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NightHawks lose talent to graduation, but could be in the mix on most nights

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Laela Jensen takes a shot at the top of the key.
The Dickinson Press filed photo
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Not so long ago, Hettinger-Scranton were the reigning champions of Region 7. The team enters the new season having lost phenomenal talent to graduation and are looking to replace them with a younger squad eager to make their own legacy in their bid to reclaim the throne.

Eric Kelner took the helm as head coach after 12 years in the assistant’s seat. Kelner’s veteran status benefits the program with his intimate understanding of the team’s dynamic and his valuable involvement in their three-peat. Last season they landed in sixth place, ending with an overall record of 14-9.

They lose two starters, including All-Region 7 player Bailee Pierce. Pierce was a tremendous force from the outside, tallying 76 three-pointers. However, they return the Jensen sisters, who were both in the returning top 40 in Class B, for three-point shots.

Sophomore Laela Jensen is their returning All-Region athlete, who will be a big part of the development of plays and keeping control of the game tempo. She finished last season as top seventh returning assist leader in Class B with 89, top 40 in steals and ranked 22nd in three-pointers with 36 shots from downtown. Her abilities on the ball saw her average nearly 15 points per game, but her quick fingers also garnered her 62 steals last season.

Senior guard Ella Jenson will be another pointman on the team, last year averaging over eight points per game, including 28 treys. This is her third year starting for Hettinger-Scranton and offers tough nose defense. She also collected 40 stolen balls and 47 assists last year.

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Hettinger-Scranton celebrating as a team on the sidelines.
The Dickinson Press filed photo

Also representing the senior class are forwards Ally Schalesky and Lilli Steeke. Schalesky has a strong presence in the paint, with just under four PPG, averaging five rebounds per game and eight blocks last season.

Ally Schalesky is a returning starter in the post. Ally is a high energy player that has proven to be a high caliber rebounder. She has the ability to become a top scorer in the post and this will be needed for the Night Hawks to reach their potential as a team.

Vanessa Oase is a junior forward who can be physical, properly box out and collect rebounds. She will provide the Night Hawks with depth as will sophomores, Kelly Schauer and Mocina Morris — each standing at 5 '7".

Morris is looking to grow from last year, being a regular sixth man. She had a 4.2 PPG, just under 3 RPG and 13 steals. As a guard, Morris provides good pressure and will contribute greatly to their defense. Kelly Schauer still needs to develop her skills, but already has shown high basketball IQ.

Hettinger-Scranton knows that Region 7 is more competitive than ever, but will look to fight for a top spot in the standings at the end of the season and will do so by being attentive individually and as a team.

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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