GIRLS BASKETBALL: All-Area First Team

Most athletes never score more than 800 points in their high school career. Minneota’s Taylor Reiss did it in one season.

As a junior forward, Reiss shot 72.5 percent from the floor and recorded 818 points for the Vikings (32-2 overall), who claimed another Camden Conference title, going 16-0 in league play, in addition to finishing with runner-up honors in the Class A State tournament.

Reiss, who averaged 24.1 points (818 total), 10.2 rebounds (348), 1.4 assists (49), 2.5 steals (84) and 1.8 blocks (62) per game, was a big part of Minneota’s success.

“It’s very impressive what she does,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said. “She’s a very hard-working person and brings so much to our team because of her athleticism. Taylor doesn’t say a whole lot, but leads by her actions, by example.”

Reiss continued to elevate her play the entire season, despite being double-teamed in most contests and even triple-teamed at times. For all of these reasons, Reiss was chosen as the 2014 Marshall Independent All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year. And while Reiss clearly shined on the court, there were a number of other talented players who had outstanding seasons as well.

Joining Reiss on the first team this year are Dawson-Boyd’s Justine Lee, Wabasso’s Chelsey Guetter, Canby’s Morgan Merritt and Marshall teammates Kenzie Beekman and Hannah Bennett.

Junior guard Justine Lee was second in the area with a 21.6 point (519 total) and 5.2 assist (126) average.

“She’s a very versatile basketball player and obviously, did a heck of a job for us this season,” Dawson-Boyd coach Doug Wold said. “As one of the perimeter players, she brought the ball up against pressure and got the offense going. She’s not only capable of hitting outside shots, but she can also get to the basket and finish as well.”

Lee was third in the area with 4.6 steals (110) per game in addition to grabbing 4.9 rebounds (117) a game and connecting on 117 of 162 shots at the free-throw line (.722) for the Blackjacks, who finished the season 19-5 overall.

“When you can drive like Justine does, the defense has to collapse, and she’s able to find that open teammate,” Wold said. “You can’t always teach that. She just has the knack for doing that. She did a nice job and really improved on her free-throw percentage as the season went on. She’s definitely a multi-dimensional player and good leader for the team.”

Senior forward Chelsey Guetter led the Rabbits to a stellar 24-3 overall record this season, collecting a third-straight Tomahawk Conference title with a 14-2 record. Guetter averaged 21.5 points (562), 12.3 rebounds (333), 3.5 assists (95), 4.5 steals (120) and 1.8 blocks (47) per game this year.

Starting for the past three seasons, Guetter has led Wabasso to a 71-11 overall record, amassing 1,610 career points (2nd in Wabasso history), 1,247 career rebounds (1st in Wabasso history) and 143 blocks (1st in Wabasso history).

“Chelsey not only led us in scoring this past season with a 22 point per game average, but also led us in assists and rebounding,” Rabbit coach Neil Dolan said. “She’s been an integral part in three back-to-back conference championships and was named All-Conference three times. She was nominated All-State Honorable Mention in 2014 and is going to Augustana College on a full scholarship to play basketball.”

Senior guard Morgan Merritt helped the Lancers to a 22-6 overall record and second-place finish in the Camden South division. Merritt topped all area athletes with 181 assists this season, an average of 6.5 per game.

“Her assists were something that really stood out this year,” Canby coach Kevin Hansen said. “Morgan was very unselfish and would rather see other people score than herself. She was our true leader on the floor.”

Merritt also averaged 15.1 points (424), 5.4 rebounds (151) and 4.2 steals (119) a game in addition to shooting .672 at the line (78-for-116).

“Morgan did a lot of things for us,” Hansen said. “She led by example and took the younger kids under her wing in a positive way. She was healthy all season, too, so she was able to put up the big numbers. I believe she would have went over 1,000 points in her career had she been healthy the past few years.”

Merritt signed a letter of intent to continue her basketball career at the University of Sioux Falls in the fall.

Marshall coach Dan Westby called senior forward Kenzie Beekman “one of the most athletic players in any class this year,” noting that “she was extremely disruptive in Marshall’s full-court press.”

Beekman averaged 13.6 points (434), 5.8 rebounds (185), 1.9 assists (62) and 3.4 steals (108) per game this season for the Tigers, who finished as Class 3A runners-up at the state tournament and with a 30-2 overall record, the most wins in Marshall basketball history.

“Kenzie was one of our outstanding senior leaders this year,” Westby said. “She led by example. She could do it all. She created matchup problems for everyone we played. Teams had to decide how they were going to defend her. We had balanced scoring this year and Kenzie was a big part of that.”

Beekman finished her career with 1,373 points and as a 2013-14 All-State nominee and Minnesota Miss Basketball Finalist. Marshall also captured its third-straight Southwest Conference title, finishing 12-0 in league action.

“Kenzie’s athleticism is what grabs your attention first,” Westby said. “She would do three or four amazing things each night. You always wanted to pay attention to the court when she was in the game.”

Senior guard Hannah Bennett also had a significant role on the Marshall Tiger basketball team this season.

“Hannah was truly a coach on the floor,” Westby said. “She really was the glue that held our team together. She was extremely unselfish this year, almost to a fault at times. She would pass up a wide-open look in order to make sure her teammates were involved.”

Bennett was third in the area in dishing out assists, averaging 4.8 (152) assists per game. She also averaged 11.3 points (363), 2.0 steals (63) and shot .773 from the line (75-for-97) for the Tigers, who fell just short of a state championship when Park Center edged Marshall 73-71 in triple overtime. The contest marked the longest game in Minnesota girls’ championship history.

“Hannah was constantly communicating information to her teammates,” Westby said. “Her leadership ability will be sorely missed next season.”