PREVIEW: Panthers send experienced, athletic team onto the court

The Monticello High School varsity girls basketball team, first row from left: Maddie Fellinger, Savanah Kremer, Caitlyn Cruise, Tori McDonald and Taylor McDonald. Second row: Brianna Range, Marissa Recker, Aspen Gillmore, Meredith Melchert and Emmi Sampson. Third row: assistant coach Ashley Kremer, manager Hayley Manternach, Sydney Hansen, Lauren Ries, Jordan Kuper, Carly Hayen, Maddie Lambert, Lydia Franzenburg and head coach Donnie Kremer. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     It’s a team that has a lot going for it.

     The Monticello High School girls basketball team has nine returning letter-winners, including three all-conference players from a year ago, off a team that went 14-9.

     The Panthers start this season ranked 13th in the state in Class 3A.

     “I would say the strength of this team is our experience and athletic ability,” 16th-year head coach Donnie Kremer said. “We have a very good group of girls that all work very hard. We have six girls who have started at some point in their careers. We have some very good shooters and some solid posts.”

     Monticello returns its top two scorers from last season: senior guard/forward Lauren Ries, who averaged 15.1 points per game and made the River Valley Conference Elite all-conference team; and senior guard Taylor McDonald, who averaged 11.7 points and had a team-high 76 assists (3.3 per game), while making the North Division all-conference squad.

     Ries also led the team in rebounds (6.5 per game) and steals (2.8).

     Also returning are senior guards Maddie Lambert, Savanah Kremer and Caitlyn Cruise; senior forward Meredith Melchert; junior guard Maddie Fellinger, and sophomore centers Jordan Kuper (6-foot-2) and Carly Hayen (6-0).

     Kremer said he hopes the girls will play well together, citing defense and mental toughness as areas that need to improve.

     “With our conference we are going to have to defend and be mentally ready to go each night,” he said. “We need to be able to play with one another no matter who is in.”

     It’s also a tough conference, with Cascade, Bellevue, Camanche and Iowa City Regina all expected to be strong opponents.

     The up-tempo style that has characterized Panther teams in recent years will be a factor again this season, but with that comes areas it will need to focus on.

     “We are going to have to stay out of foul trouble, defend better, rebound, convert easy shots, and ultimately play as a team,” Kremer said.

     If those things come together, the lofty goals the team is setting may be attainable.

     “The girls would like to win the North side of the conference and make it to State,” the coach said.

     He is assisted by Ashley Kremer, Chuck Welsch and Cory Recker.




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