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Commentary: Kalli Frieze, North Douglas girls carry on after losing teammate

February 22, 2017 GMT

The North Douglas girls basketball team is one win away from advancing to the state tournament for the fourth year in a row.

This is old hat for Kalli Frieze, a 5-foot-9 senior point guard who was a member of the previous three state tournament teams. The Warriors played in the OSAA Class 2A tournament in Pendleton in 2014, and brought home trophies from the 1A tourney in Baker City the last two years.

North Douglas finished third in 2015 and lost to Country Christian in the championship game a year ago. The Warriors have never won a state title in girls basketball.

They have to be considered one of the contenders for the championship this season, even though they’ll be without one of their key players for the remainder of the season. The second-ranked Warriors went unbeaten in Skyline League play and are 25-2 overall heading into a playoff game Saturday in Drain against an opponent to be determined.

Jhana Lane, a 6-2 senior post, tore the ACL in her right knee during a recent practice, ending her high school career. It was a tough loss for the Warriors — Lane has played a big role and been a great teammate for Jeff Davis’ club during their terrific run of success.

The 17-year-old Frieze, a second-team all-state selection as a junior, and the rest of the Warriors have carried on without Lane the last four games.

“I can’t imagine how Jhana’s feeling. It’s hard not having her, she’s such a big asset to the team,” Frieze said. “It’s taken a while for us to adjust, but last weekend we came together at the district tournament. Without her height, we’ll definitely take advantage of our speed and push the ball upcourt more.”

Frieze and the two other seniors, Sabrina MacDowell and Rachel Colburn, will have to shoulder more of the load. So will sophomore Abby Whipple, who transferred from Elkton.

“The younger players will also have to step up,” Frieze said.

Frieze says the team’s goal remains the same — get back to the state title game and win it. And with Kalli Frieze on the floor, I believe the Warriors still have a chance to capture a crown.

“Being able to win a (state) championship is what I always wanted ... what the team always wanted,” said Frieze, who was on the state runner-up volleyball squad last fall. “I think we’re capable, we all have confidence in each other.

“This is definitely my favorite part of the season. We’re looking forward to this weekend and hoping to make it over to the state tournament.”

The tournament will be held March 2-4 at Baker High School.

Frieze leads the Warriors in scoring (14 points), assists (4) and steals (4), and is one of the top rebounders (6). She’s also a solid defensive player who will be asked to guard one of the opposing team’s top offensive threats.

“Kalli is a pretty steady performer for us,” Davis said. “She’s been the constant. It’s true in practice as well. We know exactly what we’ll get from her effort-wise. Kalli has expanded her role for us since Dani (Baker) has been gone.”

Baker, Frieze’s cousin, was the 1A Co-Player of the Year last year and is now playing at Northwest Christian University in Eugene.

“I’ve had to step up this year,” Frieze said. “The other seniors have done a great job leading as well. I think my vocal leadership is what I’ve improved on the most.”

Frieze says the addition of Whipple was a big boost for the team.

“She brought a lot of intensity,” Frieze said. “She’s kind of the spark which we needed. We have a lot more fire this year.”

Frieze, a three-sport standout at North Douglas, is planning to play basketball next year in college. She’s interested in Lane Community College and mentioned Umpqua Community College.

But Frieze has some unfinished business to take care of first, starting Saturday.

“I’m just thankful for the people I’ve been able to play with (at North Douglas),” she said. “We’ve definitely had some good groups since I’ve been here.”