Girls basketball: Blossoms have found their way early on

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — The Awesome Blossoms girls basketball team had a lot of questions headed into the season.

How would the team adjust to playing under new head coach John Bruns? Who would replace BP’s long time starters Taylor Hagen, who is now playing at University of Northern Iowa and Madison Worke, who is now playing at Winona State University?

Blooming Prairie's frontcourt of Marissa Larson, left, and Kalyn Naatz, right, have helped lead the Awesome Blossoms this season. Rocky Hulne/

Blooming Prairie’s frontcourt of Marissa Larson, left, and Kalyn Naatz, right, have helped lead the Awesome Blossoms this season. Rocky Hulne/

And last but not least, who would step up and lead BP this year?

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The Awesome Blossoms have answered those questions as they’ve jumped out to a 6-1 start to the season as they’ve found two established post players to lead the way.

BP senior Kalyn Naatz, who played plenty of varsity minutes last season, and junior Marissa Larson, who wasn’t even on the varsity team last season, have both emerged for the Blossoms.

Larson has started her varsity career on a high note as she’s averaged 13.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and one steal per game for BP. She said she was very nervous playing varsity for the first time early in the year, but now she’s feeling comfortable on the court.

“It’s amazing. I really enjoy taking the ball to the hoop,” Larson said. “Coach Bruns makes everyone feel like they have a real Important role and I feel like we’re playing well as a team and we’re helping each other out.”

Naatz, who is averaging 10.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 steal and 1.1 block per game, said that Larson has caught her own team by surprise this season.

“I’m so amazed with her and I’m so proud of her,” Naatz said. “She put all of us in awe and she puts the whole audience in awe. We’re like ‘where’d she come from?’ Every shot she takes, it goes down and I love it out there [with her].”

Bruns, who had previously coached the BP boys basketball team, said that Larson had a good summer playing for BP, so he wasn’t surprised by how she’s played this season. He is pleased how things have come together when there were a lot of different things in play for BP going into the year.

“It’s been a good transition. I think we’ve got a good girls to work with. There’s differences [between coaching boys and girls], but there’s differences between every team too. In a lot of ways it’s similar to getting a new team. It’s been fun,” Bruns said. “We’ve got a lot of people coming from different directions and to get it to work together is a big challenge. We want to bring them all together, because that’s what a team is all about. Whatever success we have, we do it together. We’re playing for each other.”

Naatz joked that Bruns has had to adjust to coaching girls who are more ‘dramatic,’ but she’s enjoyed playing for him. She’s also enjoyed the team atmosphere that the Blossoms have created this season.

“It’s fun playing with new people. At first it was a big change, but I wouldn’t trade this season for the world,” Naatz said. “We’re just building off of new ground. We’ve made a big change this year. I think people were doubting us coming into this season and I think we’ve proved them wrong. Win or lose, we play as a team and that’s all you can ask for.”

Larson has enjoyed her expanded role on the team this year, but she’s quick to point out that the whole squad has contributed to BP’s early success.

“I really want to say thank you to the whole team for working together and coach Bruns for helping everyone and giving everybody time,” Larson said. “We’ve had such a positive attitude and that really helps everybody.”

BP will play at United South Central 7:15 p.m. Friday.