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utes at JV so they ….

utes at JV so they …. utes at JV so they ….

utes at JV so they can keep getting better.”

Joining Marissa Fronk as full-time varsity players are juniors Rynn Ruesch and Katie Brehm, who are both already two-time letter winners; junior Laurissa Klapatauskas, who earned more and more minutes as last year progressed, junior Autumn Krause, whose improved 3-point shooting helped spark the team’s strong second half last year, and sophomore Bryn Fronk, who got a few varsity minutes here and there. Krause is working her way back from a severe knee injury suffered in last year’s WIAA tournament win over Rice Lake last February.

Ruesch averaged more than six points, five rebounds and two assists per game last year. Krause averaged over six points per game, Brehm averaged more than five points and five boards an outing and Klapatauskas pulled down over four rebounds per game.

The five players riding the varsity/JV bubble will be juniors Lydia Pernsteiner, Sophie Brost and Lindsey Wildberg and sophomores Martha Miller and Hope Faude. Pernsteiner and Miller got some varsity minutes last winter.

The Raiders had the top-ranked defense in the Great Northern Conference last year, allowing just 38.3 points per game in 12 league contests. Klapatauskas said keeping that up is a priority.

“Defensively I would like to see us be much more aggressive,” he said. “No easy passes is what we’ve been stressing. Right now, I’d say we’ll probably play more man-to-man, but it will likely depend on who we are playing. I think we can match up defensively with any team. When we’ve played zone in practice while working our zone offense, we’ve looked pretty good.”

Offensively, Medford’s new system will involve more structured sets than the team ran in recent years, which will take time to perfect. But the end goal is to allow players to work quicker because they know where they are supposed to be and where passes are intended to go and to create mismatches for the team’s top offensive threats.

I’m hoping for more movement to the offense, moving with a purpose,” Klapatauskas said.

Klapatauskas admitted the changes are an adjustment for a veteran player like Marissa Fronk. But he’s hoping they excite her as well. “It’s tough for her because, being her senior year, she was supposed to be the one who knew the system and was going to help teach the younger girls and be that leader. But we’ve told her we’re putting this offense in for you, to give you these mismatches to get you even more easy shots. We’re still going to go as far as you take us.” Overall, the new head coach is looking for two areas of emphasis from all of his players, commitment on defense and a commitment to taking care of the basketball. The Raiders averaged just under 17 turnovers a game last year, which was better than previous years, but miscues still got them into trouble in some of the team’s most bitter losses. Medford went 7-5 in conference play last winter to finish in fourth place behind Rhinelander (12-0), Lakeland (9-3) and Mosinee (8-4). Klapatauskas expects those teams to be the contenders again. Rhinelander lost its all-time leading scorer Kenedy Van Zile and the reigning co-GNC Players of the Year, Van Zile and forward Cynthia Beavers. Lakeland brings back highly-touted, high-scoring sophomore Julianna Ouimette and loses All GNC first-teamer Abby Parris. Medford opens conference play Dec. 4 at Antigo. Fan attendance is likely to be limited at games for the time being, so fans are advised to watch for live streams of games.

“With the experience we have coming back, I have high expectations and I expect that the players have high expectations. I hope we can live up to them.”