After a season in which Red Wing finished an impressive 24-3, the girls' basketball team looks to be as good again.
Head coach Peter Johnson said the Wingers possess a high quality of unselfish players and a core group that is extremely tight knit. Stepping up from junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant to head coach of the varsity group, Johnson said to the team at the players meeting he felt not much needed to be changed.
"We've had a great deal of success with the system we had," Johnson said. "I'm not going to reinvent the wheel. We've been successful with the system we've been at. I'd be dumb to change the system."
The system that last year’s head coach, Jesse Nelson, who requested a leave of absence, put in place is one of high pressure man-to-man defense, while moving the ball quickly up the court and using perimeter shooting to the Winger's advantage.
Johnson says that style will remain the same because of the athletic ability on the team, many of whom are multi-sport athletes.
"Every night we're going to have the best athletes. We have to maximize that," Johnson said. "That's part of the reason why we can play on the ball, man-to-man defense is because the way we feel we can maximize our athletes. Then we want to get out in transition. Get a stop, then a rebound."
The Wingers have compiled a 63-19 overall record in the previous three seasons and come into the 2019-20 season ranked eighth in Class AAA. And the core of players from last season's team return and largely are back in their same roles from last year.
Senior Elle Thorson is back as point guard. Her and freshman Sammi Chandler likely will split time at the position.
Johnson said rebounding on defense is the key to success for the Wingers. Rahn and junior Abi Deming are two of many that came to mind when discussing how the Wingers plan to clean up what was one of the few things the Wingers struggled with at times last season.
"They have really good instincts in going after the ball," Johnson said of Rahn and Deming. "When we recognize that teams don't box out well, that's for sure one thing we can take advantage of."
The other key to success is defense.
"Defense is always going to win championships," Johnson said. "We are focused on stopping (teams) because we think we have enough skill offensively."
As for the offense, Johnson said the Wingers have "an arsenal of 3-point shooters."
There are four to five players every night who could provide the Wingers with scoring from behind the arc. Senior Kyli Nelson likely will lead the way in the 3-point department. Freshman Sydnee Nelson can shoot the long-range shot as well while sophomore Hallie Roschen and junior Sydney Rahn have shown the ability to sink open 3-pointers when given the chance.
With so many who can shoot the ball, the scoring can be distributed evenly. Johnson said he feels every player can contribute.
"We have really good basketball players and athletes," he said. "So we're just trying to maximize (with what we have)."