Section 6A girls' basketball: Strese's milestone comes in defeatThe Charger senior scored her 2,000th career point in a loss to Hancock
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Brandon-Evansville girls’ basketball team saw its season come to an end in the Section 6A South semifinals on Saturday but not before a little history was made by one of the best players in school history.
Heather Strese went into the game against Hancock needing 13 points to become the first player in Brandon-Evansville history to reach 2,000 points for her career. The senior post admitted how much that would mean to her after helping her team to a 50-48 overtime win over Underwood in the quarterfinals two nights earlier.
“That’s by far my goal,” she said after scoring 18 points against the Rockets. “I can barely sleep at night. I literally dream about it.”
She doesn’t have to dream about it anymore. Strese made reaching that milestone a reality by making one of two free throws with about two minutes left in the first half on Saturday. The Chargers gave her the game ball and recognized her at the half in what was a 24-15 lead for the Owls.
“She’s worked hard and put in a lot of time,” head coach Dick Simpson said of Strese. “She’s played a long time, 120-some games to get that, and she really carried us this year, being our main scorer. People knew they had to stop her, and she still averaged 23 points a game. That’s pretty good. It’s quite an accomplishment to do that.”
Unfortunately for Brandon-Evansville, her 2,000th point would come in a losing effort. Hancock came into the game as the second seed in the South and hit eight threes on its way to a 59-40 win in Morris. Kendra Schmidgall hit five of those triples on her way to a team-high 22 points. The Owls put four players in double figures to create some distance in the second half.
The Chargers couldn’t keep up on a night when they shot 1-of-17 from behind the three-point line. Strese finished with 26 points and eight rebounds to wrap up her career with 2,013 points. Megan Friedrich added six points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists against the Owls, but it wasn’t enough on a night when the Chargers shot 16-of-41 from the field.
“Shooting was the big difference,” Simpson said. “They hit eight threes and we made one. To me, we were a step slow all night, for whatever reason. They shot well, and we didn’t play as well as we could.”
The Chargers made just enough shots against Underwood to overcome an 11-point first half last Thursday night. Brandon-Evansville shot 28 percent in the game but made enough big shots when it mattered after the break.
None was bigger than the one Kinsley Randt hit with less than a minute to go in overtime. The sophomore guard had passed up two wide-open looks on the same possession before dumping it down to Strese in the post. Strese immediately fed it back to Randt, who stepped up and hit a shot from just inside the three-point line that proved to be the game winner.
“It felt good,” Randt said. “I felt like I can do it, and that I can help out this team.”
The Rockets dared the Chargers’ guards to beat them from the perimeter all night long. They had constant double teams on Strese and dropped into the lane when the ball was around the three-point line. Megan Kokett, Elizabeth Vinson and Randt all made them pay with some timely jump shots that turned around a game that Underwood had led by double digits in the second half.
“Our shooting really helped out,” Strese said. “We took those shots in the first and they just weren’t going in. They were boxing out like none other, so we couldn’t get the offensive rebounds. Making those shots in the second half is what really helped out.”
Kokett shot with confidence from three and finished with 11 points. Randt added nine points and Megan Friedrich finished with eight points and six rebounds.
“The other kids came through,” Simpson said. “They did. Heather has carried us so many games, and the other kids came through in the second half and hit some shots. That was it.”
Those players will be relied upon to take over the program next season. Strese will leave a big hole to fill and Hunter Plaster and Tasmine Okerlund will also have to be replaced. They leave after helping Brandon-Evansville to a solid season that saw the Chargers finish 18-8 overall and tied for second in the Little Eight Conference at 8-4.
“I’d like to thank [Heather] and Tasmine. Hunter was sick the other night and didn’t make the trip, but they really contributed to the program,” Simpson said. “I thought we had a pretty good season really, getting 18 wins. I don’t think anyone really expected them to get that, and that’s an accomplishment to get that and finish second in the Little Eight. It was a good year.”
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE 15 25 – 40
HANCOCK 24 35 – 59
TOTALS – Brandon-Evansville – FG – 16-41; FT – 7-10; Rebounds – 24; Turnovers – 15; Hancock – FG – 22-48; FT – 7-9; Rebounds – 21; Turnovers – 10
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE – Carlie Steffenson – 3 points; Megan Friedrich – 6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists; Tasmine Okerlund – 3 points; Mariah Hansen – 2 points; Strese – 26 points, 8 rebounds
HANCOCK – Karol Algarate – 3; Kendra Schmidgall – 22; Olivia Koehl – 12; Serandon Bigalke – 10; Courtney Greiner – 12
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE 11 34 5 – 50
UNDERWOOD 15 30 3 – 48
TOTALS – Brandon-Evansville – FG – 16-57; FT – 13-19; Rebounds – 22; Underwood – FG – 20-48; FT – 3-11; Rebounds – 24
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE – Randt – 9 points; Kokett – 11 points; M. Friedrich – 8 points, 5 steals; Okerlund – 1 point; Vinson – 3 points; Strese – 18 points, 13 rebounds, 7 steals, 4 assists
UNDERWOOD – Kayla Stock – 2; Tasmine Richey – 4; Karin Mortenson – 3; Megan Biegler – 10; Carly Masloski – 10; Kaitlyn Holen – 9; Greta Thormodson – 10