Girls basketball: Lakers honor seniors on a weekend to celebrate
The Detroit Lakes girls basketball team honored its five seniors in a Saturday win over Staples-Motley. The Lakers also moved into first place in the Mid-State Conference with three games left.
DETROIT LAKES – The Detroit Lakes girls basketball turned an otherwise routine Mid-State Conference blowout win against staples-Motley into a memorable night last Friday.
The Lakers (20-3) honored their five seniors in a 64-30 win over the Cardinals.
Detroit Lakes head coach Rachel Johnson put Abby Larson, Ellie Lunde, Jacee Hauser, Maddy Bellanger and Rachel Kasowski on the floor together for the first time this year. In the second half, Johnson removed each player one by one, giving them a moment in front of the Detroit Lakes faithful at Lakeshirts Fieldhouse.
"It was a lot of fun because they were able to play together in the first half," Johnson said. "Maddy Bellanger hit a three, and Rachel Kasowski had a three too. I gave them a run together in the second half too. I just started pulling them off individually. Obviously, it means a lot when you can take them out together, but I always think it's special if you can give each senior their own moment to recognize the hard work and dedication they gave to the program for the majority of their lives. Playing Staples on Friday allowed for that to happen."
Larson, Lunde and Houser log plenty of minutes in the Lakers' regular rotation. On the other hand, Bellanger and Kaskowski found ways to become vital pieces of the puzzle outside of seeing their names in the starting lineup. Johnson praised her seniors' leadership and maturity.
"Rachel is definitely an emotional leader for us," Johnson said. "She is everyone's number-one hype girl. At halftime, she can talk about the things that are going right and the things that can be improved. She kind of takes on the role of being a teammate and a coach, which has been really nice to see her step into."
"Maddy is a huge part of our scout team," Johnson said. "She works really hard every day to make sure that not only her but the whole scout team gives the varsity group the best looks they can get. She's got a really nice shot, and she's an aggressive defender, so to have someone like her on our scout team really makes it a lot easier for us as coaches and gets the girls prepared for whatever is going to come their way for each game."
One of Detroit Lakes' most important seniors doesn't wear a jersey. Megan Stalberger pulls the strings behind the scenes for the coaches and players.
"She's someone that doesn't get a lot of attention," Johnson said. "She's our senior manager. My life, specifically, would be a complete disaster if it wasn't for her. I know the girls really appreciate her and see what she does for us. There are probably a ton of little things she does that I don't even notice that help us. She gets the scorebooks ready and makes sure we have all of our supplies on the bus for road games. She has all of our details in order. She is a big part of our social media. She makes our lives way easier."
Friday night was celebratory in more ways than one. In other Mid-State Conference action, Crosby-Ironton knocked off Pequot Lakes 73-72. Tori Oehrlein hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds, handing the Patriots their second conference loss and putting Detroit Lakes in the driver's seat with three games left.
"The girls were so excited to see that Crosby had taken out Pequot," Johnson said. "They know a lot about what's going on around the state and how other teams are doing. They are basketball junkies. They were really excited to see that because they knew they could clinch the Mid-State outright, which is something we haven't done for a few years. They're really excited, and it'll give them a good push. Ending with this conference schedule, you can kind of relax a little bit. Now that they know this is open for the taking to win it outright, it'll just be something they can check off on their goals for the season if they can win out."
The Lakers swept their weekend slate after beating Sauk Rapids-Rice (14-9) 65-47. Grace Gunderson had 16 points to lead all scorers. Abby Larson (12 points) and Karlee Mace (11) also finished in double digits. Detroit Lakes is 5-1 in section 8-3A play and will almost certainly lock up the No. 2 seed in the postseason.
As for the Mid-State Conference, the Lakers will clinch their first title since the 2019-20 season with wins over Aitkin, Park Rapids and Crosby-Ironton. Detroit Lakes will take on the Gobblers on Tuesday, Feb. 16, on the road.
SM 14 16 – 30
DL 35 29 – 64
DETROIT LAKES SCORING- Abby Larson 12, Helena Daggett 4, Ella Okeson 7, Karlee Mace 5, Brooklyn Markuson 2, Grace Gunderson 2, Maddy Bellanger 5, Elle Bettcher 4, Ellie Lunde 7, Jacee Hauser 11, Rachel Kasowski 5
STAPLES-MOTLEY SCORING- Livi Lorber 10, Ashley Rubben 1, Izzy Olander 2, Georgia Kruchten 2, Lauren Rutten 15
SRR 26 21 – 47
DL 36 20 – 65
DETROIT LAKES SCORING- Abby Larson 12, Helena Daggett 4, Ella Okeson 2, Karlee Mace 11, Grace Gunderson 16, Elle Bettcher 4, Ellie Lunde 10, Jacee Hauser 6
SAUK RAPIDS-RICE SCORING- Mackenzie Felchle 2, Grace Roesch 15, Courtney Paulson 11, Sienna Petermeier 2, Olivia Mohs 1, Leah Roesch 5, Ella Jevne 2, Alexis Swanson 4, Mia Rogholt 5