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Pete's Point: PR-B graduates playing college basketball

Kendra Brasel and Tatum Sheley were both seniors on the Pine River-Backus Tigers' basketball team that advanced to the Section 5A final before losing to Upsala in the 2012-13 season.

Kendra Brasel and Tatum Sheley were both seniors on the Pine River-Backus Tigers' basketball team that advanced to the Section 5A final before losing to Upsala in the 2012-13 season.

Today, the pair are continuing their basketball careers as guards on college teams going in opposite directions. Brasel is a freshman transfer for a Northland Community College of Thief River Falls' women's team has won nine straight to improve to 18-2 overall and is ranked No. 1 in the Division III poll.

By contrast, Sheley is a sophomore on the Bemidji State University squad that has lost eight straight games and is 5-16 overall.

"It's a little intimidating," Brasel said of playing for the top-ranked Pioneers. "You have to show up for practices and games and be ready to do your best."

Brasel, who didn't play basketball while studying at Central Lakes College in Brainerd last season, has been the second or third player off the bench for Northland. She's averaging 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds while playing in all 20 games for the defending national champions.

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"We had four sophomores who played a lot last year, although one of them has been out almost all year with concussion issues," Brasel said. "I really picked Northland for academic reasons, but I was also thinking about playing basketball. I'm happy that I did. My focus has been on defense."

Northland is coached by former University of Minnesota player Shannon (Nelson) Bolden, who was also a top defensive player for the Gophers.

"Kendra has been a great addition to our team this years," said Nelson, whose squad has advanced to the national tournament the past five years. "She is a solid, smart player who has a very high basketball IQ.

'Kendra is the player who is always willing to do those little things that may not show up in the box score. We are really excited to have her as a Pioneer."

Sheley has increased her scoring in her second year with the Beavers. Despite fewer starts than last season, the guard has increased her scoring from 5.4 points to 10.0 this winter. Sheley, who has played in all 21 games, is also averaging 3.5 rebounds.

The Beavers are 2-4 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Mattie Lueck honored

Mattie Lueck, a women's basketball junior forward from Pequot Lakes, has been chosen the College of St. Benedict Blazer Athlete of the Week for the third time this winter.

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Lueck, who leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists, helped the Blazers earn two big wins last weekend. She scored 29 points, including the winning basket, in a 63-61 victory at Concordia of Moorhead on Wednesday, Jan. 28, and then added 14 points in a 73-62 home win over St. Catherine's College on Saturday, Jan. 31, in St. Joseph.

Against Concordia, the Blazers trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half before rallying behind Lueck, who scored 20 points in the second half. Lueck added the winning basket when she drove the lane and scored with four seconds left to snap a 61-61 tie. It marked the first time St. Benedict had defeated Concordia in Moorhead since the 2008-09 season.

Against St. Catherine's, Lueck continued her big week with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocked against the Wildcats. In the two games last week, Lueck combined to average 21.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.

With six games left in the regular season, Lueck leads the Blazers in scoring (14.3), rebounding (6.7) and assists (2.6) per game. She is fifth in the MIAC with a .502 field-goal percentage and sixth in the conference in points per game. She also has has 42 blocks.

The Blazers, who are tied for fifth place with Concordia at 7-5 in the MIAC, are also 10-9 overall. The top six teams in the league make the conference tournament at the end of the season.

Lueck's sister, Emily, is also a major contributor for the Blazers. The senior is averaging 7.7 points and 3.2 rebounds and is second on the team with 36 assists in 17 starts.

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