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Minneota's Taylor Reiss guards Maranatha's Mikayla Payne. Photo by Jon Laqua
Taylor Reiss has all the physical traits of a dominant post player. Reiss does most of her damage inside the paint, from posting-up to crashing the offensive glass for second chance points, she's a force on the inside.
The 5-foot-10 Minneota junior forward scored 30 points in the top-ranked (1A) Vikings' 89-63 thrashing of sixth-ranked Maranatha Christian Academy on Saturday afternoon.
"It's really fun (playing with her)," fellow junior forward Emily Stienessen said. "She has incredible hops, so it's pretty easy to get her the ball sometimes because she can jump like that. She's so good on offense and defense she can do whatever she wants."
Feeding Reiss the ball is clearly the top priority for Minneota (17-0), as she averages 24 points per game. That strategy did get the Vikings into trouble a few times in the first half with some forced passes, even though coach Chad Johnston disagreed they were forced.
"I think the timing was wrong," Johnston said. "I think (our guards) saw it early, and then they waited too long and our passes haven't always been the best."
A few turnovers were no problem for the Vikings thanks to Reiss and Stienessen's scoring output and a defense that only gives up 34.1 points per game.
The Mustangs average 87.8 points per game, in large part thanks to the Lee sisters, Lexi (18.7 ppg) and Maddie (17.1 ppg), but the duo was held to just 13 and 14 points, respectively.
"We were kind of watching (the Lee sisters) warm up and we saw them making all of their shots," Stienessen said. "We knew we were going to have come out and play really good defense on them and try and deny the ball."
Defense doesn't seem to be a problem for the unbeaten Vikings, but Minneota stuck to Plan A to get the victory: feed Reiss the ball in the paint.
Johnston said Reiss's inside game has always been dominant, but she's been playing a little more face-up to the basket due to college's keeping an eye on her, even though Reiss is committed to play volleyball at the college level.
"She's accepted that role … that's what we need to do to get some people fresh," Johnston said. "That's where I've seen her biggest improvement: stepping outside of her comfort zone knowing that it might be best for the team."
Reiss has shown she can adapt, and all the Vikings had to do some adapting against Maranatha (12-5), driving three hours up to the area and staying in a hotel on Friday night just in order to play the Mustangs.
But Johnston said his team was ready and focused. Reiss agreed.
"I don't think it really effected our team at all," Reiss said.