A five-year run has put the Thief River Falls girls at the top of the high school basketball leader board.
The challenge is to remain there in 2016-17.
Thief River Falls has won 125 games over the past five years, against just 18 losses. The remarkable success story began with a 23-4 mark in 2011-12 that was followed by records of 25-3 (2012-13); 24-3 (2013-14); 26-4 (2014-15); and 27-4 (2015-16).
Thief River Falls has won back-to-back Section 8AAA titles and last spring capped things off by claiming the third place trophy in the Class AAA state tournament.
Three seniors were lost to graduation off that team.
Returning starters include 5-7 senior guard Allie Okeson, 5-7 junior guard Kylea Praska and 6-2 junior center Tiahna Nicholson.
“I think we’ll be strong in the post again with Tiahna, and Kylea gives us a great outside threat as well as the ability to get to the rim,” said Thief River Falls coach Jeff Loe.
The guard rotation is also expected to include 5-7 juniors Bailey Greene and Morgan Espe, along with 5-6 sophomore Alexa Rogalla.
“We hope Shawna Spears (5-8 senior forward) and Marley Nelson (5-11 junior forward) will give us some strength inside for defense and rebounding,” added Loe.
Thief River Falls’ senior class also includes 5-6 guard Jordan Casteel, 5-11 forward Jennicca Leier and 5-11 center Gabriel Holte.
Leah Kainz, a 5-5 guard, and Mariah Iverson, a 5-9 foward are the other juniors on the roster.
The program also includes sophomores Hailey Rosendahl, Rebecca Leier and Breanna Weinen; along with freshmen Brea Prickett, Camryn Schwab, Elaina Knott, Yasmine Vondal-Gayden, Anika Dalager, Molly Halsa, Jerzie Finstad, Miah Nelson, Coral Mattison, Madalyn Determan, Carley Johnson, Ava Yuska, Jordan Naslund and Ciera Kotaska.
“We look very athletic,” offered Loe. “We should be able to push the tempo of the game to our advantage. We just need to bring more intensity on the defensive side.”
Still, there are things to fret about, acknowledged Loe. “Our depth inside is a concern for us,” he admitted. “If T (Tiahna Nicholson) needs a break or gets in foul trouble, we get pretty small in a hurry. We need consistent shooting from inexperienced perimeter players as well.”
If the pieces fall in place, the Prowlers could be in the thick of things again at season’s end, according to Loe, who said, “We think by section time, we will be ready to contend.”
Tuesday, Nov. 29 – Bemidji, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 1 – Roseau, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 2 – at Fargo South, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 6 – Fergus Falls, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 9 – at Grand Forks Red River, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 13 – Detroit Lakes, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 17 – TRF REA Northern Blast Classic; Tuesday, Dec. 20 – Hawley, 6 p.m.; Wednesday/Thursday, Dec. 28/29 – Monticello Invitational; Tuesday, Jan. 3 – at Bemidji, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Jan. 5 – Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, 7:30 p.m.; Monday, Jan. 9 – at Roseau, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 13 – at Hibbing, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 14 – at Grand Rapids, 3 p.m.; Tuesday, Jan. 17 – East Grand Forks, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Jan. 20 – at Sartell-St. Stephen, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 21 – at Sauk Rapids-Rice, 2 p.m.; Thursday, Jan. 26 – at Detroit Lakes, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Jan. 31 – Pelican Rapids, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 3 – at Moorhead, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, Feb. 7 – at East Grand Forks, 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 9 – at Crookston, 8 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 17 – Grand Rapids, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 18 – Grand Forks Central, 6 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 24 – at Perham, 7:30 p.m.