Offense a focus as Raiders hope to stay competitive in girls basketball

Arcadia High School’s girls basketball program will need to replace a key piece of its offense if it hopes to keep building on a 2022-23 season that ended with a playoff win and a competitive Coulee Conference schedule.

Calling it ‘key’ might even be selling it short.

Arcadia will need players to step up in the offensive half of the court this winter as the team looks to replace the offense of 2023 graduate Breah Golden, whose 1,352 career points are the most in program history.

Golden averaged 21.4 points per game last year, a season that saw Arcadia finish 9-17 while placing fourth in the conference with a 6-6 record.

“It’s looking at that void we’re trying to fill there and understanding that it’s not going to be from one person we’re bringing up to take her spot,” Arcadia coach Evan Pagel said last week. “It’s going to be a whole team aspect there.”

Arcadia opens the 2023-24 season this Thursday at home against St. Croix Central, and the Raiders have been shifting their offensive gameplan with a new roster.

Senior Casidi Pehler will lead a large portion of the offense this year in the post, a shift from last year’s attack that utilized Golden’s outside shooting often.

“Now it’s just getting Casidi prepared for the attention is going to be on her and things are going to look completely different. … it’s probably just going to be zones and trapping you, so it’s just trying to get them prepared for what teams are going to do differently,” Pagel said.

Pehler averaged just over 10 points per game last year, and her coach thinks she could take another step forward on offense.

Elsewhere, sophomore Justine Sonsalla will return as a starter, as will Kaitlyn Bremer. Those two players could elevate Arcadia with more of an offensive presence than they showed a year ago, Pagel said.

“She (Sonsalla) took on a huge role last year, and now we hope she can expand upon that. Great shot, great defender, she’s been nothing but great in the summer and offseason workouts,” Pagel said.

“Kaitlyn (Bremer) is another junior that didn’t have a huge role offensively last year, but she does a lot of things right that don’t show up on the scoresheet. So hopefully she can take that next step with her game.”

More freshmen and sophomores will see time on the court, too, Pagel said.

After beating county opponent G-E-T in a regional playoff game last year, the Arcadia program believes building on that success will require a team effort with multiple young players claiming regular roles in 2023-24.

“Now it’s just finding out how can we work with more than just one person bringing up the ball or having more people that can be those threats,” Pagel said. “And it’s going to take all these days of practice leading into our first game and going into the season to see that really take off, but right now we’re looking for those girls that want it.”

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