Ashton-Franklin Center girls basketball owns a 21-2 record and the #3 ranking in the 1-A state poll. Last season ended in the sectional semifinals, and the Lady Raiders have responded in dominant fashion, motivated every night to flip the script.
"That has helped us win these really tough games this year," says junior center Madeline Prestegaard. "We think back to what we did, just how mentally strong we have to be each and every night. No matter who we play or where we play."
A-FC has stormed up the rankings with a sense of urgency from their seniors.
"We're just really excited to come out and see what we can do this year," says senior Lexi Meurer. "We know with six seniors on the team, this is it for us. If we want to go down in A-FC history, this is it, right now."
Those seniors rely on a sophomore and junior who impose their will every night - Jaynee and Madeline Prestegaard are the Lady Raiders' towering one-two punch in the paint.
"They're the foundation of our team. Just because they're big, it's not their strength," says head coach Chris Jahn. "Their strength is they love this basketball game. They're in the gym working hard all the time. I'm proud of how hard they've worked. The results are showing. They put the rest of the team on their back and we're proud of that."
The target is on A-FC's back every night. That's just fine with them.
"We take every game as a challenge," says Jaynee Prestegaard. "We know they'll come out and give it their best, try obviously to defeat us. We have to stay focused, play our game, and come out with a W."
These are unchartered waters for a program new to this level of success, but the Lady Raiders are going full steam ahead.
"It's exciting, making history and being state ranked, top three now," says Meurer. "So we're already making history, but we don't want to stop now, we want to end at ISU and see what can happen."
With the Prestegaard's filling the basket and a deep senior class driven to end on winning terms, A-FC has the tools to breathe life into big championship dreams for a small town.
A-FC visits Polo Wednesday night in conference play.