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CLASS A GIRLS BASKETBALL: Vikings continue to make presence felt around glass

MINNEAPOLIS – For the past few seasons, the Minneota girls basketball team has relied on its strong presence inside, primarily led by Lydia Sussner. Despite not having Sussner’s 5-foot-10 frame around the basket to control the rebounding game, it hasn’t stopped the Vikings from utilizing their size to their advantage throughout the season.

That aspect certainly rang true during the Vikings’ Class A quarterfinal game against Red Lake on Thursday, as Minneota outrebounded the Warriors 52-35 on the afternoon, including grabbing 14 offensive boards. Abby Hennen led the way for the Vikings with 14 total rebounds, followed by Jeren Rost with 10 and Natalee Rolbiecki with seven.

Abby Hennen said they knew if they were able to limit Red Lake’s shot attempts on offense, they wouldn’t allow many second-or-third-chance opportunities and felt their aggressive rebounding style helped themselves out on their offensive possessions.

“We knew that we didn’t want to give them second chances because if we played good defense the first time and we could box them out, it would help limit them in points,” Abby Hennen said. “I think our team did a really good job of boxing out because they have some taller players that are aggressive for getting the rebounds. Getting the rebounding going also helped us get some transition points.”

While there is no player listed above 6-foot on the Vikings’ roster, Minneota has several with a lot of height, including six standing at 5-foot-8 or above. Coach Chad Johnston said they’ve really tried to emphasize the importance of boxing out, especially when their athleticism can’t be relied upon on a consistent basis.

“We have just emphasized trying to put bodies on people and boxing out. While we don’t have a player like Lydia and that presence anymore, we have a lot of girls in that 5-foot-9 range that are very athletic, long and can jump well,” Johnston said. “That’s probably where we’re getting ourselves in trouble once in a while, we think that we can just out-jump people and every now and then you’re going to run into people who are longer or can jump better than you and that’s why we emphasize putting bodies on people and trying to box out.”

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