Area Female Athlete: Pierz's Skiba making the most of her shots

Laura Skiba knows what she's not good at, but she doesn't shy away from the challenge. Free throws have been the Pierz Pioneers senior's arch nemesis. But not of late. Against Osakis Jan. 24, Skiba was 4-of-8 from the line and was 7-9 from the field.

Laura Skiba
Laura Skiba


Laura Skiba knows what she's not good at, but she doesn't shy away from the challenge.

Free throws have been the Pierz Pioneers senior's arch nemesis. But not of late.

Against Osakis Jan. 24, Skiba was 4-of-8 from the line and was 7-9 from the field. One night later against Maple Lake, she was 3-3 from the line and 5-8 from the field.

Against Pine City Jan. 15, Skiba was 2-4 from the line and 5-8 from the field.


"She's worked on her free throws," Pierz head coach Matt Poepping said. "That was a big thing coming into the year. Then about probably after the first five games, I think, she was shooting around 10 percent. And now she's gotten that up to around 35. Once you dig yourself that hole it's hard to get back out of it, but she finds herself at the free throw line a lot and the last few games she's been making them. That's a big thing that we've talked about earlier."

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Laura Skiba

  • Year: Senior
  • School: Pierz
  • Sport: Girls basketball
  • Position: Forward
  • Highlights: Finished with 31 points and seven rebounds in two wins last week

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The improved free throw shooting has also pushed Skiba's numbers.

Skiba tallied a career-high 18 points to go with six rebounds and an assist in the Pioneers' 57-47 victory over Osakis.

"The guards were just doing what they were supposed to by driving and dishing," Skiba said. "We've been practicing that. It was just a team effort."

She went for 13 points, one rebound and one steal to help Pierz to a 53-42 Central Minnesota Conference victory over Maple Lake.


In a loss to Pine City, Skiba went for 12 points and 10 rebounds with an assist and a steal.

"I started out the season not very good at all with my free throws," Skiba said. "I may be made 1 of 10 probably. Then over the Christmas break, I just sat in the gym and shot maybe 50 of them. I switched up my routine a little bit and I guess it's working.

"Confidence helps a lot. You don't have to be nervous or anything. You just do whatever you have to do."

Poepping said Skiba was the lone returner from last year's team. He said her leadership and her familiarity with him through softball was going to be key to his first season as the head basketball coach.

"I expected her to be a leader," Poepping said. "Not add too much scoring, but probably get like six to eight points a game and then average about six to eight rebounds a game. I think she surpassed those numbers the last few games.

"She's helped the girls along who aren't in softball and don't know what my program entails. She's been a leader that way just because she knows what the standards are from the programs I run. Just from that standpoint, she's done a nice job helping the younger girls who haven't had me as a coach before."

Skiba was excited about Poepping's hire. She's watched the softball program turn around and was happy to be a part of what he could with the basketball team.

"I was looking for change," Skiba said. "He coaches differently than a lot of other coaches I've had and he's been successful with that. I was pretty excited when he was going to be coaching."


Skiba said she's worked on repetitiveness and doing all the little things correctly. That's why Poepping trusts her despite being at a disadvantage most nights.

"She's very good at finishing around the rim," Poepping said. "She's very physical underneath and he plays really good defense. She is physical. She's undersized to play in the post height-wise. She's always usually going against a girl who has 4 or 5 inches on her, but she can physically keep them out of the lane."

Skiba said the defense is all about teamwork.

"It's a team effort," Skiba said. "When I'm on a really big girl, my backside defense is helping me out. It's not just me."

Skiba was selected as Pierz's Academics, Arts and Athletics representative. Along with basketball and softball, Skiba plays tennis and is a member of Pierz's clay target team, concert band, pit band, pep band, honors band and Minnesota Honor Society

"She's a great kid," Poepping said. "I've had her four years in softball and one year in basketball. We have a pretty good relationship. She does anything you ask of her. She comes in early. She's a great role model for the younger girls in the program."

Other notable performances

Basketball: Karli Nixon, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 20 points against Pillager.


Olivia Lane, Pequot Lakes, finished with 26 points against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, 24 against Detroit Lakes and 41 against Minneapolis North.

Morgan Glenz, Verndale, finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds against Sebeka.

Shyanne Loiland, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds against International Falls.

Hockey: Reece Ritter, Prairie Centre, finished with a goal and three assists against Park Rapids.

Kylee Hopp, Prairie Centre, finished with two goals and an assist against Crookston.

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