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Tigers key to success lies in how quick roster blends 

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Sophie Olsonawski (2) retrieving a rebound.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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New England Tigers girls basketball team has a short varsity roster, but they can pack a punch. Their impeccable press, strong team chemistry and return of shooters could see this team being a real problem for their opponents.

Out of the 12 years with the program, head coach Jason Jung said he has never seen a team bond as well as this year’s team. They finished last season with a 10-12 record and ninth in their Region. Just as the year before, it will be highly competitive in Region 7 and the Tigers are hungry for it.

“Our press again is really good and that works well for us and gets us going,” Jung said. “This team is scrappy. They hustle, work hard and they are dialed in on the press. It gets their intensity up and good things happen after that. “

New England graduated five seniors from last year’s squad, returning only two starters. The good news is they return All-Region sharpshooter, Hannah Frank and allows for opportunities for young talents — with good potential.

As a junior, Frank averaged 12 points and three rebounds a game and had a presence from three-point range. Tigers will call upon their experience in juniors and underclassmen that have started the season moving the ball well.

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“It is addition by subtraction,” Jung said. “This team has come together and because of the few numbers, they have definitely formed a bond that I have not seen on a basketball team before. “Everybody is cheering for each other, everybody wants everyone to do well and it shows on the floor. We have had different leading scorers in each of our first three games.”

Junior Messa Kuehl will be a strong presence at the paint with her 5”9’ stature.

The Olsonawski sisters, junior Sophie Olsonawski and freshman Emma Olsonwaski, ranked second and third in total points for the Tigers last season. Sophie Olsonawski, averaged eight points and four rebounds and tallied 28 steals.

Emma Olsonwaski averaged five points and along with fellow freshman Carly Wolf, have been offering New England extra firepower around the perimeter in the early season.

“Sophie is our best defensive player and she works harder than anybody I have ever coached,” Jung said. “It took them a couple o f games for them to get that confidence but they are starting to shoot the ball really well. It is great to see these kids’ confidence growing all the time.”

Jung is touting for a strong presence in Region 7 and expects them to be playing their best basketball come the regional tournament.

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Emma Olsonawski (12) in possession.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“I love this team. With the camaraderie and teamwork, we are going to give a lot of teams lots of fits this year,” Jung said. “This region is so balanced. There are a lot of teams that are close in competition wise and I look for us to be one of the best teams in the region, by the time the season comes to an end and I know we can be.”

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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