It's time to prepare for a new version of Bailey Wynn.
The Pine River-Backus senior did it in volleyball, moving into the role of a middle hitter to help her team succeed despite not owning the beneficial height that goes with that position.
Now she's going to be asked to be an even bigger playmaker for the Tigers' basketball team and her head coach, Randy Schwegel, believe she's got all the talent to do it.
"What we need from her is for her to play as hard as she has the last week, week and a half, we need her to play that hard the rest of the season," Schwegel said. "We need her to be a big player in big games. As you get going into the playoffs, and we have some tough games coming up, we need her to become that player in those games. She needs to insert herself and be that big player in big games.
"She can be. I'm confident she can do that. The kids look to her to be that player."
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- Year: Senior
- School: Pine River-Backus
- Sport: Basketball
- Position: Guard
- Highlights: Scored 60 points in three wins last week
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Wynn showed flashes of that last week as the Tigers posted a five-game win streak before a Friday, Jan. 25, game against Swanville.
In an 87-41 Northwoods Conference win over Clearbrook-Gonvick Jan. 11, Wynn led five players in double figures with 16 points.
Wynn filled her stat sheet with 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals to lead PR-B to a 75-30 conference win over Cass Lake-Bena Jan. 15. Two days later, Wynn posted 21 points to lead the Tigers to a 48-38 win over Verndale.
The senior guard tallied 23 points to go with six assists, five rebounds and three steals in PR-B's 80-31 win over Browerville Jan. 19.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Wynn dropped 26 points on Blackduck for another conference win-89-33.
"Schwegel gave me a little bit of encouragement after our Cromwell game because I played really bad that game," Wynn said. "Then after that, I decided I needed to pick it up a little bit and prove him wrong."
Through the team's first 14 games, Wynn is averaging 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.6 steals per game.
PR-B owns an 11-4 overall record and is 5-0 in the conference. Those four losses have come against teams that have a combined 57-8 record.
"I think we're more prepared than we've ever been," Wynn said. "Coach Schwegel has made sure that we have some tougher teams on our schedule just so we know what we have to do to play at that level.
"Now that we've seen it, we're working harder than ever before to try and get there. It's just like volleyball, we know we have what it takes to get there. As long as we play up to our potential and how we can, we're going to be happy with the results."
An appearance in the Class 1A state tournament would conclude the triple crown for Wynn. She's been a member of the Tigers softball and volleyball state tournament teams. Basketball is the one she really wants, though.
"I think it's really important, not just because I went in my other two sports, but because basketball has always been my most favorite. It's the one I've spent the most time on. I really want to see all that hard work pay off. Not just for me, but for all of my teammates, who have put in just much time and effort into this. I think it would be really cool for some of us to say that we went to state in all three sports, but if it doesn't happen, that's OK, too, because we know that we've put in a lot of work."
Last year, Wynn averaged 15.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.5 steals per game, while shooting 39 percent from the field, 34 percent from 3-point and 64 percent from the line.
This season is different, however, with five players on the court that can destroy opposing defenses.
"It's way easier," Wynn said. "I get a lot more open shots this year because everyone else is capable of scoring. It's been really fun, because even if I'm having an off night, I have plenty of teammates that are having a really good one. It makes me happy to see them so successful.
"It's very hard, especially in high school, to keep everyone happy, but here we really don't have a problem with that. Everyone shares the ball really well. We always make the extra pass to make sure we get the ball to the open person. We drive and we kick. It goes into our post player and it comes back out. We don't have a selfish person on our team and it's very noticeable when we play in big games."
Other notable performances
Basketball: Shyanne Loiland, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds against Detroit Lakes.
Mardi Ehrmantraut, Verndale, finished with 21 points against New York Mills and added 15 against Pine River-Backus.
Olivia Lane, Pequot Lakes, finished with 27 points against Park Rapids and tallied 36 points against Esko to reach 2,000 for her career.
Morgan Glenz, Verndale, finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Allie Steinmetz, Little Falls, finished with 24 points against Milaca.
Tori Decent, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 21 points against Cloquet.
Laura Skiba, Pierz, finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds against Pine City.
Ramsey Moe, Aitkin, finished with 28 points against Pillager.
Hockey: Caitlyn Gutzman, Northern Lakes, finished with two goals against Prairie Centre.