by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
If Abi Scheid was to supposed be Elk River’s secret weapon this year, she wasn’t a secret for very long. The 6-foot-2 freshman had a 21-point, 22-rebound game against Waconia in her second start, and made the Star-Tribune athletes-of-the-week list in her first week as a varsity athlete.
Opponents have been ready for Scheid ever since, and there’s few easy games in Elk River’s conference, the Northwest Suburban. Even so, Scheid is averaging about 12.5 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots per game, helping the Elks bounce back from a 7-20 season last year to an upbeat 11-7 so far this winter.
Scheid had one of her biggest games Friday night, delivering 22 points, eight blocks and 13 rebounds in a 57-37 win over Coon Rapids on the Cardinals court.
The Elks’ veteran guards, junior Shelby Gracik and senior Jordyn Sohns, added 12 points each.
The Cardinals had held Scheid to nine points in a December loss to the Elks at Elk River, largely due to the efforts of their strong 6-foot-1 post Courtney Pasiowetz, but Scheid worked around her and knocked down 10 field goals in the rematch, on a mix of post moves, nice dump passes from guards and rebound put-backs.
“It’s been really fun, but it’s a lot different from eighth grade,” said Scheid after the game, asked about her debut varsity season.
Last year’s eighth graders, including her current teammates Jayme Langbeyn (top varsity reserve) and Elyse Grunewald (JV), had a pretty good season, capped by entering a state tournament and making the top eight.
Elk coach Reed Caouette said he knew that Scheid was the jewel of a strong incoming freshman group, and she has exceeded expectations.
“She makes us a better offensive team, a better defensive team, and better rebounding team, both offensively and defensively,” said Caouette.
And this is just the first year of a four-year run.
“She is going to continue to get better,” said Caouette, savoring the prospect of building a team round Scheid. “We are going to develop package moves for her — up and under, spin moves, drop set, power dribble. With how hard she works, she is going to be a force. She’ll be a real good player for for years. She will really open a lot of eyes. People will be watching her.”
A limber and long-limbed athlete, her other current sport is soccer, in which she was a goalie with a formidable wingspan for the junior varsity this fall. She has also played volleyball prior to taking up soccer the last two years. She’s undecided about her fall sport going forward, but plays basketball most of the year.
“I want to go to college for basketball, and see where that takes me.”
Along with her scoring, rebounding and blocking skills, Scheid has another good quality. She hustles. She chases loose balls and hits the floor like a guard. In doing so, she frequently helps the Elks retain possession. For her efforts, bruised knees and sore elbows are also the consequence.
“I see the ball, and I just wanna grab it,” she reflects, adding, “It’s probably from soccer where you do all that diving around (as a goalie).”
Her mother, Sue, who stands six feet, played for a Hopkins Lindbergh team that went to state in 1979 and 1980. Her dad didn’t play basketball. Abi has a twin sister, Gracie.They look alike but are hardly identical. Gracie is about 5-foot-5 and her sports are cross country running and Nordic skiing. Gracie beat her taller sib in earning her first letter, though. She helped the CC team reach the state meet as their No. 5 runner by season’s end. They have another sister, a seventh-grader whom Abi says “goes more toward theatre” than sports.
Asked what she needs to work on, as a high-potential but somewhat raw ninth-grader, Scheid said, “I could develop more confidence with the ball, on the blocks, and I could work on some dribbling, too.”
Elks bounce back
The Elks had lost two straight games, and although those were respectable performances against the top two conference powers, Centennial and Osseo, their coach said he was concerned about how they’d shake it off and focus. Coon Rapids is only 4-12 but road wins in the NWSC are never easy.
The Elks took a quick 9-0 lead, though, and were never threatened. Shayla Huffman led the Cardinals with 10 points and Pasiowetz was next with eight.
“We executed our delay game pretty well, and got a couple easy baskets and some fouls from it,” said Caouette. “We took care of the ball once we got the lead. That was the big thing. I got a little nervous when we started the second half with a turnover but the girls recovered pretty well. We had a lot of nice assists tonight.”
The solid defensive effort was highlighted by Sohns and Rollag each taking a charge in the second half, which set off a frenzied happy-dance by the Elks bench each time. Asked about that, Caouette laughed. “The deal is that every time we get to 10 (charges taken), I take them out to dinner. That’s our 13th so we’re working on our second ten now.”
The Elks will play at No. 5 ranked Edina on Tuesday.