The Shakopee girls basketball team has some holes to fill in its lineup, but there’s plenty of talent back.
The Sabers graduated three seniors from last year’s squad who made up about 60% of their offense. So Shakopee will need some new scorers to step to stay competitive in the South Suburban Conference and in a deep Section 2AAAA field.
“We lost a lot of on both ends of the floor,” Sabers coach Juan Mitchell said. “We have some to work to do to make up for the production we lost, but we have a good group back. We have a group of kids who play the game the right way, share the ball and are very competitive.”
Shakopee finished 12-6 overall last year (11-5 in the SSC) in the COVID-19 shortened campaign. The Sabers went 1-1 in the playoffs, beating Prior Lake in the quarterfinals, before losing to Chaska in the semifinals.
Chaska went on to win the Class 4A state title. The Hawks graduated just four seniors off that squad, so they will again be one of the teams to beat come playoff time.
Mitchell said Eden Prairie and Minnetonka will also be also be contenders, while Prior Lake, Chanhassen Edina and Waconia will be competitive.
“You can really play well and still come up short to any of these teams,” Mitchell said. “The section is very competitive.”
Shakopee opens the season Nov. 30 at Chaska, so the Sabers will find out just where they are in the early season. The Sabers’ first SSC game is Dec. 14 at Eagan, a team Mitchell said will be one of the teams to beat in the SSC.
Rosemount, last year’s Class 4A state runner-up, looks to be the favorite, along with Lakeville North.
“We should be right up there,” Mitchell said. “There’s really no reason we can’t compete for an SSC championship.”
Senior Kate Cordes is the Sabers’ top scorer back. She was second on the team last winter at 10.3 points per game. Senior Maya Mitchell and sophomore Olivia Pawlicki both averaged 4.6 points.
Sophomore Nicole Maenke is also back, as are seniors Jasmyn Hale and Paige Broze, who missed last season with a knee injury that she suffered during the soccer season. Broze averaged 9.0 point per game as a sophomore.
“We have girls with experience,” Mitchell said. “Cordes is one of the best shooters we’ve had in our program. We also have some kids who can defend.”
Mitchell likes to get up and down the court and play fast. He thinks he has the talent to do that again this season, but how the Sabers play will be dictated by their opponent.
“We always want to get up and down the floor and we have a good enough group to do that,” Mitchell said. “But we will have to play well in the half court, set things up and get the ball inside. We can play that way too.”
The Sabers have lost in the section semifinals to Chaska the last two seasons. In 2019, Shakopee beat the Hawks in the semifinals, went on to win the section and finished sixth at state.
Shakopee has been a program that’s been able to retool quickly. The team has averaged 12.4 league wins per year in the seven seasons it’s been in the SSC, including winning the title with a perfect 18-0 record in 2016.
The Sabers also won the Section 2AAAA title in 2015, finishing fourth at state. In 2016, Shakopee won 25 games with its only loss of the season in the section title game, 61-57 to Minnetonka.