by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A twerpy freshman named Emily Reichert was stuck into the Rogers basketball starting lineup early in the 2008-09 season. She got the nod because coach Jeremy Giovanni had noticed both her plucky ball handling and feisty defense while playing with the older kids the previous summer.
“Emily started the third game that year and she has been there ever since,” said Digiovanni about his now-senior point guard who’s made all-conference since 10th grade.
Currently the Bemidji State recruit is delivering 12.0 points, 5.4 assists, 2.4 steals and 3.7 rebounds per game, sharing high scorer status with Jordyn Motter (12.3 ppg), on a 9-9 team. Last year, on a 15-15 team that went to state by winning a section with no ranked teams, Reichert averaged 9.6 points.
The 5-foot-4, 110-pound guard is unfazed by pressure as she guides the team into its sets, and for her senior year she markedly improved her shooting and passing, along with her assertiveness, said Digiovanni.
“Emily has always been willing to be vocal setting up our offenses,” said the coach, “but she has taken that a step further this year, using that leadership in encouraging and teaching (teammates) during games.”
About that first start four years ago, she reflects: “It was really exciting. I was glad to get the opportunity to play with players like Jenn Dowd and Emily Dosmann.”
Her first big scoring game came in ninth grade when the Royals dueled Princeton and its 6-4 center Katie Loberg, a current Gopher starter. With Princeton running a special defense to stop two other players, Reichert saw an opening and knocked down 13 points in a 55-47 win.
“I know I made some three’s, and I went by Katie once for a layup,” Reichert recalls with relish.
A big game last year was her career-high 24-point burst in an 81-70 overtime win over Cambridge-Isanti that snapped a four-game skid. “That helped us get a post-season run started that led to the state tournament,” said Digiovanni.
This year she lit up the Bluejackets again for 23, in a 52-51 loss. Another highlight was hitting 16 points last Saturday in a 53-44 win over a good Bemidji team, where she’ll play college ball.
Reichert thrives on messing with the opponents’ best guard and often makes it difficult for them to set up their offense.
“Em has always been a key to our defense, ever since the summer before her freshman year,” Digiovanni said. “She is as aggressive a defender as there is right now.”
Her main job is running an offense that has to make do with a lineup not very big or physical.
“We run a lot of four-out, one-in,” she said, meaning four perimeter players and one post (the 5-9 Motter), “with a lot of motion. The first thing I look for is to drive and kick it out, to get an assist. If it’s not there, I look for my own shot. Or we just start working it around until somebody gets open.”
Reichert has played since kindergarten. She also played soccer through ninth grade. She sprinted in track in grades 9 and 10 with medium success including eighth place in the conference 200 dash. A straight-A student, basketball’s been her lone sport the last two years.
Reichert ranks among the state leaders in assists. She worked especially hard on ball handling last summer with the North Tartan program. “That’s what I’ll need to play point guard at Bemidji State,” said Reichert. Her main personal goal this year is “to get a lot of assists, and play team basketball.”
THE REICHERT SCORECARD
Personal file – Age: 18 … Family: parents Dave and Nancy; brother Ryan, 21 … Sport: basketball … Other activities: National Honor Society … Academics: 4.0 GPA … College plans: Bemidji State, basketball, accounting major
Favorite stuff – Class: math … TV show: “Teen Mom” … Movie: “Coach Carter” … Food: pepperoni pizza … Music: country, especially Brad Paisley … Team: Timberwolves … Athlete: LaBron James … Place she’d like to visit: “Australia, to be warm by the ocean.”