Pequot Lakes Girls’ Basketball Clicking Early This Season
Pequot Lakes girls’ basketball has been hot out of the gate to open the 2023-24 campaign, winning their first three contests by an average of 41 points per game. The Patriots fell one game shy of a second consecutive state appearance after a loss to Crosby-Ironton in the Section 7AA finals last year – something the girls are using as fuel for this season’s fire.
Minimal turnover afflicted the Patriots’ roster, where multiple key players were brought back from last year, including 2022-23 Class AA All State Honorable mention Isabel Larson, who surpassed 1,000 career points during the team’s season opener against Willmar.
“No, Isabel is outstanding,” said head coach Brian Lempola. “Truly empties the tank on a nightly basis and brings so much and creates so much for her teammates. So it was super special to be able to recognize her own accomplishments with that thousand points against Willmar in our first game of the season, which made it extra special.”
Larson wasn’t aware of her impending accomplishment last season, but she was coming into the team’s first game. After shaking off the jitters, the rest came naturally for Patriots captain and senior point guard.
“I tried not to think about it as the game started, but, you know, it’s just always in your mind when something like that is about to happen,” said Larson. “I was really nervous at first, but I think that after I shook it off and just forgot about it and started playing my game, it just started going better. And yeah, I got it.”
While Larson’s milestone is certainly noteworthy, Pequot Lakes girls’ basketball as a whole is off to a near-flawless start to the 2023-24 campaign, having taken down Willmar, Grand Rapids, and Pine River-Backus. Fueled by last year’s disappointing finish in the Section 7AA finals, the Patriots feel invigorated and motivated to eclipse that mark and return to state.
“Obviously, like last season didn’t end the way we wanted it to and coming off of the great volleyball season definitely brought some excitement in the gym, and we’re just going to take that to the next level and continue to put in the work,” explained guard and captain Kelsi Martini.
“You could tell just even that in our summer ball we had more competitive spirits throughout the whole summer,” said Ella Kratochvil, captain/forward. “And then also we’ve been starting – like, practices are a lot different this year. We’ve been a lot more competitive and we’ve been working really hard with each other and at each other, and I think that’s really helping us this year.”
The girls said playing Willmar and Grand Rapids – both Class AAA competition – helped instill confidence. But more than that, it’s the tight-knit atmosphere the Patriots believe will enable them to reach new heights.
“Because we’re all such good friends, my team, we all get along so good,” said captain/forward Lauren Schultz. “Up the court after the drill is over, I just try to make sure everybody is still, like, in a positive mindset, not too irritated with somebody. And it’s just, I think it’s good to keep everybody, like, together.”
This group of seniors has seen a lot of success. They’ve only lost nine games over the last three seasons and have never finished worse than the section semifinals.