The 2017-2018 girls’ basketball season in the area was exciting once again. Whether it was great games, or players reaching a career milestone, the season was filled with many moments to remember. Although none of the four local teams reached the state tournament this season, there was still plenty of talent on display in the local gyms.
ALL-AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL FIRST TEAM
Alexa Schumann (HLWW)
Communication is an important part of what can help a basketball team. For Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted senior Alexa Schumann, that’s just one of the many things she brought to the floor for the Lakers this season.
While being a vocal leader on the floor, Schumann also led it with her play. She averaged a double-double this season for the Lakers in her final season. Schumann averaged 15.4 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game.
“Alexa was a tremendous vocal leader for us all year,” HLWW coach Ryan Petersen said. “She set a great example in practice with her communication and energy. Alexa had a desire to learn something new each day and you could see that with her progression over the last few seasons. Throughout the season she was always willing to help younger girls in our program.”
A force inside all season long for the Lakers, Schumann shot 55 percent from the field and led the team in blocks (73) and rebounds (294).
“During games, she was a force for us inside leading our conference in offensive rebounds and was second in our conference in blocks,” Petersen said. “At the same time, she was the second-leading scorer in the conference.”
CJ Decker (HLWW)
They don’t make many point guards like HLWW’s CJ Decker. That’s why she will be missed dearly next season by the Lakers. Decker, one of the most talented players in the area, had a big season in her final year as a Laker.
“CJ has been everything you could ask for from a point guard and a teammate throughout her career,” Petersen said. “She was able to stay level-headed and take each game one play at a time. She is one of the most committed athletes I have ever seen and her work ethic was a great example set for the rest of our team.”
For the season, Decker averaged 15.3 points per game. She also averaged 6.2 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game. On the year, Decker recorded multiple triple-doubles.
Decker did it all as she helped HLWW win their first playoff in her varsity career.
“CJ led our conference in assists, free throw percentage, and was third in our conference in scoring,” Petersen added.
Morgan Chmielewski (Mayer Lutheran)
There may not be a player in the area who took a bigger step forward in her game than Mayer Lutheran’s Morgan Chmielewski. Forced into a bigger role this season, Chmielewski stepped forward in impressive fashion.
“Her growth from sophomore to junior year was tremendous,” Mayer Lutheran coach Kris Gustin said. “As a leader alone, she took over this team. She does everything well.”
The junior point guard averaged 11.9 points per game for the Crusaders this season. She also led the team in assists (136) and shot 48.3 percent from the floor.
Chmielewski was an All-Conference section and was named Class A All-State Honorable Mention.
“Morgan was our point guard and our offense started with her,” Gustin said. “She did everything for our team. We are a different team with her on the floor.”
Chmielewski helped lead the Crusaders to a 23-win season, and a trip to the Section 4A title game.
“Her work ethic and energy are contagious,” Gustin said. “Her growth as a floor leader was crucial for our success. She makes our team better in every aspect.”
Marissa Radtke (LP/HT)
It was business as usual for Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity’s Marissa Radtke. The junior had another big year for the Bulldogs, leading them to the Section 4A semifinals.
On the season, Radtke averaged 21.1 points per game for LP/HT. She also averaged 3.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 2.8 steals per game.
Radtke also recorded her 1,000th career point this season.
“Marissa had another great year,” LP/HT coach Mike Lee said. “She led the team in virtually every category.”
Emma Lade (Mayer Lutheran)
In just her sophomore season, Mayer Lutheran’s Emma Lade became one of the top scorers in the area. Lade took a big step forward, leading the Crusaders in scoring, averaging 12.6 points per game. She also led the team in 3-pointers made (31) while shooting 44.3 percent from the field.
“Emma led us in scoring and was second on the team in assists,” Gustin said. “Her ability to run the floor, make shots, and see the floor is as good as anyone on our team.”
ALL-AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL SECOND TEAM
There was plenty more talent on display throughout the season for girls’ basketball. Below is a look at the Herald Journal All-Area Girls Basketball Second Team.
Libby Heilman (Watertown-Mayer)
Ask Watertown-Mayer senior Libby Heilman to do something on the basketball court and she’ll do it. Whether it’s running the offense as the point guard or being physical inside, Heilman’s versatility was a key piece to the Royals’ success this past season.
“Libby is such a versatile player as she can play every position on the court,” W-M coach John Rosholt said. “Libby led the team in assists and was second on the team in rebounding, steals, free throw attempts and free throws made. Libby served as our captain and part-time point guard.”
While playing point guard, Heilman finished the season averaging 3.1 assists per game. She also wasn’t afraid to be physical inside, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game to go along with her 9.8 points per game.
“When Libby played the point guard position, she controlled our offense and consequently the pace of the game,” Rosholt said. “Due to Libby’s physical style of play, she sustained several injuries this season, but as a tribute to her toughness, she played in all 30 games this season.”
Taylor Ebert (LP/HT)
One of the major reasons the Bulldogs had a successful season once again was the emergence of Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity’s Taylor Ebert. The junior guard found her stride on offense this season, giving the Bulldogs a big boost.
“Taylor stepped up as the year went,” LP/HT coach Mike Lee said. “She began to find her offense more consistently, which opened up opportunities for others.”
Ebert averaged 10.7 points per game this season while also averaging 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.9 steals per game.
Lexi Schermann (Mayer Lutheran)
There’s nothing better than having a coach on the floor. That’s what Mayer Lutheran senior Lexi Schermann gave the Crusaders once again this year.
Schermann averaged 10.6 points per game this season for the Crusaders. She led the team in steals (70) while finishing second in made 3-pointers (25).
“Lexi is a coach on the floor,” Gustin said. “She is always encouraging and working with her teammates to be the best they can be. Lexi’s leadership was a huge asset to our program this year.”
Mercedes Burmeister (Watertown-Mayer)
Heading into the season, W-M coach John Rosholt knew he would need some younger players to step up this season. Freshman Mercedes Burmeister took that to a whole new level.
After starting the season as a part-time varsity player, Burmeister quickly showed she belonged at the top level full time. She averaged 8.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the Royals this past season.
“It’s a steep learning curve for any freshman playing at the varsity level in a team sport and it was no different for Mercedes this season,” Rosholt said. “She met the challenges of her first varsity season with determination, and in the end, exceeded all expectations. Mercedes is a player who is willing to sacrifice her body for the good of the team. She led the team in taking offensive charges this season.”
Burmeister’s biggest game of the season this year came in the Section 5AA semifinals. She scored a team-high 19 points to help the Royals reach the section title game.
“Her 19 points in our section semifinal game was a tremendous shot in the arm for our team and our success,” Rosholt said. “In the end, Mercedes was our third-leading scorer on the team. As a ninth-grader, she stepped up this season and became a major contributing factor to our team on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.”
Brooke Paulsrud (Mayer Lutheran)
There’s a lot Mayer Lutheran’s Brooke Paulsrud would do on the court for the Crusaders this season. Whether running the point, guarding the opponents’ best scorer, or doing all the little things, Paulsrud did so with a smile.
“Brooke adapted to a new role this year,” Gustin said. “She played more post this year, which allowed us to run different sets.”
The change of position didn’t bother Paulsrud as she averaged 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. The way Paulsrud adapted to her new role was crucial to the success of the Crusaders to the tune of 23 wins.
“Her second half of the season was impressive,” Gustin said. “She stepped up and was key to our success.”