MINDEN — Second-year Minden girls basketball coach Taylor Maulsby has higher expectations this season.
A year after the Whippets posted a 10-14 record, Maulsby hopes with three starters and others players who received valuable minutes last season back in the fold that the Whippets can show improvement this season.
“Our goals, as they are every year, are to compete for a Southwest Conference title and to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year which will give a chance in subdistricts,” he said.
The Whippets return junior Sarah Hulquist, who posted a team-high 11.4 points per game last season. She also added 5.0 rebounds per game.
Jensen Rowse is another returning starter for the Whippets. As a junior last season, she recorded 7.7 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game.
Laney Thatcher, Jaden Donley, Abby Rehtus, Bailee Schurmann and Hannah Merrill are returning letterwinners. Payton Weeder also will likely make an impact this season after missing her freshman year with an injury last year, Maulsby said.
“We also have a very talented group of freshmen who will need to continue to improve and give us valuable minutes all season long,” Maulsby said.
The Whippets begin the season against Southern Valley on Dec. 5 at Minden High School. They have had two straight losing seasons after having at least 10 consecutive winning seasons, according to MaxPreps.com.
“We have a very young and inexperienced team overall, and I believe we will improve a lot as the year goes on,” Maulsby said.
The Whippets will have a new coach roaming the sidelines this season. The Whippets have hired former Gretna freshman coach and Kearney native Carter Pratt to succeed Jordan Reinertson.
The Whippets haven’t competed at an elite level since earlier this decade. Pratt doesn’t have an easy task ahead of him, especially with the Whippets coming of a 5-17 season last year.
They will have to replace Elijah Lovin, who was the Whippets’ go-to scorer throughout his career. Seniors Creed Ehlers and Kayden Land and juniors Ben Edgecombe and Ethan Riley are the most experienced returners for the Whippets. Braden Bates, Dylan Janda, Ryan Johnson and Dawson Lockhorn are returning letterwinners.
The Whippets open the season by hosting Southern Valley on Dec. 5.
“With only two seniors returning, there will be lots of opportunities for young guys to step up and fill roles,” Pratt said. “We’ve had a great summer with a good turnout in the weight room and gym throughout June and July. Our team is ready to start seeing their hard work payoff on the court.”
The Whippets’ wrestling program also has a new coach. Keaton Gracey takes over the Whippets and has his work cut out for him this season.
The Whippets have to replace six seniors from last year’s team that posted a 9-4 duals record. They also are moving up to Class B after finishing 49th out of 55 teams with three points in the Class C Wrestling Championships last season.
Six wrestlers are back for the Whippets. Sophomore Evan Smith is at 113 pounds, junior Hunter Heath at 130, junior Alex Banuelos at 140, sophomore Gage Fries at 145, senior Jaron Brown at 152 and senior Eddie Gonzalez at 160.
Senior Gage Lupkes likely will fill the 195-pound spot after missing last season with an injury.