Megan Zillmer is as fast as a quarter horse and as prominent as a Kentucky Derby entry when she steps onto the basketball court.
She's the leader of the Crosby-Ironton Rangers, a team that has won eight straight and owns a 15-3 overall record after last week.
"I knew I was going to have a major role and I guess I just wanted to help push everyone else," said Zillmer. "I wanted to get my teammates going. We do have a lot of younger girls on the team that don't have as much experience. I wanted to be their role model and help them."
Zillmer is one of just two returning starters from a C-I team that advanced to the Section 7-2A final the last two seasons.
Last year she was the second-leading scorer on the team, averaging 12.3 points a game to go with 66 rebounds, 117 assists, 63 steals and nine blocked shots.
"With her increased role we need her to be the go-to girl and come through for us," said Rangers head coach Randy Swanhorst. "She's done that and what's most impressive is she isn't a true point guard by any stretch of the imagination. She's been doing it for us, though, and with it is a load of responsibility placed on her shoulders."
Position: Point guard
Key stat: Scored 81 points in four victories, three coming against larger class schools
In C-I's 67-64 victory over Detroit Lakes, Zillmer led all scorers with 22 points. 15 of those from the free throw line. Zillmer is shooting 77 percent from the line this season.
She drained 11 free throws and finished with 19 points in the Rangers' 63-50 victory over Tartan Jan. 26. She tallied 17 points in a 56-30 victory over Milaca Jan. 22 and hit the game-winning basket, a 3-pointer, and finished with 23 points in a 63-62 overtime triumph over Cloquet Jan. 19.
"I've been working a lot on my shooting," said Zillmer. "I tend to fall back when I shoot, which often leaves the shot short or really hard. I'm happy with the way I'm shooting, but when it's not falling I get really frustrated.
"I have to not let that get to me. If my shot isn't falling then it's important for me to get the ball to my teammates and let them get into the offense."
Zillmer has scored 343 total points for an 18.2 per-game average. She's added 51 assists, 82 rebounds, 22 steals and 10 blocked shots. She's shooting 38 percent from the field.
"Her ability to create shots and get points in different ways has been the real key this year," said Swanhorst. "I know I sound like a broken record, but with how athletic she is, very few people can match up with her quickness and speed and ability to get shots off. She has scored very consistently for us."
Zillmer jumped right into the basketball season after helping the Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer team to its second straight state tournament. Because of that she hasn't been able to visit colleges. Numerous offers to play basketball, and even soccer, next season have been made, but she is undecided about her future.
She's even undecided about this spring. In the past she's participated in the Lakes Area Youth Soccer Association. She's too old for LAYSA now, so this spring she may join track or indulge in her other passion - showing horses.
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Naomi Anderson, Pine River-Backus, finished with 62 points and 38 rebounds in three wins last week.
Taylor Sheley, PR-B, finished with 59 points, 22 rebounds, seven steals and six assists in three wins last week.
Lauren Landrus, Aitkin, finished with 40 points and 22 rebounds in two wins last week
Emily Mehr, Aitkin, finished with 39 points and 21 rebounds in two wins last week.
Brigetta Berg, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored 21 points against Bertha-Hewitt and 10 against Sebeka.
Jordan Moenkedick, W-DC, scored 20 points against Bertha-Hewitt.
Alisha Moritz, C-I, finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds against Detroit Lakes and 12 points against Milaca.
Katie Kimman, Pierz, scored 25 points against Pequot Lakes.
Gymnastics: Teri Stein, Little Falls, won the balance beam with an 8.25 against Sauk Rapids and against Alexandria with an 8.75.
Nordic ski: Melissa Kempenich, Little Falls, won the Central Lakes Conference freestyle race.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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