After a slow start, Emily Mehr has ended any concern of a sophomore slump.
The Aitkin Gobblers sophomore tallied 25 points and 17 rebounds in Aitkin's 67-57 non-conference victory over Eveleth-Gilbert Jan. 5. It was Aitkin's third-straight win.
A day before, Mehr scored 22 points in a 58-50 Great River Conference win over Ogilvie.
"Emily's ability to score opens up the rest of the offense for us," said Aitkin coach Rob Williams. "As soon as they start double- and triple-teaming her that gets Katie Olson open on the weak side and she's scored in double figures the last couple of games. It's freeing up a lot of people for open shots."
Emily Mehr is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds a game
Last season Mehr burst onto the scene to lead Aitkin with 330 points and 250 rebounds to go with 48 steals, six assists and six blocked shots. Aitkin finished with one of its best records in the past eight seasons (8-17).
Williams and Mehr attributed the post player's slow start to the extra attention she's been getting from opponents.
"Last year teams didn't know who I was," said Mehr. "This year I think they realize who I am and they have people on me. I'm stepping up and getting other people involved. When I get the ball in the post and they crash people down on me I can throw it back out for the open jump shot.
"Right now I'm a lot more confident. It's helped that we're winning more and that's boosted my confidence and the confidence of the team. We're playing really well together."
In the Gobblers' 66-57 victory over Greenway Dec. 29, she finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. In a 55-50 loss to Northland Dec. 28, she scored 17 points. And, in a 56-26 win over Floodwood Dec. 27 she scored 19 points.
She scored 20 in a losing effort against East Central Jan. 9.
On the season Mehr is averaging around 15 points and 10 rebounds a game.
Key stat: Had 47 points and 10 rebounds in two games last week
"Her rebounding has been a big key," said Williams. "We set goals at the beginning of the year and we've talked about getting around 15 offensive rebounds every game.
"We aren't a great shooting team. We don't have any pure shooters like the other teams we face so we need those extra attempts. Our ability to get on the offensive boards is essential."
Last season Mehr was selected to the all-conference and Brainerd Dispatch All-Area teams. Despite her postseason accomplishments Williams said Mehr continues to be the consummate team player.
"She is a very team-oriented player," he said. "Her teammates always come first. The first thing she did after she scored 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds was go and hug Katie Olson for her 23 points. She doesn't look at her own accomplishments. She just does everything to help us win. If you had five or eight girls like that then you would win a lot of games."
Said Mehr: "I wanted to improve myself, but I also wanted to help my team win in any way that I can. Whether I'm the leading scorer or not I just wanted to help them and be as good of a team member as I can for them."
Other notable performances
Basketball: Brittany Ohrmundt, Wadena-Deer Creek, had 22 points against Park Rapids and 11 against Crosby-Ironton.
Katie Kimman, Pierz, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and five steals against Rockford.
Mindy Howard, Pequot Lakes, had 25 points against Deer River and 10 against Pine River-Backus.
Anne Wallen, Lake Region, had 20 points and 11 rebounds against Woodcrest and 20 points and 13 rebounds against Prior Lake.
Katie Olson, Aitkin, had 23 points and nine rebounds against Eveleth-Gilbert.
Naomi Anderson, PR-B, had 22 points and eight rebounds against Pequot Lakes.
Sam Stanfield, C-I, scored 23 points against W-DC.
Gymnastics: Brianna Sanoski, Little Falls, won the balance beam and broke the school record in the all-around against Willmar. Then she broke her all-around school record at the Park Rapids Invite.
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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