Ashley Kientzle is one leader on a team that is playing for more than victories.
In this, her senior season for the Lake Region Hornets girls' basketball team, Kientzle and her teammates are playing for respect.
"It feels like a sense of urgency because this is our last year," said Kientzle. "Everyone is stepping up."
Kientzle scored 25 points in a 59-46 loss to Northland Dec. 13. While many of those points came on fast breaks, the guard has improved her outside shooting to coincide with the inside dominance of teammate Lindsey Green.
"I had a pretty good shooting game against Northland," Kientzle said. "Sam Monroe has really stepped up and she's making passes all over the court."
Kientzle attended two summer basketball camps with the goal of improving her outside shot. It is one small part of the larger plan of gaining Lake Region respect in Section 6, Class 1A.
"They've put in their time of getting beat," said Hornets coach Steve Ogren. "They're not asking for respect they don't deserve. This is their year to go out and do well in our subsection. We've had years when we haven't won a game in our subsection."
Kientzle scored 10 points to help LRCS beat Pillager, a subsection opponent, 46-41 Dec. 20.
"Ashley gets a lot of her points in transition," said Ogren. "Her defense creates a lot of opportunities and she likes leading the fast break.
"She's not afraid to take it into the paint. It scares me because she ends up on the floor a lot. She's fearless when it comes to taking it to the basket."
The four-year varsity starter is on pace to reach 1,000 career points by late January. But it's the little things she does that has LRCS sitting at 3-2 overall.
"She is our floor leader," said Ogren. "When she isn't out there we really know it. She's a leader off the court. She's a leader in the classroom. She's a leader in the locker room. She's just an all-around positive attitude and a good mentor to the younger players."
Aside from improving her shot, Kientzle wanted to improve her free-throw shooting and enjoy her senior season. But she shines doing little things, like making the extra pass and defending the opponent's best perimeter player.
"I love playing defense, getting passes and making sure Lindsey gets her points," said Kientzle, who plans to attend Faith Baptist Bible College for two years before transferring to a business school.
"It's a lot of fun to do the little things and see how it affects the team," she added. "It's not always praiseworthy from everyone else, but your teammates respect you for it."
Other notable performances:
Basketball -- Mel Waytashek, Pierz, had 18 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and four assists against Pine City, 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks against Staples-Motley and 11 points against Pequot Lakes.
Kristin Sczublewski, Pierz, had 18 points and six steals against Pine City, 13 points and three steals against S-M and 10 points against Pequot Lakes.
Flecia Foster, Pequot Lakes, scored 24 points against Albany, 23 against Foley and 12 against Pierz.
Teresa Parker, Pequot Lakes, scored 17 points against Albany, 18 against Foley and 17 against Pierz.
Liza Milless, S-M, scored 16 points against Foley and 12 against Pierz.
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch. com or 855-5856.
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