After getting a taste of winning during the volleyball season, Stacey Schoon and the Verndale Pirates girls' basketball team are hungry for more.
Schoon registered 15 rebounds and 10 points in Verndale's 66-26 Park Region Conference victory over New York Mills Dec. 6.
The senior added 11 points and 10 rebounds in a 70-22 victory over Lake Region Christian Dec. 13.
At 5-foot-9, Schoon isn't a typical post player, but she is athletic enough to battle taller players and guard the inbound pass on Verndale's full-court press.
"It is rare for a center to be leading a full-court press, but in junior high Stacey was a point guard," said Verndale coach Art Schluttner. "She can handle the ball and is very athletic and quick. We put her on the ball and it makes it difficult to get the inbound pass in."
Schoon likes her role on the press, but says she's placing most of her efforts on the boards.
"I definitely wanted to improve my rebounding game because that's something we lost from last year," said Schoon. "I just have to make sure I box out. If I can't pull down the rebound then I try and tip it to an outlet person."
The four-year varsity player has the offensive ability to split defenders and create her own shot. She draws fouls and last year made 61 percent of her free throws. But because of Verndale's depth she's not the offensive focal point.
"The talent on this team is more than I have ever played with before," said Schoon. "Our point guard is awesome and we have four guards who can shoot.
Key stat: Had 15 rebounds and 10 points against New York Mills.
"As a team we want to become closer and be more of a team instead of being so individual. We need to be team-oriented because it's a lot easier to win basketball games. We have nine girls that could get athlete of the week."
Last year Schoon averaged 9.5 points a game while shooting 42.9 percent from the field. She finished with 23 assists, 46 steals, 11 blocked shots and 148 rebounds. She accumulated those stats while battling mononucleosis much of the season.
"Last year she came into the season and just didn't seem to have any confidence," said Schluttner. "She wasn't healthy last year, but this year she's been healthy."
Schoon is more confident this year as well. Coming off a successful volleyball season in which the Pirates advanced to the Section 6, Class 1A finals helped. Schoon earned Brainerd Dispatch All-Area Team honors by stacking up 192 kills, 271 digs, 171 blocks, 35 ace serves, 12 set assists and 94-percent serving accuracy.
"Stacey and all of our seniors are tremendous leaders," said Schluttner. "They're great players to coach.
"I think the success they had in volleyball helped, but even before that these girls have played a lot of basketball together for the last two or three years. I knew if we were going to have a good season it was going to be this year. But because of volleyball, they came in knowing how to win and expecting to win and that's been huge."
Other notable performances:
Basketball - Kayla Meyer, Pierz, had 27 points and seven steals against Pequot Lakes and 20 points, five rebounds and three steals against Pine City.
Mel Waytashek, Pierz, had 18 points and 11 rebounds against Pequot Lakes.
Katie Kimman, Pierz, had 18 points and 11 rebounds against Pequot Lakes.
Chelsea Lundgren, Crosby-Ironton, had 21 points and 13 rebounds against Pine River-Backus.
Brittany Ohrmandt, Wadena-Deer Creek, scored 19 points against Staples-Motley.
Carissa Johnson, Pequot Lakes, scored 21 points against Eveleth-Gilbert.
Amy Fredman, Pillager, had 17 points and 13 rebounds against Bertha-Hewitt.
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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