Women’s College Basketball: Postseason awards flooding Heurung’s way
Kylee Heurung’s season ended with a loss and as she put it, “It’s a lot better than a what if.”
The Brainerd High School graduate is a starting forward for the Mayville State University Comets women’s basketball team. The junior helped her team finish 25-6 overall.
The Comets ended their season with an 86-64 loss to Kansas Wesleyan University in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament. Heurung finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the game played Wednesday, March 11. A day later the NAIA canceled all national tournaments.
“For me personally, we could have won that first game of the national tournament, but I think it’s better our season ended with a loss because then our season officially ended,” Heurung said. “We can look back on it and not have to worry about what if or wonder how far we could have gone.”
It was the Comets’ first trip to the national tournament since 2015 and Heurung called it an amazing experience.
“I’ve never experienced something like that before,” Heurung said. “Even going to do Special Olympics and work with those kids, it was a totally different experience and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Mayville State was 9-4 heading into the Holiday Classic tournament Dec. 28-29. The team was riding a three-game losing streak that included two exhibition losses to North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota.
But Heurung said it was at the Holiday Tournament when the team started to click. It opened the tournament with a 70-62 win over Briar Cliff University. Mayville topped off the weekend with a 68-60 win over No. 7 ranked Morningside College.
“The strength of this team was when we played together,” Heurung said. “We started the season off strong, but then we had a slump toward the end, but we figured it out, especially in Watertown, which was where we played our conference tournament. If we didn’t play together we would not have made the national tournament. Who knows if we would have gotten voted in -- even with our record.”
The Comets were 11-3 in the North Star Athletic Association Conference, including winning the season-ending tournament with wins over Waldorf, Dakota State University and Viterbo University.
Heurung was named the North Star’s Most Valuable Player for the regular season and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“When I go out and play basketball, my thought is to just go out and play hard,” Heurung said. “It’s obviously a goal -- a lofty goal, I thought, at the beginning of the year -- I never knew I was going to be able to accomplish it, but all I really did was go out every game and play hard and have fun. It still feels like I didn’t even win those because it feels like someone else won them because that’s how surprised I was. I’m just grateful for everything I’ve received and all the recognition I’ve gotten.”
The most shocking award was just announced as Heurung landed a spot on the NAIA All-American Second Team.
“I was very surprised, but also very grateful,” Heurung said. “Even to hear that I was second-team and above the third team and honorable mention, I was really grateful and excited to hear that.”
In 30 games, Heurung posted a team-high 15.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. She was first on the team with 56 steals and added 70 assists and 14 blocked shots.
She shot 39.9% from the field, 29.0% from 3-point and 79.2% from the line.
Heurung said she’s diversified her game from her high school days to keep defenses guessing.
“I would say I’m not as much of a shooter,” Heurung said. “I drive more now. In high school, I would mostly just be comfortable shooting the 3, but I feel like, in college, people scout and they know what you do so you have to be able to have more things in your pocket so basketball wise I expanded my game by exploring more options.
“Also, personally, as a person, I feel like I’ve opened up more and I’m not as shy as I was in Brainerd.”
Shooting is what Heurung hopes to work on more during this offseason, but it will certainly be an offseason of change. The Comets will graduate nine seniors from this past year’s team, including Crosby-Ironton High School graduate Cyan Hale. Heurung knows it will be a huge adjustment.
“It will be totally different,” Heurung said. “I believe we have six or seven returners and the new people coming in are going to outnumber us. We’ll be a totally different team. I won’t know for sure until we get to play with each other this summer, but I’m excited. It will definitely be a new experience compared to what I’ve had the first three seasons because I played with those seniors the past three years.”
School: Mayville State University
Sport: Women’s Basketball
High school: Brainerd
Parents: Vic and Ginger Heurung