Fosston's Brynlea Mahlen adding to family's state basketball background

Mar. 12—GRAND FORKS — Brynlea Mahlen doesn't have to go far to be reminded of Fosston girls basketball history.

"In the basement, we have a whole wall with a bunch of trophies," the Greyhounds senior guard said. "My mom has three tattoos of paw prints for three state championships."

Brynlea's mother, Rochelle, was head coach at Fosston when the program won state titles in 2000, 2001 and 2003. She retired from coaching in 2003 to start a family. Rochelle was 214-59 as head coach in her 10 seasons, which were highlighted by legendary Minnesota athlete Kelly Roysland.

"She talks about how fun state was for the girls and the community," Brynlea said. "To experince that this coming week will be good. I'm excited. I'm glad it happened my senior year. I've been waiting a long time."

It's Brynlea's turn now to add to the family's state tournament background. Her Greyhounds will face Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Minnesota Class A state quarterfinals in Minneapolis.

Brynlea and her sophomore sister Lexi grew up in a basketball house. Their father Nate was a veteran assistant women's basketball coach at Minnesota Crookston with former Golden Eagles head coach Mike Roysland, the father of Kelly.

"They grew up in the gym," Fosston coach Kelly Viken said. "They have such a high basketball IQ. Brynlea is a very good leader on the floor and always getting us lined up right and in the right offense."

Brynlea, a 5-foot-9 guard who is signed to play at Minnesota Crookston next season, averages 17.3 points per game, while Lexi, at 6-1, averages 13.7 points per game. Vanessa Johnson is averaging 6.6 points per game, while Tessa Manecke is chipping in 6.6 points per game, as well.

After a late-season loss to Cass Lake-Bena, the Greyhounds were able to get back on track and win the Section 8A tournament, knocking off Kittson County Central in the section championship after losing to Badger-Greenbush-Middle River in last year's section final. The Greyhounds are back at state for the first time since 2006.

"We ended the regular season kind of on a low taking that loss to Cass Lake but we were suffering from injuries and sickness," Brynlea said. "In sections, we were finally feeling better and healthy. We played the best basketball we have been playing all year."

After graduating key seniors from last year's section runner-up team, Brynlea has adapated to a new role this year.

"I think I've definitely stepped more into the role of a scorer," she said. "That has been a little different, but it's still continuing to get teammates open by driving and kicking it out."

Viken, who has been coach at Fosston for the last 13 years, said the defense of Manecke has been important down the stretch. Manecke also had 15 points on offense in the section title win over KCC.

"She's honestly the best defensive player I've ever had," Viken said. "She can defend any position one through five. Guards, wings, big posts. When we've had foul trouble with Lexi Mahlen, Manecke has stepped in and done a nice job. She can be 5-9 and guarding 6-3 and do a nice job."

Coach: Kelly Viken.

Record: 29-2.

Top scorers: Sr. Brynlea Mahlen 17.3 points per game; soph. Lexi Mahlen 13.7 ppg; sr. Vanessa Johnson 6.6 ppg; sr. Tessa Manecke 6.6 ppg.

State tournament history: Fosston has three state championships, last winning in 2003.