Female Area Athlete of Week: Piecek expanding range for Aitkin’s offense
Zach Shaw of Wandea-Deer Creek named Area Male Athlete of Week
Down 25-3 at halftime, Aitkin head coach Donavon Daiker told his team to just relax and keep shooting.
The Gobblers girls basketball team shot 1-for-31 in the first half, but Daiker wanted his players to have confidence that they could turn it around against Rush City.
Sophomore Teagan Piecek, who scored the lone basket in the first half, fired in 25 points in the second half as the Gobblers outscored Rush City 37-29 in the second half.
“We just started pushing the ball and doing more of what we wanted to do, that we didn’t do in the first half” Piecek siad. “Coach told us we had to execute better and keep pushing the ball if we can.”
The Gobblers still lost, but the valiant effort saw them step up on both ends in the second half, led by Piecek.
“When she steps up her defensive intensity, the offense just follows and that’s what I like to see from her,” Daiker said. “We are a pretty solid shooting team and in that first half we were 1-for-31, so I just told them that none of them should stop shooting.”
Last season as a freshman, Piecek carried a big chunk of Aitkin’s offense. She averaged 12.0 points and 4.9 rebounds with 52 assists and 44 steals. She nailed 44 3-pointers as well on her way to being named Dispatch All-Area honorable mention.
“When I got here last year, I could see Teagan had a good perimeter shot,” Daiker said. “And she liked the 3-point shot which the offense I like to run is an up and down, fast paced, run and gun, shoot 3s and shoot layups, so I really embraced that with her and expanded her range.”
Piecek also sees the floor better than she did last year, which has helped her on-court leadership.
“Even though she’s a sophomore she’s still taking on a little more of that leadership role,” Daiker said. “As a young athlete, she’s realized to not worry about the offensive end of the floor and that defense is what gets her going.”
Halfway through the season, she is averaging 14.6 points and 5.1 rebounds while racking up 1.9 assists and 2.0 steals with about 2.5 deflections. She’s improved her 3-point percentage from 26% last year to 32% this year. Her free throw shooting has also improved from 59% last year to 81% this season.
Coming off a two-win season in the 2019-2020 season, Daiker hoped that experience would help them get in the win column more in 2021. So far, the Gobblers have already passed the two-win mark they had last year.
“It’s not like our record is that much better, but we know we are a much better team this year and honestly with the weirdness of this season we haven’t had our full varsity squad since the second game of the season,” Daiker said.
The Gobblers want to play fast. Daiker said it’s been hard to play the tempo he has wanted to in the past few games because his roster hasn’t been fully healthy.
Once he gets his regular nine-player rotation back, however, expect Aitkin to be playing with pace.
“We’ve been playing with six or seven girls most nights for the past nine games,” Daiker said. “We’d love to press more.”
Daiker calls Piecek a quiet kid, but always listens to what he has to say and tries to execute it.
“The biggest thing for her is on that defensive end of the court,” Daiker said. “She’s got the perfect makeup for a high school basketball player. She’s quick and can jump and can shoot.”
Piecek is a three-sport athlete at Aitkin with her favorite being track and field.
“I like that it is more individual and you can work on things personally more than a team,” she said.
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Maci Martini, Pequot Lakes, scored 24 points against Esko and 25 points against Staples-Motley.
Tori Oehrlein, Crosby-Ironton, tallied 25 points and 10 rebounds against Park Rapids.
Rylie Hirschey, Pine River-Backus, scored 21 points against Esko.
Teagan Piecek, Aitkin, scored 28 points against Rush City.
Hockey: Kate Stephens, Northern Lakes, recorded 39 saves against Proctor/Hermantown.
Highlights: Scored 28 points against Rush City