Ogilvie girls basketball Coach Jonathan Nelson has high hopes for this year’s team, not just on the court, but in the community and in the athlete’s lives. He detailed his expectations and hopes with the Times:
Describe the makeup of this year’s varsity team:
The Ogilvie Lions girls basketball team is loaded with seniors with a few younger girls waiting to make a huge impact. This has been the year we have been pointing to for the last several years to be one of the best in quite a long time. We have had a couple of very significant injuries but this group has a lot of depth and should still be able to make a serious run at the conference championship and a deep postseason run.
Grace Heins will be back as a sophomore for her third varsity season full time as our point guard. She was an all conference player last season and should be the focal point of the Lion’s offense this season.
Alyssa Lang was also an All Conference selection along with Ailee Fratzke, both seniors who can light it up from the perimeter while also attacking the basket hard. Both of these senior girls should contribute in a major way offensively and spearhead a loaded offensive squad.
Maddy Anderson will be the post in the middle after a year that had her break the all time school record for blocks in a game (13) but should see a major increase in offensive production. She has worked hard in the off-season on her perimeter game which should bring her defender outside to open up penetration lanes for the rest of the team. She will be a handful for every team we face and once again be a force on the interior of the defensive end.
Kaitlyn Beck is back after a year off with an injury but will run our point guard position as well as a guard position when she isn’t running the show. She has a knack for attacking the basket and finishing well around the hoop. Her impact will be felt this season and could be a difference maker on the defensive end of the floor as well.
CeCe Sanborn and Kailey Arnold should also see significant minutes as they will come off the bench this season and make some major contributions both offensively and defensively. They will provide our bench with much needed depth and experience.
Kadence Pierce is an eighth grader but should see some extended time on the floor in varsity and bring a spark to an already loaded offense. She averaged about 28 points per game as a seventh grader on JV and should make an immediate impact on the Lions team this season.
Jerah Nelson could also see some time on the floor against teams that run zone against us as she is a zone buster with her three-point shooting prowess.
What are the team’s goals and priorities this season?
Our goals are pretty consistent with what we have striven for over the last several years. We feel we can win 20 games this season and contend with Pine City and Rush City for a possible conference championship.
We also want to maintain a high GPA in the classroom and qualify for the Academic All State award once again. We are looking to improve on our defensive end of the floor by limiting teams to 55 points or less and have a plus-five rebounding advantage along with limiting our turnovers to 12 or less per game as well.
Our final goal is to not only win our sub-section but win our section with a state tournament appearance on the line.
How are your opponents looking this year? What schools do you believe will be the most challenging competitors?
We have several teams that we will face this year that will present big challenges for us. As always, our toughest conference opponents will be Pine City and Rush City who return with a lot of talent. Hinckley-Finlayson is very well coached and could be a player in our conference as well. We also have scheduled Heritage Christian to come to Ogilvie which is a perennial powerhouse in 1A and usually compete for state championships year in and year out.
We also have the defending sub-section champions, Swanville, on the schedule and play a very good 2A school in Menahga when we play in the holiday tournament in December. This will provide us with several litmus tests to see where we stack up against some of the best teams in the state.
What do you hope these young athletes will take away from their sports experience?
This group of girls and I have been together now for the better part of 5-6 years and it’s time all of our hard work will pay off.
While we want to win on the floor, they also know that I care about them to win off the court as well. We have a family oriented atmosphere both on and off the floor and will continue to do team dinners and bond as a group this season.
Basketball is a vehicle we use to better our student athletes not only in the sport but also in the classroom and in their lives to come. My hope is that they build solid character qualities from their experience in our program and take these values into their college careers and someday the families that they start in the future.
Is there anything else you want to share about the team or Winter 2021-2022 season?
Despite starting the season with a lot of adversity, this team is excited to make a run this season. This team went to Iowa, where Coach Nelson is from, this summer and competed against some of the best teams in the state of Iowa. The Lions found themselves beating the number two ranked team in 2A in Iowa which had only lost onegame all year, that being in the state champion.