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Area Female Athlete: PR-B's Rainwater eyeing an offensive game

Gabby Rainwater's goal this season was to improve at everything she's not good at. Seems like a tall order until you hear all the things the Pine River-Backus Tigers girls basketball player is good at. First off, she's a rebounding machine. Despi...

Gabby Rainwater
Gabby Rainwater

 

Gabby Rainwater's goal this season was to improve at everything she's not good at.

Seems like a tall order until you hear all the things the Pine River-Backus Tigers girls basketball player is good at.

First off, she's a rebounding machine. Despite being just 5-foot-8, Rainwater was third in the area last year with 9.6 rebounds per game. The rarest part of that was she had more offensive rebounds-150-than defensive rebounds-120.

"The younger kids and down into the junior high and even some of our elementary kids, I'll hear them talk about her," Schwegel said. "I overhead a seventh grader say, 'I want to be just like that when I get older.'

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"I wonder if these kids realize the effect they have on some of these younger kids. Her work ethic is all you can ask of a kid. She can go a long time and she works hard the whole time she is out there."

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Gabby Rainwater

  • Year: Junior
  • School: Pine River-Backus
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Position: Forward
  • Highlights: Finished with 40 points and 20 rebounds in two wins last week

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Schwegel said since the Christmas break Rainwater has averaged a double-double. Her most recent games prove that.

Rainwater tallied 19 points and 10 rebounds in PR-B's 67-29 victory over Wadena-Deer Creek Feb. 5.

She followed that with a 21-point, 10-rebound performance in the Tigers' 60-47 Northwoods Conference victory over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Feb. 8

"The biggest difference from this year to last year is my knowledge, honestly," Rainwater said. "I wasn't an offensive player last year. It wasn't my mindset. I just expanded my game. I like to drive. I'm still not very good at shooting, but I like to drive to the hoop."

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Last year, Rainwater finished with 253 points (9.0 per game) to go with 1.1 assists 1.5 steals and eight blocked shots. She shot 53 percent from the field and 58 percent from the line. Most of the junior's points last season came off of offensive rebounds, though. This year Schwegel has incorporated Rainwater more into the offense, and while it hasn't been easy, she has worked hard to find success.

"It's extremely difficult," Rainwater said. "I'll shoot one or two and then just stop if I miss them. Why waste the shot when I can give it to someone else and they'll make it. But (Friday) morning I was working with coach trying to shoot that jump shot and trying to make so many in a row so I can keep building that confidence to keep shooting it."

Through the team's first 24 games, Rainwater has 293 points for a 12.2 points-per-game average. She's shooting 58.3 percent from the field and 72 percent from the line. She's also averaging 2.5 steals and 9.1 rebounds with 100 offensive boards and 118 defensive rebounds.

"She's relentless on the offensive glass," said Schwegel. "She just kind of goes and goes. The other thing that we are getting out of her this year, which has been a real plus for us; we like to get the ball up and down and this year she's got a lot more confidence so she'll get a defensive rebound and push it up the floor and that is just huge. Defensively, trying to stop us that provides a whole new dimension for us."

Rainwater said rebounding is her favorite part of the game. She'd rather get a rebound than make a basket. It seems strange, but her goals were all team-oriented.

"This year, I think we're trying to accomplish working together as a team," Rainwater said. "We tend to play individually at times rather than as a team. And it shows. I think our main goal is to keep the turnovers low, as well. We tend to have a lot of those."

Last season, PR-B finished 22-6 before being knocked out by Menahga in the Section 5-1A playoffs. Recently PR-B has sent a softball and volleyball team to state. Rainwater wants to bring a state basketball birth to the Tigers.

"It would be huge," Rainwater said. "We've worked so hard and obviously other teams have, too, and I don't want to say we deserve it, but we are in that gym every morning and whenever we are asked to be in the weightroom. I just feel like we have worked so hard and we owe it to ourselves to get the farthest we can go."

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With PR-B's core players juniors or younger, if it doesn't happen this year, watch out for next year.

"They're just playing the game, I think all of the girls have gotten better at that," Schwegel said. "Gabby knows what her job is and what other people's jobs are and can just do them. Right now her and Alyssa (Semmler) work really well together inside-kind of a high-low situation there. They understand what we expect of them and they are juniors, but they are getting better and better. Hopefully we'll see even more improvement."

 

Other notable performances:

Basketball: Alyssa Semmler, Pine River-Backus, reached 1,000 career points after posting 17 points and 10 rebounds against Wadena-Deer Creek.

Maggi Fellerman, Aitkin, finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks against Moose Lake-Willow River.

Kelsi Stuckmayer, Pierz, finished with 21 points against Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted.

Abby Grider, Lake Region, finished with 15 points, 18 rebounds, four assists and three steals against Woodcrest.

Olivia Lane, Pequot Lakes, finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds against Aitkin and 30 points and 19 rebounds against Milaca.

Sophia Sowada, Little Falls, finished with 23 points against Fergus Falls.

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