For a squad that had not played a game in close to 11 months, the Monona Grove High School girls’ basketball team looked to be on the same page for its 2021 opener Jan. 19 at Milton.
Junior Avery Poole led with 14, and two newcomers to the varsity team, Emma Lee and Emily Clevidence scored 13 and 10 points respectively as the Silver Eagles dominated the Red Hawks, 71-43.
While it was the first game for MG, it was Milton’s sixth with just one victory in the books.
MG head coach Tyler Kuehl said his team had fresh legs and could rotate more players in and out of the game.
“We had 12 kids available Tuesday night, and they can all play,” he said. “Everyone contributed and we were able to use a constant batch of subs to keep the pressure on for the whole game.”
Monona Grove led the Red Hawks 33-19 at halftime and then continued to dominate in the second half with a 38-24 scoring edge.
As for the two players making their varsity debut, Kuehl has some good things to say about Lee and Clevidence.
“Both played excellently and are indicative of the way our team is constructed,” Kuehl said. “We have a lot of girls that will lead us in scoring at some point throughout the season. We have a very balanced offensive team and I’m excited to see a lot of girls contribute.”
Senior point guard Peighton Nelson had nine points.
Milton was led by Hailey Ferguson with nine points and Julia Haecks had eight.
With COVID-19 restrictions limiting the team on how it may conduct practices, Kuehl said it was a good start to the season.
“There is a lot we can clean up defensively, but it was a great start to the season, especially considering we can’t practice defense in our current practice format within Dane County,” Kuehl said.
The Silver Eagles play on the road Thursday, Jan. 28 at Janesville Parker, with tipoff scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Four seniors return
The Silver Eagles graduated four seniors from the 2019-20 team including 6-foot Seanna Curran, 5-foot-11 forward Jadee Christiansen, 5-foot-10 forward Kayleigh Zank and 5-foot-8 sharp shooting guard Jenny Gorton.
But the 2021 roster will have four seniors and several underclassmen with varsity experience.
Nelson, who returns for her final season in high school basketball, has signed a letter of intent to play women’s college basketball at Hillsdale College in southeast Michigan.
The 5-foot-9 guard was named to the All-Badger South Conference first team for 2019-20.
With Monona Grove only playing a seven-game regular season before the tournament, Nelson may not score the 84 points needed to reach 500 for her high school career, but she will be reliable at orchestrating the offense and serving as the team’s leader.
Other seniors include small forward Lakyn Hinson, and guards Halle Olson and Emma Goke, who averaged 6.7 points per game last season.
“Our four seniors have a lot of combined experience and all bring different strengths to the team,” Kuehl said. “First and foremost, they are wonderful people. They work hard and set a phenomenal example for everyone in the program. I’m excited to watch them leave their legacy on the entire program.”
Underclass returnees include junior Avery Poole and sophomore Taylor Moreau who both averaged better than 7 points per game, and junior Ally Yundt, who contributed 5 points a contest. Poole hit 40% of her attempts from the 3-point line to lead the team. Emily Clevidence, Emma Lee and Bracken are newcomers to the varsity, but Kuehl expects them to be instant contributors.
The 2019-20 Silver Eagles finished 14-10 overall and 8-6 in the Badger South Conference.