Female Area Athlete of Week: Hirschey leading Tigers to success

Hirschey is a scoring machine for the Pine River-Backus Tigers early in her senior season.

Rylie Hirschey.

Rylie Hirschey knows how fragile this season is.

The Pine River-Backus senior is a guard on the undefeated basketball team and was the setter on the volleyball team.

Due to COVID-19, however, the Tigers only got six volleyball games in. As of Thursday, Feb. 4, the PR-B girls’ basketball team is 6-0 and hoping to stay healthy for a playoff run this March.

“Going into every game knowing it could be your last game or your last for a couple of weeks because of COVID-19 is hard,” Hirschey said. “But it makes me appreciate all the moments with my teammates a lot more. I have not been taking for granted any time I get on the court.”

Last week Hirschey tallied 22 points against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in a win and scored 24 points in a win against Kelliher/Northome.


“She’s an excellent player,” Tigers head coach Tucker Sheley said. “We get her the ball in positions where she can make plays. But she features her teammates when they're open and is always looking for her shot.

“As a guard, she handles the ball quite a bit for us. Because of that, she is great as the floor leader. I trust her in basically any situation she’s on the court. She’s like a second coach on the court and it’s a huge help.”

Hirschey credits her teammates for helping in her success.

“My teammates have been really good at finding the open person,” Hirschey said. “It’s really hard to defend our team when we have so many threats.”

RELATED: Female Area Athlete of the Week: Tulenchik’s 32 points paces Tigers in first win PR-B sophomore Ramsey Tulenchik scores 32 points in season-opener.

The Tigers’ early-season success has them ranked No. 12 in Class 1A according to Minnesota Basketball News.

Hirschey’s fellow seniors Olivia Adkins and Jamie Johnson help her lead on and off the court. The connection the three of them have through multiple sports and years of playing together really shows.

“I’m super close with both Jamie and Olivia,” Hirschey said. “I think people watching us play can see that. We can feel each other and play like that too.”


Sheley added: “They are all good friends off the court and that definitely shows. With Rylie’s leadership along with those other seniors, we’ve definitely had our early success because of that.”

Sophomore Ramsey Tulenchik has shown flashes of her scoring ability as well.

“She is really strong down low,” Hirschey said. “When girls start doubling down on her, she kicks back to us for open looks and we have been playing together for a while. So we have a feel of where each other is going to be.”

Hirschey has been playing varsity basketball since she was a seventh-grader. Last year, as a junior, Hirschey led the Tigers with 16.4 points and 97 assists. She was named to the Dispatch All-Area team while leading the area in scoring.

“This year, especially since not having summer stuff, I’ve really had to rely on my training and more reps before and after practices,” Hirschey said. “I think we have all had to step up and put more time in so we know we are ready for game time.”

RELATED: Female Area Athlete of Week: 7th grader sparking Rangers’ offense C-I point guard gets area athlete of the week.

Her experience makes her a natural leader.

“She is very mature on and off the court and is a very good communicator,” Sheley said. “It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow as a player. She definitely has come into her own as far as confidence and has put in a ton of time.”


Hirschey is a 3-point threat for the Tigers as well. Last season, she led the area in 3-pointers made with 78.

“I see most of my scoring from shooting,” she said. “I’ve had good success this year with driving and not really scoring, but getting good looks for my teammates as well.”

Sheley said she has become more of a driving threat this season.

“If teams are going to defend her outside shot. She is definitely not afraid to dribble by them and make an offensive move,” Sheley said. “She’s worked incredibly hard to get to that point where she can be a scorer on multiple levels.”

Hirschey wants the ball in her hands with the game on the line whether it’s for a shot or a pass.

“I’ve just had to trust my training and for me, I need to look for the ball and want the ball a lot,” she said. “My teammates are able to get open. I am able to find them a lot.”

Hirschey is unsure what her future holds upon graduation. She wants to play a sport at the next level, but is unsure if it’ll be basketball or volleyball. Right now, she’s giving a slight edge to volleyball, but that could change.

“(Basketball) this year has just been really fun,” Hirschey said. “I think COVID-19 might’ve made it more fun because I was able to appreciate it more.”


Hirschey’s top two schools are St. Catherine University in St. Paul and the University of Northwestern-St. Paul.

“I have not officially decided, but I’m planning on playing a sport,” Hirschey said.

Other notable performances:
Basketball: Karlie Nixon, Crosby-Ironton, scored 30 points against Pillager.
Tori Plemel, Lake Region, scored 33 points against Community Christian and was named to the All-Tournament team in Ankenny, Iowa.
Juliana Ewald, Pillager, scored 24 points against Bertha-Hewitt.
Ramsey Tulenchik, Pine River-Backus, scored 24 points against Kelliher/Northome.
Jamie Johnson, Pine River-Backus, scored 25 points against Kelliher/Northome.
Hockey: Maya Christensen, Northern Lakes, scored a hat trick against Morris-Benson.
Gymnastics: Maddie Dehn, Little Falls, won the all-around and the floor in a win over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.

Rylie Hirschey

Year: Senior

School: Pine River-Backus

Sport: Basketball

Position: guard/forward

Highlights: She scored 22 points against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley and scored 24 points against Kelliher/Northome.


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