By Mitchell A. Skurzewski
For Wausau Pilot & Review
The Mosinee girls basketball team suffered early heartbreak last year, falling to Medford in a WIAA Division 2 Regional semifinal. Mosinee was expecting a deep run a season ago. The unexpected loss stung and was an abrupt end to their season. But the loss also spurred an attitude adjustment in the team largely composed of seniors.
“We know we can’t just show up and win,” senior Kate Fitzgerald said. “Every game we don’t take it for granted. It’s just a better focus.”
The motivated group of 10 seniors – now nine after a torn ACL sidelined Abbi Martin for the season – haven’t lost since.
Mosinee improved to 21-0 after a 76-26 thumping of Northland Pines on Tuesday night and clinched the Great Northern Conference title.
“It’s a mental thing. We’re finally seniors,” Claire Selenske said. “We give all we have every game, have a focused mindset and bring it every game.”
“This group is connected on and off the court”
In some ways, it’s a bit odd. There is no pressure to maintain an unblemished regular season, the nine healthy seniors say. There has been a togetherness and calm among the team that is hard to describe.
Pregame dance parties before the game in the locker room. Braiding each other’s hair hours prior to tip-off. Eating pizza, bonding and forming a togetherness that perhaps only a heartbreak can bring about. Or perhaps playing basketball as a class since fourth grade together and having one common goal in mind: to go out in style as seniors.
“We have been playing together since fourth grade,” Lexi Freiboth said. “We are always doing stuff together on and off the court.”
“I don’t think we think about the streak as this thing that has to happen,” Adalyn Lehman added. “We want to win, we don’t want to lose, but we know it’s about getting better each day. We would rather drop a game in the regular season than slip up at playoff time. So we hold each other accountable and are working to keep getting better. The rest will take care of itself.”
Fitzgerald leads Mosinee averaging 14.2 points per game and 8.6 rebounds and Freiboth averages 9.6 points and 6.6 assists. Mosinee’s connection is evident looking at the stats. Mosinee averages over 17 assists per game and over 18 steals per game defensively. It’s clear they are playing for each other and on the same page defensively.
“We have been working and coach trusts us in-game to tell him what we see out there and switch defenses,” Brooke Baumann said. “We switch defenses on the fly sometimes, suggest things in the huddle and just communicate better.”
“He believes in us, he trusts us.I think part of that is having 10 seniors,” Hannah Schnowske said.
Mosinee has found ways to win games differently. They aren’t just blowing teams out, winning close games over Neillsville (53-50), Lakeland (50-46) and Amherst (53-49).
“The girls keep their composure down the stretch and have trust in one another,” Mosinee coach Scott McKellips said. “Trust means a lot and knowing your teammate is going to be where they are supposed to be. This group is connected on and off the court.”
“I just think this team does everything in their power to come out on top,” McKellips said. “They aren’t going to go down without a fight. I just trust them. No matter how the game ends up I know and trust they did everything they could to find a way to win.”
Mosinee has found a way to win all year and now hopes that continues with the playoffs drawing near.