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“She’s confident and she attacks ….

“She’s confident and she attacks strong to the basket. You can definitely see over the off-season that she has worked and worked and worked to just build on those skills and help her be strong in the guard spot.”

Fronk had a game-high 17 points in Tuesday’s opener.

“Brynn gives me a little bit of everything,” Faude said. “She’s solid. She knows when she needs to be physical and strong. She also doesn’t get rattled. She keeps herself composed.”

Then there’s Hanson, who had 14 points in Tuesday’s win and set a tone defensively, especially in the second half.

“I’m looking to see her just come into her own and being smart with that basketball, being a leader on the court,” Faude said. “In past years, she maybe didn’t make the best decisions or attack at the right times. Tonight, she knew when that opportunity was there, you could just see she’s just more composed, more sure of herself. I see her being big both offensively and defensively (this year).”

“This game for me, it was kind of like, what is our team going to be like?” Hanson said Tuesday. “We’re only getting better from here, so that’s super exciting to see what the year has for us.”

“Coach (Scott) Wildberg has been saying, we’re going to get better because it’s not like we’re all seniors and we’re already playing our best basketball,” Rau said. “We’re all going to get better as it goes on.”

Faude and Wildberg are banking on the team being solid defensively. Despite a bit of a short bench, Faude said she hopes the Raiders are able to use fullcourt pressure to their advantage, especially considering the quickness and tenacity they have at the guard positions. Fronk averaged three steals and Hanson averaged 2.2 per game last year.

All three of the upperclassmen also posted solid rebounding numbers and Hanson averaged 3.8 assists per game.

“I think I’ve learned over the past couple of years, we do a little bit better when we push the pressure on defense, keep our intensity up on defense, but we play more composed when we’re working our offense,” Faude said. “When I first started, I thought I wanted to run and gun, get it up the floor. But with these girls that we have, it just seems like we do better if we get set in our offense, work it around and let those options open.” Ruesch and Brehm should be among those options. Ruesch got noticed by GNC coaches last winter after averaging 6.7 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per outing. “I want to see them step up a little bit, see them get more comfortable in there spots a little bit,” Faude said. “We hope to see them build on their moves in the post and seeing the court. They’re young yet. Toward the end of the season, I want to see them dominate that paint.” The Rhinelander Hodags come into the season as the team to beat in the Great Northern Conference. They were a perfect 12-0 in league play last winter and return the league’s most explosive offensive player, senior guard Kenedy Van Zile. Lakeland (9-3) had won the league title the previous two years and remains a threat with senior All GNC guard Abby Parris leading the way and a strong freshman, Julianna Ouimette potentially giving them more punch. Medford was 8-4 in league play last year, just ahead of 7-5 Mosinee, who Faude expects will be tough to beat as well. Mosinee (Scott McKellips), along with Antigo (Carla Wissbroecker) and Tomahawk (Garth Gerstenberger), have new coaches this year, though Gerstenberger has coached the Hatchets before.

The Raiders’ non-conference foes are the same as a year ago, but the team’s potential post-season opponents will be new. Medford was moved to the western side of the WIAA Division 2 sectional this year and will be battling for seeding position against teams from the Mississippi Valley and Big Rivers conferences.

“It’s just like starting over,” Faude said. “The hardest part is I just don’t know about those teams at all.”