ST. JOSEPH – Albany had to continue doing something Saturday that they have been doing all season.
The Huskies had to incorporate and rely more on their younger players, something that has been working out well and has contributed to a strong start to the season for the young team.
Despite the strong start, Albany hit a roadblock Saturday, falling to Staples-Motley 66-54 in a nonconference girls basketball game at the College of St. Benedict’s Claire Lynch Hall.
Sophomore forward Erin Navratil led the Huskies with 21 points in the loss. Sophomore forward Madison Schmitz and junior guard Kendra Kotzer each added seven points for Albany.
Staples-Motley was led by senior guard Grace Wolhowe with 21 points. Senior center Katilin Spar added 14 points for the Cardinals.
Albany’s loss breaks a three-game winning streak for the Huskies (4-0 Granite Ridge, 7-4 overall). It extends the winning streak to eight games for Staples-Motley (1-1 Mid-State, 8-1 overall).
Huskies head coach Aaron Boyum said, even with the loss, he’s seeing good things from his younger players and it’s great to see them step up.
“As far as our program as a whole, it means a lot. It means a lot for the future of this team,” he said.
“We need to meld as a team and we need to continue to focus on melding and get better as a team, no matter who is out there.”
Among those young players stepping up, Navratil has found herself moving into a more important role for Albany.
“We’ve been off to a good start so far, especially with us being a young team,” said the 5-foot-11 forward. “The seniors on this team are great leaders and they set a great example and they help us out a lot.
“With us being young and getting this experience, we will continue to get better and that will help us a lot.”
Senior guard Emily Schoenberg and junior guard Sidney Schiffler, two Albany starters who are two of the Huskies’ leading scorers, were unable to play in the game Saturday due to injuries.
“They are some of our leading scorers on this team, so the rest of the team needs to get out there and step up big,” Navratil said.
“We have to keep working hard at practice, we need to keep pushing each other, and we most importantly need to stay together as a team.”
For Boyum and the rest of his team, they aren’t focusing on what the future looks like with their young players. Their focus is in on how far they can go this season.
“We have to get back to the grindstone, look what we can do better as a team and stay focused and driven,” he said.
“We still feel like we still have a lot of promise this season. Both for this year and in the future, the young kids do look very promising.”
Grace Wolhowe 21, Kaitlin Spar 14, Kelsie Weite 9, Quinn Uhlman 6, Amber Robbin 5, Megan Dumpprope 4, Claire Wolhowe 4, Sarah Koopmann 3.
Erin Navratil 21, Madison Schmitz 7, Kendra Kotzer 7, Emily Johnson 6, Abby Silvers 6, Brooke Swathout 5, Abby Wunderlich 2.
Halftime score: Staples-Motley 32, Albany 25.
Follow Mitchell Hansen on Twitter @M_Hansen13.