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After leading the Hand girls’ basketball team in rebounds and blocks last year, Halle Freund has continued her steady improvement as the Tigers’ center by averaging robust totals across the board this season. (Photo courtesy of Halle Freund )
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Halle Freund admits she was a hesitant player when she joined the Hand girls’ basketball team as a freshman, especially on the offensive end. However, after dedicating herself to her craft on a year-round basis, Halle has boosted both her skills and her confidence, while becoming the starting center for the Tigers.
Last winter, Halle was Hand’s leading rebounder and shot blocker when the team won the Class L state title. Thus far this year, Halle has picked up right where she left off by averaging 9.7 points per game, along with team highs in rebounds (7.7), blocks (3.9), and steals (2.7) through the Tigers’ first seven contests. The senior also leads the team in field-goal percentage by shooting at a 64-percent clip.
“I’ve made a lot of personal growth in being more confident as a center. I was nervous as a freshman, but then I realized I wanted to be good, because I had put so much time and effort into basketball,” says Halle. “I wanted to become more of a presence on the court. I grew as a player and teammate. I wasn’t confident in taking shots as a freshman. It took until my junior year where I started taking chances, and that came from believing in myself. I’m still continuing to grow a lot.”
Practice did indeed make perfect for Halle, who attributes her improved offensive skill-set to her extra reps on the floor. As a result, Halle is now looking for the ball in the post more these days.
“I spent a lot of time in the offseason with AAU coaches working on things. I practiced my shooting and post skills a lot going into my junior and senior years,” Halle says. “A lot of my coaches have helped me with my jump shot, and I have confidence to shoot because of that. I’m also more aggressive in the post with demanding the ball.”
Halle has played alongside her fellow senior classmates since she was middle school. While it’s bittersweet that this season will be their final one together, Halle says the Tigers are showing the next generation of players how chemistry creates championships.
“To be a senior leader on this team means a lot. I’ve played with the other seniors since about 5th grade, so to have this be our last year together is weird, but it’s important to lead this team,” Halle says. “It’s up to the seniors to step into that leadership position and maintain the team chemistry.”
One person who’s noticed the steady rise of Halle’s stock is Hand girls’ basketball Head Coach Tim Tredwell. Tredwell says that when it comes to getting Halle the ball down low, she’s money in the bank nearly every time.
“I have never seen a player show such constant and steady improvement over her career as Halle. She started getting some varsity minutes as a sophomore and progressed to being an essential part of our rotation by the end of that season. Now, as a senior leader, she’s someone we’re counting on nightly to make plays on both ends of the floor,” says Tredwell. “She’s our leading rebounder and shot blocker and is one of the most patient offensive players we’ve ever had. Everyone on our team knows that if we get Halle touches, something good is going to happen. When she gets the ball in the paint, she’s going to make the right decision, and it will probably result in a good scoring opportunity for us.
Tredwell adds that Halle knows how to balance intensity and levity when it comes to setting an example for the Tigers’ underclass athletes.
“She’s also a tremendous teammate who is extremely positive with our younger players. Her ability to keep things loose with her sense of humor is just as important to our group as her abilities on the floor,” Tredwell says. “I’m incredibly proud of her growth both as a person and a player, and I’m really enjoying getting to work with her for one more season.”
The 2016-’17 season was an unforgettable ride for Halle and the Tigers, but they certainly aren’t resting on the laurels of that state title. Instead, they’re extra motivated to show everyone that they have what it takes to repeat that feat.
“Last year was an amazing experience. We worked hard all year, and we were excited to prove we were a great team. The title reflected our hard work,” says Halle, who thanks her father Jim Freund, along with Tredwell, her teammates, and AAU coach Greg Martin. “We try not to focus on last year now. We have the talent to do it again, but we just have to give the most effort each day. We have to keep continuing to make strides.”
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