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Nevis girls expect improved season

Head coach Brad Neyens is expecting an improved season from the Nevis girls basketball team.

Last season, the Tigers finished 3-11 in the Northwoods Conference standings for seventh place while going 4-21 overall. Nevis was the No. 8 seed in the North half for the Section 5A playoffs and opened with a 66-56 loss to No. 9 Bertha-Hewitt.

Being counted on to lead the Tigers this season are Ashley Pyburn and Kia Heide. Pyburn, a junior forward, received all-conference honorable mention honors last season after tallying 77 points, 66 rebounds, 52 steals, 27 assists and 12 blocked shots in 25 games as a starter while Kia Heide, a sophomore forward, had 153 points, 131 rebounds, 37 steals, 24 blocks and nine assists in 24 games as a starter.

Also returning from last year's team are seniors Annalise Ahrendt (a forward who had 31 points, 49 rebounds, 15 steals and 14 assists in 22 games) and Tori Carrier (a guard who had 54 points, 51 rebounds, 22 steals and 13 assists in 24 games); sophomores Katie Kamphaus (a center who tallied 76 points, 70 rebounds, 12 blocks and 10 assists in 22 games), Jayden Vredenburg (a guard who had 20 points and 10 rebounds in 17 games) and Cora Umthun (a guard who had 14 points in 12 games); and eighth grader Ava Isaacson (a forward who played in 10 games).

The Tigers have two key spots to fill with the graduation of Emma Bliss (an all-conference center who led the team with 198 points and 200 rebounds) and Madisyn Lucas (a guard who had 111 points, 88 rebounds, 68 steals and 44 assists). Montana Baker (who tallied 183 points and 152 rebounds last season as a junior) did not go out for basketball this winter.

Looking to fill the other starting spots and contend for varsity time will be senior forward Madison Neyens, junior guard Andrea Dudley, sophomore forward Cole Mastley and eighth grade forward Kali Oelschlager. Providing depth will be juniors Mariya Berezovets and Pimnipa Poolsawat; sophomore Lydia Bjorklund; freshmen Anna Kahlstorf, Gabby Heegard and Maggie Karl; eighth graders Maggie Carrier and Makenna Frazier; and seventh grader Addison Lindow.

Pine River-Backus (13-1), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (12-2) and Clearbrook-Gonvick (10-4) topped the conference standings last season while Cromwell captured the section title.

The Tigers averaged 38.0 points a game while allowing 56.8 points a night. Nevis shot 28.8 percent from the field (including 17.7 percent on 3-pointers) and 40.6 percent at the free-throw line while committing 28 turnovers a game. Neyens expects his team to vastly improve on those numbers this winter.

"I'm really excited for our upcoming season. We have a young team, but our girls have been working hard in the offseason and our expectations are high," said Neyens. "We should be a much-improved team from last season. We play in a tough conference against a lot of good basketball teams. With that being said, my goal is to get double-digit wins, which would be a huge improvement from last season. With continued hard work, we should improve every season and look to compete for a conference title in the near future."