The Shakopee girls basketball team’s experience has shown midway through the South Suburban Conference season.
The Sabers have won six of their first eight games to open the season, including a 53-36 home victory over Eastview Feb. 16. Senior Natalie Holte led the way with 20 points, while senior Kelley Brennan added 15.
Shakopee won 17 games last year and didn’t have a senior on the roster, so there are some higher expectations this winter for coach Juan Mitchell’s squad.
“You have to play well to win,” Mitchell said before the season. “Our experience is helpful.”
Mitchell’s teams over the years have been known for their scrappy play, along with tough defense and rebounding. The Sabers are 6-0 so far when holding their opponents to under 50 points.
The Sabers’ two losses are to No. 2-ranked and unbeaten Farmington (65-49) and one-loss Rosemount (53-38).
Five of the six Shakopee wins have been by double digits, including beating Eagan (57-42), Apple Valley twice (70-40 and 57-21) and Lakeville South (58-44). The Sabers also own a five-point win over Lakeville North (54-49).
Through eight games, Brennan is leading the team in scoring at 11.1 points per game. Junior Kate Cordes and Holte are both close to averaging in double figures at 9.8 and 9.1 points, respectively, while senior Sophie Moran is averaging 7.7.
Back in 2019, Shakopee won the Section 2AAAA title finishing sixth at state. Last year, the Sabers were 1-1 in the playoffs.
Section play this season will start a week after the Sabers end the regular season March 12 at Eastview. The Minnesota State High School League’s Board of Directors met Feb. 4 and approved state competitions for all winter sports.
Girls basketball has tentatively set state quarterfinal play for all four classes for March 30-31 at the Target Center. Semifinal action is April 6-8 and the finals are April 9-10.
Shakopee will definitely be in the hunt for its third state berth since 2015. Right now, No. 3 Chaska and No. 10 Minnetonka look to be the favorites in Section 2AAAA, while Eden Prairie, Edina, Prior Lake, Chanhassen and Bloomington Jefferson are also in the field.
In beating Eastview, Moran and Cordes both chipped in seven points for the Sabers.
Brennan and ninth-grader Nicole Maenke both scored 11 points to lead the way against Apple Valley. Holte and Cordes both scored nine, while Moran had eight.
In the win over Lakeville North, Brennan and junior Maya Mitchell were both in double figures with 11 points apiece. Cordes scored nine points, while Holte and Moran both chipped in six.