Mid-Prairie Girls Basketball Preview

Golden Hawks look to push the pace this season

Amara Jones leads strong group of quick-running guards

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 11/23/21

The pace could be dizzying.

So grab a seat belt, buckle up and prepare for a hair-raising ride.

The Mid-Prairie girls basketball team lost post player Phelan Hostetler and 3-point shooter Myah …

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Mid-Prairie Girls Basketball Preview

Golden Hawks look to push the pace this season

Amara Jones leads strong group of quick-running guards

Posted

The pace could be dizzying.

So grab a seat belt, buckle up and prepare for a hair-raising ride.

The Mid-Prairie girls basketball team lost post player Phelan Hostetler and 3-point shooter Myah Lugar to graduation, a combination that averaged 15.8 points and 9.1 rebounds last year for a team that won 10 games. Lugar is the school’s record-holder in 3-point scoring.

This year? The Golden Hawks at times might put a lineup on the floor that is nothin’ but guards. And they’re ready to run.

“We’re a lot more guard oriented this year, so we want to play fast pace, we want to use our athleticism to our advantage,” head coach Danny Hershberger said. “We might have some more offense where we’re five-out, or four-out, not having as many people in the post.”

Among those leading the Golden Hawks in the backcourt is junior point guard Amara Jones, who scored a team-high 21 points in a preseason game last Friday at Mount Pleasant.

And that was a night in which Hershberger discovered just how balanced his team is. In the middle of an overtime period, Jones fouled out.

Under orders from Hershberger to work the offense for layups only, the Golden Hawks dominated the extra period without their point guard and still won by seven points.

“Amara is our point guard, she’s our ball handler,” Hershberger said. “We were able to execute our offense without her on the floor, the girls stepped up and made some plays there to get a layup.”

Among those stepping up was Landry Pacha, a junior who scored four points in the final minute. She had plenty of defensive and rebounding help from Nora Pennington, a sophomore guard, and a floor full of other guards. Cana Rediger, one of two returning seniors who played in all 22 games last year, is one of the guards.

“Danny, he said we can only do layups,” Pacha said. “So we just had to figure out to get around that. We did that pretty well.”

Indeed they did. And as the Golden Hawks begin their season this week against River Valley Conference rival Durant and then face 2021 regional finalist West Liberty, a quicker Mid-Prairie squad is about to emerge.

There’s one thing about all that speed, though. The Golden Hawks also have muscle.

Senior 6-foot forward Maddie Nonnenmann was the Golden Hawks’ leading scorer and rebounder last year. She ranked sixth in the River Valley South in both categories.

Nonnenmann, a starter on the front row for Mid-Prairie’s volleyball team, provides the Golden Hawks with size around the paint when they need it. And waiting on a deep bench are 5-11 freshmen centers Brylee Gearhart and Callie Huber, along with 5-11 sophomore forward Ashley Harmsen.

“We have all different kinds of players,” Nonnenmann said. “We have tall, short, everybody can dribble. We have a lot of options this year.”

Pacha, a 5-8 guard, is part of a strong group of juniors that also includes Maya Nonnenmann, a 5-8 guard who is Maddie’s younger sister, 5-8 forward Halli Hershberger, 5-7 forward Kylie Reinier, and guards Josie Greiner and Molly Yoder. Many of them saw varsity action last year.

Pennington ranked No. 2 among River Valley South freshmen in rebounding last year.

“We’ve had some really competitive practices,” Danny Hershberger said. “It’s always hard to tell where you’re at until you’ve played a couple games, but for the most part extremely happy with the work we’ve been putting in and we’re excited to get going.”

The Golden Hawks, who tied Wilton for fourth place in the River Valley South last year, face an early test on November 30 when they face West Liberty. The Comets were a Class 3A regional finalist last year and coach Matt Hoeppner will be a familiar face. He coached the Mid-Prairie softball team last summer.

SCOUTING THE GOLDEN HAWKS

Head coach: Danny Hershberger

2020-21 record: 10-12

Class 3A Tournament: Lost to Central Lee in regional quarterfinals

Top returner: Senior 6-foot forward Maddie Nonnenmann led the Golden Hawks in scoring (13.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg) last year.

Top newcomers: Ready to provide rebounding muscle in the paint are 5-foot-11 freshmen Brylee Gearhart and Callie Huber, and 5-11 sophomore Ashley Harmsen.

Seniors: Maddie Nonnenmann,  F, 6-0; Cana Rediger, G, 5-5.

Juniors: Amara Jones, G, 5-4; Landry Pacha, F, 5-8; Halli Hershberger, F, 5-7; Maya Nonnenmann, G, 5-8; Kylie Reinier, F, 5-7; Josie Greiner, G, 5-2; Molly Yoder, G, 5-2.

Sophomores: Nora Pennington, G, 5-4; Ashley Harmsen, F, 5-11; Madison Witthoft, F, 5-9.

Freshmen: Annette Witthoft, F, 5-7; Brylee Gearhart, C, 5-11; Callie Huber, C, 5-11.

SCHEDULE

Nov. 23: M-P 57, Durant 37

Nov. 30: At West Liberty

Dec. 3: TIPTON

Dec. 7: REGINA CATHOLIC

Dec. 10: At North Cedar

Dec. 16: At Cascade

Dec. 21: At Northeast

Jan. 4: WILTON

Jan. 7: WEST BRANCH

Jan. 8: ANAMOSA

Jan. 10: WILLIAMSBURG

Jan. 11: At Durant

Jan. 14: WEST LIBERTY

Jan. 15: MONTICELLO

Jan. 18: At Tipton

Jan. 21: COMANCHE

Jan. 25: At Regina Catholic

Jan. 28: At Bellevue

Jan. 31: At Washington

Feb. 1: At Wilton

Feb. 4: At West Branch

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