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'Cream Team' completes basketball career

Five seniors form special bond

March 17, 2011
By Terri Kelly Barta

Crystal Hovland, Molly Koenig, Tessa Koenig, Michelle Lemar and Emily Paul share a special bond.

All five senior girls played basketball together throughout their high school careers. In fact, everyone except Tessa played together since fifth grade.

They know each other's strengths and weaknesses. They know how each other thinks and they know how each other plays.

One of the teachers at the school sums it up whenever he sees them together.

"Mr. Mund calls us the 'Cream Team'...because we always rise to the top," said Tessa Koenig smiling.

Testy is the player who gets the team all fired up and she appears to be this quintet's official spokesperson.

"'Big Mo', her specialty is hops," said Tessa referring to her cousin, Molly Koenig.

She goes on to describe "Mikki" (Michelle Lemar) as the one who makes everyone laugh, the goofy one.

Crystal 'Crystoff' Hovland is the leading scorer. "We could count on her to score," said her teammates.

Then there is "Emery" (Emily Paul) who is described as the team motivator and who describes herself as scrappy. "If Emily gets mad you better shape up," chimed in one of the girls with a laugh.

They all get along like sisters. They said they would do anything for each other.

That may have been why it hurt all of them so much when Emily seriously injured her knee during the second game and was out for the season. Emily stayed for that game despite her painful knee and cheered the other girls on.

As for the other girls, they were upset for Emily and for the team as a whole. How were they going to continue without her? But they managed to shake it off until after the game. Once Tessa tried to throw in the towel, but Emily told her she had to keep playing and she had to step up to cover for Emily's absence.

"I did it," said Tessa. "That was my highest scoring game all season."

The girls credit their coach, Jen Brossart, for teaching them how to play well both on and off the court.

"She talked about morals," said Tessa. "She tried to influence your life, not just sports."

Brossart told the girls that she would always be there for them. The girls said Brossart deserved to be named "District Coach of the Year."

One of their best moments this year was winning the first game of the Region 6 Tournament. They had reached a goal they had set for themselves at the beginning of the season.

"We want to thank our parents and our fans," said one of the girls and the rest agreed.

Since they are graduating seniors, they had a little parting advice for their younger teammates.

"The harder you work in the off-season, the better you will be in the season," said Crystal.

"Don't take one second of it for granted," advised Emily.

The five girls have made so many memories together, they can't pinpoint just one, but Tessa did say, "Bus rides were the best."



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