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Lundeen is Telegram’s Player of the Year

Northwestern High school junior Katie Lundeen is the 2017 Superior Telegram Player of the Year. (Jed Carlson / / 11
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Northwestern High School junior Katie Lundeen can trace her basketball career back to second grade, when she got her start playing in the WRBA.

She describes her experience that year as “interesting.”

“My brother and some of his friends were our coaches in that,” said Lundeen, who is the 2017 Superior Telegram Player of the Year.

Her brother, Jon Lundeen, was 17 at the time. At 6-foot-4, he was a starting offensive guard for the Tiger football team.

Katie was just beginning her athletic career, but she knew her brother could help her improve — and he wasn’t about to let his eight-year-old sister coast.

“My brother definitely pushed me as a second-grader,” Katie Lundeen said.

Nine years later, Lundeen is among the top forwards in northwestern Wisconsin. Her go-to move is the drop step, and she credits her brother with teaching it to her.

“When I was little we would work hours and hours in the gym on the post moves, on the left hand and the right for everything,” Lundeen said.

She started small, but by the time she was in fifth- and sixth-grade she was working through sets of Mikens and fine tuning her footwork.

When Lundeen broke onto the scene with the Tigers in her sophomore year, she was comfortable enough in the post to earn all-conference honorable mention recognition.

“I always played in the post, because when I was younger I was like a foot taller than everyone,” Lundeen said.

The 5-foot-10 forward doesn’t have quite that height advantage now, but athletically, she continues to be a head above the rest.

Lundeen held the second-highest scoring average in the Heart O’ North Conference — less than one point behind HON Player of the Year Madelyn Neff — and finished second in rebounding this season.

Overall, Lundeen averaged 17 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for the Tigers. She shot 48 percent from the floor and 77.3 percent from the free-throw line. The junior also averaged one steal and one assist per game and anchored Northwestern’s defense in the paint.

Tigers head coach Richard Windt said Lundeen, who was named to the HON All-Conference first team, makes an impact in every facet of the game.

“She is an excellent rebounder,” he said. “She is a great offensive threat, and her numbers prove that, but she is also a very good one-on-one defender and an even better team defender.”

This season, Lundeen was routinely double- and triple-teamed under the basket. The pressure was lighter at the start of the season, but after a string of high-scoring games by Lundeen, opposing teams adjusted their defense with a mind on stopping the junior.

“It’s definitely difficult trying to find new ways to score and trying to get other teammates open,” Lundeen said. “But in some ways it’s good if I’m double- or triple-teamed because then that always opens up one of my teammates to score and make something happen.”

Lundeen said the added pressure spurred her to play harder and drove her to a new level this year — evidenced by her jump in offensive production.

The Tigers finished with a 17-7 record overall and placed third in the HON Conference behind Hayward and Bloomer.

The same two teams finished ahead of Northwestern the past two seasons.

The Hurricanes advanced to state in 2016 and won the WIAA Division 3 title, while Bloomer advanced to state this year.

Lundeen said the competition with Hayward and Bloomer pushed the Tigers this season, and she expects the same in her senior year.

“It’s difficult, but it pushes us too because we want to beat them,” she said. “We want to succeed and get that first place.

“Having somebody that’s equal to you or just a little bit better than you, it always pushes you to be better.”

Lundeen could just as easily be speaking about her relationship with her brother Jon.

She still turns to him for basketball advice, and whenever he’s home for a visit he helps her work on post moves.

At the same time, Katie Lundeen admits there is a streak of rivalry between the two siblings.

“We’ve always been super competitive with each other,” she said.

“When I was little we’d play one-on-one and he’d always beat me. When I would win, like when we’d play horse or something, he’d say, ‘I let you win.’”

In recent years, however, Lundeen has managed to drag one concession from her brother.

He now acknowledges that he has to “kick it up” to keep pace with his younger sister.

“I talk to him a lot,” Lundeen said. “He’s definitely proud, but he always pushes me.”

Over the summer Lundeen intends to play AAU basketball for Northern Lights — the same team she’s been with since sixth grade. Her ultimate goal is to play collegiate basketball, but she has not begun to narrow down her choice of schools. She has one year left of prep basketball to focus on first.

“She works very hard and gives tremendous effort every day,” Coach Windt said. “She is committed to getting better and making our team better, and she is only a junior.

“I look forward to the improvements she will make this summer for her senior season.”

Superior Telegram All-Area Girls Basketball Team

For three local schools, the 2016-17 girls basketball season belonged to the underclassmen.

The leading scorers for the Northwestern Tigers, Solon Springs Eagles and Northwood Evergreens were all juniors or sophomores this year.

Solon Springs and Northwood had only four seniors on their rosters combined, and the Tigers had almost twice as many juniors and sophomores as seniors on the varsity roster.

Superior was led by its class of eight seniors, but two sophomores also played significant roles for the Spartans.

This year’s Superior Telegram All-Area Girls Basketball team reflects the recent “youth movement.” The team features two sophomores, four juniors and four seniors.

Joining 2017 Superior Telegram Player of the Year Katie Lundeen are two Tiger teammates, three Evergreens, three Spartans and one Eagle.

Also nominated were Northwestern sophomore Mackenzie Correll and Superior sophomore Chloe Kintop.

Superior Telegram

Girls Basketball Players of the Year

2017 — Katie Lundeen, Jr., Northwestern

2016 — Mackenzie Kmecik, Sr., Superior

2015 — Megan Gustafson, Sr., South Shore

2014 — Jessica Lindstrom, Sr., Superior

2013 — Jessica Lindstrom, Jr., Superior

2012 — Jessica Lindstrom, So., Superior

2011 — Jessica Lindstrom, Fr., and

            Hailey Kontny, Fr., Superior

2010 — Annie Block, Jr., Northwood

2009 — Ashlee Blegen, Sr., Northwood

2008 — Gretchen Grube, Sr., Northwestern

2007 — Lindsey Lindstrom, Sr., Superior

2006 — Lindsey Lindstrom, Jr., Superior

2005 — Lindsey Lindstrom, So., Superior

2004 — Jolene Anderson, Sr., South Shore

2003 — Nancy McConkey, Sr., Maranatha

2002 — Katie Moench, Sr., Maranatha