Senior captain Tyra Johnson ran through drills during a morning practice on Dec. 31. The Lightning has started off 11-0 after returning just one starter, Madison Guebert, from last season. Photo by Elizabeth Flores • firstname.lastname@example.org
Year after year, the Eastview girls' basketball team seems to lose a slate of experienced seniors and, as if touched by magic, it continues to win.
The magic is helped by a well-oiled program oozing with talent at each position.
The Lightning advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals this past March before being ousted by Hopkins. That team lost all but one starter. Big deal. This season's squad is 11-0.
Second-year head coach Melissa Guebert knows it's not easy to jump in right away and be successful.
"It's always an adjustment for kids, and I think they've done real well," Guebert said. "The kids that are getting a lot of minutes are kids that maybe didn't in the past. They've just stepped up and done a lot of really nice things."
Thankfully for Eastview, that lone returning starter was their leading scorer, now a sophomore.
Madison Guebert, the coach's daughter, is averaging 21.9 points per game. The point guard led the Lightning last season at 18.3 points per game. She's showing more and more poise.
"She just really has nice composure," her coach and mom said. "And as a point guard, you have to have that. As soon as you appear rattled, the whole team shows it. It's not always easy to be that way."
If teams put full-court pressure on Guebert and try to keep the ball out of her hands, the Lightning has other options. Sophomore Melissa Barry and senior Mikaela Wilson help alleviate some of that congestion.
Hana Metoxen, a 5-10 sophomore, is averaging 11.6 points per game. Senior captain Tyra Johnson, versatile on the inside and outside, is averaging 14.9 points. That gives Eastview at least three players in double figures most games.
Johnson has been instrumental both in the post and as a leader.
"She's a real key to how our team has played so far," Melissa Guebert said. "She's just been a really good leader and showed she really stepped up this past offseason in a lot of different ways. She's just really turned the corner."
The Lightning match up well defensively at all positions. Although not overly tall, Eastview is extremely athletic. It can also score in multiple ways.
"We're a very good shooting team. That's one of the biggest things we do best -- shoot well," Johnson said. "We have a lot of diversity. We have a lot of girls that can play point guard and go into the post."
The Lightning has been winning impressively against good opponents.
Eastview trounced Class 3A, No. 4 DeLaSalle 82-59, and two Class 4A powers, No. 4 Minnetonka 72-66 and No. 9 Park of Cottage Grove 58-43, early in the season. It pummeled conference rivals Eagan 68-52 and Class 4A. No. 6 Lakeville North 59-44 before dominating the St. Olaf Holiday Hoops Classic this past weekend.
Guebert was named tournament MVP after scoring 74 points in three games and going 15-for-32 from three-point range. Johnson also was named to the all-tournament team.
But the girls can't kid themselves. Early-season success doesn't mean Eastview can coast through the South Suburban Conference.
"Because our conference is so strong, if you're taking a night off, that will be a problem," Melissa Guebert said. "The teams are just too good."