]

[This year the coaches are parents, too!  Head Coach Wendy Kohler (a/k/a, Kohler), in the white pants, with her 8th-grade daughter, Kendall; and Asst. Coach Julie Hatlestad, black pants next to Kohler, with her 8-grade daughter, Macy.]

[Cards warm up, in unusually large numbers!  🙂 ]

The narrative:  Every year, at the end of another successful Cardinal season, I look at the three departing seniors that seems to be the norm and think – there’s no way we can be as good as next year?  And Kohler just winks.  Three years ago we said good-bye to graduating seniors Gracie Bruzek, Angela Christianson, and Kate Gearman (we thought a sure state tournament team); two years ago we lost Sam Trumm, Alli Haar, and Joie Warnes (a state tournament team); and last year we lost Lauren Trumm, Cara Wood, and Whitney Gesell (if not for Fergus . . .). 

Surely this year had to be a rebuilding year?  We didn’t seem to have a lot of size coming back . . . but boy do we have a lot of numbers!  🙂 

[The criss-cross passing drill.]

[Kohler visits the Flyers coaches.]

[Fans settle in – in eager anticipation of the new season.]

[3-on-2 warm-up drill.]

[At first glance Kohler appeared to be addressing the audience.  Upon further review, she was merely hydrating.]

[Foreground, l-r:  Emily Thul, 5’11” junior; Amanda Gould, 6′ junior; Sarah Bruzek, 5’7″ junior.]

[A whole bunch of players.]

[Team intros:  Amanda Christianson, 5’10” junior.  The “starters” all come out, do a little waggle with the aforementioned Sarah . . . and shake hands with the opponents.  I italicized “starters” because there are really at least 8, in terms of playing time.]

[Still Amanda C (as opposed to Amanda G).]

[Hi, Flyer!  Kohler applauds the handshake.]

[It’s still me, in close-up.]

[Danielle Strater, 5’9″ senior.]

[Still Dani.]

[Hiding behind Sarah is . . .]

[A chest bumping Karly Betterman, 5’5″ junior.]

[I’ve christened Karly, “Wheels,” because she is a perpetual motion machine.  She probably burns up more calories in two trips up and down the floor than I do in an hour and a half with the Fat Boys Walking Club.  She’s on the cross-country team in the fall just for the fun of it.  I wonder what her daily calorie intake has to be, just to sustain life?]

[Jessica Syvrud, 5’5″ senior.  She and Karly are pretty much twins, in all respects.  😉 ]

[This may have been an attempted hip check.]

[And you may recall Jess as our 2nd baseman in softball.  And a member of the state tournament soccer team.]

[Kalli Bowser, 6’1″ senior.  As the designated tall person, she uses a full squat in her routine with Sarah. 😉 ]

[She’s a swimmer – good for upper body strength when you’re a post player.]

[OK ladies, let’s get this season started!]

The following video, as usual, is from the opening tip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6p3RNF1kCk

Although the Cards started a hectic 2 for 11 from the floor, you get the idea that this was a mismatch from the beginning.  The Flyers were simply undermanned.  The Cards just keep coming at you and coming at you.  They are indefatigable.  And its like hockey on the hardwood – with each whistle, three fresh Cardinals come in off the bench.  It’s like . . . well, getting hit by an AVALANCHE for the opposition.  Kohler has a system of the 1-3-1 pressing half-court defense where whoever has the ball for the other side is always immediately double-teamed.  And with the depth on the team this year, I would think there’s probably blood on the floor at the end of each practice.

[Karly (21) and Amanda C (5) have just created another turnover.]

[Kalli (35) and Dani (13) offer congrats on the play.]

[Amanda C set to inbound to Jess (23).]

[R-E-B-O-U-N-D!]

[Karly at the line (and below).]

[Both Karly and Jess look like they’ll be pretty good hitting 3’s, if they get a good look.]

[Kalli coming out for a little high D.]

[Card low-post defense creates another loose ball.]

[Cards hustle back to defensive positions.]

[Karly launches – is it a 3?]

[F-o-u-l!]

[Amanda C at the line – she’ll get there a lot this year.]

[Sarah with free throws.  She’s the 6th man, in the role that created the terror known as Lauren Trumm.  Like Lauren, Sarah is a soccer goalie – an all-stater at that!  😉  So, when she’s on the point of the 1-3-1, she plays it in the same manner as Lauren – with speed and quickness, contesting every dribble and pass.]

[Sarah wraps up the half.]

[And it was over at the half.  I pretty much gave the camera a rest from then on.]

[The boys’ team was there for support – and hopefully to pick up some pointers!  😉 ]

[Oh, I did have to break out the camera again.  Kohler, of course, played everybody in the 2nd half – and late in the game she sent “the kids” in.  The crowd was delighted for the 8th-graders, Macy (11) and Kendall (45).  Kendall hit an open 3, much to the roaring delight of the boys’ team.]

[It’s impossible to predict the future, but I’d have to say the guard position for the team is in pretty good shape for the next four years.  As coaches’ daughters, you can already tell they both have a good feel for and understanding of the game.]

[Ooops!  As we understood it, one of them got a technical for not checking in at the scorer’s table.  Picky, picky, picky!  Perhaps it was fitting that the Flyers missed both technical foul shots.]

[Their toughest task now is to see if they can play the take-no-prisoners defense their moms will require from them.  🙂 ]

[This is Kendall.]

[And this is Macy.  Earlier in the night they had led the JV to a lopsided victory.]

[And back to Kendall.]

[Macy readies to bring it up court.]

[Winding it down.]

[Cards win!]

Final thoughts:  Amanda C’s all-around game will be crucial as to how well we do this year.  Dani will contribute solid D, and she can get out on the break.  Kalli gives us a good inside presence, and she continues the Cardinal tradition of having centers who can run – she will get lots of fast break points.  Karly and Jess are going to be fun to watch as a tandem all year – both offensively and defensively.  Amanda G and Emily, as the long and lankies off the bench, are probaby our best mid-range shooters.  Sarah will do everything.  Now no more home games until mid-December.

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