Behind quickness, shooting, LRSC women ready to go
By Harry Lipsiea
Watching his team complete a full-court defensive drill in practice, Lake Region State College head womens basketball coach Danny Mertens likes what he sees.
“That’s how we should do it every single time,” the coach notes.
A first-year head coach, Mertens admits that he has high expectations of his players. Something he learned from long-time Royal coach Duane Schwab who retired after 25 seasons at Lake Region State College.
“I learned a lot from Duane. He taught me a lot of important lessons,” Mertens commented. “Coach always demanded perfection and I am going to do the same.”
With the mantra of if it’s notbroke don’t fix it, the Royals will play with a lot of the same schemes as in the past.
“If you have enjoyed watching Lake Region State College basketball in the past, you will enjoy it this year too,” Mertens commented.
With that said, in many aspects the 2014-2015 Lake Region State College womens basketball team is a brand new squad. A season ago, all five starters and two of the team’s top reserves graduated.
“We will definitely be a different team this season,” he said. “I would say we will probably be a little more guard oriented this season. Our team can really get up and down the floor.”
Coach Mertens will rely upon a mix of returners and newcomers to log minutes this season. The good news is that five sophomore returners are back for the Royals this season. Sophomores Sara Schwanke, 7.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists, Meghan Jorgenson, 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds, Becca Eberle, 4.7 points and four rebounds, Taylor Swanson, 2.3 points, and Morgan Titus, 1.4 points and 1.1 rebounds, are all familiar faces for the Royals.
“All five of those sophomores know exactly what to expect out of college basketball,” Mertens commented. “Knowing the drills and what we do is so important. It’s nice to have that experience back.”
Post players Eberle and Jorgenson are expected to log a lot of minutes inside for the Royals.
“They will be a big key for us,” Mertens said. “Becca gained a lot of confidence for us at the end of the season and has carried that into this season. Meghan provided a solid post presence off the bench for us last season especially with her rebounding.”
Schwanke, Swanson and Titus will play the perimeter for the Royals this season.
“Our depth in our guards and forwards should be pretty strong,” Mertens said. “And with 11 players, there will be a lot of minutes to go around.”
A pair of sophomore returners are expected to be key contirubtors for the Royals. Taylor Henningsgard is a 5-foot-7 guard. The sophomore comes to Lake Region State College from the University of Mary where she 2 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game as a freshman.
“We will expect Taylor to man the point guard for us. She is a terrific ball handler and a true leader on the floor,” Mertens stated. “Her maturity and ability to run the offense will be a great asset to the team this season.”
Ashtin Freije is also a sophomore guard for Lake Region State College. The 5-foot-9 athlete from Edmore transferred at Christmas break from the University of Jamestown. She practiced with the squad during the second half of the season.
“By doing that, she knows what to expect going in,” Mertens stated. “She has come in and really played well. Ashtin is a very good shooter.”
Mertens is excited about the contributions that the team’s four freshmen will make this season.
“We have a great freshman recruiting class,” he said. “They have all come in and worked extrmely hard.”
Freshman Kennedy Henningsgard, a 5-foot-9 guard, was an All-State performer at Hillsboro-Central Valley. “Kennedy has some of the best fundamentals I have seen in my time here,” the coach said. “She can run the floor, shoot the ball and play excellent defense. The other thing about Kennedy is that she can play the two, three or four positions which will be very valuable for us.”
Shaina Stevenson is a 5-foot-1 guard who was a three-time All-Conference performer while helping lead her high school team to the state tournament.
“Shaina comes from a winning program at Ada,” Mertens stated. “She is terrific defensively, just a shut down defender. I think she will do a great job of filling her role this season.”
Kelsey Schlenk, a 5-foot-8 guard, was an All-Conference performance at East Grand Forks Sacred Heart.
“Kelsey shoots the ball extremely well for us,” Mertens said. “She is a really hard worker who will do whatever you ask of her.”
Megan Cantellano is a 5-foot-11 forward from Sydney, Australia.
“Megan has a nice shot and is very strong. She will provide some nice rebounding inside,” the coach said.
So far, practice has going very well, the coach said. He commended the players for their work ethics and positive attitude.
“This is a very hard working group,” Mertens stated. “They come to practice everyday ready to work.”
With strong shooting and excellent quickness, the Royals should be fun to watch. Lake Region State College will look to use its athleticism to get up and down the court.
“I think we will be a lot of fun to watch,” the coach said. “It’s going to be important for us to keep getting better. If we can do this, I think it should be a successful season.”