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PREP BASKETBALL: Ranked Huskies, Eagles teams battle
PREP BASKETBALL

PREP BASKETBALL: Ranked Huskies, Eagles teams battle

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ELK POINT, S.D. | Elk Point-Jefferson's girls basketball team is quietly putting together another strong season.

Off to a 9-3 start, the fourth-ranked Huskies are paced by four returning starters from last year's 23-4 club that finished second in the South Dakota Class A state tournament.

Top-ranked St. Thomas More, which routed the Huskies 54-24 in the state title game, is one of the teams that have defeated Coach Gary Nebelsick's squad. Third-ranked Sioux Valley and Dakota XII Conference rival West Central have also posted victories over the Huskies.

Elk Point-Jefferson begins a tough four-game week with a Dakota XII game against Dell Rapids on Monday. A road test at Iowa’s 13-ranked (Class 2A) Lawton-Bronson on Tuesday is followed by Friday's league game against Tri-Valley before Saturday’s Dakota XII Classic.

The Huskies still have a test at rival Dakota Valley looming as the two teams split a pair of meetings last season. EP-J edged Dakota Valley in the regional final to earn the state berth.

Three-year starter McKenzie Mennenga, a 5-8 senior, has scored over 1,000 career points as a Husky after transferring from Dakota Valley. Mennenga scored 59 points, averaging 19.7, in three state tournament games to rank second in Class A behind South Dakota recruit Ciara Duffy of St. Thomas More (62).

Payton Donnelly, a 5-8 senior, was an all-state tournament selection along with Mennenga a year ago. Both returned in the backcourt while 5-9 junior Karlee Shatswell and 5-10 senior Alexis Flynn are returning starters in the front court.

Senior Josie Heeren, a talented cross country and track runner, rounds out the starting lineup for squad that has Morgan Flynn, a 5-10 senior, as a top reserve from a veteran team – nine seniors on the roster -- that also finished fourth in the 2014 state tournament.

The game against Lawton-Bronson is the final non-conference game on the slate for Elk Point-Jefferson.

The Eagles, falling Saturday to Dakota Valley, are another veteran team much like the Huskies, with four senior starters. The senior trio of Lexi Binder, Ali Verzani and Brooke Hunwardsen all average over 10 points per game for the Eagles.

Iowa girls Class 1A, 2A and 3A teams will learn their postseason assignments when regional pairings are announced on Monday. Class 4A and 5A will be released on February 1.

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