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Healthy and state-tournament bound

Autumn Thompson

After colliding with an opponent during a mid-January game, Autumn Thompson fell to the basketball court. As the senior laid there, Dan Lindgren had reason to be apprehensive.

"She laid there and you could tell she was scared,'' Lindgren, the Stephen-Argyle High School girls basketball coach, said. "I'm thinking, 'Oh, man, here we go again.' I think everybody was. It got very quiet in the gym.

"But Autumn got up and wound up finishing the game.''

Thompson not only finished the game. She is finishing the season, as are all of the other Storm players. And that hasn't been commonplace in the Storm program.

For the first time since winning the Section 8A title in the 2014-15 season, Stephen-Argyle has avoided any health issues. It is probably no coincidence that, for the first time since the 2014-15 season, Stephen-Argyle won the Section 8A title and is headed to this week's Class A state tournament.

Last season, the high-scoring Thompson suffered a major knee injury in January that ended her season. In the 2015-16 season, the Storm took a hit when senior starter Philomena Kazmierczak suffered a season-ending knee injury during the section tournament.

"This whole year, I was waiting for something to happen,'' Lindgren said. "To go through that two straight years, you start to wonder what will happen again by tournament time. But (health issues) stayed away.''

While the loss of Thompson was a devastating blow to the 2016-17 season, it may have been a springboard to the success of this season's 27-3 team.

Thompson was averaging 23.3 points at the time of her injury. When she was lost for the season, others had to pick up the slack.

"We knew that each of us had to do a little more,'' junior Abi McGlynn said. "It had to be a team effort. Autumn contributed so much to our team. We all had to pitch in to replace that.

"I think helped us this year. It gave us some experience, some opportunities to see what we could do. But it definitely helps having Autumn back this year. We're a better team with her.''

McGlynn (16.6 ppg) and Savannah Riopelle (9.9 ppg) have joined Thompson (18.5 ppg) to give the Storm three scoring threats. Abbey Johnson (6 ppg) and defensive stopper Madalynn Weberg (5.2 ppg) round out the starting five.

"Our team is different,'' Thompson said. "Other girls had to be scorers when I was hurt. So when I came back, I tried to add to what they were doing. I think I'm passing more. And I like the playmaker role. Me scoring a lot definitely isn't that important for our team this year.''

Stephen-Argyle at a glance

• Coach: Dan Lindgren.

• Record: 27-3, Section 8A champion.

• State tournament opener: The Storm play 2017 state runner-up Mountain Iron-Buhl (28-2, No. 2 seed) at 3 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Class A state tournament at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

• Starting lineup: 5-8 sr. G Autumn Thompson (18.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 2.6 spg), 5-10 jr. F Abi McGlynn (16.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.2 spg), 5-8 jr. G Savannah Riopelle (9.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.8 apg, 2.4 spg), 5-11 jr. F Abbey Johnson (6 ppg, 5.9 rpg), 5-6 sr. G Madalynn Weberg (5.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.3 spg).

• Top reserves: 5-6 soph. Annika Carlson (1.3 ppg), 5-5 jr. Mikayla Bolduc (1.4 ppg), 5-9 8th-grader Riley Mooney (3.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg), 6-1 8th-grader Grace Carlson.