Strong on the inside and outside

Published 8:56 pm Friday, November 28, 2008

Stockton and Malone. Kobe and Shaq. Magic and Kareem.

In basketball, to be a truly great team, you must usually have a strong post player paired with an elite perimeter player.

The Blue Devils women’s basketball team has found that connection with two Austin grads. Sophomore center Brooke Monson and sophomore guard Anna Hebrink have put years of time together into a strong basketball connection and it’s showing up on the court as RCC is off to a 5-2 start.

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The start is mostly impressive because RCC only has just three players back from last season’s team and the Blue Devils have three new starters.

One thing that has remained the same is the inside-outside combination of Monson and Hebrink.

“I just know where (Brooke’s) gonna be,” Hebrink said. “With new girls on the team, it’s hard to read where they’re gonna go. But with her I know.”

Monson, who will play basketball at Div. II Minot State University on scholarship next season, said Hebrink has been a big part of her success at RCC.

“Anna’s probably the best I’ve ever known at getting the ball into the post,” Monson said.

And when Hebrink feeds Monson in the post, it’s not uncommon for her to get a pass right back for an open three-pointer — of which she hits over 40 percent of her attempts.

“It shows what happens when you play with people and you can feed off each other and you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” RCC head coach Suzy Hebrink said. “It has far more pros than cons.”

The two Austin natives began playing with each other in fourth grade and they said they noticed each other on the court immediately. But it wasn’t until their sophomore year of high school when the two began to bond as they were the only two sophomores on the team.

“All we had was each other that year,” Monson said.

From that point on the two have improved every season. The duo had gotten increasingly better since they signed on to play at RCC, where they became instant starters as freshman.

“From where they’ve gone from their senior year (of high school) to now has just been huge. It comes from the fact that they’re playing 25-plus games per year,” Suzy Hebrink said. “Our biggest selling point as a school is that if you don’t have a (basketball) offer that’s worth it, just stay and gain experience right here. I think with both of these girls, they knew they would play a lot here and now the opportunity to play somewhere else is there.”

This season will likely be the last hurrah for Monson and Hebrink and they hope to make it their best one. Their goal is to win the conference and advance to the national tournament.

“We want to make our last season together a good one,” Monson said.

When they move on, Monson and Hebrink will miss the strong home crowds that usually come out to support the Austin grads in Riverland gym.

“It helps a lot to play in front of family and friends,” Anna Hebrink said. “We usually have a big cheering section.”

On the season, Monson is averaging 18.2 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.76 blocks per game, while shooting 45 percent from the field and 77 percent from the free throw line; Hebrink is averaging 16.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 2.2 steals per game, while shooting 46 percent from the field, 41 percent on threes, and 80 percent from the free throw line.

RCC will host Luther JV Monday, with a doubleheader starting at 6 p.m.

Last season, Monson and Hebrink both received All-conference, All-state, NJCAA player of the week awards and All- tournament. Monson, who scored a school record 560 points last season, was selected to the All-Region team.

Hebrink set a school record by making 79 three-pointers last season.