Female Area Athlete of Week: Adkins’ big game helps Tigers pull upset
Playing against Class 1A’s fourth-ranked Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Wolves, Pine River-Backus Tigers guard Olivia Adkins had a calm mentality.
“I just did not put too much pressure on myself,” Adkins said. “I just got mentally prepared to battle and have fun.”
Whatever Adkins did pregame paid off as she scored a game-high 28 points, including eight 3-pointers, to lead the Tigers over the Wolves 67-42 in Pine River.
“We play them in the summer a lot so we knew it was going to be a hard game,” Adkins said. “We were excited because we knew it was going to be a challenge. It felt good because we have put in a lot of work together and it was good to see it come together. Beating them by 20 really gave us a lot of confidence.”
Tigers’ coach Randy Schwegel believes eight 3-pointers tied the school record for a PR-B girls basketball player.
“That night, she shot the ball the way we know she can shoot it,” Schwegel said. “She stepped up, got good looks at the basket, squared up and took her time. She’s continued that as well.
“I think she has struggled at times to know when to shoot, when to pass, when to drive and that night she just had things going for her. She was in rhythm and shot the ball very well.”
Adkins followed up her 28-point outing against WHA with 23 points against Cherry in a loss.
“The games where I’ve scored more I have been able to not just shoot 3s, but drive and shoot the mid-range,” Adkins said. “Having options and not just standing and shooting. In the past, 3-point shooting was my main thing. I know if I want to score more I need to do it in different ways.”
The Tigers are not a big team, so they rely on quickness, speed and shooting to win games.
“For her, Rylie Hirchsey, Sidney Lodge and Emma Barchus, those four girls are not very big and we kind of have a deal that if you have an open shot then let it fly,” Schwegel said. “Olivia was not shooting the ball very well at the beginning of the season, but now teams just can’t say they are going to take away just one player for us. When you have multiple players that can shoot the 3, it stretches the defense and opens things up inside.”
Schwegel put in a new offense because he had a smaller team. He feels his girls are just starting to get the hang of it.
“With four guards on the outside and Ramsey (Tulenchik) in the middle, they understand their role in the offense better,” Schwegel said. “Those four girls on the outside are starting to read each other better and it’s taken some time, but it’s getting better.”
The junior has been a three-year starter for Schwegel, but has seen her scoring jump into double figures from 6 points a game to 12.
“My confidence has improved a lot,” Adkins said. “I’ve been capable of being a contributor scoring-wise, but I lacked the confidence. I’ve also gotten better at handling the ball which has helped.
“Just playing more games and last year we really relied on the seniors to score, but this year we don’t have them, so my team relies on me more.”
Adkins also averages four rebounds and three steals a game.
Schwegel said Adkins stays and shoots after early morning shootarounds and practice. Last week after practice, Schwegel was rebounding for Adkins and she hit 46 free throws in a row. On the season, she is an 80% foul shooter.
Schwegel appreciates Adkins’ play recently when teams play zone against PRB.
“Finding that seam and taking it up in there she has gotten a lot better at pulling up and hitting the little 10-12 foot jump shot,” Schwegel said. “She is one of those kids that anyone would love to have on your team. She does everything you ask. She’s a great student. She’s in the weight room all summer long. She’s in the gym all summer long.”
PR-B sits at 12-9 and is playing some of its best ball toward the end of the season. Adkins is excited to just go out and play.
“Some people probably don’t think we are super good, so we are excited to prove them wrong and just play,” Adkins said.
School: Pine River-Backus
Highlights: Scored 28 points against fourth-ranked Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Wolves with eight 3-pointers and 23 points against Cherry