ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Prep girls basketball: ‘Seasoned’ Superior wants to ‘get out and run’ this season

The Spartans have four starters with at least three years of experience and are hoping to advance further than the sectional semifinals this season.

Superior’s Eva Peterson (23) slips past Hayward’s Avery Chucka (21) for a bucket
Superior’s Eva Peterson (23) slips past Hayward’s Avery Chucka (21) for a bucket in the first half of the game in Superior on Tuesday evening.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
We are part of The Trust Project.

SUPERIOR — Superior’s Emma Raye jumped up for a rebound under the Hayward basket Tuesday and turned to push the ball up court.

She saw Kloe Zentkowski up ahead of the Hurricanes defense and hit her in stride with a pass that led to an easy layup as the Spartans cruised to a 68-26 season-opening win.

Raye, the 2022 Superior Telegram All-Area Player of the Year , also found Eva Peterson on a fast break and Peterson, a much-improved post player, connected with Savannah Leopold in a similar position for an easy bucket.

Superior’s Emma Raye (34) shoots over Hayward’s Rachel Miller (11)
Superior’s Emma Raye (34) shoots over Hayward’s Rachel Miller (11) in the first half of the game in Superior on Tuesday evening.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

It was indicative of a more up-tempo style Superior coach Dave Kontny hopes to employ this season in the hopes of advancing into the state tournament. Last season, the Spartans finished two wins shy of the four-team tournament, bowing out in the sectional semifinal against Appleton East.

“We’re seasoned, we have kids back,” Kontny said. “Four of our starters have four and three years of experience. So we know where they’re going to be and we decided we’re going to play a little more up-tempo and we looked good in it. We made some mistakes tonight that we shouldn’t have, but we’ll learn along the way.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Zentkowski, a junior, said last season she was in a “funk” and didn’t play with confidence, but this season she says she’s changed her attitude and wants to make things happen.

Superior’s Kloe Zentkowski (13) gets a shot up in the second half
Superior’s Kloe Zentkowski (13) gets a shot up in the second half of the Spartans game with Hayward in Superior on Tuesday evening.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“Last year, I was more pass-first and this year, when I’m open, I’m going to work to score,” she said. “I’m not going to take unnecessary shots, but I’m going to do everything I can to that helps the whole team.”

It’s not just Zentkowski that has stepped up her game, however, according to Kontny.

“We’ve improved at every position,” Kontny said. “We can get out and run, we got our heads up, we were making extra passes and that’s why we had a lot of wide-open shots today. We’re difficult to guard.”

Leopold said the blowout loss to Appleton East stung, but credits the experience and playing club basketball over the summer with Zentkowski and Peterson for much of the improvement.

Superior’s Savannah Leopold (20) gets fouled as she splits the Hayward defense of Madi Bergschnieder (13) and Greta Schmitt (5)
Superior’s Savannah Leopold (20) gets fouled as she splits the Hayward defense of Madi Bergschnieder (13) and Greta Schmitt (5) in the second half of the game in Superior on Tuesday evening.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“Since the first day of practice, I’ve seen a big improvement from last year when we just all grew closer after basketball season,” Leopold said. “Losing against Appleton East was really tough, but it made us look forward to this year. Three of us — Kloe, Eva and I — playing AAU (Amateur Athletic Union basketball) over the summer and it just really helped bring our skill level up and it helped us become better teammates with one another.”

Superior’s Annabel Manion (2) picks the pocket of Hayward’s Madi Bergschnieder (13)
Superior’s Annabel Manion (2) picks the pocket of Hayward’s Madi Bergschnieder (13) in the first half of the game in Superior on Tuesday evening.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Kontny is also excited about the early play of sophomore Annabel Manion. Manion was the sixth player on the 2021-22 team, but is stepping into a starting role this year.

“She’s a true point guard,” Kontny said. “She sees the floor, she complements us well, she sees all the cutters, she never misses anybody, she’s alway under control — she’s a good player.”
Kontny says his plan is to take it one day at a time and continue to improve.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We just want to get better every day,” he said. “We want to win the conference and we want to get to the state tournament and that’s it. Those are pretty simple goals, it’s a lot of work to get there, but, you know, I think we have the kind of team that has the chance to do it.”

Superior (1-0) will next play at Rockford (Minnesota) at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Hayward 11-15—26

Superior 33-35—38

Hayward — Greta Schmitt 5, Madi Bergschneider 6, Alivia Poppe 2, Avery Chucka 3, Sadie Campbell 1, Avery Poppe 5, Maekayla Cadotte 4. Totals 10 5-16 26.

3-point goals — Chucka.

Superior — Annabel Manion 7, Kloe Zentkowski 18, Savannah Leopold 13, Eva Peterson 11, Ava Stratton 3, Emma Raye 15, Lauren Gunderson 1. Totals 20 19-26 68.

3-point goals — Manion, Zentkowski 3, Leopold 2, Peterson, Stratton, Raye.

More from Jamey Malcomb
The Hilltoppers will again be undersized in Section 7A, but coach CJ Osuchukwu hopes to turn that to his squad’s advantage.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
What to read next
The senior forward scored 18 of her game-high 20 points in the second half to lead the Lumberjacks to a 55-52 win over the Eskomos.
Grace Karakas had a hat trick in Duluth's win over Princeton.
The Duluth Marshall alums were on opposite benches when Denver and Omaha played on Saturday in Denver.
A big night for the Cadets' top line sent East to 0-2.