Paul Schroeder and the Nevis girls basketball team are entering the third phase in becoming a perennial contender in the Northwoods Conference and Section 5A ranks.
“My mantra two years ago was ‘Support and Survive’ (which was accomplished). Last year it was ‘Develop and Improve’ (which was accomplished). Our team’s mantra this year is ‘Compete and Position’,” said Schroeder, who enters his third season as the Tigers’ head coach. “We won't have any seniors this year, but we are starting to have several girls with experience. We should be able to ‘Compete’ this year when given the chance. More importantly, we will be ‘Positioning’ our team this year and next summer to get to next year’s mantra, which will be ‘Believe and Win’. After that, we get to our final mantra, which will be ‘Reload and Repeat’.”
The Tigers return a young, but talented group of players looking to improve on last year’s 3-9 record in conference play and 8-19 overall mark. Nevis received the No. 8 seed in the West for the Section 5A tournament and opened with a 64-48 win over No. 9 Bertha-Hewitt before being eliminated with a 67-34 loss to No. 1 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley. W-H-A (11-1), Cass Lake-Bena (11-2) and Red Lake (11-2) topped the Northwoods Conference standings while Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa defeated Ogilvie 67-25 in the Section 5A championship game.
Returning as letterwinners for the Tigers are juniors Ava Isaacson (center), Makenna Frazier (forward), Izzy Wallace (forward), Amya Gilmore (forward) and Mackenzie Mitchell (forward); sophomores Addison Lindow (guard) and Emily Funk (forward); and freshmen Kayli Bessler (forward), Mya Stacey (guard) and Marley Mitchell (center).
That group helped the Tigers average 53.8 points a game, a vast improvement over the average of 38.5 points a game in Schroeder’s first year as head coach. Nevis shot 33.1% from the field (549 for 1,658, including making 57 of 249 3-pointers) and 54.9% at the free throw line (298 for 543). The Tigers averaged 25.3 turnovers a game. Nevis’ opponents averaged 58.4 points a game while shooting 36.2% from the field (598 for 1,651, including going 113 for 440 on 3-pointers) and 58.4% at the line (267 for 458) while turning the ball over an average of 23.4 times a game.
Isaacson received all-conference honors after averaging a double-double of 12.4 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. Isaacson started all 27 games and made 128 of 337 shots and 75 of 119 free throws in scoring 335 points. Isaacson also grabbed 286 rebounds and had 53 assists and 51 steals. Isaacson recorded 13 double-doubles, scoring in double figures 19 times and grabbing at least 10 rebounds 17 times.
Frazier led the team in scoring at 13.2 points a game and was second by averaging 6.6 rebounds a game in earning all-conference honorable mention honors. Frazier made 125 of 331 shots and 93 of 174 free throws for 343 points in 26 games. In addition to scoring 343 points, Frazier led the team with 81 steals and also had 171 rebounds and 42 assists. Frazier scored in double figures 20 times and had six double-doubles.
Lindow started all 27 games, making 85 of 266 shots (including 12 of 55 3-pointers) and 45 of 85 free throws in scoring 227 points. Lindow averaged 8.4 points a game and led the team with 79 assists while grabbing 173 rebounds and tallying 64 steals to earn all-conference honorable mention honors. Lindow scored in double figures 10 times.
Funk started 24 games and made 65 of 219 field goals, including making a team-high 20 3-pointers on 89 attempts. Funk also made 9 of 20 free throws for 159 points. Funk tallied 87 rebounds, 43 steals and 27 assists.
Stacey also played in all 27 games, scoring 114 points by making 43 of 116 shots (including 8 of 16 3-pointers) and 20 of 39 free throws. Stacey also had 57 rebounds, 33 steals and 20 assists.
Bessler saw action in 22 games, scoring 38 points and grabbing 74 rebounds with 16 steals and 13 assists. Mackenzie Mitchell scored 32 points and had 33 rebounds and eight steals in 22 games. Gilmore scored 19 points and had 19 rebounds with six steals in 15 games. Wallace scored 14 points and had nine rebounds in 13 games. Marley Mitchell played in 14 games and had 7 points, 16 rebounds and six steals.
Looking to fill in for Kia Heide (last year’s lone senior who averaged 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds a game in 27 starts at center to earn all-conference honorable mention honors) are junior forwards Sonja Habedank, Marissa Engst and Maggie Carrier and sophomore center Liddy DeWulf.
“Even though we don't have any seniors, we are beginning to accumulate a lot of experience due to being so young the past two seasons. That experience, along with a continued effort to develop and improve, should start to take hold this year, making us a more competitive team to deal with in our conference and section,” said Schroeder. “My expectations for this year are to compete to the best of our ability and position ourselves as a possible contender for conference and section play for years to come. But above all, my hope is that we get to play and enjoy what's left of this shortened season.”