Grace Dahmen

Grace Dahmen looks to score inside in Jordan’s 57-48 home win over Waseca Jan. 19.

The six weeks of downtime didn't seem to bother the Jordan girls basketball team.

The Jaguars opened the season with three straight wins, including a 57-48 home victory over Waseca in a rematch of last year's Section 2AA title game.

Waconia beat Jordan 32-28 in last year's final.

The Jaguars also earned a 56-45 win at Southwest Christian Jan. 21 and beat Belle Plaine 55-49 on the road in the season opener Jan. 14.

"Overall, our team has started the season with two big section wins against two very good programs (Waseca and Belle Plaine)," second-year Jordan coach Leah Aamlid said. "Our players have played with a level of toughness that has been fueled on the defensive end.

"We have talked a lot as a team about this needing to be a staple of what we're known for, and our players have responded well in holding one another to this expectation," Aamlid added.

Aamlid led Jordan to a 20-win season last winter (20-8 overall) in her first season at the helm. The Jaguars' top-three scorers were seniors last year, so new roles needed to be established in preseason practices.

The problem with that though was Gov. Tim Walz shut down youth and high school sports for six weeks back on Nov. 18, so Jordan wasn't able to get on the court for its first in-person practice until Jan. 4. That didn't leave a lot of time to prepare.

But through the first three games, Lexi Hagen emerged as a scorer. She had 18 points in beating Waseca and scored 16 points against Belle Plaine.

Jenna Kluxdal led the Jaguars against Southwest Christian with 18 points. Grace Dahmen was also in double figures in two of first three games, getting 12 points versus Southwest Christian and 11 against Waseca.

Ellie Helgerson, Payton Duis and Kluxdahl each scored seven points versus Belle Plaine, while Abby Vogel and Myah Briese both had five.

Against Waseca, Briese added nine points, while Lexi Pedersen and Kluxdahl both had five. Duis and Hagen each had eight points against Southwest Christian.

"Moving forward, we need to continue to focus on this toughness translating to how to rebound," Aamlid said. "We were out rebounded (in the first two games), so this is definitely a focal point as we continue to improve."

Jordan's final 14 games will be played in the Wright County Conference. It's the program's first season in the 16-team league, coming over from the Minnesota River Conference.

So Aamlid's team will face some difficult challenges ahead. But she's also happy that her program is back on court and playing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Section 2AA playoffs will follow Jordan's last regular season game, which is March 12 versus Hutchinson.

The Minnesota State High School League will decide Feb. 4 at its next board of directors meeting if there will be state tournaments for winter sports. There were none for fall activities.

"We have a great group of girls who truly value every time we get to be together on the court," Aamlid said. "It is definitely something we do not take for granted."

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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