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Bailee Helle fires a three-ball during Ed-Co’s 74-28 loss to unbeaten North Linn at Edgewood, Jan. 21.

Coming off a solid 9-14 campaign in 2018, Edgewood-Colesburg’s girls basketball team had high hopes for this season, with a strong core of returners and some promising newcomers.

The Vikings, playing in the very competitive Tri-Rivers Conference, struggled on both ends of the floor to finish 2-12 in league play and 3-19 overall, ending the year with a first-round tournament loss at Dunkerton.

“The season did not go as expected. After finishing last year with the amazing growth and improvement, we anticipated starting this season where we left off,” said Ed-Co coach Jenny Lange. “We looked really good in our summer games and we had high hopes for the season. I’m not sure what happened, but we seemed to take steps backward once we hit mid-November.”

The Vikings managed to score an average of 32.5 points per game, shooting only 28 percent from the field and 51 percent from the free throw line. Defensively, Ed-Co gave up 53 points a game— with 30 turnovers per contest a big factor.

“We knew going into the season we would have some offensive struggles, but we were confident our defense would keep us in games,” said Lange. “Our defense was not played to the expectations we had set and we struggled more with offense than I anticipated I would.”

An early season contest with Clayton Ridge and a pair of meetings with Starmont got the Vikings three wins, but it was late season games with Springville and Alburnett that showed the grit of this Ed-Co team.

“We played well against Springville and Alburnett in our second matchups,” Lange said. “Even though we lost both games, it was the best we played as a team.”

“We started to be more in-sync in mid-January which is a reason we started to play better. We rebounded much better the second half of the season but our shooting never did come around.”

Junior guard Bailee Helle led the Vikings in scoring with 9.0 points a contest, earning honorable-mention all conference recognition for her efforts. Freshman post Annie Hoffman played in 15 games and averaged 6.9 points and 7.7 rebounds, while senior Haley Fitzpatrick was good for 5.8 points and 7.0 rebounds a night.

Lange and assistant Mike Lutgen will say goodbye to three seniors — Fitzpatrick, Liz Meisner and MacKenzie Schmitz.

“Haley is a four-year letterwinner and two-year starter. We will miss her experience and dominance in the post,” said Lange. “Liz really stepped up for us this year, filling the void for a point guard and a leader on the team. She did way more than we expected.”

“MacKenzie didn’t see a lot of playing time, but was a leader on our team. She always kept the bench going and held players accountable, which is what you need from seniors,” praised Lange. “She was best at being a ‘role player.’ It will be difficult to fill the shoes of these seniors.”

Lange is optimistic her program is on the upswing. Juniors Helle, Lily Aulwes, Rose Heuchelin, Chezney Priem and Natalie Wessel return along with sophs Ashley Hogan and Alex Schmitz. Freshmen Hoffman, Ella Aulwes and Kelsey Hansel logged quality minutes and will play a big role in the success of next year’s team.

“Our numbers will be low moving forward, but if the girls come in and work hard on the offensive aspects of the game, we have a bright future,” Lange said. ”We are looking to be very athletic in the coming seasons, which will help our defense. At the end of the day, the only way to become better shooters is to devote time to it.”

Ed-Co statistical leaders: scoring — Helle 188, Fitzpatrick 128, Hoffman 128, Meisner 78, Lily Aulwes 49 and Hogan 49, Priem 34, Ella Aulwes 19, Heuchelin 17, MacKenzie Schmitz 12, Wessel and Hansel 10, Alex Schmitz nine; rebounds — Fitzpatrick 154, Hoffman 115, Hogan 85, Priem 67, Helle 55, Meisner 45, Lily Aulwes 32, Hansel 23, Wessel 22, Heuchelin 17, Ella Aulwes 10, Alex Schmitz nine, MacKenzie Schmitz eight; assists — Meisner 40, Priem 28, Fitzpatrick 27, Helle 18, Lily Aulwes nine, Alex Schmitz eight, Ella Aulwes seven, Hogan six, Wessel five, Hansel four, Heuchelin, MacKenzie Schmitz and Hoffman three; steals — Meisner 38, Lily Aulwes 29, Hoffman and Priem 28, Helle 22, Fitzpatrick 20, Heuchelin 10, Ella Aulwes nine, Wessel seven, Alex Schmitz five, Hogan four, Hansel two.