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Chris Murphy, Published March 11 2013

Fergus Falls girls rely on teamwork to take 29-0 record to state tournament


The starters of Fergus Falls girls basketball team are not perfect.

According to junior guard Brianna Rasmusson, she can’t work in the post. Junior guard Devonie Smith feels she isn’t the best shooter. Junior forward Anna Monke doesn’t enjoy her ball-handling skills. Senior center Hanna Swenson feels she is in no-man’s land when she’s guarding a quicker player near the 3-point arc. And junior guard Bailey Strand feels her rebounding could use some work.

Together, however, Fergus Falls is perfect. The Otters are 29-0 – one of only two undefeated girls’ teams in the state of Minnesota, having been ranked No. 1 in Class 3A since the season started. The Otters are three wins away from being No. 1 at the end, as they open up the Class 3A state tournament in a 2 p.m. game at Williams Arena against Monticello.

“It’s all five working as one unit,” said Brad Strand, who is in his first-year coaching girls at Fergus Falls after coaching the Pelican Rapids boys basketball team. “They all make each other better as any good team does. There’s a huge trust level and everyone does their role. It stems from chemistry and great leadership.”

Perfection is a word rarely uttered in sports and usually hidden in a whisper as to not jinx. But for Swenson, perfection comes from redeeming mistakes.

“I feel like perfection means making mistakes, but having enough to make up for them and still getting a win,” Swenson said. “Being a senior, I couldn’t have asked for a better team or season.”

Fergus Falls’ average margin of victory for the season is more than 25 points. No team in Class 3A allows fewer points on average than the Otters except an Alexandria team that gave the Otters their toughest fight of the season in a 55-54 win in the section championship.

The final scores may not show it, but with No. 1 next to their name and a zero in the losing column, the Otters have dealt with the best all opponents have to offer.

“You always know that everyone is going after you and want to go hard because you’re No. 1,” Smith said. “There’s always a target on your back. Throughout the team we all have little things we aren’t so great at, but we make up for it. If someone were off, someone else would step it up.”

Apparently some people doing the seeding for the state tournament found some imperfections in Fergus Falls, as the Otters are the No. 3 seed for the state tournament.

“It shouldn’t make a difference,” Swenson said. “I feel like now, going in there as the No. 3, teams won’t think highly of us and when they play us they will be shocked how good we are and can be.”

There is more to perfection than the final score. For Fergus Falls, they feel as though they’ve found it.

“I think perfect is when you get the whole team package,” Monke said. “The friendship part of each and every girl is there, but you also need to know each person’s goals. As soon as you have that, you have chemistry and that is when you have the perfect team. Perfect is when you play hard and do your best.”

An undefeated state championship isn’t bad for the team resume either.

“That would be icing on the cake,” Monke said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548