The chemistry is back for the Lueck sisters.
Emily Lueck and her younger sister, Mattie, played youth basketball together and eventually played three varsity seasons together with the Pequot Lakes Patriots. The sisters had nice chemistry on the court, which led to team and individual success as both played in the Class AA state tournament and were all-state selections before graduating.
Today, the two are enjoying that old success again as members of the College of St. Benedict Blazers women’s basketball team. Emily, a 5-foot-9 junior wing, is having her best college season with a 7.5-point average off the bench while leading the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 52.9 percent three-point shooting average.
Mattie, a 6-foot sophomore post, has started all 15 games and is third in team scoring with 10.2 points and third with 4.8 blocks.
“Together, Emily and Mattie have a connection they have carried over from their high school days,” said Blazer coach Mike Durbin. “It’s evident when they are on the floor together.”
Durbin praised both sisters for their contributions this season for St. Benedict, which is 6-6 in the MIAC and 9-6 overall.
“Mattie is our best all-around player, who seems to just be getting better with each game,” he said. “She is a difficult matchup for her defender because she is so effective off the dribble.”
Meanwhile, Emily is having a “breakout” season, according to Durbin.
“Emily has improved in every area of her game, and at both ends of the floor,” he said. “Her three-point shooting has been incredible, and we have needed that aspect of her game.”
On Saturday, Jan. 25, Emily scored seven points while Mattie enjoyed her college career-high 21 points in an 85-73 loss to MIAC-leading St. Mary’s of Winona.
“I had no idea,” Mattie said of her big scoring night. “(St. Mary’s) is a good team, but I had some good matchups where I was able to take some people off the dribble.”
Mattie, whose previous college high was 18 points, attributes her success in doubling her scoring average this year to her play at point guard last year.
“The dribbling skills I gained by playing the point last year helps me take people off the drive this year,” said Mattie, who is also second on the team in blocks and third in steals. “Coach (Durbin) always tells me to take authority around the basket. That has also helped.”
Mattie also realized she needed to step up as a scorer this season after the graduation loss of four captains.
“Last year, it was intimidating to be a freshman, and I didn’t know my role,” she said. “I didn’t think it was my job (to be a top scorer). Now, my job is to contribute points. I needed to step up my game, and I’m playing with more confidence.”
One area Mattie hopes to improve is her consistency each game.
“Coach (Durbin) tells me to be more consistent,” she said. “I will have an amazing game, and then the next game won’t be so good. I need to learn to get out of a funk when it happens.”
That’s when Mattie welcomes encouragement from Emily.
“It helps to have that support system on the bench,” Mattie said of her sister. “She’s someone I can count on to be there. It’s also nice to have my mom (Jana) at all of our home games.”
The sisters have also connected on the court.
“It’s fun to play together,” Mattie said. “Sometimes I can just look at (Emily) and I know she is going to the basket. That’s because we’ve been playing together so long.”
Emily adds that increased playing time has helped both sisters “grow.”
“I’m also a lot more confident this year,” said Emily, who’s averaging three more points per game than her previous high as a freshman. “I took on my role (off the bench) and I don’t expect it to change this season. I’m playing better at both ends. This year, I’m more excited about my defensive game.”
As a team, the Blazers are off from the pace of a 22-7 record that they compiled last year.
“We’re playing catch up,” said Emily. “All that matters is the end of the season. And we have 10 more games left before the playoffs start.”