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Knights basketball ready to grow from past seasons

December 2, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Dysart Reporter

2018-19 Record: 3-16 (L to Crestwood in First Round of Regionals)

Head Coach: Robert Driscol

In a season abbreviated by the polar vortex, Union girls basketball struggled to gain traction as a team on the court in a talented conference. With 2019 nearly in the rearview mirror, the girls hope to cut down the turnovers and play the best ball of their Union careers this season.

Article Photos

The 2019-20 Union girls varsity basketball team is low on number, but ready to make the most of their season. Kneeling from left to right: Sam Glenn, Sadie Henning, Ellie Rathe, Natalie Tecklenburg. Standing back: Kaylin Brustkern, Ellie Behrens, Allie Driscol, Emma Shirk, Carlie Hoppe.

"Last year the wins and losses weren't the way we'd like them to be, but I feel the girls did improve as individuals and as a team as the season went along," coach Robert Driscol said. "We couldn't quite get over the hump. I thought they played good defense overall and we want to feed off of that this season. Hopefully, their offensive skills will improve."

While the leadership and on-court contributions of Allie and Megan Carty will be missed, the Knights return top scorer and NICL East Honorable Mention Natalie Tecklenburg, who lead the team in points (8.3 ppg), rebounds (4.3 per game) and steals (2.2 spg). Also back for the Knights are junior Allie Driscol (5.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg), senior Sam Glenn (3.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg), senior Carlie Hoppe (2.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg), Emma Shirk (2.1 ppg) and players in senior Kaylin Brustkern and sophomore Ellie Rathe ready to take the next step in their games.

"Having five seniors on this team should be an asset for us in that they've been playing in the program for four years now," Driscol said. "They know what to do with Xs and Os, doing what they know. Overall, we do have that experience last year will help them mature. We're hoping that will cut down turnovers this season. We have Allie, Natalie, Emma, Ellie and those guards are capable of accomplishing that goal for us."

Tecklenburg, coming off her best year individually will be the primary scoring threat once again for the Knights. After being recognized by the conference coaches in 2019, the Dysart native has worked on her shooting to be more consistent and has worked to cut down her turnovers.

"Last season didn't end as we wanted because we didn't win quite as many games as we could have," Tecklenburg said. "This year, we're looking to balance our record out. We have to play a full 32 minutes as a team, lower the turnovers and play hard on defense."

Defensively, the Knights had solid outings throughout the season against some of the top teams in the area, according to Driscol. While press was the go-to for Union, the Knights also used zone and man-to-man when needed.

"This team has the potential to throw different looks on defense because we are a program that will do whatever it takes defensively," Driscol said. "We don't throw all our eggs in one basket. If we can press, we will press. If not, we'll throw zone, man at times, whatever challenge the opponent is giving us to counteract."

The Knights will also need more out of their high and low posts this season as points in the paint came few and far between for the offense. With another year of varsity experience on their side, Brustkern, Glenn and Hoppe will man the paint again this season. Glenn, fresh off volleyball's state run, has been working on her post moves to score with more ease this season and step up as a leader of this team.

"'If it were easy, everyone would do it,'" Glenn quoted. "There's only nine of us and we're hoping to stay healthy and have a good year. We've been told to have a good attitude, keep our heads up no matter if we're losing by 20 or winning by 20."

"A 15-18 foot jumpshot will come and go, but if we can get the ball in the paint and score consistently, that will be a huge difference maker," Driscol said. "I think our posts are ready to step up for the challenge and hopefully last year's experience will pay off for them."

The program will be without a JV squad this season due to low numbers out for basketball, but Driscol notes that will not change the focus and attention on the varsity squad and the five seniors.

"I think Natalie has great potential and is a very capable shooter," Driscol said. "Cutting down turnovers will be a key for her. She's a good leaders and a competitive kid. The will is there, the skill is there. I look for her to have a good year for us."

The NICL East will again provide a brutal challenge from start to finish. After reaching the State tournament last season, Dike-New Hartford and Aplington-Parkersburg will again be the favorites in a conference full of senior leadership.

"There's a lot of good seniors around the league on just about every team, so I'm expecting a competitive situation for us," Driscol said. "Dike and A-P were both State tournament teams last year and return a bulk of their teams. Those two have to be the heavy favorites at the beginning."

Yet the Knights are confident in each other with the juniors and seniors playing together extensively over the past two seasons.

"We got along well as a team last season and we all got along well," Glenn said. "It was a super fun year to get experience. A lot of us hadn't played varsity that year before."

Tecklenburg feels the team has the potential to make a jump if they continue to play together and the three ball fall for them (23.8 percent on attempts last year).

"We definitely want our record up and play with the teams in our conference," Tecklenburg said. "We want to keep playing in the postseason. Winning our first game is a big goal."

The Knights will open their 2019-20 season hosting BCLUW at home on Monday, Nov. 25 before opening NICL East play on Tuesday, Dec. 3 against Columbus Catholic.



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