By PATRICK SLACK
The Pierz girls basketball team graduated its top player and a key bench contributor from a year ago, but returns four starters from a squad that went 16-11 a year ago.
Senior guards Alyssa Boser and Megan Boser return as starters in the back court, with senior Michaela Rocheleau and junior Bridget Bednar coming back as leaders in the post.
Also expected to play significant roles for departed graduates Lindsay Monson and Lisa Langer are senior Elizabeth Tomala, juniors Tiara Hopkins and Kailey Egan and sophomore Kayla Carter.
“We have a strong group of girls coming back this year with a lot of experience,” Pierz head coach Rich Teske said. “We are looking to have a successful season. We will not have a very deep bench so we need to stay healthy all year.”
Reigning Central Minnesota Conference champion Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Eden Valley-Watkins are the early favorites in the conference chase, Teske said.
“We can challenge both of these teams for the conference but we can’t have off nights,” he said. “As it always goes, any team on any given night can lose to a conference opponent.”
Defending state runner-up Sauk Centre, Staples Motley and Albany enter the season as the favorites in the section, Teske said, with Pierz aiming to secure a home playoff game.
Pierz opens the season at home against Pequot Lakes, Tuesday, then travels to Little Falls, Thursday.