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Bethlehem Academy junior Mercedes Huerta, left, and sophomore Reagan Kangas, right, are part of a large returning contingent this year for the Cardinals. (File photo/

2019-20 RECORD: 6-20, 1-13 Gopher (T-7th).

LAST GAME: 58-23 loss against Fillmore Central in first round of Section 1A playoffs.

What the Bethlehem Academy girls basketball program and its second-year coach Scott Trump are trying to build might take time, but the payoff will also last longer than just a few years.

When Trump took over to lead the Cardinals before the start of last season, he set off attempting to streamline the message he was delivering to his varsity team each day to what the elementary school coaches were preaching to their squads.

While the full fruits of that labor will not be visible on a varsity court this soon, Trump said he's looking forward to see what steps Bethlehem Academy will be able to take in the second year of the system.

"There's teams that thumped us pretty good last winter and I assume they're going to be pretty strong again this year, and there's teams that we competed against really well last year," Trump said. "I expect us to take a step forward and get over the hump on those types of games, and maybe compete a little bit better against the teams that thumped us."

On the varsity court, the Cardinals return all but one player from last year's primary rotation, including their three leading scorers.

Junior guard Mercedes Huerta paced the offense last year with 11.8 points a game, while sophomore guard Kate Trump added 7.2 points a game and senior guard Malia Hunt provided 4.8 points a game.

Adding to that returning experience is sophomore Reagan Kangas, sophomore Lindsay Hanson and sophomore Brooke Johnson.

"The beauty of our group is the core group is back from last year," Scott Trump said, "and a lot of the girls back from last year are the girls that logged a lot of minutes the year prior to that, also."

In addition to that core, Scott Trump said juniors Katie Seidel and Madelyn Bauer may be in line for expanded roles this winter, while sophomores Josie Rose and Karlie DeGrood may start contributing in varsity contests after spending most of last year playing on the junior varsity team.

That exact distribution of playing time will start to be hashed out Jan. 4, the first day of official in-person practice this year for the high school program. Trump said he's also hoping for a similarly-sized season for his middle school and elementary programs as well, so he can continue to strengthen what he thinks can be an improved pipeline to the varsity court.

"That's the goal in my mind," Trump said. "I know high school is what everyone pays attention to, but it's really hard to have a high school program without elementary and middle school programs that are strong and that have the numbers there and the interest there."

Reach Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106 or follow him on Twitter @APGSoMnHughes. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved. 

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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