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PR-B athletes honored at sports banquets

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Pine River-Backus High School winter sports teams recently honored their athletes at banquets. Follow are highlights of the award winners:

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Boys’ basketball

The Tigers, who finished 2-26, were led by senior Beau Howard and freshman Zach Struss.

“We lost three starters from last season so we knew this would be a rebuilding year,” PR-B coach Shaun Howard said. “The kids showed up to play every night. Night after night, game after game, opposing coaches would say that the future looks very good for PR-B. Our record was not an indication of our team. Our team is a young, hardworking, fight-till-the-end, bunch of kids, with great character, who made their coach proud to be their coach.”

Individual awards included: Howard, team MVP and offensive player; Struss, defensive player; Cody Mager, Varsity Tiger; Buekers, most improved; T.J. Lukanen, sixth man; and Sage Beckler, junior varsity Tiger award. Letter winners included Howard, Struss, Mager, Buekers, Tony Pederson, Zach Semmler, Henry Kreklau, Hank Raph, Lukanen, and Cole Larson.

Pine River-Backus senior guard Beau Howard was selected to the Brainerd Dispatch All-Area boys’ basketball team.

Howard finished with 456 points, 193 rebounds, 165 assists, 77 steals and 23 blocks. He shot 42 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line.

Pulse Dance Team

“The Pulse dance team has had its series of challenges over the years, however each season the team improves tremendously,” said head coach Nancy Schauer. “Each dancer has a special gift that inspires and encourages the team. With many new dancers this year it was amazing to see their hard work and dedication shine.”

The team participates in the Northern Lights Conference and section (Class A) competitions, in both high kick and jazz division varsity levels. Given the difficulty and dedication to daily practices, such as learning foundation dance skills, advanced techniques, choreography, and balancing it all as a team by competition deadlines, it is a difficult process. Through the journey the team always pulled through and enlightened others in the art of dance.

The Pulse dance team continues to receive several recognitions each year by other teams, presenting their outstanding improvements. Team captains were Olivia Davidson and Julia Brogle. Letter winners were Alyssa Smith, Mikayla Sundlie, Brooke Mendenwaldt, Julia Brogle, Olivia Davidson, and Mackenzie Rubitschung. Team awards were: Best Kicks-Julia Brogle, Best Splits-Holli Pederson, Best Jumps-Grace Peterson, Best Expressions-Mackenzie Rubitschung, Team Spirit and Most Valuable Dancer-Olivia Davidson.

Girls’ Basketball

“I waited for this year for five years, but now that it’s here I don’t want it to end,” said PR-B coach Randy Schwegel. “This year we went 24-5 overall, section 5A east champs, 13-0 conference champs for the sixth year in a row, and for the third year in a row we got beat by the section team that goes to state. We don’t have depth-that’s what we’re missing if we’re going to go to the next level. We were ranked 16th in state out of 159 section A teams, third in state for scoring 69.4 points average per game, eighth for allowing 37.5 points average per game. We were right there, but we need more depth. I was told by section coaches that we have the best starting five in the section, but we need to have more depth, and that will be our challenge for next year.”

Team awards were: Journee Howard, rookie of the year; Megan Felthous, offensive player with 426 total points of the year; Kendra Brasel, most improved with 71 steals and 129 assists; Brittany Kelley, most blocks with 51; Autumn Ackerman, most rebounds with 214, including 1,165 in her career; Tatum Sheley, MVP after coming back from an injury to finish with a school record 2,356 career points, 474 steals and 511 assists; Nicole Arends and Brooke Richards, Tiger award; Ackerman and Felthous, top defensive players as Ackerman had 97 steals, and Felthous had 89.

First-team all-conference winners went to Brittany Kelley, Ackerman and Sheley while Howard, Brasel and Felthous received second team all-conference. Sheley was the conference MVP.

“As a team we didn’t win any special awards-a lot of it had to do with how good of a team we were,” Schwegel said. “We didn’t have the ‘one’ who stood out because everybody was good.

The Brainerd Dispatch gave honorable mentions to Kelley and Felthous, and first team to Ackerman and Sheley. Sheley was also named the player of the year, and given an all-state honorable mention. Letter winners were Kelley, Sheley, Ackerman, Brasel, Nicole Arends, Richards, Felthous, Howard, Megan Porta, Jess Hanneken and Liz Downie.

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