CRESCO — The memory is as fresh as yesterday’s snow for Crestwood of Cresco junior girls’ basketball player Sharon Goodman.
Whenever a smile is needed, which isn’t often for the happy, go-lucky Goodman, all she has to do is think about March 3, 2018, when she and a bunch of close personal friends hoisted the Class 3A girls’ state basketball championship trophy above their heads at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
These days, Goodman is surrounded by a familiar group of faces when she jogs into the Cadet gymnasium for practice, too, but it has been different without Ellie and Emily Friesen, Shannon Pisney and Brynn Bodermann, who combined for 1,190 points in that dream state championship season.
But different, according to Goodman, can be a good thing.
With a motto of embracing the difference and embracing the new challenge, Goodman and the Cadets are ranked ninth in Class 3A this year with a 9-4 start. All four losses have come to ranked teams — Grand Meadow, Minn. (No. 4 in Class A), Cedar Falls (No. 7 in Class 5A), Waukon (No. 7 in 3A) and Prairie du Chein, Wis. (No. 4 in Division 3).
“Every team goes through that at some point,” Goodman said of the heavy loss of players to graduation. “But I’m excited about this season. We lost some skill, but we haven’t lost any intensity.”
With players like Laken Lienhard, Annie Mast, Brooklyn Ferrie, Taylor Shelton, Kennedy Gaul and Shelby Pisney adjusting to expanded roles, Crestwood is starting to find its groove just in time as it heads into a four-game stretch against No. 4 Clear Lake, Waukon, defending Minnesota Class A champion Lyle-Pacelli and a road trip to Waverly-Shell Rock.
The Cadets are 4-0 since the holiday break, including a victory over No. 5 Waverly-Shell Rock at home on Jan. 4.
“I think all of the girls have built up their confidence since the beginning of the season,” Goodman said. “The more they’ve gotten comfortable and confident in their play, the more we can do as a team, too.”
Goodman, who committed to Lisa Bluder and the Iowa Hawkeyes in August, has had to grow, too. Without the wizardry of Ellie Friesen at point guard and 19-points per game scorer Shannon Pisney taking some of the load off Goodman’s shoulders, the 6-foot-3 post has faced many double- and triple-team defenses.
“Sharon has had to grow a lot, too,” said first-year Crestwood head coach Dale Dennler, an assistant on last year’s team. “She had to realize she was going to have two or three people on her every night. That easily could get frustrating, but she has done great at keeping her composure out on the floor.”
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Last Thursday, Goodman recorded her 1,000th career point to go along with 479 rebounds and more than 100 blocked shots.
“I think I have gotten a lot more confident with myself,” Goodman adds. “Double-teams ... yeah, I’ve gotten frustrated and tried to do too much. So, I’ve worked on staying calm, coping with that (frustration) more.
“I still think I can play more confident. I still think I can be more consistent.”
Goodman ranks fourth overall in the state and first in Class 3A in scoring (24.6 points per game), while leading 3A in rebounds (13.8) and blocks (3.8) per game.
Both Goodman and Dennler believe she can be better.
“I think strength-wise ... she is a very strong girl, but I think she feels like she needs to be stronger,” Dennler said. “When she gathers herself and has her base underneath her, she is pretty hard to stop.
“She has been a great leader, a good all-around leader for our program.”
And there are two things Goodman wants the current 2018-19 team to know. First, there is no limitation on what the Cadets can accomplish this season.
The second ...
“My teammates ... the way they have stepped up and embraced the challenge means so much,” Goodman said. “Seeing them improve means a lot. There are a lot of memories that will stick with me from this season just as much as those from last season.”