Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper.
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Alyssa Semmler recorded six points and 15 rebounds for the Pine River-Backus Tigers as they beat the Pequot Lakes Patriots 46-39 in non-conference play on Thursday, Dec. 13. "We haven't beaten them in a long, long time," PR-B coach Randy Schwegel said. "It is not going to make our season or anything, but it's another win, and we haven't done it in a long time so it's nice for the kids." Both Gabby Rainwater and Rylie Hirschey added 12 points for the Tigers in the non-conference game. Olivia Lane was the top scorer for the Patriots with 21 points.
She has four years of varsity experience, nearly 1,800 career points and a Division-I roster spot waiting for her. In the meantime, Olivia Lane hopes to embrace the role of her team's go-to scorer and rebounder and help the Patriot girls basketball team achieve the highest possible level of success. To do that, she knows she will have to lead the team in more ways than on the stat sheet.
The Pine River-Backus Tigers boys' basketball team, which opened the season against Menahga on Dec. 4, hopes to utilize experience as the 2018-19 season begins. Last season, the No. 6-seeded Tigers lost to No. 3 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 50-34 in the Subsection 5A quarterfinals. PR-B finished 15-13 overall and 7-7 in the Northwoods Conference. With four returning starters - Torry Hirschey, Brady Raph, Nathan Wosmek and Louis Bueckers - the Tigers hope to improve on that performance.
The Northern Lakes girls hockey team has opened this season by winning three of its first four games - falling to Willmar 3-2 on Tuesday, Nov. 13, toppling Park Rapids 13-0 on Thursday, Nov. 15, edging Robbinsdale Armstrong/Cooper 2-1 on Friday, Nov. 16, and tipping Detroit Lakes 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday, Nov. 20. It's an admirable start to the season for the Lightning under the direction of second-year head coach Breanna Sheley. Last year, Northern Lakes finished 9-16 overall, but exceeded expectations in conference play. Sheley called the season one her athletes can grow from.
The Pine River-Backus girls' basketball team is optimistic with a "core of players" returning from a squad that won 18 games last season. "We are hoping to improve on our 18-10 record since we have the experienced core of our team returning," said PR-B coach Randy Schwegel. "We should be improved in all aspects of the game, and we're hoping to be in the mix for a (Northwoods) conference championship." Last year, PR-B finished 9-3 in challenging Northwoods Conference play.
It took until the last second, but the Patriot boys basketball team managed to put away the Foley Falcons in the first game of the season on Friday, Nov. 30, by a score of 72-67. "I feel good about (how we played)," head coach Rich Spiczka said. "We had some stretches where we looked great and some stretches where we looked everything-but-great. The biggest thing for us is that we have a lot of new guys we are trying to fit in the mix, and we are not sure we know how to do that yet but we found a way tonight."
The Pequot Lakes School Board approved further budget revisions to counter an increased enrollment projection. With the newly approved budget, the district should operate with revenues totalling $22,473,411, giving the district a net surplus of $223,434. "The projection is that we will end the year with around 60 percent of our unassigned fund balance, which is similar to past years," business manager Heidi Hagen said.
In its Tuesday, Nov. 13, meeting, the Pine River City Council discussed potential logos and color for the city's water tower in the city center. City engineer Bryan Drown indicated that the tower will be sandblasted and repainted, and a new paint job should last around 30 years. Drown also suggested adding lights to one of the city's towers. No action was taken on the matter, but council members indicated a preference toward blue for a tower color.
A new building is going up just south of Pequot Lakes, and it is one that will cater to younger athletes throughout the lakes area. Pequot Lakes resident Kent Johnson is establishing the Young Athletes Reaching Dreams (YARD) facility just south of Tasty Pizza in Pequot Lakes.
That magical day is upon us. Thanksgiving is a special day where we reunite with family and friends to be thankful for who and what we have. It is also that magical day where we wear our belts on the loose side and fill our faces with as many delicious comestibles as humanly - or perhaps super-humanly - possible. The traditional Thanksgiving meal is always a treat, which is a good thing because I'll have it a few times between Thursday and Sunday.