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Pete's Point: Ackerman, Sheley honored at PR-B

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Deciding to retire the basketball uniforms of Tatum Sheley and Autmn Ackerman was an easy decision for Pine River-Backus girls’ basketball coach Randy Schwegel.

“Those two did so much for our basketball program,” Schwegel said before the pair of 2013 PR-B graduates was honored at the home game against Laporte on Thursday, Feb. 20. “You’re not going to find two better role models than these two girls.”

Sheley and Ackerman played together for five seasons at PR-B. So it made sense that they were honored together. Their uniforms were placed in a large frame, and joined 2001 graduate Sarah Laposky, whose jersey was also retired.

“I was excited when I found out,” Sheley said of the jersey retirement. “It was really cool that Autumn and I were (honored) together since we’re good friends. We played varsity together for five years, and played basketball together since third grade.

“We’ve been talking tonight about some of our (basketball) memories. I also talk to Coach Schwegel once a week. He has been a big part of my life.”

Sheley, who is now playing basketball at Bemidji State, is a two-time Northwoods Conference MVP and PR-B’s all-time scoring leader with 2,356 career points, which is also 42nd highest all-time in the state. Laposky is second in school history with 1,796 points, followed by 1987 graduate Dina Kangas’ 1,771, 2011 graduate Katie Wangberg’s 1,543, 2008 graduate Taylor Sheley’s 1,386, and Ackerman with 1,101.

Ackerman, who is playing college basketball at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, also had a school record 1,165 rebounds, which is also 64th all-time in state history.

“It’s good to be back in this atmosphere,” Ackerman said before the ceremony at PR-B. “I was surprised when I found out (about the jersey being retired). But I was excited to know it was with Tatum.”

Sheley and Ackerman were both five-year starters for the Tigers. Their careers peaked as seniors when they helped PR-B advance to the Section 5A title game, which they lost to Upsala 51-47.

“Last year, making the section final, was the furthest our team has gone,” Ackerman said of the current section format. “I will never forget it.”

Both Sheley and Ackerman’s college teams are preparing for postseason play.

Sheley scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in Bemidji State’s regular season finale in a 91-80 loss at St. Cloud State University on Saturday, Feb. 22. It was a nice finish to the regular season for Sheley with her highest point total since Dec. 20. Sheley averaged 5.5 points and 2.9 rebounds while playing in all 26 games.

“It has been tough,” Sheley said of her first college season. “My minutes have been down a little, but as a freshman you don’t take it personal. I’ve worked hard and enjoyed the season, and I can’t wait for next year.”

The Beavers, who were 5-17 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference games and 9-17 overall, were scheduled to open the NSIC tournament against Wayne State on Wednesday, Feb. 26. The winner advances to the quarterfinals on March 1 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Ackerman played in 18 games for Wisconsin-Superior and averaged 1.4 points while make 9 of 10 free throws and shooting 38 percent with six blocks.

“It was different to come from (PR-B) where I was the tallest on the team to being on a college team where I’m one of the shorter posts,” said Ackerman, a 5-11 forward. “It was an adjustment. I haven’t had a lot of minutes as a freshman, but it gives me something to shoot for next year.”

The Yellowjackets finished the regular season 7-9 in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games and 14-11 overall. They opened the WIAC tournament against the University of Wisconsin-Stout on Tuesday, Feb. 25.