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Teammates forever, opponents Saturday

February 19, 2010

Before coming to Marshall, Southwest Minnesota State University women's basketball player Taylor Voss had an impressive playing pedigree.

A sophomore this season, Voss came to the Mustangs fresh off a Class AA state title at Albany High School in 2008. The season before, Albany lost in the state title game in a controversial 50-49 loss to Pipestone Area. The Arrows hit a game-winning three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to take the state title. Voss thinks the shooter's foot was on the line.

"That's one we still hear about," Voss said. "It should have been tied."

In four years with the Huskies, Voss made trips to the state tournament each year.

"We loved the game, we loved playing," Voss said. "Winning was a bonus for us. Albany had a legacy of going to the state tournament when I went there."

One of the standouts playing alongside Voss on those Albany teams was Jennie Noreen.

Basketball at Albany was a Noreen family affair. Jennie's father, Jon, is the girls basketball coach.

During their playing time at Albany, Jennie Noreen said Voss and herself were a tag-team on the court. The two would play basketball in the summers and had an opportunity to play basketball in Australia.

"We had this rare connection on the court," Noreen said.

Said Voss, "I'll always be her teammate."

But on Saturday, these former teammates will square off at the R/A Facility.

Noreen, a sophomore at Minnesota State-Mankato, is the third-highest scorer for the Mavericks this season at 12.0 points per game.

Last season, with her sister Joanne on the team, MSU won the Division II National Championship.

When Voss and Jennie Noreen were looking at colleges, Noreen admits she was saddened when Voss chose to go to SMSU over Mankato.

"I was heartbroken," Noreen said. "I wanted to play four more years with her."

After both Voss and Noreen had limited playing time as freshmen last season, the two finally faced off as opponents in Mankato on Dec. 5, a 74-62 SMSU victory.

But wearing different colored jerseys didn't stop Voss or Noreen from remembering their days in Albany.

"There was one point where (Noreen) was shooting free throws and I almost started clapping for her," Voss said. "We were just giggling the entire game."

On the court this season, Noreen still has flashbacks to her chemistry with Voss.

"If I pass and a ball goes out of bounds, I'll think 'oh, Taylor would have gotten that," Noreen said. "If we need a scouting report written on (Voss), I could write it. She could probably write one on me, too."

Currently, the Mustangs are tied for seventh in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference at 9-8, 15-9 overall. Minnesota State-Mankato has struggled, sitting in ninth at 8-9, 13-11 overall.

Noreen said several of the former Albany players will be in attendance at Marshall on Saturday, a sort of impromptu team reunion.

The two know when the whistle blows on Saturday, it'll be all business.

"I just got to pretend it's any other player," Voss said.

"(Before the game) I'll call her and tell her to be ready," Noreen said.

After the final buzzer sounds, Voss and Noreen will still be wearing different jerseys, but they'll be teammates once more.



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