Friedt, Wildfire surge into new season
It's looking like a good winter to be the Wildfire.
Sure, the season is young, and the Mott-Regent girls basketball team has yet to face a region opponent, but the young group looks like it's doing all the right things.
On Dec. 3, the Wildfire narrowly fell to the defending Class B State Champion Grant County 45-40 after leading by as much as 12, even as senior Bree Friedt re-injured her knee early in the second quarter.
"We had built the lead to eight when she went out, then we built it up to 12, led by nine at halftime and we were really doing some good things in that game," head coach Adam Hill said.
"We even battled them really well down the end, to be honest. I think it was a one-point game at 35-36 and it kind of went back and forth up to 40. ... We had good execution, good looks at the basket; we just didn't make them. When you're playing a team with three guards that played in the state championship last and we've got guards and younger players on the floor, I was really happy with our execution."
With Friedt back on the floor, Mott-Regent will face the Coyotes again at home on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Friedt scored 16 points in her return, a 57-30 victory over New Salem-Almont. In the season opener, a 50-34 win over Strasburg-Zeeland, she netted 12.
"Bree Friedt is a returning All-Region player. She's 6-foot tall, very quick, good jumper, can handle the ball, can shoot from the outside, can go in the post to score," Hill said. "She's very, very versatile and does a lot of things for us."
The Wildfire are 2-2, with both their wins being decided by more than 15 points, while their losses were decided by five or fewer.
While their record points to good things happening, the Wildfire have little scoring depth. Hill knows there is plenty of talent in his ranks; it's just a matter of encouraging and honing that skill.
"Defensively we've played well this season; it's just getting our offense to click and get some of our younger kids to calm down and step into the role that we need them to develop into during the season," he said.
Helping with the defense is senior starting forward/guard Madison Meier, who Hill said will be someone the team looks to for rebounds. Junior guard Kiara Koepplin, while contributing offensively at times, is also a big hand on defense, forcing deflections and collecting steals.
Joining Friedt on the scoreboard while disrupting defensively is returning starting point guard Morgan Hertz.
"Morgan is probably one of the girls at the guard position that defends really well in our league," Hill said. "People don't like to have her all over them. She's very high energy, has a really good motor and very long arms. She can harass you even if she's not right next to you, but she's also very quick, so defensively she's really something to deal with for the other teams. We just need her to get more aggressive on offense. That's starting to come."
Leading up to the rematch against Grant County, the Wildfire are 2-2 on the season, an early improvement from last year, which saw the team go winless for more than a month between Dec. 4 and Jan. 13. By the end of last season, the Wildfire were 10th in the region, falling to No. 7 New England in the opening round of the tournament.
The Tigers will be the first Region 7 opponent Mott-Regent faces this winter, and it'll be in home territory on Jan. 3.
"To me, I like sharpening our teeth against non-region opponents," Hill said. "We were on the waiting list to get into the Roughrider Tournament, but to me, it's not on Trinity's floor, so it's not where the regional is it. Then, (you would be) teaching other teams ways where they might be able to learn your strengths and weakness a little quicker and how they can beat you, so I feel better if we're playing New Salem and some of those teams."