Returning letter-winners

After playing without a senior on the roster last season, the Barron girls basketball team return eight letter-winners. Pictured are: row one (from left), Julia Wirth, Jada Brunkow, Gracie Smith, Rylee Stauner; row two, Abbey Miller, Paige Knutson and Macey Herrman. Not pictured: Brooke Hammann.

Barron’s new head girls basketball coach, Brittni Hover, and her experienced team have high hopes as they get their season underway this week.

The girls first took the practice floor Monday, Nov. 11, and have just a week to ready for the season opener. Unity, which finished 17-5 last year and second in the Lakeland West, will visit Barron Tuesday, Nov. 19. A meeting last year was lost to poor weather.

The 2018-2019 Golden Bears finished 7-14 overall and 6-8 in the Heart O’North, but those marks hardly tell the story. Playing without a senior, the girls lost their first six games and 10 of their first 11. They then won six of their final 10 contests.

That improvement came under head coach Mickey Hover. After assisted her father the last several seasons, Brittni has assumed head coaching duties and Mickey will coach the JV. James Schlauderaff will guide the C team.

“We have a strong team built around a core of returning players,” Brittni Hover said. “We are proud to have eight letter-winners return to our team and lead us into this season. Their experience and leadership, combined with great underclassman talent, will make for an exciting season. 

“We have some fresh ideas on both offense and defense to incorporate our height and speed. The girls are hungry and excited for the start of our basketball season.”

With practices just underway, the varsity squad hasn’t been named. Returning letter-winners include: seniors Brooke Hammann and Julia Wirth; juniors Rylee Stauner, Jada Brunkow, Gracie Smith, Paige Knutson and Abbey Miller; and sophomore Macey Herrman.

Stauner averaged 4.1 steals per game last season and was named Second Team All-Conference. Brunkow made Honorable Mention while averaging 8.2 points, while Smith’s marked improvement resulted in 9.7 points per contest. Herrman averaged 7.4 points. The coach also named Wirth as a key player to this year’s squad.

The girls will get their first taste of competition this Saturday, Nov. 16. They’ll host Clayton, Glenwood City, Prairie Farm and Siren for a scrimmage that starts at 9 a.m. The Bears will jump into conference play by hosting Spooner on Thursday, Nov. 21, before playing their first road game at St. Croix Central on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Bloomer won the Heart O’North last season (13-1), followed by Hayward (11-2), Northwestern (10-4), Ladysmith (8-6) and Barron. Cameron, which finished 15-8 overall and second in the Lakeland Central (10-2) behind Div. 5 state runner-up Clayton, also joins the HON this season.

Barron’s new head coach sees Bloomer, Hayward and then Northwestern as the teams to beat.

“Our goal is to compete with the top teams in our conference, and even contend for a conference title,” Hover said.