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Published March 12 2012

Balanced Otters back at state tournament

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – Going to the state tournament as a spectator and as a player are totally different.

Yet Fergus Falls girls basketball player Sydney Schultz learned something from being a spectator last season.

“Going down there last year, you see how a lot of teams make it about two or three players,” Schultz said. “We don’t do that. We use all five players on the court.”

Schultz and Fergus Falls (28-1) will see how their strategy goes on Wednesday in the Class 3A bracket of the Minnesota state girls basketball tournament.

Fergus Falls opens the tournament at 2 p.m. Wednesday against Chisago Lakes Area (24-5) at Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota.

The Otters have enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history, making the tournament for the second time and their first since 2008.

Fergus Falls uses a seven-player system which isn’t dictated or centered on a specific player.

“We just look at it as we’re going there to play basketball,” said Otters point guard Brianna Rasmusson. “We will be going up against some really good teams and we want to give it all we got.”

Here’s what Fergus Falls has.

It has an offense which featured three players who scored 20 points per game in the section tournament.

It has a speedy point guard in Rasmusson, who can score.

A shooter in Schultz, who will play next season at Bethel College, who can score at will.

Finally, it has two Division I commits in center Mariah Monke – who is a University of Wisconsin-Green Bay commit for basketball – while forward Hayley Zenner has committed to Minnesota for track and field.

Monke’s sister, Anna, is averaging more points in the playoffs than her, Mohagen said.

And by the way, Anna Monke is only a sophomore.

“Mariah has been solid and steady for us,” said Fergus Falls coach Josh Mohagen. “By the time she took her fifth shot in our last game, we were already up by 30.”

Mohagen said the near-perfect record along with having players who have committed to colleges is nice, but it doesn’t guarantee anything.

He referenced how Chisago Lakes Area has a 6-2 force in Whitney Tinjum, who is committed to Wisconsin.

Or how Fergus Falls does win, it could potentially face defending state champ, DeLaSalle, in the second round.

“I’d think of all the people on our side of the bracket,” he said. “We’d have the least amount of pressure.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com