Eagles’ duo scoring in big numbers

Reinhart, Batt both big reasons for New Ulm’s success this year

New Ulm’s Meleah Reinhart takes a shot during a recent game at New Ulm High School.

NEW ULM — Three seasons ago, New Ulm was just crawling out of one of the worst periods imaginable for any high school girls’ basketball team.

A lot has changed since the Eagles’ 52-game losing streak that spanned more than two seasons, as they are now poised to make a run at what would be their first-ever state tournament appearance in school history. Shortly after coach Dan Reinhart took over the program, the girls began to buy into what he was selling — work hard, play basketball during the offseason and do the right things for success to come.

“Really it was a mindset, we started to get some things done in the offseason,” Dan Reinhart said. “Kids have bought in a little bit to the weight room. Once they started to see that you could win here, kids got more interested in basketball. But really it comes down to getting some things done in the offseason.”

The Eagles’ 21-5 campaign, during which they won the East Division of the Big South Conference and finished as the conference runners-up, to no one’s surprise was driven by senior Meleah Reinhart and sophomore Joey Batt.

Meleah Reinhart has led the state in scoring in all four girls’ basketball classes, averaging 27.5 points per game. Her 716 points in 26 games is 29 more than Mankato Loyola’s Lindsey Theuninck, who has scored 687 in 25.

This season, Meleah Reinhart also became the school’s all-time leading scorer in both boys’ and girls’ basketball with 1,752 points.

“I look to her as a role model; she’s somebody I look up to,” Batt said. “She’s a great player, she knows what she’s doing out there. She’s just good to look up to.”

Batt modeled her game after Meleah Reinhart’s in becoming an aggressive player who is not afraid of attacking the rim at any point in the game. Batt was brought up to varsity as an eighth-grader during the 2014-15 season and already began making waves back then.

“Her basketball IQ is way higher than any of the other eighth-graders we had,” Meleah Reinhart said. “Her talent level was so much higher than the others that she stood out. Plus she got along with us because we had been playing softball with her and she was one of the younger ones in basketball — she’s always been one of the younger ones — but she has no problem getting along with the older girls.”

This season, Batt is averaging 15.6 points, 4.7 assists and 4.0 steals per game. Next year when Meleah Reinhart is playing at Southwest Minnesota State University, Batt will be the Eagles’ go-to player.

Even though Meleah Reinhart had made her mark as an aggressive player, Dan Reinhart said she stepped up her game by improving her 3-point shooting. On the season, she has shot 43 percent from 3-point range.

“People have to be aware now because she can shoot and she can drive,” Batt said. “They can’t give her too much space, otherwise she’ll shoot it. But if they get really close up on her, she’ll be able to drive past them. So it makes her really dangerous.”

The Section 2AAA seedings are set to release Friday and New Ulm is slated to receive the No. 2 seed behind Waseca, which won the season series in two close contests.

Dan Reinhart said his team did not perform at its best during the end of both games. If both teams meet at Gustavus Adolphus College for the section championship, it is likely that New Ulm could turn the tables this time around.

“When we played them both times, we did not play to our highest potential,” Meleah Reinhart said. “Knowing what we’re playing for the third time — if we end up playing them — it’ll be a completely different ballgame.”

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