Leading the Way; Hayfield girls basketball team relies heavily on senior leaders

Published 4:00 pm Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hayfield seniors Jo Bungum, left, and Bhrett Zahnle, right, have provided the bulk of the leadership for a young Vikings team. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

Hayfield seniors Jo Bungum, left, and Bhrett Zahnle, right, have provided the bulk of the leadership for a young Vikings team. Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

HAYFIELD — A little senior leadership can go a long way. Just ask the Hayfield girls basketball team.

With eight freshmen on their roster this season, the Vikings have had to lean heavily on their two most experienced seniors, Jo Bungum and Bhrett Zahnle, to provide a crash course of varsity basketball to those youngsters while also providing a lot of play-making on the court.

Bungum has played big varsity minutes since she was a freshman and Zahnle has played varsity basketball since she was a sophomore, so the duo have plenty of perspective when they’re helping out their younger teammates.

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“The pace is so much different from what they’re used to, but they’re catching on really good,” Bungum said. “Having been a young’un and a rookie, you know what they’re going through and how they have to adjust to things. You’re with the big girls when you’re the young’un and you looking up to the [older girls].”

Bungum and Zahnle both provide a solid combination of outside shooting and ball handling for the Vikings, but their biggest contribution may be how they hold themselves in front of their young audience this season. The Vikings have mixed a bulk of their freshmen into the rotation and Hayfield head coach Fred Kindschy said the team hasn’t missed a beat.

“The seniors have been huge so far,” Kindschy said. “We look to them for a lot of our offense and just about everything we run goes through them. We know they’re not shy when it comes to putting the ball up and they know where the ball goes. They’ve worked very hard for our program.”

Hayfield played its way to the Section 1A West title game last season, where it was edged out by eventual state runner-up Kenyon-Wanamingo. The Vikings lost their first matchup with KW 71-63 in triple OT Dec. 12 and they will play the Knights again Feb. 6.

So far this season, every practice and every game has been a valuable learning experience for the core of freshmen and Zhanle said the team has already developed a pretty good chemistry.

“We knew some of them from volleyball and we’ve got a pretty good team,” Zahnle said. “It might have taken a little time [to gel], but I think we’re doing well together now.”

Bungum said playing summer basketball with the freshmen was helpful and she said the youngsters know what they’re doing on the court.

“All of those freshman know how to play basketball and they’ve played with each other. It helps us all blend together,” she said.

Kindschy said he has brought up freshman players before when they are ready for varsity, but he’s never had this many freshman on the same team. He said there is so much talent on his squad that there are a lot of different players competing for playing time.

While Hayfield looks to be competitive throughout this season, it continues to make strides towards improvement nearly every single day.

“The real exciting thing is you see them grow in practice,” Kindschy said. “We had a tendency earlier in the year to sit out and chuck up threes, but sometimes you have to create your own shot by going into the post or penetrating and getting a shot for somebody else. We’re working on that and you’re seeing it with the younger kids.”

The Vikings (7-3 overall) will host New Richland-HEG Jan. 3 at 6 p.m.