PREVIEW: Panthers plan to be in the mix in tough RVC

The Monticello varsity girls basketball team, first row from left: Maddie Fellinger, Jacqueline Petersen, Shay Stephen, Taylor McDonald and Savanah Kremer. Second row: Macy McDonough, Paige Holub, Caitlyn Cruise, Lauren Ries, Meredith Melchert and Rileigh Lambert. Third row: head coach Donnie Kremer, Maddie Lambert, Rylee Warthen, Jordan Kuper, Carly Hayen, Anna Loes, Sami Fritz and assistant coach Amber Thompson. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Sports Editor


     There are a lot of strong girls basketball teams in the River Valley Conference again this year.

     Fortunately for Monticello, it appears to be one of them.

     The Panthers were North Division champions in the RVC last season with a 13-4 record, and went 17-6 overall, advancing to the regional semifinals before falling.

     This year’s version has eight returning letter-winners among the 18 varsity players.

     “We would like to compete for another conference championship, get better every day, and get to State,” said 15th-year head coach Donnie Kremer.

     Two all-conference players are back: junior guard Taylor McDonald, who made the RVC Elite team; and junior guard/forward Lauren Ries, who was on the all-North Division team. They were the top two scorers on last year’s team – McDonald averaged 11.7 points per game, Ries 10.0. McDonald also led the team in steals, and Ries was second on the team in rebounding.

     They are joined by senior guard/forwards Shay Stephen – last year’s team assist leader – and Jacqueline Petersen, senior forward Rylee Warthen, junior guard/forward Maddie Lambert, junior forward Rileigh Lambert, and sophomore guard Maddie Fellinger.

     “Athleticism, experience at the guard position and speed are all big strengths,” Kremer said. “We do have some very good shooters as well.”

     Kremer added that rebounding and defense are the areas that will need the most work.

     “We need to improve each and every day in practice and with each game,” he said.

     The coach said he expects Camanche, Cascade and Bellevue to be among the contenders for the North title, while Iowa City Regina and Mid-Prairie are the South Division favorites.

     “We will have to come to play each and every game,” he said. “We also need to come together as a team.”

     Amber Thompson is the varsity assistant coach, Chuck Welsch coaches the junior varsity, and Ashley Kremer is the freshman-sophomore coach.



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