New coach plus experienced squad=exciting girls basketball season

Rushford-Peterson Girls Basketball Team, front row: Kaylee Ruberg, Alayna Helgemoe, Ellie Dahl, Avalon Jacobson, and Jimmi Rit-
ter. Back row: Head Coach Jake Dahl, Assistant Coach Joel Hinke, Kaitlyn Bieberdorf, Megan Oian, Lauren Lawston, Kjersta Hinz, Abby Hoegh, Peyton Hoiness, Julissa Trejo, and Assistant Coach Brooke Lea.
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The Rushford-Peterson girls’ basketball opened the season with a new face calling the shots. Jake Dahl is the new head coach of the girls’ team, taking the reins from long-time coach Terry Pelzl. Dahl said preseason preparations have gone well for the Trojans, who have more experience on this year’s roster to hopefully make the transition a little smoother.

“Things are going well even though it’s been a little bit challenging for the girls because everything is new,” Dahl said. “We’ve been working on new plays, new sets, and new names for all of those things. Their spirits are good, their attitudes are good, and we’re trying to get as many new things in before the season begins.

“We have seven seniors on this year’s team, which is a coach’s dream,” Dahl added. “They’re all captains on the team and will be contributors. You really don’t get a chance to have that many seniors on the roster. We’ve got good numbers around them too. We have enough players out for basketball to play a C game, JV game, as well as a varsity game.”

While the style of offense can change from year-to-year as rosters change, one thing Dahl says can be consistent is defense. He said playing defense every night gives teams a chance to stay in every game. The offense will go through normal ups and downs, but a team can play good defense every time they hit the floor.

“If we’re a good defensive team, we don’t have to put so much pressure on ourselves offensively to score points,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to make happen. It doesn’t come with by flipping a switch but by a season’s worth of hard work that makes it happen. We’re hoping to be a pretty stingy defensive team by the time February rolls around.

“Offensively, I do want us to value each possession,” Dahl said. “If we do play good defense, get the ball in our hands, and push the tempo, I want to do it in an organized way. If we get points out of transition, that’s great. Otherwise, we’ll pull the ball back out and run one of our offensive sets. I really want us to get a good look at the basket on basically every trip down the floor.”

One other big key to success is rebounding. Dahl is hopeful when shots are missed, the Trojans can hit the boards hard and get second and third scoring opportunities on each possession. He said combining rebounding with good defense will give the team a solid chance to improve on their six-win total in 2017.

Dahl isn’t new to the R-P school system. He grew up in the Rushford-Peterson school district and graduated in 1991. After college, he spent the first ten years of his career in Chetek, Wisconsin, where he coached football and basketball. In fact, Dahl said he was the interim boys’ coach for a year because the head coach blew out his Achille’s tendon the night before the season opener by playing what he called “old-man basketball.”

During his 12 years in the R-P school system, Dahl has coached in multiple levels of the basketball program, including a year as the interim head coach when Tom Vix took a year off due to a serious family illness. Dahl said getting an opportunity to coach at his alma mater is a unique opportunity he wasn’t sure was ever going to come around.

“I’m really enjoying working with this group of girls,” he said. “They’re a great bunch of kids and they’re a competitive bunch. They’re also smart and very athletic. I’m thankful for this opportunity.”


The Trojan girls opened the season with four games in the space of a week. R-P started on the road Nov. 27 at Lewiston-Altura, then hosted Fillmore Central two nights later. The Trojans were also home against Moose Lake-Willow River Dec. 1 and La Crescent-Hokah Dec 4.