Highland Girls Basketball Preview

Young Huskies return to court with more experience

By Jeff Yoder
Posted 11/23/21

Last year was a learning experience for the young Highland girls basketball team. 

And most of the learning was done during losses. 

The Huskie sophomores and juniors still have more …

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Highland Girls Basketball Preview

Young Huskies return to court with more experience

Posted

Last year was a learning experience for the young Highland girls basketball team. 

And most of the learning was done during losses. 

The Huskie sophomores and juniors still have more growing to do, but you can expect more of that growth to occur during wins this season. 

While Highland graduated two starters, the players returning accounted for nearly 85 percent of Highland’s total points last season. 

“We were really, really young last year and we had a lot of girls that got some experience, so we’re in a better position there,” Highland coach Jody Fink explained.  “We’ve just got to build off of that here this year.”

Highland again has just two seniors this year: Mackinze Hora and Emma Soukup. 

“I’m just excited to be on the court with these girls,” Soukup said. “It’s my last year here so we’re gonna make the best of it. I think this year the girls are really jelling together. We’re working together as a team.” 

Junior guard Dani Laughlin finished third in the conference in steals per game and 3-point shots made per game a season ago, finishing fourth in the SEISC North in scoring. Abbi Stransky, also a junior, finished fifth in the league with 2.7 assists per game.  

“We can sit there and handle the ball,” Fink said. “We’re pretty guard dominated in that aspect.” 

Stransky also helped out the Huskies on the glass where she averaged nearly seven rebounds per game. Sophomore Sarah Burton grabbed over three offensive rebounds per game and averaged 7.7 overall. 

Junior forward Jessica Kraus will have a bigger role this year after coming off the bench for the Huskies a season ago. She had the fourth-best shooting percentage on the team and grabbed 36 rebounds in limited minutes last year. 

Fink expects junior Anna Herrig to see some time this year as well. 

“Anna Herrig is going to play a lot more this year, she’ll rotate in there,” he said. “Jenna Waters is going to get some more time and Kelsi Cerny might even get a little bit more time.” 

Fink said the rotation could vary depending on what roles need to be filled during each game. 

“It might not be what they expect,” he said, “but they’re going to get time, they’re going to help out and be an integral part of the team.”

The Huskies  open the conference season at Lone Tree on Tuesday, November 30. 

“We’re coming together,” Soukup said. “We’re making shots. We’re seeing things that we haven’t seen in the past, and I think that’s really good for the team. And I’m looking forward to playing with these girls one more year.”

 

Iowa Valley 49, Highland 43

After defeating Keota on Friday, Highland was in a position to equal its win total from the previous season with a 35-26 lead over Iowa Valley in the third quarter on Saturday. 

The Huskies (1-1) had to settle for a split as the Tigers (2-0) came back for a 49-43 win, finishing first in the Four Corners Shootout, which was held in Lone Tree this year. 

A great pass from Abbi Stransky gave Emma Soukup a layup, which tied the game at 37 in the fourth quarter. A minute later Jessica Kraus made a shot to tie it at 39-39, but Iowa Valley would take control of the game with a 10-2 run. 

Dani Laughlin was unavailable for the opening games, so on Saturday sophomore Sarah Burton stepped up early to provide the scoring. She had six points as Highland opened the game on a 9-0 run, but foul trouble limited her minutes after that. She finished with eight points, all of which came in the first quarter. 

“She’s got the ability to just dominate inside,” Fink said. “She could be unstoppable in there if she really wanted to be.”

Iowa Valley took a 21-16 lead in the second quarter, but the Huskies came back at the free throw line. Kraus made seven free throws during the second and third quarters as the Huskies went on a 19-5 run while making just three field goals. Kraus was 8-of-12 from the stripe and finished with a team-high 13 points. 

“We started attacking the basket and we were a little bit more aggressive in that aspect, rebounding wise and everything,” Fink explained.  “We were able to get to the free throw line. They were putting those hands on, and we weren’t letting them sit there and dictate that.”

Stransky made 5-of-9 free throws and finished with nine points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Katelyn Waters added eight points and Soukup had three assists.

 

Highland 45, Keota 22

On Friday, Highland opened the season with a 45-22 win over Keota in Lone Tree.

Stransky was 4-of-10 from the 3-point line, finishing with a team-high 18 points and four assists in the win. 

The Huskies allowed just two points in each of the first two quarters of the season and led 20-4 at the half. The lead was still 16 points after the third quarter, but the Highland offense heated up again in the fourth for 17 points. 

“It was the first game and there were some pregame jitters, and first game jitters for some girls there as well,” Fink said. “We got off to a strong start, but then we played down a little bit. We were a little lackluster in that second and third quarter, and then we finally came out again and really put the ball in the hole.”

Burton and Soukup each scored eight points. Burton had nine points and five steals and Soukup stole the ball four times. 

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