GIRLS BASKETBALL: Win-E-Mac headed to state in a different sport
ERSKINE, Minn. -- These trips to state tournaments are becoming regular happenings for Win-E-Mac High School's female athletes. For the past three seasons, their Novembers have been spent playing in the Minnesota state Class A volleyball tournament.
ERSKINE, Minn. -- These trips to state tournaments are becoming regular happenings for Win-E-Mac High School's female athletes.
For the past three seasons, their Novembers have been spent playing in the Minnesota state Class A volleyball tournament. Now it's back to the Twin Cities, this time to play in the state Class A basketball tournament. But this trip is something special for the Section 8A-champion Patriots.
"It's a little weird," junior Korbyn Ross said. "Basketball hasn't gone to state for forever.
"It's the first time in 24 years. It's pretty cool, going for the first time in that long. I think that makes this a little more exciting."
The Patriots earned their first state girls basketball berth since 1989 when they beat Fosston 54-49 in the section championship game Saturday.
"I think there is a new excitement," Patriots girls basketball coach Ian Hanson said. "The girls haven't been to state in basketball. They don't have the tradition of being a basketball powerhouse, not like in volleyball."
Four Patriots starters -- Ross, Shelby Kaster, Madison McKeever and Kylee Mandt -- also were rotation regulars on the volleyball team that finished fourth in the state volleyball tournament last November.
"Going to state volleyball is the norm around here," Hanson said. "And that's good for us. The girls are used to the big stage, the big crowds. Hopefully that will calm them down when it's time to play."
The Patriots have a big three in McKeever, Ross and Kaster. McKeever, a 5-foot-7 freshman, averages 22.6 points, 4.4 assists and 7 steals a game. She's already surpassed 1,000 career points. The 5-11 Kaster averages 18.2 points, 13.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. The junior has more than 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. Ross, a 5-9 junior wing, averages 10.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists.
"Shelby is our inside force," Hanson said. "She has a knack for where to go for a rebound and how to get open. Korbyn is versatile. She's a good post player, a good slasher and a 3-point shooter. Madison has excellent speed. She gets a lot of our offense going with her steals and fastbreak layups. She brings a lot of energy. And she's a good shooter."
When basketball is done, there probably won't be a lot of down time. Several of the Patriots will go right into fastpitch softball. They don't specialize in a sport -- it's one activity after another.
"They are whatever the season is," Hanson said. "They're 100 percent volleyball in volleyball season. They forget about volleyball when basketball starts; then it's all basketball. It's the same with softball. In the offseason, they work on all their sports.
"I suppose they'd be better if they gave all of their time to concentrating on one sport. Anybody would. But they're such good athletes that they'll be good at whatever they do."
That's been shown by their success in both volleyball and basketball. The Patriots aren't strangers to the statewide venue.
But when they get to the Twin Cities for the state tournament, despite their past experiences, "we will be nervous, for sure," Ross said.
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