The Pierz Pioneers girls' basketball team has a new philosophy this season - quality, not quantity.
With an abundance of depth, players will look to play quality minutes rather than just a lot of them.
That seems to fit speedy senior Kayla Meyer just fine.
"Taking more breaks really allows you to be able to play harder," said Meyer. "You are a lot more rested so you can go harder when you're out there.
"(The pressure defense) really helps me get into the game more because you have to push harder and push yourself."
Meyer opened the season with a 22-point, six-rebound, nine-steal, four-assist performance in the Pioneers' 81-38 non-conference victory over Mora Nov. 29.
"That game was the best all-around game she's played as a varsity player," said Pierz coach Rick Sczublewski. "She played great defense and really showed hustle and leadership. She's one of our three captains and she's picking up on being more of a leader."
Meyer's also picking up on the new philosophy. She relies on speed to create turnovers and cause havoc for opponents. Many of her points come on fast breaks and steals. But Meyer did knock down three 3-pointers.
The guard added 14 points, four steals and four assists in a 73-44 Pierz victory over Royalton Dec. 2.
"Kayla is more of a catch-and-shoot person," said Sczublewski. "She can break zones with her outside shot. She's got a quick release to her shots. She also has a lot of confidence in shooting 3-pointers. I tell her a 3-pointer is like a free throw to her. Last year she made 31. It's no fluke that she made three the other night."
Key stat: Finished with 36 points, 13 steals, six rebounds and eight assists against Mora and Royalton
Last year Meyer shot 25 percent from 3-point and 37 percent from the field. She averaged 11.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game and added 73 steals, 44 assists and six blocked shots.
Meyer should improve all those numbers this year despite playing less.
"Our guards are fast and we do play a lot of kids this year so Kayla is not going to play as many minutes as she had to last year," said Sczublewski. "In turn that should make her a stronger player because she won't have to do any resting on the court.
"We are a very balanced team this year, but Kayla is going to get her points. She'll probably get 12 to 14 from breakaway layups."
Meyer has been working on her outside shot and leadership. She worked hard on her defense last offseason. She wants to become the complete player because she knows Pierz could go places this season.
"We've really been working hard as a team," said Meyer, who also plays volleyball and softball. "I've been trying to set a positive example and show the younger girls how to work hard and be a positive leader on and off the court.
"We've been working really well as a team and that's one of the big things that is going to help us go far. That will really help us in the long run."
Other notable performances:
Basketball - Chelsea Einerwold, Staples-Motley, scored 18 points against Pequot Lakes.
Mel Waytashek, Pierz, finished with 34 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and four steals against Mora and Royalton.
Kristin Sczublewski, Pierz, finished with 28 points, seven assists and three steals against Mora and Royalton.
Amy Fredman, Pillager, finished with 29 points against Upsala.
Chelsea Lundgren, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 11 points and 16 rebounds against Greenway.
Emily Mehr, Aitkin, finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds against Rush City.
Cayla Collison, Verndale, scored 22 points against Northland.
Hillary Kern, Verndale, finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds against Northland.
Hockey - Nhi Ding, Little Falls, stopped 82 shots against Rocori.
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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