Kyrah Fredenburg made a pass to teammate Jordan Meyer during practice in Anoka, Min., Tuesday, November 26, 2013. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) firstname.lastname@example.org
The Anoka girls’ basketball team is hoping to parlay nine seniors, five college-bound players and two recent state tournament appearances into one memorable season.
Seniors Kyrah Fredenburg, Claire Lundberg and twin sisters Amber and Ashley Bray pulled off a shocker as freshmen when they reached the Class 4A state tournament for the first time in school history despite winning just two regular season games. They returned as juniors last season with the help of transfer Jordan Meyer. Both times the Tornadoes lost in the state quarterfinals.
They have bigger plans in mind come March.
“We want to go out with a bang,” Ashley Bray said. “We want to win conference and sections and get to the next level at state. You never know what’s going to happen but we expect great things, and I think a lot of other people see our potential, too.”
Anoka’s first step begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Elk River. But the drive toward postseason success started weeks ago. Meyer said her team is matching its dreams with desire.
“We don’t want to put up with going through the motions at practice,” said Meyer, who won a Class 2A state championship as a sophomore with Providence Academy. “There are a lot of girls coming early to the gym or staying late. I think we want it a little bit more this year.”
Meyer, a 6-2 center, said she brings “size and presence in the middle. We have a lot of big players in general but my game is more rebounding and setting screens.”
While Meyer holds down the middle, teammates trade roles with aplomb. The Bray sisters are both 5-11 forwards while Fredenburg (6-foot) and Lundberg (6-1) are guards. Lundberg (13 points per game) and Fredenburg (11) are the Tornadoes’ top returning scorers. Both are nearing the 1,000-point plateau for their prep careers.
Sam Brannen (5-7) and Sam Adamich (6-0) provide strength in reserve.
“Our size is definitely a strength,” Fredenburg said. “Claire and I are both considered guards but when the other teams put their guards on us, we can play inside and Ashley and Amber can play the outside. So our versatility on offense is good, and we are a very strong defensive team.”
Fredenburg and her teammates recently made more Anoka program history by becoming the first quintet ever to sign letters of intent to play college basketball: Lundberg (Seton Hall), Meyer (North Dakota), Fredenburg (Concordia-St. Paul) and the Bray sisters (Dakota Wesleyan).
But college can wait, they said. Two days after Thursday’s season-opener, the Tornadoes face three-time defending champion Hopkins. The rugged Northwest Suburban Conference will provide tests as will nonconference games against Eden Prairie and Forest Lake.
While reaching state as the ultimate Cinderella story in 2011 remains a great memory, players said last season’s 20-victory season and state tournament appearance set a different, more important tone.
“Actually winning more games during the season meant we weren’t going to be a team everyone overlooked,” Amber Bray said. “We had to work that much harder to get what we wanted.”
Fredenburg added: “There are going to be a lot of teams coming after us hard because we won the section last year. If we were to get to state the goal would be to get past that first game and then, hopefully, get to the championship game.”