If you're going to look up to somebody, why not have it be one of the leading scorers in school history.
Freshman Chelsa Schwegel has stepped up her game the last part of the season to help the Pine River-Backus Tigers girls' basketball team to a fourth seed in the Section 8, Class 2A playoffs and a final 14-8 regular-season record.
Schwegel's scoring has helped offset the graduation of Sarah Laposky, one of the top scorers in the state last year.
"Actually, I told Sarah before the season started my goal was to try and fill her shoes," said Schwegel. "I didn't know if I would be able to.
"I think there was an urgency for someone to step up and score because Sarah was a big part of the team. There was a void and it needed to be filled and I just tried my hardest to do that."
Schwegel's scoring surge started Feb. 8 in a win over Bertha-Hewitt. The forward scored 18 points and added nine steals.
"She's really come along," said Tiger coach Patrick Deegan. "The last eight games she's been averaging 18 points a game. The last third of the season she's really come on strong."
Schwegel added 26 points against Sebeka on Feb. 14. The freshman wasn't done as last week she helped the Tigers to two more wins.
Schwegel scored 24 points against Verndale Feb. 21. and collected nine points against Crosby-Ironton Feb. 19.
"She's getting most of her points off fast-break layups," said Deegan. "She's shooting better. Her free-throw percentage is a lot better, but her confidence level is a big part of it."
Schwegel agrees that her confidence is up. She's scored 237 points for a 10.7 points-per-game average. She's also averaging five steals, four rebounds and two assists per game.
"I think I have more confidence now," said Schwegel. "With three seniors and a junior starting with me, I wanted to take a lead role, yet I didn't want to step on anyone's toes."
Deegan also asks Schwegel to guard the opponents' top scorer. That vote of confidence has helped Schwegel.
"You can see the level that they're on and what it takes to step up and be at that level," Schwegel said about guarding some of the better scorers in the area. "When coach has me guarding a team's better player it gives me more confidence because he believes I can handle that."
This is Deegan's first year as coach and with Laposky, who led the Tigers in scoring the last four years, graduated he wasn't sure who would fill the scoring void. He knew Schwegel had the talent, it was just a matter of getting experience.
"I knew the potential was there," Deegan said. "She's a good athlete and she played a little varsity last year as an eighth-grader. She had a little experience, but she just needed to get some minutes. She's improved probably the most of anybody.
"She just works hard and she anticipates well. She has quickness and speed but her work ethic is great. Every day after practice she stays an extra 15 to 20 minutes working on her free-throw shooting and different moves.
"She wants to be good."
One reason why Schwegel is so aggressive on the court may be because she grew up with three older brothers.
"I like it actually," Schwegel said. "It's a lot more challenging with brothers because they're always better than me at everything so I have to work a little harder.
"Guys are on a different level and play with a lot more intensity and that's helped bring my level up. It's helped intensify my game."
Other notable performances:
Basketball -- Kerby Johnson knocked in 20 points in a win over Pequot Lakes. Johnson added 23 points in a win over Detroit Lakes.
Pierz's Kari Block finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Holdingford.
Rachel Davich of Little Falls scored 20 points in a loss to Willmar.
Pequot Lakes' Julie Redebaugh scored 20 points in a win over Menahga.
Staples-Motley's Rachel Domier scored 26 points in a win over Brainerd.
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