FAIRMONT - One chapter in the rich history of area prep basketball ends, while a new chapter just begins to unfold.
Blue Earth Area senior power forward Krista Hassing exited her esteemed three-year varsity prep career by etching her name into the Buc program's record books.
Only 15 miles to the south, Granada-Huntley-East Chain freshman center Rachel Shumski began to perfect her low-post moves and sharpen her shooting skills during her first season as a varsity starter.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Blue Earth Area senior power forward Krista Hassing (right) drives against Fairmont’s Sierra Schultz during regular-season basketball action at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Hassing has been selected as one of the 2013 Sentinel All-Area players of the year. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
The pair of highly-skilled 6-footers produced the top two scoring averages in the area, while helping engineer their respective lineups' winning campaigns.
Ironically, Hassing's Bucs fell to eventual Class AA state champion New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva during the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section semifinals, while Shumski's Mustangs lost to Class A state qualifier Mankato Loyola in the Section 2A, South Sub-Section championship game.
While Shumski topped the Mustangs in both scoring (14.1 points per game) and rebounding (6.7 rpg), Hassing did likewise for the Bucs by averaging nearly a double-double every time she stepped onto the hardwood court. The two-time Minnesota Associated Press honorable mention all-state choice posted impressive clips in both scoring (16.6 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg) for Blue Earth Area.
In fact, the 2013 Miss Minnesota Basketball nominee topped the maroon-and-gold by producing 75 steals (3.1 spg) and blocking 26 shots - No. 6 all-time in the Bucs' history - during her senior campaign.
The three-time all-South Central Conference choice also connected on an incredible 122 free throws this season to rank third all-time for Blue Earth Area, while her 225 rebounds placed her No. 5 for a single season.
The Bucs' senior jumping jill exits her prep basketball playing days as the program's fourth-best career rebounder with 581, seventh-best all-time leading scorer with 973 points and fifth-best defender with 54 career blocks. Hassing displayed her all-around arsenal by garnering 197 steals and distributing 140 assists, including 48 in 2012-13, for her career.
While Hassing leaves an indelible mark in the memories of the Blue Earth Area basketball faithful, Shumski has laid a solid foundation for three more years on the hardwood court.
The first-year all-Valley Conference choice displayed her basketball-handling skills by pocketing 58 steals and distributing 38 assists from the low post.
The All-Area Rookie of the Year demonstrated her deft shooting touch by connecting on 47 percent of her field goals (157 of 329) to help pace her seasonal point total of 367 this winter.
While Shumski will look to help the Mustangs improve on this season's 18-8 overall record and advance the team into the sectional finale next year, Hassing will trade her basketball jersey for a volleyball uniform next season. Hassing accepted a volleyball scholarship to Minnesota State University, Mankato, and will switch athletic gears in the upcoming fall.
For all of their contributions on the court and in the lockerroom, Hassing and Shumski have been selected as the 2013 Sentinel All-Area girls basketball players of the year.
Here's an inside glance at the rest of the 2013 Sentinel All-Area first- and second-team basketball selections.
Alex Christianson (Fairmont) - Pure athleticism.
The all-South Central Conference choice displayed her shooting prowess by connecting on a team-leading 52.8 percent of her field goals this season.
Christianson connected on 134 of 254 shots from the floor, in addition to sinking 36 of 63 free throws during her debut as a varsity starter.
The hard-working power forward generated a team-best 304 points en route to a second-leading scoring average of 11.7 points during the winter.
The 5-10 sophomore standout also garnered a second-best team total of 153 rebounds (5.9 rpg) to complement pocketing 39 steals and distributing 27 assists.
Christianson will join forces with fellow first-team All-Area selection Kayla Lardy again next season to form a solid foundation for Fairmont's resurgence.
Kayla Lardy (Fairmont) - The most improved.
The repeat all-South Central Conference post player extended her shooting range, handled the basketball more in the Cardinals' halfcourt set and worked the backboards at both ends of the floor this season.
In fact, the three-year varsity starter nearly posted a double-double performance each and every game, averaging team-bests in scoring (11.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg) in 2012-13.
The 6-1 junior center, who tied the program's single-game rebound mark (20), also topped Fairmont in assists (53), steals (47) and blocked shots (34) this winter.
Lardy connected on 114 of 278 field goals for 41 percent, in addition to sinking 67 of 110 free throws for 60.9 percent, to cap a stellar campaign.
Kate Thiesse (Martin County West) - The hardest worker.
The two-time All-Area choice played an integral role in helping engineer the Mavericks' appearance in the Section 3AA, South Sub-Section championship game and a runner-up showing in the Valley Conference.
The two-time all-conference forward led Martin County West by pulling down 172 rebounds (6.3 rpg), while finishing second on the team in scoring by just one-tenth of a point - 12.6 ppg to fellow All-Area choice Taryn Tumbleson's 12.7 average.
The 5-9 junior standout also netted No. 2 marks on the Mavericks' statistical charts in steals (95), assists (51), blocked shots (16) and 2-point field-goal accuracy (148 of 311 for 47.6 percent) on the season.
Thiesse and Tumbleson will form a solid foundation for Martin County West to build around in 2013-14.
Taryn Tumbleson (Martin County West) - Quickness incorporated.
The 5-9 sophomore scoring sensation supplied solid leadership on the hardwood court to help power the Mavericks to a 22-5 overall record, an appearance in the sub-section finale and a runner-up showing in the Valley Conference.
The all-conference shooting guard displayed her versatility by pacing the Mavericks in scoring (12.7 ppg), steals (106, 3.9 spg) and blocked shots (21) this campaign.
The talented Tumbleson - who also distributed 49 assists and garnered 82 rebounds - connected on 97 of 264 shots from 2-point range, 32 of 108 from behind the 3-point arc and 53 of 94 at the free throw line to cap a brilliant season.
Effie Bentz (Martin Luther) - The Knights' team captain proved a model of consistency throughout her four-year varsity hoops career.
The two-time All-Area selection generated 201 points (8.4 ppg), distributed 98 assists and pocketed 74 steals to cap her senior prep season.
The all-Valley Conference first-team choice connected on 70 of 193 field goals for 36.3 percent and sank 53 of 75 free throws for 70.7 percent to cap her third year as a member of Martin Luther's starting lineup.
Cheyanne Boland (North Union) - The all-Corn Belt Conference first-team guard led the Warriors' offensive attack with an 8.7-point scoring average this winter.
The hard-working senior playmaker connected on 69 of 102 free throws to produce North Union's best accuracy mark at the line (67.6 percent).
Boland also distributed 33 assists, snared 32 steals and pulled down 36 rebounds to close out her solid prep basketball career.
Amanda Cegelske (Granada-Huntley-East Chain) - The perennial all-Valley Conference selection made a smooth transition from the frontcourt to the backcourt to help steer the Mustangs to the Section 2A, South Sub-Section championship game this season.
The repeat All-Area choice displayed her multi-tasking abilities by distributing a team-best 95 assists (3.7 apg) and garnering the lineup's top steal total 76 during 2012-13.
The three-year varsity starter connected on 78 of 161 field goals for 48 percent and added 42 of 58 free throws to pace GHEC's No. 2 scoring average of 9.8 points per outing.
The 5-11 senior point guard, who netted the Mustangs' second-best rebounding mark of 6.2 this winter, also etched her name into the GHEC basketball record books.
The multi-tasking Cegelske finished No. 4 in all-time steals (202), seventh in rebounds (460), eighth in assists (218) and ninth in blocked shots (45) to put the wraps on an outstanding prep hoops career.
Brooke McDonald (Truman) - The junior post player nearly averaged a double-double performance every time she stepped onto the high school hardwood this winter.
The 5-10 power forward topped Truman's offensive attack by scoring 11.7 points and grabbing 9.7 rebounds per contest.
McDonald connected on 102 of 284 field goals for 36 percent and 100 of 162 free throws for 62 percent. She also recorded 26 blocks and 20 steals to round out a solid season.
Kayley Shoen (Martin Luther) - The all-Valley Conference honorable mention choice came off the Knights' bench to supply instant offense and defense.
The fleet-footed junior forward tossed in 9.3 points per game, in addition to pocketing 54 steals, distributing 40 assists and grabbing 89 rebounds this season.
The two-time All-Area selection connected on 84 of 200 field goals for 42 percent, while sinking 52 of 96 free throws for 54.2 percent to round out her second varsity campaign.
Emily Zaharia (Truman) - The all-Valley Conference honorable mention selection utilized her multi-tasking skills to make a successful transition from forward to point guard this season.
The hard-working 5-10 junior backcourt standout put Truman's offense in motion by doling out a team-best 72 assists, while displaying her defensive mettle by rejecting a team-best 28 shots to complement 54 steals in 2012-13.
Zaharia, who also paced the Bluejays by making 64 of 155 field goals for 41 percent, produced a 9.0-point scoring clip to go with 5.2 rebounds per outing.
Zaharia also hit 10 of 33 shots from behind the 3-point arc to go with a 58-for-104 shooting performance from the free throw line.