‘Knee Sisters’ wrap up careers for Blackhawks

Wednesday, March 1, 2023
(Photo By Roy Tucker) Ashlyn Reintzel, one of the “Knee Sisters,” goes after a loose ball against Central Lyon. Reintzel, with her knee in a brace, is one of three seniors for Hinton, all of whom suffered ACL injuries during their high school careers.

ORANGE CITY — Nobody outside the Hinton girls basketball program has heard of the Knee Sisters.

Head Coach Matt Leary gave this nickname to seniors Aubree Lake, Natalee Junck and Ashlyn Reintzel for reasons which described their health misfortunes during their varsity basketball careers.

“Aubree tore her ACL and missed her whole junior year,” said Leary. “Natalee tore her ACL and missed half her sophomore year. Ashlyn had a partially-torn ACL last summer. It’s crazy how that happened in one class.”

Following Friday’s 61-33 loss to Central Lyon in the Class 2A Region 2 final, Leary said the leadership Lake, Junck and Reintzel displayed through adversity was a great message for younger Hinton players. The three of them combined for 19 double-figure scoring efforts during a 20-4 season. They were also among seven squad members with 40 or more steals.

There were 10 instances when Hinton had three double-digit scorers in games and three times with four with 10 or more points. Defensively, the Blackhawks averaged a whopping 20.2 steals and went 17-0 when allowing less than 40 points.

There’s plenty of returning talent. Freshman Bailey Boeve did more than record 12 point/rebound double-doubles (six more than junior Ashlyn Kovarna). She ranked second on the team with 75 steals, six fewer than Kovarna, the team’s leader with 100 assists.

“We’re like two peas in a pod,” said Kovarna. “We pass right there. We go for rebounds. We work together really well.”

Twin sisters Kadence and Kyra Peters had 57 and 52 steals, respectively, and will return as seniors. Avery Burgad will be a senior next year. So will McKenna Nuzum, who scored four fourth-quarter points off the bench against the Lions.

The 2023-24 season, according to Leary, begins now, considering off-season work. He promises weight room sessions, skills work and team camps in an effort to get the Blackhawks back to state tournament contention.

“We need to get lots of shots up and lots of dribbling in,” said Leary. “You can never do too much of those things. We’re going to get into competitive situations where they can learn game situations that can pop up in a game like this. The basketball season doesn’t only happen from November to March. It has become a year-around deal.”

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