Area Female Athlete: Hirschey's hot hand helping PRB

Over the last two years, Rylie Hirschey has been one of the most prolific setters in the Brainerd lakes area. In two varsity seasons on the volleyball court, she's racked up 1,781 set assists for the Pine River-Backus Tigers. So far this season, ...

Riley Hirschey
Riley Hirschey


Over the last two years, Rylie Hirschey has been one of the most prolific setters in the Brainerd lakes area.

In two varsity seasons on the volleyball court, she's racked up 1,781 set assists for the Pine River-Backus Tigers. So far this season, she's carrying that confidence over to the basketball court.

"She's our setter," PR-B head girls basketball coach Randy Schwegel said. "That same kind of mentality, attitude, carries perfectly from one sport to the next."

The Tigers' sophomore point guard is doing a bit more than distributing this season, however.


In a 77-34 drubbing of Cass Lake-Bena Dec. 4, Hirschey collected 23 points and seven rebounds.

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Rylie Hirschey

  • Year: Sophomore
  • School: Pine River-Backus
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Position: Point guard
  • Highlights: Finished with 23 points and seven rebounds against Cass Lake-Bena

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"What we tell her, and she brings the ball down and runs our offense, but we have Bailey (Wynn) who can bring the ball down and Olivia Adkins," Schwegel said. "We have a couple of different options of bringing the ball down if we need to, but we usually start with her up on top to get the offense running.

"Our point guard, I don't care who it is, always has the option to score. I don't care who it is. They were backing off of her and she got some really good looks against Cass Lake."

She backed up that game with another 23-point performance in PR-B's 62-57 loss to Menahga Dec. 11. She scored another 12 points in the Tigers' 48-39 victory over Pequot Lakes Thursday, Dec. 13.

"I'm focusing on being strong with the ball and making sure I'm always willing to handle the ball even against tough defenders," Hirschey said. "I'm working on taking control of the floor.


"I think having games like that will really help us a lot. We also have Olivia who can score and just hasn't gotten an opportunity to show that yet. I think by putting more capable defenders on me it will open things up for all the other girls."

Last season, Hirschey finished with 250 points (9.3 per game) while shooting 37 percent from the field, 32 percent from 3-point and 53 percent from the line. She added 61 rebounds, 85 assists, 34 steals and one blocked shot.

The Tigers finished the 2017-18 season with an 18-10 record, but fell to Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in the second round of the Section 5-1A playoffs.

Hirschey said she understands the expectations and pressure her senior teammates are under this season, but said she can't focus on that, but rather she focuses on ways she can help them win.

"She played that spot last year for us," Schwegel said. "She played a lot of volleyball and basketball over the years and she played a lot of basketball last year and she's getting better and better. You hope all kids get better over time and she is.

"She is making better choices where to go with the ball. I think she is seeing the court better and she is a better shooter this year, no doubt about that. She isn't very tall, but she is very strong."

Hirschey has done her work in the weight room and gym to become strong and confident. In PR-B's 51-37 season-opening win over Lake of the Woods, she only scored one point, but a few nights later wasn't shy about shooting against CL-B.

"I shoot a lot during basketball season," Hirschey said. "I shoot a lot before school starts just so I can get more reps in. I didn't really think about the game before because that was over and done with. I was still confident in my shot because I do it so often. It's just repetition. I just have a good feel for it."


Being a setter on a successful volleyball team also gives the sophomore confidence to be a leader.

"I think they're really similar in both setting and being the point guard you run the offense," She said. "You tell everybody where to go. That helps me a lot with basketball. I've already learned how to take control and how to be assertive on the court."


Other notable performances:

Basketball: Kaitlyn Smith, Staples-Motley, finished with 20 points against Frazee.

Kaija Davies, Aitkin, finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds against Milaca.

Shyanne Loiland, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 16 points to reach 1,000 for her career against Aitkin.

Olivia Lane, Pequot Lakes, finished with 24 points and 19 rebounds against Detroit Lakes.


Kennedy Gravelle, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 28 points against New York Mills.

Morgan Glenz, Verndale, finished with 22 points against Sebeka.

Hockey: Kylee Hopp, Prairie Centre, finished with two goals and an assist against Detroit Lakes and scored four goals against Crookston.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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