At the start of last season, Northfield girls basketball coach Paul Eddy and his team said they were embarking on a 16-month season, due to the fact they entered last year without a senior on the roster.
Now, the Raiders are in the relative home stretch of that marathon, although there’s still plenty or work that can be done this year for a team that returns five seniors, a junior starting point guard and a large sophomore class that was thrown into the fire last year as freshmen.
“I’m very encouraged by the group we’ve got,” Eddy said. “It’s a nice group and they’ve been super dedicated over the offseason. I just hope we get to have a good chunk of a season here, and only time will tell on that. I love these girls and I love what they did in the offseason and I love that we’ve got everybody back from last year’s crew and a lot to look forward to.”
That senior class is led by forward Annika Richardson, who last year led the team in scoring with 16.1 points per game and in rebounding with an average of 6.5 a contest.
Supporting her in the starting lineup, last year and this year, are senior guard/forward Emma Hodapp (6.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists), senior guard/forward Emma Rasmussen (8.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists), senior forward Adrienne Whitson (4.5 points, 3.3 rebounds) and junior point guard Samantha Ims (7.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists).
“We’ve got some good and experienced players, but there’s a lot of good teams in our conference,” Eddy said. “There’s not going to be any easy ones in our conference. We’re going to have to earn everything, it’s going to be a battle and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
Ims, along with guard Grace Dickerson and forward Jordie Detlie, make up the junior varsity returners.
Below them are growing numbers going down into seventh grade.
“We’ve got eight sophomores, so that’s a really nice number, and we’ve got at least a dozen ninth graders that are going to play this year,” Eddy said. “Eighth grade is a little bit lighter, but as you continue to go down sixth and seventh grade classes are both really strong.”
Last year, the Raiders finished 7-19 overall and 7-15 in the Big 9 Conference with sweeps of Faribault and Winona, and splits against Owatonna, Rochester Century and Austin, the last of which finished in third place in the Big 9.
The win against Austin, and a one-point loss to conference champion Red Wing, show the potential of what’s possible this year. The biggest growth potential, Eddy said, can come from that sophomore class, who last year absorbed a lot of the team’s minutes off the bench as freshmen.
Forward Ryann Eddy played in all 27 of the team’s games, while forward Marie Labenski played in 25 contests and shot 34.6% from behind the arc, the highest mark on the team.
“Last year they were forced to as ninth graders,” Paul Eddy said. “We had several of them play significant minutes for us, and they’ll continue to be key role players for us coming off the bench. Most of them will continue to play JV, get a lot of playing time and continued to get seasoned and ready for once this senior class is gone. We’ll have to count on those sophomores to be critical role players for us again.”