A trip to the regional final highlighted this season for the Beckman girls’ basketball team — the first time the Blazers have been in that position since 1999.
Through all the years in between, they’ve at times struggled, at times succeeded. But this season, which found them posting a 13-11 overall mark amid the tough WaMaC conference play, gives them a basis for higher hopes next year.
Coach Chad Thomason explained, “Our record isn’t always indicative of how well we played the season. Since we play in the WaMaC, against mostly 3A and 4A teams, some of which are ranked, our focus is just to compete the best we can. And I thought we did that extremely well this season, especially towards the end. We beat ranked Solon, ranked CPU, ranked Cascade, ranked Sumner-Fredericksburg and played really well against No. 1 Maquoketa Valley. This is huge for us.”
Much of that success was due to the seniors on this year’s squad, Kennedy Arens and Keeley Schmitt. Arens led the team in a bevy of stats: most points (367, 120-of-286), steals (95), assists (69), made three-point shots (38-of-135) and free throws (89-of-123, 72.4%). Her steals and free throws led the WaMaC, her points were third and made field goals and assists fourth.
Schmitt controlled the inside for the Blazers despite being shorter than most posts she faced. She pulled down 123 rebounds, second on the team, but many of them came at crucial times when the team seriously needed that ball. She also dished 20 assists, fourth on the team and grabbed 18 steals, fifth. Both players earned all-WaMaC recognition: Arens to the first team, Schmitt honorable mention.
Thomason said of his seniors, “The reason for this success was our seniors, Kennedy and Keeley. We don’t have success without them. It started in the summer when they got the younger girls to come to open gyms.
“Kennedy is our vocal leader, the one the team looks to in the huddle to get motivation or advice. She was also our offensive force, doing the driving and shooting threes.
“Keeley is the opposite, the quiet leader who leads by example. She does the little things extremely well, takes charges and gets steals. If you look at our games against Solon and CPU, Kennedy scores 24 and 26 points and Keeley takes three charges against Solon and grabs two crucial steals against CPU.
“It will be extremely hard to replace their leadership both on and off the court.”
But they weren’t the only players on the floor this season. Junior Lauren Osterhaus was second in scoring (240), made threes (34-of-105), free throws (40-of-57), blocks (12) and steals (77). She hit key baskets during the Blazers’ post-season run and was named to the WaMaC first team along with Arens.
Lil McDermott, s sophomore, came on strong in the later games of the season to earn second-team WaMaC honors. Despite her size, she constantly challenged the inside of the lane to earn chances at the line, making the third-highest total (36-of-59) on the team and grabbing second-high in assists (59) and third in steals (47).
Two other underclassmen, sophomores Jenna Lansing (112 rebounds) and Shelby Pirc (129), handled the post duties and will be looked upon to continue those roles next season.
The Blazers are hoping to get more action from an injured Kam Klas and Isabelle Kruse, juniors, next season, as well as several sophs, Mia Maiers, Shea Steffen and Trista Schmidt, along with freshman Reese Osterhaus, all who saw limited floor time this season.
Thomason added, “We set several milestones this season: farthest finish since 1999, most threes made in a season (105, previous was 70), least amount of points allowed by an opponent (nine vs. South Winneshiek) and most assists in a season (249). As a program, coaches and players, we are extremely excited for next year. We know there are big holes to fill but our girls are excited for the summer. They know how close we were to making history for the program and they want to take the next step. They will take that motivation into the summer.”
Team leaders in stats include: points — Arens 367, Osterhaus 240, McDermott 205, Schmitt 112, Lansing 97, Pirc 95, Klas 44, Maiers five, Kruse and Schmidt two; made threes — Arens 38, Osterhaus 34, McDermott 25, Klaas five, Maiers, Lansing, Schmitt one; rebounds — Pirc 129, Schmitt 123, Arens 114, Lansing 112, Osterhaus 83, McDermott 38, Klas 37, Maiers three, Steffen, Kruse, Schmidt one; steals — Arens 95, Osterhaus 77, McDermott 47, Lansing 27, Klas 22, Schmitt 18, Pirc 13, Maiers four, Steffen two, Schmidt one; blocks — Lansing 25, Osterhaus 12, Klas 10, Arens and Schmitt six, Pirc five; assists — Arens 95, McDermott 61, Osterhaus 59, Schmitt 20, Klas 16, Pirc six, Maiers five, Schmidt one.