Present and future stars highlight Superior Telegram All-Area basketball team
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
The Superior High School girls basketball team caught opponents by surprise last season when two freshmen broke onto the scene and helped lead the Spartans to the sectional finals.
The Northwood Evergreens reached the sectional finals this year, and freshmen again filled key roles alongside the upperclassmen.
The Spartans, Evergreens and Northwestern Tigers can all look forward to the return of talented sophomores and freshmen next season, but all three teams will also lose valuable seniors from this season.
In Solon Springs, the Eagle girls once again played without a single senior. But the players still managed their first winning streak in years and took a big step forward in rejuvenating their basketball program.
Joining Player of the Year Jessica Lindstrom on this year’s Superior Telegram All-Area Girls Basketball team are two freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and three seniors.
Also nominated were sophomores Autumn Blaylock, Shayla Bornholdt and Tylor Kruse of Solon Springs.
One year removed from an ACL injury that ended her season, junior Sarah Benson returned to the basketball court in Minong this year with confidence.
She directed the team’s offense and was a major factor in the Northwood’s trip to the sectional finals.
“Sarah was our best all-around player this year,” Northwood coach Jason Schultz said. “Her scoring wasn’t mind boggling, but look at her other stats. She has a well-rounded game and a very bright future.”
Benson was second on the team in scoring, with 10.3 points per game, but she led the Evergreens in every other statistical category.
As a point guard, Benson averaged 5.2 assists and 6.5 rebound per game. On defense she was dazzling, with 3.3 steals and 3.3 blocks per game.
The junior finished the year with a 40 percent field goal percentage and shot 30 percent from 3-point range.
“She was a good leader this year,” Schultz said. “I look forward to working with her next year.”
Benson was named to the Central Lakeland All-Conference team.
Alyssa Correll began the season as one of the unknowns for Northwestern — a freshman with obvious talent but who was still untested at the varsity level.
She took over the point guard position with ease and soon drew attention for her sharp eye at the arc.
“Alyssa is a true point guard,” said Richard Windt, head coach of the Tigers. “She can handle the ball very well, pass, score from anywhere on the court inside and out, has a great attitude, is committed and is a hard worker.”
Correll finished the season shooting 30.2 percent from the 3-point line and making 32 3-point attempts.
She also averaged 10.6 points and 1.2 assists per game.
Correll was named honorable mention on this year’s Heart O’ North All-Conference team.
The Solon Springs Eagles have learned to be adaptable over the past two seasons, and few players demonstrate that better than junior Valerie Garay.
“She was an all-around player,” said Kate Klinzing, Solon Springs head coach. “She played center position, forward and guard position.”
Garay led the team in steals and rebound this season with 51 steals (2.4 per game) and 111 rebounds. She was third in assists with just under two per game and also added 10 blocks for the year.
The junior finished with 127 points for the season and was second on the team in both free throw percentage and field goal percentage.
Rachel Grubbe is a dangerous player in the open court, but she proved equally dangerous this season when left with an opening to make a pass.
“Rachel was one of our point guards and she was the (shooting) guard as well,” Klinzing said. “She was able to see what the defense was running and call the play to adjust to it.”
Grubbe, a sophomore, led the Eagles in assists and scoring this season. She finished with 70 assists (3.3 per game) and 158 total points.
When the Eagles found success this season, Grubbe often led the way, taking the ball on the fast break of dishing it off inside to an open teammate.
Grubbe was also Solon Springs’ second leading 3-point shooter, and the sophomore also chipped in with 70 rebounds for the season.
With the season on the line, Teagen Harings played with a relentless determination that only a senior could muster.
In the Evergreens’ regional final against South Shore, Harings led the team in steals and scoring to put Northwood into the sectionals for the second time in three years. She continued her strong play in the first round of sectional play, scoring 10 of her team’s 17 points in the first quarter and finishing the game as Northwood’s leading scorer.
“She shot the ball very well at times this season,” Schultz said. “She rebounded well and provided great leadership. She will be missed.”
Harings was a senior captain and the leading scorer for Northwood this season.
She averaged 10.9 points per game and was second on the team in rebounds with 6.3 per game. Harings also added 2.8 steals and 1.9 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field.
Harings was named to the Central Lakeland All-Conference team.
In a new role this season at point guard, Hailey Kontny led the Spartans in assists and steals while finishing second in both scoring and rebounding. She averaged 16.3 points per game, 6.6 rebounds, 4 steals and 2.7 assists.
“Hailey is a special player who can really do a little bit of everything very well,” said Phil Roe, Superior head coach. “Hailey ran our offense as our point guard this year, which was a new transition for her but one which made our whole team better. She is a force driving to the basket and hitting mid-range jumpers. She also had more steals than any kid I have ever coached, and she is one of the most physically strong guards defensively that I have seen in a long time.”
Kontny, just a sophomore, was named an honorable mention selection for this year’s Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State Division 1 team.
She was also named to the Lake Superior Conference All-Conference first team for the second straight year.
The sophomore seems poised to reach another elite honor next season — 1,000 career points. Kontny currently has 725 career points and will surpass the 1,000-point mark next year is she keeps up her current pace.
“Hailey has a 3.9 GPA, and can be seen many Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the SHS gym working on her game for hours, which is a testament to her work ethic on and off the court,” Roe said. “I am excited to see her grow and shine as a player and lead my team over the next couple years.”
Raya Kosey had a very specific role to fill for Superior this season — to sew chaos in the ranks of opponents.
“Raya Kosey led our team in a stat that never showed up in a box score, that is defensive pressure,” Roe said. “Her pressure on the basketball created a lot of steals and rebounds from bad shot for other girls on the team. Whenever we needed someone to shut another player down, Raya gladly stepped up to the call of duty.”
The senior was one of the best defenders in the LSC and earned second team LSC All-Conference honors as a result.
Kosey averaged 1.3 steals and 1.2 assists per game for the Spartans while also adding 4.5 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.
Roe said Kosey grew more confident in her scoring ability this year and scored at key times for Superior
“She hit some big threes in some big games and really finished strong to the basket,” Roe said. “Her going 6-for-6 at the line against Wausau West was also huge for our team.
“Raya grew as leader this year on and off the court, and I am lucky to now have the opportunity to be her coach on her quest to the Division 1 state track podium this spring. I am proud of her, and we will miss her next year.”
As a senior, Ally May was a natural leader for the Tigers this year. She provided Northwestern with a solid option in the post and was the team’s strongest rebounder.
“Ally could start on any team in the area and be an asset to the team,” Windt said. “She can score, rebound, handle the ball as a point guard, play full court defense (press) and half-court defense.”
May, also a standout on the volleyball court, averaged 10.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season. She shot 42.3 percent from the field and also added one assist per game.
“She is a good passer and is a good teammate,” Windt said.
May was named to the this year’s Heart O’ North All-Conference second team.
The future looks very bright for the Northwood Evergreens thanks to talented freshmen like McKayla Waggoner.
Waggoner started for the Evergreens this season and played with poise well beyond her years. The freshman led Northwood in offensive rebounds with 2.4 per game and was third in rebounding overall with a 5.5 average.
“McKayla is a freshman who is talented and played some great games for us this year,” Schultz said. “Without question she has one of the brightest futures of any freshman we have had in our program. I look forward to working with her for three more years.”
Waggoner was Northwood’s third leading scorer with 8.5 points per game, and she also averaged 1.9 steals per contest.
Waggoner was named to the Central Lakeland All-Conference team.