Bluegrass Conference

(KMAland) -- The winter sports season is right around the corner, and we are getting you ready with daily conference previews. No. 13 is the Bluegrass Conference girls basketball preview.

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2020-21 BLUEGRASS CONFERENCE GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW

There were only two teams in the Bluegrass last season that could claim a positive point differential. Another — Murray — was even while Melcher-Dallas, Mormon Trail and Twin Cedars were pretty close to that. As for the two teams in positive, it was Lamoni and Moravia. Here are the standings per Varsity Bound:

Lamoni Demons — 13-6 overall, 10-0 conference

Murray Mustangs — 12-10 overall, 8-2 conference

Moravia Mohawks — 14-9 overall, 7-3 conference

Twin Cedars Sabers — 11-11 overall, 7-3 conference

Mormon Trail Saints — 9-11 overal, 6-6 conference

Diagonal Maroons — 8-14 overall, 4-5 conference

Melcher-Dallas Saints — 8-11 overall, 4-5 conference

Moulton-Udell Eagles — 7-13 overall, 4-6 conference

Orient-Macksburg Bulldogs — 4-17 overall, 3-8 conference

Ankeny Christian Academy Eagles — 2-17 overall, 1-8 conference

Seymour Warriors — 2-17 overall, 1-9 conference

COACHES 

•Ankeny Christian Academy: David Caldwell

•Diagonal: Gina Gunsolley

•Lamoni: Kevin Brunner

•Melcher-Dallas: Kelsey Goff

•Moravia: Derek Reischauer

•Mormon Trail: Katie Newton

•Moulton-Udell: Jason Ogden

•Murray: Jerry Shields

•Orient-Macksburg: Kim DeJongh

•Seymour: Paul Hinners 

•Twin Cedars: Zach Dunkin

NOTES FROM HOOP SCOOP

•Lamoni’s Jan Henry is one of the state’s most prolific rebounders. In 1969, she led the state with 17.2 rebounds per game. That’s the fourth-highest single game average in 6-on-6.

•In 1936, Melcher qualified for the state girls basketball tournament. Actually, it’s possible that was an invitational tournament. Melcher lost their only game at state to Mallard, 36-27. 

•Moravia is second among the Bluegrass Conference schools with six state tournament appearances, including in 1951 and during a five out of six stretch from 1986 through 1991. The only year they missed in that stretch was 1990 when they were coached by the duo of Dan Brooks and Phil Harrington. In 1975, 3,000+-point scorer Molly Van Benthuysen was inducted into the IGHSAU Basketball Hall of Fame.

•The most recent state qualifier among Bluegrass Conference schools? That’s Mormon Trail, which qualified in 2001. They lost to Rockwell-Swaledale in a state quarterfinal, 52-43.

•One thing in the Hoop Scoop that raises the eyebrows: They have a statistical section for “interceptions.” Moulton-Udell had the leading “interceptor” in the state in 1989 (Charity Marvin) and in in 1969 (Sheila Benz). 

•Murray’s Jeanne Jones is also one of the state’s greatest rebounders. She averaged 15.9 rebounds per game in 1980. That ranks 11th in state history (6-on-6).

•Many of the locals will remember the Orient-Macksburg girls basketball teams that went to the 1973 and 1985 state tournaments. The 1985 team even won a game, beating Ventura despite 65 points from the great Lynne Lorenzen. That came before a loss in the second round to Fort Dodge. Yes, Fort Dodge! Randy Platt was the head coach of that particular O-M team. He later led Harlan to state tournaments in 1991, 1992, 1995 and 1997.

•Seymour has the greatest state tournament history among Bluegrass Conference schools. They have 17 state tournament appearances with all of them coming between 1936 and 1960. And who could forget their 1947 state championship when they beat New Market, Callender, Wiota and Numa to claim the crown. Numa, by the way, is just 11 miles east of Seymour. According to the Hoop Scoop, 7,200 fans were on hand to watch that championship game.

•Twin Cedars also had a strong rebounder in 1990 when Shannon McCreery led the state with 12.3 rebounds per game. 

TOP-RETURNING SCORERS 

Six of the top 10 scorers from last season’s Bluegrass are gone, but they do bring back three of the top six, including one of the state’s leaders:

1. Abby Martin, SR, Lamoni: Martin poured in 24.7 points per game during a dominant junior season.

2. Brooke Roby, SR, Twin Cedars: Toby put in 12.7 points per game and ranked fourth in the conference.

3. Taylor Lumbard, JR, Diagonal: The top-scoring sophomore in last year’s Bluegrass, Lumbard ranked sixth in the league with 11.6 points per game.

4. Haley Hoch, SR, Melcher-Dallas: Hoch posted 10.0 points per game for the Saints, ranking in a tie for 10th last season.

5. Abbie Probasco, SR, Moulton-Udell: Probasco was 11th last season with 9.9 points per game.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Reese Potter, SR, Lamoni: 9.3 PPG

7. Mia Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: 9.1 PPG

8. Alaina Whittington, JR, Diagonal: 8.9 PPG

9. Anna Newton, JR, Diagonal: 8.8 PPG

10. Christa Cass, JR, Orient-Macksburg: 8.4 PPG

11. Cheyanne Bruns, JR, Twin Cedars: 7.9 PPG

12. Rylee Dunkin, JR, Twin Cedars: 7.9 PPG

13. Teryn Shields, JR, Murray: 7.2 PPG

14. Jayda Chew, JR, Murray: 7.1 PPG

15. Riese Gjerde, SO, Ankeny Christian: 7.0 PPG

15. Maddison Keller, SR, Seymour: 7.0 PPG

Ten of the 11 Bluegrass teams have a representative in the top 16 returning scorers, led by three each from Diagonal and Twin Cedars. Lamoni and Murray also have two apiece. Moravia is the only team not listed above. Their top-returning scorer, though, is listed below:

31. Keelie Anderson, SO, Moravia: 2.6 PPG

TOP-RETURNING REBOUNDERS 

Three of the top four and seven of the top 11 rebounders were seniors in last year’s conference. The returning top 15:

1. Taylor Lumbard, JR, Diagonal: Lumbard was one of two players to average a double-double last season. She had 11.3 rebounds per game and is the only player returning that posted a nightly double-double on average.

2. Reese Potter, SR, Lamoni: Potter wasn’t far off a double-double averaging 8.7 rebounds per game.

3. Haley Hoch, SR, Melcher-Dallas: Hoch was one of three in the conference (and the only returnee) that averaged at least five offensive rebounds per game. Her overall average was 8.7.

4. Kisha Reed, JR, Twin Cedars: Reed had a big year on the glass last year, ranking ninth with 6.2 rebounds per game.

5. Chloe Roe, SO, Ankeny Christian: The top freshman rebounder in the conference, Roe averaged 6.1 rebounds per game.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Aidan Newton, SO, Mormon Trail: 6.0 RPG

7. Abbie Probasco, SR, Moulton-Udell: 6.0 RPG

8. Grace Wood, SR, Moulton-Udell: 5.7 RPG

9. Brooke Roby, SR, Twin Cedars: 5.7 RPG

10. Alaina Whittington, JR, Diagonal: 5.5 RPG

11. Kinsey Eslinger, SO, Orient-Macksburg: 5.5 RPG

12. Abby Martin, SR, Lamoni: 5.4 RPG

13. Anna Newton, JR, Diagonal: 5.3 RPG

14. Draven Pierce, JR, Orient-Macksburg: 5.2 RPG

15. Christa Cass, JR, Orient-Macksburg: 5.2 RPG

Diagonal and Orient-Macksburg each bring back three in the list above while Lamoni, Moulton-Udell and Twin Cedars return two apiece. Moravia, Murray and Seymour is listed below with their top-returning rebounders:

16. Hannah Paschke, SR, Murray: 5.1 RPG

24. Maddison Keller, SR, Seymour: 3.7 RPG

35. Keelie Anderson, SO, Moravia: 2.9 RPG

TOP-RETURNING ASSISTS 

The top six in total assists last season in the Bluegrass Conference are back. Taken even further, nine of the top 11 are returning. Let’s take a look at the top 15:

1. Annika Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: It’s pretty rare a freshman will lead a conference in assists, but Shanks did it with 84 total dimes.

2. Jayda Chew, JR, Murray: Chew was the top sophomore in this category last year, passing out 79 assists on the season.

3. Kerrigan Mobley, SR, Diagonal: And ow for the top junior in the conference last year. Mobley was third with 78 assists.

4. Rylee Dunkin, JR, Twin Cedars: Dunkin had a great all-around year, including in setting up her teammates, finishing with 66 assists on the year.

4. Audrey Lloyd, SR, Lamoni: Lloyd tied with Dunkin for fourth, finishing with 66 assists for the year.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Kira Egly, JR, Diagonal: 64 assists

7. Tern Shields, JR, Murray; 53 assists

8. Abby Martin, SR, Lamoni: 49 assists

8. Brooke Roby, SR, Twin Cedars: 49 assists

10. Abbie Probasco, SR, Moulton-Udell: 42 assists 

11. Hannah Paschke, SR, Murray: 40 assists 

12. Anna Newton, JR, Diagonal: 38 assists 

13. Mia Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: 36 assists 

14. Taylor Lumbard, JR, Diagonal: 34 assists 

15. Kelly Lloyd, SO, Lamoni: 30 assists 

15. Kasyn Smith, SO, Orient-Macksburg: 30 assists 

Diagonal has four of the top-returning players in assists while Lamoni and Murray have three each and Mormon Trail and Twin Cedars have two apiece. There are four schools not represented in the int above, but here are their top-returning players in assists:

23. Gracie Peck, SO, Seymour: 23 assists 

36. Keelie Anderson, SO, Moravia: 8 assists 

40. Emily McDermott, SO, Ankeny Christian: 7 assists 

48. Haley Hoch, SR, Melcher-Dallas: 4 assists

TOP-RETURNING STEALS 

The top two, three of the top four and six of the top nine in steals last season are coming on back to the league. Here’s a look at the top 15 returnees in the category:

1. Abby Martin, SR, Lamoni: Martin topped the conference in steals, too, posting 72 swipes for the season.

2. Jayda Chew, JR, Murray: Chew wa snot too far behind Martin, finishing second with 68 steals on the year.

3. Abbie Probasco, SR, Moulton-Udell: Probasco had a big season of steals, too, for the Eagles. She had 66 steals on the year to rank fourth.

4. Brooke Roby, SR, Twin Cedars: Roby was one of just two players in the conference to finish the season with 50+ steals (58) and 20+ blocks (25).

5. Cheyanne Bruns, JR, Twin Cedars: Another Sabers standout with 50+ steals, Bruns ranked eighth the Bluegrass with 53.

The rest of the top 15:

6. Rylee Dunkin, JR, Twin Cedars: 49 steals

6. Audrey Lloyd, SR, Lamoni: 49 steals

6. Kisha Reed, JR, Twin Cedars: 49 steals

9. Mia Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: 44 steals

10. Tern Shields, JR, Murray: 42 steals

11. Christa Cass, JR, Orient-Macksburg: 39 steals

12. Gracie Peck, SO, Seymour: 38 steals

13. Kerrigan Mobley, SR, Diagonal: 35 steals

14. Annika Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: 34 steals

14. Kasyn Shinn, SO, Orient-Macksburg: 34 steals

Twin Cedars has four of the top seven returning thieves in the conference. Pretty, pretty good. Also, Lamoni, Mormon Trail, Moulton-Udell, Murray and Orient-Macksburg have two each on the list above. Ankeny Christian, Melcher-Dallas and Moravia also had some other returning players with steals:

21. Keelie Anderson, SO, Moravia: 24 steals

24. Riese Gjerde, SO, Ankeny Christian: 23 steals

49. Haley Hoch, SR, MelcherDallas: 6 steals

TOP-RETURNING BLOCKS 

Three seniors topped the leaderboard last season in total blocks. Also, eight of the top 10 were in the senior class. The top 15:

1. Brooke Roby, SR, Twin Cedars: Roby is the top-returning shot blocker in the conference, finishing with 25 swats on the season.

2. Reese Potter, SR, Lamoni: Potter tied for sixth last season with 16 blocks. That’s good for second among returnees.

3. Mia Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: The top shot blocker among freshmen in the conference, Shanks had 15 swats a year ago.

4. Christa Cass, JR, Orient-Macksburg: Here’s the top-returning shot blocker in the junior class. Cass had 14 blocks on the season.

5. Hannah King, SR, Moulton-Udell: King tied for 11th in the conference with 13 blocks on the year.

5. Teryn Shields, JR, Murray: Shields is the other that tied for 11th in the league with 13 blocks.

The rest of the top 15:

7. Annika Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: 12 blocks

8. Cheyanne Bruns, JR, Twin Cedars: 11 blocks

9. Abby Martin, SR, Lamoni: 10 blocks

9. Kassidy Quick, JR, Ankeny Christian: 10 blocks

9. Haley Hoch, SR, Melcher-Dallas: 10 blocks

9. Hannah Paschke, SR, Murray: 10 blocks

9. Kasyn Reed, JR, Melcher-Dallas: 10 blocks

9. Jetta Sterner, SR, Twin Cedars: 10 blocks

15. Kinsey Eslinger, SO, Orient-Macksburg: 8 blocks

15. Abbie Probasco, SR, Moulton-Udell: 8 blocks

15. Kisha Reed, JR, Twin Cedars: 8 blocks

Twin Cedars has four on the list above while Lamoni, Melcher-Dallas, Mormon Trail, Moulton-Udell, Murray and Orient-Macksburg all have two each. Here are the top returnees for Diagonal, Moravia and Seymour: 

18. Kira Egly, JR, Diagonal: 7 blocks

23. Ori Trimble, SR, Seymour: 5 blocks

36. Keelie Anderson, SO, Moravia: 2 blocks

TOP-RETURNING SHOOTERS 

On to the top-returning 3-point shooters in the conference, and there are six that all ranked in the top six in terms of 3-point makes last season. Here is the full top 10 of returnees:

1. Abbie Probasco, SR, Moulton-Udell: 35 3PM (24.0%)

2. Anna Newton, JR, Diagonal: 32 3PM (33.3%)

3. Abby Martin, SR, Lamoni: 31 3PM (29.0%)

4. Brooke Roby, SR, Twin Cedars: 26 3PM (28.9%)

5. Cheyanne Bruns, JR, Twin Cedars: 25 3PM (25.5%)

6. Mia Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: 22 3PM (37.9%)

7. Audrey Lloyd, SR, Lamoni: 12 3PM (21.1%)

8. Riese Gjerde, SO, Ankeny Christian: 10 3PM (22.7%)

8. Kerrigan Mobley, SR, Diagonal: 10 3PM (15.4%)

10. Teryn Shields, JR, Murray: 9 3PM (37.5%)

Diagonal, Lamoni and Twin Cedars figure to be the top 3-point shooting teams in the league with two returnees each in the top 10. Here are the other four teams’ top-returning 3-point shooters:

12. Gracie Peck, SO, Seymour: 7 3PM (36.8%)

13. Kinsey Eslinger, SO, Orient-Macksburg: 6 3PM (13.6%)

17. Keelie Anderson, SO, Moravia: 5 3PM (17.2%)

28. BrieAnn Remster, JR, Melcher-Dallas: 1 3PM (20.0%)

Now for the top-returning free throw shooters (by free throw makes):

1. Abby Martin, SR, Lamoni: 105 FTM (65.6%)

2. Taylor Lumbard, JR, Diagonal: 72 FTM (66.7%)

3. Brooke Roby, SR, Twin Cedars: 45 FTM (51.7%)

4. Alaina Whittington, JR, Diagonal: 32 FTM (50.8%)

5. Jayda Chew, JR, Murray: 31 FTM (53.4%)

6. Rylee Dunkin, JR, Twin Cedars: 26 FTM (53.1%)

6. Haley Hoch, SR, Melcher-Dallas: 26 FTM (53.1%)

6. Anna Newton, JR, Diagonal: 26 FTM (72.2%)

9. Reese Potter, SR, Lamoni: 24 FTM (32.9%)

10. Kinsey Eslinger, SO, Orient-Macksburg: 23 FTM (46.9%)

10. Maddison Keller, SR, Seymour: 23 FTM (62.2%)

10. Gracie Peck, SO, Seymour: 23 FTM (48.9%)

Diagonal leads the way in the free throw shooting with three of the top-returning six. Lamoni, Seymour and Twin Cedars have two each on the list above. Let’s check the other teams’ top-returning free throw shooters: 

13. Grace Wood, SR, Moulton-Udell: 22 FTM (53.7%)

17. Annika Shanks, SO, Mormon Trail: 19 FTM (52.8%)

19. Riese Gjerde, SO, Ankeny Christian: 17 FTM (50.0%)

32. Keelie Anderson, SO, Moravia: 11 FTM (73.3%)

ONE FINAL TAKE FOR EACH TEAM 

Here’s one final take for each team listed in the projected order of finish.

Lamoni: Nearly the entire roster returns intact from the Bluegrass Conference champion, and that includes the best player in the league. Abby Martin is primed for one more dominant season of basketball.

Twin Cedars: The Sabers should be in the running for the conference championship this year thanks to their group of athletes gaining one more year of improvement. Brooke Roby, Cheyanne Bruns and Rylee Dunkin are a dangerous trio.

Murray: Murray lost a pair of standout seniors, but Jayda Chew, Teryn Shields and company will continue to keep the Mustangs among the top teams in the league. 

Diagonal: Last year’s Maroons were young and lacking in numbers, but they proved plenty mighty. Taylor Lumbard is one of the stars of the conference, and Anna Newton and Alaina Whittington are likely first or second team selections in the league this year. They could use a little more depth.

Ankeny Christian: There’s a chance the Eagles contend (and maybe even win) the Bluegrass this year. They did it in volleyball with a bunch of standout freshmen. We don’t know that they are good at basketball, too, but there’s a better than average chance they are. Add them to last year’s freshmen, and this spot might look pretty low when it’s all said and done.

Mormon Trail: The graduation of Skylar Watsabaugh is a big loss, but they started three freshmen and a couple sophomores at times last year. The Saints also might be a bit low, and they could be ready to take a big leap with the sophomore trio of Annika and Mia Shanks and Aidyn Newton taking strides.

Moulton-Udell: Two of their top three players have graduated, and that leaves a big role for Abbie Probasco and several other seniors that saw plenty of time a year ago. It’ll be interesting to see how and who fills in.

Orient-Macksburg: Very, very young group last season that relied on the graduated Caitlyn Gist for a lot. Here’s a good chance for the sophomore class of Kinsey Eslinger and Kasyn Shinn and junior Christa Cass to step up.

Melcher-Dallas: Melcher-Dallas had massive numbers last season, and that included a senior class that combined for 74 starts. There’s still some talent on the roster, but they’re pretty untested to this point.

Moravia: Terrific season last year, too, for the Mohawks. However, they started five seniors, and their top reserve was also a senior. There are plenty of girls that are back that saw some reserve time, but we just don’t know much about how they might perform with bigger minutes….yet.

Seymour: A tough fall for one of the most productive programs of the last several years last season. Can they get it back? We’ll wait and see, but they’ll have to do it without three starters from last year. The sophomore class, led by Gracie Peck, will have plenty to say about this season. Maybe this is the start of another successful run.

Send any questions, comments, concerns and/or corrections to dmartin@kmamail.com.

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