Prep girls basketball preview: Barnum turns to younger siblings to keep rolling

Jessica Newman and Katie Myhre dutifully played the role of little sister last season as their older siblings led Barnum to its first high school girls basketball state title.

Jessica Newman and Katie Myhre dutifully played the role of little sister last season as their older siblings led Barnum to its first high school girls basketball state title.

Now, with Katrina Newman and Sarah Myhre among the five players who graduated in 2010, the Bombers turn to their younger sisters to keep the success rolling.

"It definitely takes a little getting used to, but it's exciting that it's our team and we're the leaders," junior guard Katie Myhre said. "We've always looked to our sisters to tell us what to do, but now it's us. It's a lot more pressure, but it's fun because it's what we've worked for our whole lives."

The Bombers have handled the pressure so far, winning their first five games to stretch their winning streak to 26 and claim the state's No. 1 ranking in Class A. That's where the Bombers finished a year ago after beating Nashwauk-

Keewatin, Parkers Prairie and Goodhue to become the first girls team from Northeastern Minnesota to win a state title in any class since Chisholm in 1984.


"We're rebuilding this team from the ground up," Newman said. "Everyone's playing new roles, so it's like a completely different team. This is a chance to make our name."

In order to repeat, several newcomers will have to mesh with the few returnees. A pair of freshmen and a sophomore accentuate three changes in the starting lineup, but the duo of Newman (15.9 points per game,

7 rebounds per game in 2009-10) and Myhre (12.2 ppg) is a solid foundation.

"We lost a load last year ... but we still have a pretty good team this year," said coach Randy Myhre, whose 581 victories rank third in state history. "It's a different type of team. It's pretty early, but I like what's going on so far."

Newman's averaging 26 points a game and Myhre adds 17 an outing, and the defending Section 5A champions already have beaten two top-10 teams. Newman, in her fifth season on the varsity, signed a letter of intent last month to join her sister at Minnesota Duluth next season.

"Jess plays the game with more enthusiasm and passion than most," coach Myhre said. "She's a great competitor. In any situation, difficult or easy, she'll never let you down. She's doing a great job of leading us."

Despite Barnum's losses, Myhre says his team might have the best perimeter play among small schools in the state. It's a style change that players say they enjoy.

"We had great posts in Katrina and Sarah last year," Katie Myhre said, "so this year we're concentrating on attacking the basket from the perimeter and getting our shots that way."


-- Floodwood returns all seniors to its starting lineup, including forwards Maija Rauvola (14.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Alissa Autio (13.9 ppg,

7 rpg) in its quest to win its inaugural Section 7A title. The 10th-ranked Polar Bears have opened 4-2 with a one-point overtime loss to Esko and a close loss to Barnum, while beating top-10 Fulda.

Despite an early 20-point loss to Esko, Cook County rates among the section favorites with three double-digit scorers returning (Ashley Deschampe, Brea Boomer and Ailee Larson).

Mountain Iron-Buhl senior guard Charlotte Overbye has climbed the charts to reach seventh all-time among Northeastern Minnesota's girls scorers with 2,091 points. Despite a youthful lineup, the Rangers (5-0) have won four of their five games by at least 27 points.

Chisholm brings back three double-digit scorers, including senior guard Risa Valentini (12.8 ppg), but the Bluestreaks' biggest change is replacing longtime coach Mike Ciochetto with Pam Pioske. Ciochetto's 538 career wins rank eighth all-time in Minnesota.

Section 7AAAA

Experienced Duluth East poised to improve

More is expected from Duluth East this season after a senior-less team went just 10-17 in 2009-10.


Senior guard Macie Dorow (12.1 ppg), who signed this fall with Division I Wisconsin-Milwaukee after committing as a sophomore, and junior guard Alex Freeman (11.9 ppg) pace the Greyhounds (3-2).

"I'm optimistic about it, more than other years," Dorow said. "I think this will be our best chance at making a state run."

Cambridge-Isanti (22-7 a year ago) has started 4-1, but East's path may be smoother since defending champion St. Francis (25-5) has lost its first five games.

The merger of crosstown Duluth rivals Central and Denfeld boosted that program into Class AAAA and created a deep bench. Mary Von Rueden (14.3 ppg) and Leah Hamm give the Trojans a solid backcourt.

-- In Wisconsin, all eyes are on Superior freshman Hailey Kontny, who was offered a scholarship at the University of Michigan before she had played a varsity game. Kontny is averaging 20.7 points, including a 28-point effort Tuesday against defending Lake Superior Conference champion Ashland, to lead the Spartans to a 3-0 start. Senior forward Bettye Jo Nelson averaged 21.4 points and 10.1 rebounds a game and totaled 13 double-doubles a year ago. Ashland brings back senior forward Anika Whiting (13.7 ppg, 7 rpg).

Section 7AAA

Transfer of power to Grand Rapids

This section transformed once Bemidji star Kayla Hirt, a University of Minnesota signee, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during an AAU tournament in July and was pronounced done for the year.


Hirt averaged 26 points and 14.1 rebounds last season in leading the Lumberjacks to the Class AAA state tournament, but her loss has turned the five-team section into a free-for-all.

Bemidji's loss has been Grand Rapids' gain -- literally. Sophomore Kenzie Kane, a starter with the Lumberjacks, transferred to Grand Rapids and joins senior Jessi Corrick (18.4 ppg) in the backcourt. Senior forward Kelly Niles, a veteran of the Thunderhawks' 2008 and '09 section champions, also is back. Grand Rapids is off to a 4-0 start, including a 45-22 dismantling of Bemidji.

Grand Rapids also has defeated section foes Cloquet, led by high-scoring senior forward Annabel Morrisroe (20.2 ppg, 10.5 rpg), and Hermantown, which returns double-digit scorers Mary Neumann and Carmen Bergstedt among 13 upperclassmen. Hibbing, last season's runners-up, has started 2-3 with a two-point win over Bemidji.

Section 7AA

Esko chasing Braham again

In last season's section final, Esko nearly knocked off a Braham team that ended up reaching the Class AA state title game and is ranked No. 1 this season.

The core returns for the eighth-ranked Eskomos, who take a 4-0 record into this weekend's Esko Coaches Classic. Senior guard Keely Deadrick (19 ppg, 2.8 steals per game), an All-Area first-team selection, and 6-7 sophomore center Savanna Trapp key an Eskomos' defense that held 12 opponents to below 40 points a year ago and twice more this season.

That defense will be tested Feb. 17 when the Eskomos again face Braham and sophomore Rebekah Dahlman (27.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg), who surpassed 2,000 career points Tuesday and is on pace to become the state's all-time scoring leader.


Moose Lake-Willow River (3-1) is coming off a 16-win season and is paced by senior guard Maddy Adamczak (13.7 ppg).

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