A new coach. A new fast-paced system and higher expectations have equaled a stellar start to Emily Lueck's season.
The junior has the Pequot Lakes Patriots at 3-0 and ranked No. 10 in the Class 2A polls.
She led all scorers with 28 points in the Patriots' 72-52 season-opening win over the Brainerd Warriors Dec. 1.
She followed her big opening night with 20 points in an 86-42 Mid-State Conference win over Park Rapids Dec. 5.
"It was so much fun," Lueck said of the Brainerd game. "It was exciting going into the Brainerd school having never played them before. We were thinking they were going to romp us - a big 4A school against a little 2A school."
School: Pequot Lakes
Key stat: In two wins finished with 48 points and 15 steals.
The fast start is what Lueck expected. She said all summer Pequot's been working on becoming a running team, creating pressure and causing chaos.
"It's hard work, but it's all better in the end," said Lueck. "When there is a timeout called we run off the floor to the bench and we're excited and pumped up. It's helped us a lot."
It's helped Lueck, the focal point of the Patriots' offense, get a lot of easy baskets in transition. She had eight steals against Park Rapids, seven against Brainerd and four against Staples-Motley, which Pequot beat 62-45 Tuesday.
"She's gotten a lot of her points off our press," said Pequot head coach Jon Dale. "We like to run and fastbreak. She's gotten some easy baskets on the break.
"I think that's right up her alley. She moves well. She's elusively quick and she's in pretty good shape. She also knows when to change speeds and run our offense."
Lueck's numbers last season were second to none. The All-Mid-State Conference player finished with 404 total points for a 14.4 per game average. She added 118 rebounds (4.2 per game), 151 assists (5.4), 72 steals (2.6) and two blocks. She shot 42.5 percent from the field, 25.3 percent from 3-point and 78.8 percent from the line.
"She's our leading scorer coming back," said Dale. "I've known her since she was in kindergarten. We were hoping she would step up and be a leader and she's done more than that. Even when she doesn't score, like against Staples, who held her to 11 points, she still had eight assists.
"She knows when we're in a rut she needs to pick it up a bit and look to score. She's very unselfish, though. She doesn't have to score and she makes the other girls around her better."
Dale also praised Lueck's basketball knowledge. Despite being just a junior, Lueck's been around a while. As a freshman she tallied 450 points, 132 rebounds, 115 assists, 82 steals and six blocks to make the all-area team.
Already one of the most prolific scorers in school history, Lueck realizes defense is key and that's something she's working on, along with her shooting.
"On defense I usually get into foul trouble," said Lueck. "I don't guard the other team's best guard anymore. I guard a wing or help down on the post.
"I'm an offensive player, but I know colleges want players who can play defense. I'm looking to step up that part of my game. I'm always working on my defense and my shot."
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Katie Wangberg, Pine River-Backus, finished with 26 points, 10 steals and seven rebounds against Cass Lake-Bena.
Jackie White, Pillager, scored 26 points against Swanville.
Kelsey Grider, Lake Region, finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds against St. Francis.
Meredith Chaput, Aitkin, scored 26 points against Pine City and 18 against Hinckley-Finlayson.
Elizabeth Johnson, Verndale, scored 22 points against Swanville.
Tatum Sheley, Pine River-Backus scored 21 points against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
Kylie Beltz, Pequot Lakes, scored 21 points against Park Rapids.
Courtney Volkmann, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored 20 points against Crosby-Ironton.
Missy Foote, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 10 points, 13 rebounds, six steals and two assists.
Gymnastics: Rachelle LeBlanc, Little Falls, won uneven bars, beam, floor and the all-around title in a dual with Bemidji.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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