Having high expectations due to a strong work ethic are natural components of Molly Kasper’s personality. Both were a direct correlation with her becoming the girls’ basketball coach at Eastview.
The first-year mentor has the top-ranked team in Class 4A off a 3-0 start this season. Kasper replaced Melissa Guebert, who directed the school to four consecutive state tournament appearances during her four-year tenure.
“I really liked the high expectations of the program established by the previous coaches, their staffs and players,” said Kasper, who served as an assistant coach at rival Rosemount the previous three seasons. “It’s a very solid program. I wasn’t going to leave Rosemount for just any program.”
The Lightning has only two starters back from its state tournament runner-up team of a year ago. They are Division I recruits senior guard Erika Schlosser and junior guard Rachel Ranke. Schlosser signed with Fairfield while Ranke verbally committed to Kansas State.
“We lost three great players [including our two leading scorers in Madison Guebert and Samantha Trammel],” Schlosser said. “We’ve played pretty well considering how many new faces we have on the team.”
Ranke (13.7 points per game) and Schlosser (6.8) are the team’s two leading scorers returning. Ranke was the leading scorer for the Lightning in the state tournament.
“We want everybody to be a proven threat on any given night,” Kasper said. “It doesn’t matter if they are starters or coming off the bench.”
Schlosser is one of three seniors on the roster. The others are guard Emma Sinn and center Colleen Muraca.
“All three of our seniors have really stepped up and become leaders,” Kasper said.
It’s a role Schlosser has been looking forward to taking on with the South Suburban Conference power.
“I’ve always considered myself a leader,” Schlosser said. “I don’t have any problem being in that role.”
Kasper isn’t only concerned with the offensive end of the court. She said she is foremost “a defensive-minded coach.”
“All of us really like learning a different style,” Ranke said. “She has brought in a lot of positive energy.”
Both ends of the court will be bolstered by the return of sophomore forward Megan Walstad. She missed nearly all of last season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.
“I’m getting close to being a 100 percent,” Walstad said. “I just got rid of the brace. That was weighing me down a little bit. It’s nice not playing with it on.”
The 6-2 Walstad scored 19 points in Eastview’s season-opening victory. She is considered one of the state’s top collegiate prospects in her class.
“I actually like playing defense, too,” Walstad said. “I like using my height to my advantage.”
All of which the Lightning hopes leads to a fifth consecutive state tournament berth.
“We all want to get back to the same place where we were last year,” Ranke said. “I think that is very doable as long as we work hard and get better every day.”