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Athlete of the week: MCM's Laetsch racking up the assists

SALEM--It's not hard for McCook Central/Montrose head coach Doug Durfee to describe what Rachael Laetsch means to his team. Laetsch, a three-year starter at point guard for the No. 4 ranked Fighting Cougars, has played varsity basketball for Durf...

McCook Central/Montrose's Rachael Laetsch (3) gets a loose ball against Webster Area's Alecia Vogl, left, during the Hanson Classic on Saturday at the Corn Palace. (Ryan Deal/Republic)
McCook Central/Montrose's Rachael Laetsch (3) gets a loose ball against Webster Area's Alecia Vogl, left, during the Hanson Classic on Saturday at the Corn Palace. (Ryan Deal/Republic)
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SALEM-It's not hard for McCook Central/Montrose head coach Doug Durfee to describe what Rachael Laetsch means to his team.

Laetsch, a three-year starter at point guard for the No. 4 ranked Fighting Cougars, has played varsity basketball for Durfee since she was an eighth-grader.

"She's the engine of the team," Durfee said. "She means everything. The point guard runs the show on the court and she really makes things go offensively."

Last week, Laetsch helped the Fighting Cougars pick up three big wins over Hanson (54-46 in overtime), Sioux Valley (72-54) and Webster Area (62-51).

In Tuesday's overtime win over Hanson, Laetsch also reached a career milestone by earning her 500th assist. She finished the game with 10 assists, six points, four rebounds and two steals.

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"Five hundred assists is an incredible accomplishment," Durfee said. "She has a ton of passing ability and sees the floor so well. She makes our team go."

Laetsch recorded 10 points and 11 assists for a double-double in Thursday's win over Sioux Valley and finished her stellar week off with 12 assists, six rebounds and four points on Saturday against Webster Area at the Hanson Girls Classic.

"She handles the ball and sees the floor so well. That's what makes her a great passer," Durfee said. "She always has her eyes up and seeing what's happening. She can anticipate where our girls will be."

For earning her 500th assist and helping guide her team to three wins, Laetsch has been named The Daily Republic's athlete of the week, a weekly award voted upon by the newspaper's sports staff.

The a 5-foot-7 point guard is one of four seniors for MCM. Among praising her skill-set on the court, Durfee added Laetsch's leadership for the Fighting Cougars has been invaluable.

"She's a great leader and has been our leader for the past couple of years," Durfee said. "She can settle the team down. She slows the tempo down when we need to slow it down and speeds it up when we need to speed it up. She has a great feel for the game."

While her passing ability stands out the most, Durfee said Laetsch adds just as much to the team on the defensive end of the court. He directly pointed out her ability to pressure the basketball and clog up passing lanes.

With the Fighting Cougars (8-1) off to a such a strong start, Durfee said the team may have turned a corner last week.

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"It was a great week," Durfee said. "We're really happy with getting three wins out of that stretch. We're finally starting to get on the same page."

As MCM heads into the final half of its season, Durfee said Laetsch's consistency has helped the team add younger players into the mix this season. He added Laetsch's experiences as an eighth-grader on the varsity team "helped mold her" into the player she is today. A talented softball player, Laetsch will play college softball at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota.

"She's always coachable," Durfee said. "She's been a big part of this program. We are definitely going to miss her next year, but we're going to enjoy her why she's here."

MCM plays Baltic today in Salem.

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