Cardinal girls are turning some heads

What was expected to be a learning season for the Luverne girls’ basketball team has turned into a pretty impressive campaign for the Cardinals.

LHS coach T.J. Newgard has what largely was an inexperienced group of players at the beginning of the year playing at a high level.

I’m not so sure the coach was sold on the prospect back in November, but Newgard and the Cardinals have put themselves in a position to sport a winning record at season’s end for the third consecutive year.

A victory in Edgerton Monday night upped Luverne’s record to 9-6 overall.

Considering the Cardinals had a 4-5 mark when play in November and December was complete, that’s a pretty impressive situation to be in.

LHS has won four of its five games so far in January, and the Cardinals find themselves situated in the No. 3 position in the Big South Conference’s Western Division with a 4-3 mark.

What’s even more impressive is the fact the Cards and Windom, a team LHS beat 72-64 in Luverne Jan. 10, currently have the best section records of 4-2 in Section 3AA South at this point in time.

That’s an eye-popping achievement for a team that started the year with two established players.

Senior Mallory Thorson and sophomore Brooklynn Ver Steeg are the lone returning starters returning from Luverne’s 2018-19 squad, and they have played the game at an extremely high level.

Thorson clearly is the senior leader of the team, and she led by example during the win over Windom by scoring a career-high 33 points.

Thorson played another strong game when LHS avenged an early-season loss to Jackson County Central Thursday in Luverne, but it was Ver Steeg who stole the show by turning in a 33-point performance of her own.

As important as Thorson and Ver Steeg have been to Luverne’s success as a team this winter, some of the largely untested players at the beginning of the season are starting to find their groove.

Freshman Averill Sehr seems to be benefiting from the limited varsity experience last winter as she’s emerging as the team’s No. 3 scoring threat.

Freshmen twin sisters Christina and Elizabeth Wagner seem to be getting better with every game, and I believe they will continue to improve throughout the season as their confidence grows.

Junior guard Autumn Nath seems to bring a calming presence to the court when she enters the game as a reserve, and freshman forward Jocelyn Hart comes off the bench to give the Cardinals quality minutes in the paint.

With improved consistency, I believe sophomore Elise Ferrell and freshman Emma Beyer have the potential to emerge as key contributors as well.

It’s way to early to say how the rest of the season turns out for LHS, but I do know this.

What Newgard thought could be a sneaky good team at the end of the year is playing pretty impressive basketball right now.

That should make the rest of the season interesting for players and fans.

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