Gothenburg girls improve despite grueling schedule
If basketball victories could be based on desire and effort, this year’s Gothenburg girls team would have finished the season with a winning record.
The girls brought a positive attitude and unmatched work ethic to every practice and every game, said coach Tim Peterson.
It was a remarkably difficult schedule against a host of elite teams that brought the Swedes to a 7-15 finish.
“We played probably the most treacherous schedule of anybody in the state,” Peterson said, “especially in the first half of the season.”
Coming off a 4-18 rebuilding season the year before, Gothenburg faced eight teams that the Nebraska School Activities Association deems as Division I. Five of them played in the state tournament.
Still, Peterson said, the girls never quit working to get better.
“They persevered,” he said. “I won’t say they weren’t disappointed in the losses but they understood what they were up against. For the most part, we won the games we should have won.”
What Peterson was pleased to see was improvement in skill and execution from week to week despite facing high caliber opponents.
“In the last 10 or so games, we really made a good run,” the coach said. “The girls should be proud of that.”
Junior point guard Brittyn Munster is the only Swede to break into the all-time Top 10 this year, shooting her way to No. 4 in three-pointers in a season by making 28.
“Brittyn made a big leap in her skill set and confidence from last year to this year,” Peterson said. “We had the ball in her hands more than 60% of the time and not only was she able set up and help her teammates but she also made her own offense.”
Munster led the Swedes in scoring with 189 points, 84 of which came from three-pointers.
She also had the best free throw percentage at 73%, making 55-of-75 from the line, and earned the most steals with 41.
“Hopefully she’ll continue to improve and be right there out front next year,” Peterson said.
The Swedes will lose two seniors to graduation. Peterson said while Kersten Nelson and Payton Prall were not starters or scoring leaders, they were important pieces of the Swede puzzle.
“Both of them worked hard every day and went into the game offering 100% all the time,” he said. “In one way or another, they were always contributors.”
And while the team may have a different feel without those seniors, a bigger change will be the face of a new head coach.
Peterson has decided to step down after leading the Swedes for 13 seasons.
“I feel like I’m leaving the program in good shape,” he said. “This is an athletic group of girls. The schedule will soften for next year so if they continue to improve their basketball skills and pick up where they left off, they should do really well.”
Peterson looks back on his career with lots of fond memories.
“I’ve had lots of dedicated players who put in a lot of time to make the program successful,” he said. “No program has consistent success without girls who are willing to give their time and effort all year long.”
When asked what he intends to do with his new-found free time, Peterson said, “Relax.”