Four New Richmond girls make All-MBC basketball team; Kannel is MVP
By winning its second Middle Border Conference championship in three years, the New Richmond girls basketball team was well rewarded in the 2013-14 all-conference balloting.
Four Tigers received all-conference honors. Leading that list was senior Sydney Kannel, who was named as the Most Valuable Player for the conference this season. Kannel was joined on the all-conference first team by senior Mattie Kidder. Senior Hannah Swetlik and junior Hannah Simpson were honorable mention All-MBC selections.
New Richmond coach Jeff Kanewischer lobbied a year ago for Kannel to get Most Valuable Player honors, but the award went to Durand’s Lexi Harmon. This year, the voting clearly made sure that Kannel got the MVP honor. This is a rare familial honor for the Kannels, with Sydney’s older brother, Riley, receiving the boys MVP honor in the 2010-11 season.
Kannel led the Tigers in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per game this season. She also topped the Tigers in assists with 100 and in steals with 77. She was also one of the premier defensive players in the MBC this season.
“She’s probably the most complete and most all-around player in the conference,” Kanewischer said. “She’s so unselfish. She doesn’t care about her stats. She cares about the team.”
Kannel’s career scoring total is a perfect example of her unselfishness. She finished her career with 996 points. She could have put more emphasis on scoring in her final games to make sure she reached the 1,000-point milestone, but instead she kept her focus on trying to get the Tigers as far into the WIAA playoffs as possible.
Kidder was Kannel’s perfect complement. While Kannel was a fierce defensive player on the perimeter, Kidder used her 6-2 height and long reach to be one of the best post defenders in the area. Kidder wasn’t just a factor in the paint. She had deceptive quickness, which the Tigers used extensively by having her play at the front of their full-court press.
Kidder averaged 11.5 points per game this season. She led the Tigers with 191 rebounds and 110 blocked shots, which ranks among the highest totals in team history.
Kanewischer expressed disappointment that Simpson was only given honorable mention status after making a major impact for the Tigers the past two years. Kanewischer said he expected Simpson to use this as motivation for a strong senior season.
Simpson came back from elbow surgery early in the season to rank third on the Tigers in scoring, averaging 9.5 points per game. Simpson is an impactful all-around player. She finished the season with 129 rebounds, 47 steals and 34 assists.
Swetlik was the Tigers’ leading three-point shooter this season. Kanewischer said that element forced opposing defenses to extend their coverage, opening the court for other Tigers to have better scoring avenues.
“She was a real nice surprise,” Kanewischer said. “She was one of the most consistent three-point shooters in the conference.”
With the graduation of Kannel, Kidder, Swetlik and Maddie Kelly, the Tigers will lose a large portion of their scoring punch. Kanewischer said there is opportunity for players to step up. Simpson will be viewed as a team leader. Also returning are Kennedy Kling, Kaitlynn Belisle and Laura Seeger, who will all be counted on to carry bigger loads for the team next season.
Martell was one of the most impactful freshmen in the conference this season, on a team filled with freshmen and sophomores who were improving with every game they played this season. Martell ranked among the leading scorers in the conference, showing the ability to take over games when teams tried to run with the Spartans.
With a team that had no upperclassmen, the Spartans faced a sharp growing curve at the start of the season. After a 1-8 start, the Spartans adjusted to playing at the varsity level, going 8-6 in their final 14 games of the season.