Prep of the Week: Anna Kivimagi

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(ABC 6 News) — The girls basketball season is young in southeast Minnesota but the Chatfield Gophers are off to an impressive start behind the play of guard Anna Kivimagi.

The senior opened up the season in style at St. Charles High School’s thanksgiving tournament, enemy territory no less. Even though the Gophers did not play the Saints, Kivimagi played with the passion seen in a rivalry game. Kivimagi scored the Gophers’ first nine points en route to a dominant 63-31 victory over Lanesboro; who just so happened to rock the same colors as the Saints.

“I definitely like to drive more but I don’t always get to do that and this year I just started hitting threes,” Kivimagi said. “I worked a lot this summer to improve that so…”

“She’s one of those kids where I don’t have to worry about her getting tired,” Gophers GBB head coach Brian Baum explained. “And you saw that, I think I took her out towards the end of the first half otherwise she just goes, goes, goes. She’s been a three-year player — four-year player for us actually, last three significantly. Uh, had to step in the starter’s role after we had our starting point guard went down last year. And [she has] been known for the defense, she’s a stop-gap defender and she’s tough. And so, see her offensive game come in, she’s shot well all preseason so far, so see that offensive side kind of go with her defensive side, really makes me kind of excited actually.”

A big reason Kivimagi is able to play almost an entire game so comfortably is because she also runs cross country and track. The senior says it her preferred sport compared to basketball and how it helps her on the court.

“I don’t know, cross country’s really helped me get in shape,” Kivimagi continued. “So, I just can go for as long as I can go and then I get a break and then I can just keep going.”

Soft-spoken, the senior’s presence is felt in the huddle.

“Got your leaders by example, you got your vocal leaders but we’re not really high on the vocal leaders but she’s one that — nobody that works harder than she does,” Coach Baum added. “I mean, every drill we do she goes hard, she doesn’t take a break for anything. In fact, she could practice all day long. And so, she’s not so much a vocal leader but she’s a lead by example — and we’ve talked to them. I’ve said, ‘It’s your team, now.’ And so, the other seniors have graduated, ‘How do you want to go out? It’s kind of dictated by how you play and you have to kind of lead the group and we’ll follow.'”

There’s still much basketball to be played and the Gophers will go as far as Kivimagi takes them. When it’s all said and done, the senior hopes she left a positive mark on Chatfield athletics and will be remembered well as a Gopher.

“Probably just to keep working hard and have a good positive attitude even when things aren’t going good,” Kivimagi concluded.