It was supposed to be Nate Kalien’s first winter away from the basketball court in a long time.
But then, the former Chi-Hi and UW-Superior guard was asked for some help and he was happy to oblige.
Kalien is spending this season as an assistant and c-team coach for the Northwestern girls basketball team under head coach Paul Eberhardt, the same coach that recruited Kalien from Chippewa Falls to Superior several seasons ago.
Kalien wrapped up his playing career last season, starting in 21 games for the Yellowjackets and averaging 7.1 points per game while shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range. The 6-foot-1 Kalien is completing his degree at Superior this year when Eberhardt reached out after getting the head coaching job with Northwestern.
“It’s been really easy,” Kalien said of the transition to being a coach. “Coach Eberhardt has taken me under his wing as far as coaching goes. After I finished my playing career he got the job to be the head coach here at Northwestern and then soon after that he gave me a call and said I need an assistant coach/c-team coach to coach freshman girls.
“It was really an opportunity I couldn’t pass up because it was convenient because of the location and coach Eberhardt is one of those guys you’ll run through a brick wall for. I think our girls figured that out this year.”
Eberhardt is the men’s golf coach at UW-Superior — a team that both Kalien and fellow Chi-Hi graduate Chase Hoople are a part of — and knew Kalien had what it took to be a good coach.
“He’s someone that brings high basketball IQ,” Eberhardt said of Kalien. “He grew up in a basketball family and he is also someone that understands skill development stuff. He’s really good with our girls, trying to get them better at basic fundamentals and trying to teach them how to do things that players need to do to be successful.
“Those are the things he brings to the table, plus a great personality. He’s a great kid and is a good role model for the girls.”
Northwestern is 13-5 overall after a 49-40 defeat at Bloomer on Friday. The Tigers return to action on Tuesday with a nonconference home game against Ashland.
Bloomer senior forward Sierra Raine had a big night as her team clinched a share of the Heart O’North Conference title in Friday’s victory over the Tigers. Raine scored a career-best 28 points on a tidy 12 of 19 shooting from the field while pulling down 12 rebounds and blocking two shots. Raine scored 19 of her points in the second half to help the ‘Hawks move one win away from the program’s first outright league title since 2005-06.
Raine’s 28 points was not only the single-game high for a Bloomer play this season, it was the most points scored in a game during Bloomer coach Nikki Seibel’s five-year tenure as Blackhawks coach, a number that speaks more to the team’s continual balance than anything.
“That’s what I love about our team, everyone is going to have their role and everyone’s going to have their night,” Seibel said after the game. “I don’t want to depend on just one person. The numbers are deceiving and that sometimes hurts me when I’m trying to get them for certain all-conference and all-state stuff but really when you come down and see what the different capabilities are of the girls, that’s what is great is a team has to play multiple people because you know about her but if she’s not hitting it, you’ve got someone else that can hit the three or do something different.”
Raine averages a team-high 12.4 points per game and overall eight different players have scored at least 11 points in a game thus far for the Blackhawks.
Bischel’s big night
New Auburn senior Emily Bischel had a career night in her team’s 65-49 win at Winter last Friday evening.
Bischel scored a career-high 21 points, well above her previous high of eight points. She added seven rebounds and a pair of assists as the Trojans snapped a six-game losing streak that dated back to a 62-57 overtime win over Winter on Dec. 20.
The team had a few close defeats during that time, losing by a combined 12 points in games against Cornell, Bruce and Birchwood.