Tony Weinandt got the opportunity the past four seasons to watch Sam Shepard flourish into a solid all-around player at Fremont High School.
“Sam really grew into her game as she got older,” said Weinandt, the Tigers’ head coach. “She went from being a freshman who came in off the bench to a player we really counted on the last couple of seasons. She loves the game of basketball and she turned into a good leader for us.”
The 6-foot Shepard is the honorary captain of the Fremont Tribune All-Area Team. She is joined on the eight-player first team by Camerin Inselman of FHS, Mackenzie Peitzmeier of Fremont Bergan, Aspen Jansa of Wahoo Neumann, Kristin Lux of North Bend, Kennedy Benne of Oakland-Craig, Hallie Reeves of Wahoo High and Lexis Haase of West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic.
Shepard averaged 13.6 points and 4.6 rebounds during her senior season, despite being a focal point of many opposing defenses. She was also a key part of the Tigers’ defensive plans.
“She really became a complete player for us,” Weinandt said. “I think as she got older, she became more aggressive and she worked on speeding up her shot a little bit. Her versatility really helped us a lot defensively. She could guard a perimeter player one night and then guard a big the next night. We didn’t have a lot of size so that was very important for us.”
Shepard is going to follow in the footsteps of two of her siblings and attend Midland University. Taylor Shepard played for the women’s team while Clay Shepard competed for the men, ending his career with a trip to the national tournament in 2017.
“I know Sam is excited to play for Shawn (Gilbert) at Midland,” Weinandt said. “She’ll benefit from playing with older girls and not having junk defenses thrown at her right away. It will be an adjustment to the college game, but I know she’ll work hard at it.”
Inselman is also joining the Lady Warriors. The senior — listed at 5-10 — averaged 10.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. She also shot 52 percent from the field.
“She is probably more like 5-9 and was undersized in the post, but she really figured things out,” Weinandt said. “That is a huge credit to her. A lot of kids would’ve been discouraged being undersized and having to face some of the teams we played. She has a good basketball IQ and really improved as she got older. ... I think she developed into one of the best defensive post players around.”
Weinandt said Inselman has the ability to shoot from the outside, but the Tigers needed her more on the block.
“She sacrificed some things for us, but I think that will benefit her in college because she is now more of a multi-dimensional player,” Weinandt said. “Shawn is getting a girl with a tremendous work ethic and a good knowledge of the game.”
The 5-8 Haase was a Class D-1 all-stater. She averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game for the Bluejays and led them to the state tournament.
Peitzmeier, a 5-10 senior, led the Lady Knights to the Class C-2 state tournament. She averaged 15 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Bergan finished 18-7 with all the losses except one coming to a state tournament team. Peitzmeier was a freshman starter when Bergan went 7-17 three years ago. The Lady Knights improved each season she was in high school.
“She was vital to our turnaround,” Bergan coach Nate Pribnow said. “A lot of that came in her ability to score. She had the ability to score inside and out and that made things happen for us on offense.”
Peitzmeier finished her career with 1,090 points and is second on Bergan’s career scoring list behind former Creighton University player Sheri Rump. The daughter of Bergan assistant coach Jim Peitzmeier also holds the school mark for 3-pointers made in a career with 141.
Pribnow said Peitzmeier’s success didn’t come by accident. She put in extra time after practice
“She would go home and eat and come back to the school after everyone had left and shoot for an hour and a half,” he said. “She did a lot of things to make herself the player that she is. She also made improvements on the defensive end that went unnoticed by some people. She improved every single year and wasn’t someone who was complacent. She wanted to get better.”
Benne, a 5-5 sophomore, was having an excellent season for Oakland-Craig before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
“The biggest stat for us was that we were 11-3 before her injury and 1-8 after the injury,” Oakland-Craig coach Joe Anderson said in nominating Benne. “She was a great leader and was having a breakout year.”
Benne’s injury was the second major setback O-C suffered. During the offseason, the Lady Knights lost 2017 All-Area pick Dacey Nelson to a knee injury.
“I really felt like Kennedy was one of the best guards in C-2,” Anderson said. “She really stepped up in Dacey’s absence and took over.”
Benne averaged 20.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.6 steals and 2.2 assists per game.
Lux led North Bend to an 18-5 record. The Tigers saw their season end with a 33-29 loss to eventual Class C-1 state champion Columbus Scotus in the C1-7 subdistrict tournament.
Lux, who will be playing volleyball for West Virginia next fall, capped her senior season by averaging 11.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. She also averaged 1.2 blocks and 1.7 assists.
“She was a four-year starter and we won at least 17 games the last three years with her,” North Bend coach Aaron Sterup said.
Reeves, a 5-8 junior, helped Wahoo advance to the C-1 state tournament. The Lady Warriors had their season end in the first round at the hands of Scotus. Reeves, though, hurt her knee in the district final and wasn’t 100 percent for state.
Reeves averaged 12.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.
“Hallie is a strong player who can play any position and do it well,” Wahoo coach Linda Walker said.” She hit just enough perimeter shots to be an outside threat and has a strong post up presence about her. Her dribble drive is hard to stop and comes with tremendous force to the basket. Hallie’s has great defensive instinct and her timing on the ball was a game changer, ending in our favor.”
Jansa and the Cavaliers were another team that lost to Scotus. The Shamrocks defeated Neumann 40-37 in overtime of the state final.
The 5-7 senior joined Reeves as a C-1 all-stater. She averaged 14.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. She also connected on 82 percent of her free throw attempts.
The second team is headed by Taryn Scheef of Wahoo. Other second-team selections include: Haley Kempf of Fremont Bergan, Macey Kulhanek of Howells-Dodge, Jessina Rada of Neumann, Maggie Schmidt of Arlington and Sydney Golladay of Fremont High.
May Hoesing, Shelby Kaup, Taylor Wakefield, Milee Young, Arlington. Vicki Gatzemeyer, Paige Peters, BRLD. Emilee Klahn, Jadyn Vacha, Cedar Bluffs. Rachel MacDonald, Regan Glock, Jasie Vieth, Douglas County West. Allison Dieckmann, Katie Sleister, Allie DeGroff, Fremont Bergan. Emma Shepard, Logan Voss, Fremont High. Erin Prusa, Grace Dvorak, Howells-Dodge. Kaylee Boyle, Shaylin Daugherty, Logan View/Scribner-Snyder. June Johnson, Mead. Brooke Fredrickson, Lauren Emanuel, Hailey Bang, Kaitlynn Bjorklund, North Bend. Natalia McNeill, Mya Guzinski, Oakland-Craig. Kendal Brigham, Elle Glock, Brianna Brabec, Kyla Swanson, Wahoo High. Lindsey Thiele, Kelsie Cada, Megan Spicka, Alyssa Rezac, Wahoo Neumann. Brittney Hinkel, Sidney Swanson, West Point-Beemer. Marissa Hunke, Angela Jansen, Brenna Rief, West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic. Rylie Jones, Liberty Josoff, Noelle Josoff, Lynn Smith, Yutan.