COLUMBIA — Harrisburg Bulldog senior Chelsey Kroese scored 25 points, including 18 of the Bulldogs' last 21 points in the second half, to lead the Bulldogs to a 43-32 win over New Haven and the school’s second state title since 2010.
The 5-foot-11-inch Kroese usually plays more of a guard role for the Bulldogs, but with no New Haven player being taller than 5 feet 10 inches, Harrisburg coach Daniel Bachmeier knew that he had to take advantage of his team’s favorable matchup.
“New Haven’s point guard (Rachel Steinhoff) is a great player. But she is 5-6, and if I got the 5-11 Kroese in the post against her, I am going to take my girl every time,” Bachmeier said.
Kroese said that she feels more comfortable playing on the perimeter but that her scoring outburst from the post in the second half was thanks to advice from her teammate and fellow senior, Haley Heuer.
“Haley told me to be more selfish. She looked at me and said, 'during this whole half you are going to have to be more selfish and take more shots,'” Kroese said about Heuer, who finished the game with 8 points.
“She is such a good player, an all-state caliber player,” New Haven coach Ray Steinhoff said of Kroese. “You have to give her credit for working so hard. We had some defensive breakdowns, but in the end we just couldn’t handle her.”
While Kroese’s standing among the state’s best girls basketball players might not be a mystery, her future on the basketball court is. The senior has not decided if she will play basketball in college.
“I tried not to think about college at all this week, just keep it out of my mind,” Kroese said, who came into the state championship game averaging 17.2 points per game. “ I haven’t decided what I am going to do yet. If I don’t play basketball, I am going to go to Missouri.”
The two time all-state basketball selection has also been named to the all-state team in softball and carries a 4.0 GPA.
Even with all of her accomplishments at Harrisburg, Kroese says that winning this year’s state titles, ranks as the best.
“I am just on a cloud right now,” Kroese said. “ Winning sophomore year was great, but winning this year as a senior and being more of a team leader, nothing could be more special.”