Montevideo defeats Morris Area 61-45

Guy Hanson, CherryRoad Media

Montevideo’s upstart high school girl's basketball team improved to 9-1 overall with an impressive 61-45 win at Morris Area last Tuesday.  

“We’ve had a really good start to our season, including wins against New London and Sauk Centre which were big for our program,” said second-year Thunder Hawks coach Anthony Jackson. 

Montevideo will host Paynesville Area at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, on Senior Night. 

“We’re looking forward to honoring our three seniors and senior manager,” said Jackson. “We don’t know a lot about Paynesville, but we matched up well against them last year.” 

The powerful Thunder Hawks are led by ultra-elite post Avery Koenen, a 6-foot-3 junior who has verbally committed to North Dakota State. 

Keely Foley passes in the game against MACCRAY last week.

“Avery is averaging about 24 points a game,” said Jackson. “She’s great in the open court, handles the ball and shoots like a guard, and dominates in the post. She’s a great athlete and makes plays that most high school players can’t make.” 

Freshman point guard Teagan Epema has been an impactful starter all season. 

“Teagan distributes the ball well, makes good decisions, and has a high shooting percentage from three,” said Jackson. “Perhaps most impressively, she’s handling the competition of varsity very, very well.” 

Senior forward Keely Foley is a lock-down defender.  

“Keely is one of our best communicators, an excellent passer, and an elite help defender, which greatly strengthens our defense,” said Jackson.  

Avery Koenen goes for the shot in the game against MACCRAY last week.

Tenley Epema, a junior forward, has a well-earned reputation as one of the best shooters in the region, Jackson said.  

“Teams are always trying to stop her, and we’re always looking to get her open as much as possible,” said Jackson. “She’s a crafty player, one of the most coachable players you will find, and second in team scoring behind Avery.” 

Hailey Dirksen is an ultra-athletic 6-foot post player, a junior who is improving every day. 

“Hayley can score from the inside and hit the three, which surprises some opponents,” said Jackson. “She’s incredibly fit and can run all day. We can spread out the defense because of her shooting ability.” 

Montevideo approached the season expecting to be highly competitive against the elite teams in Section 3AA and in the West Central, Jackson said, and the Thunder Hawks have not disappointed. 

“We’re a little older, more experienced, and have shown the confidence to handle the close games in the final moments,” said Jackson, comparing this year’s team to Montevideo's 2020-21 team that lost to Windom in the second round of the playoffs and finished 14-5 overall in a pandemic-shortened season. “We were a good team last season, and we’ve taken a big step forward this year especially defensively.” 

Thunder Hawks Results / Schedule 

MACCRAY, W 66-46 

Central Minnesota Christian, W 77-44 

Dawson-Boyd W 67-20 

New London-Spicer, W 68-54 

Minnewaska, W 54-51 

Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, W 71-28 

Redwood Valley, W 66-23 

Minneota, L 69-44 

Sauk Centre, W 47-44 

Morris Area, W 61-45

Thursday – Paynesville Area 

Tuesday – at Melrose Area 

Jan. 28 – at BOLD 

Jan. 31 – at West Central 

Feb. 4 – Minnewaska 

Feb. 5 – at Lakeview 

Feb. 8 – at Sauk Centre 

Feb. 11 – Morris Area 

Feb. 12 – Luverne (SMSU) 

Feb. 15 – Melrose Area 

Feb. 17 – Benson 

Feb. 18 – Lac qui Parle Valley 

Feb. 22 – at Yellow Medicine East