Pierce Co. basketball players hitting new threshholds

By Joe Peine
Posted 2/21/24

On Thursday, Feb. 8 Cade Stasiek crossed the 1,000-point threshold for his high school career, and even more impressively, he did it in his junior year.

In his 34-year tenure with the Spring …

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Pierce Co. basketball players hitting new threshholds


On Thursday, Feb. 8 Cade Stasiek crossed the 1,000-point threshold for his high school career, and even more impressively, he did it in his junior year.

In his 34-year tenure with the Spring Valley Cardinals, Stasiek is just the seventh boy Head Coach Rob Bosshart has had on the team to reach this plateau.

“It's absolutely special, but it's also a team award. You have to play with kids who respect what you're doing enough to give you the freedom to do that. There can't be envy and jealousy, because then you may get your points, but you're not going to have success doing it,” Bosshart said. “The teams that Cade has played on have been very successful, and we've been in the regional championship each year he's been in school which means that we've played well as a team while that's going on. I think that's just a compliment to everybody else.”

Coach Bosshart has watched Stasiek become a more complete player as time has gone on.

“You can always lead the league in scoring last year, but he does so many more things. He's at or near the top of the list in conference in assists, which means that he shares the ball, in steals, which means that he plays defense, and in rebounding, which means he works away from the ball,” Bosshart said. “You can't ask anybody to do any more than he does, and I think our kids have a healthy respect for that.”

Reaching 1,000 points as a junior on a successful team is harder than if he were on a bottom of the barrel squad because he wasn’t a walk-on as a freshman; he had to make the most of his minutes coming off the bench as the Cardinals sixth man in his first year.

“The upperclassmen accepted him right away. It would have been easy for them to have some resentment or kind of iced him a little bit as a freshman coming in, but they knew that he earned his way there and that he was going to help them win. He just blended in so well with those kids, and we never really looked back,” Bosshart said. “Then, last year as a sophomore, he just dominated in games. This year, he's just by far been the focal point when we play teams. They know what they have to do against us, and they make his life as miserable as they can, but he's done a really good job of overcoming that.”

Stasiek says his journey began nearly from birth. His dad was the girls’ head coach in Spring Valley when he was growing up, and he actually became a manager of the team when he was in elementary school. It was during this time that he started to play competitively as well.

“I went to every practice with my dad. We had a mini hoop like in the utility room, one of those plastic Tyco hoops, and me and my brother were just playing every day. We’d get in fights and he’d have to stop practice and yell at us, so I just jumped up from there,” Stasiek said.

The journey to a thousand points was a long time coming, and it was the culmination of setting and accomplishing smaller goals along the way.

“In like fifth grade, when I started actually playing better, it became a goal of mine to get 1,000 points because I saw one of the older guys get it, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Stasiek said. “It was just something I worked for every day. As a freshman, I wanted to start on varsity, and I ended up starting one game. It was just those little goals that you work for, and I ended up getting it.”

Stasiek says he didn’t do it alone; he owes the credit to everyone around him who helped to make it possible.

“My dad has been my coach pretty much my whole life, and he has always pushed and encouraged me. He always gave me rides to the gym and supported me,” Stasiek said. “I couldn’t have done it without my team. The core group of guys I’ve played with made it possible.”

While Stasiek may not reach the school record of 1,800 points, this achievement suggests that there is much more to come in the way of milestones for this talented young player, and Cardinals fans will have the luxury of watching him play one more year for their team next season.

Mara Ducklow

Tuesday was a banner night for Cardinals fans as they had their ninth and 10th students all-time cross the 1,000 point threshold, and one of them was Mara Ducklow, who became the first girl in Spring Valley history to do it.

Ducklow wasn’t done reaching milestones either. On Thursday night, she also reeled in her 500th rebound.

A varsity player in her freshman year, her journey as a Cardinal has impressed Head Coach Sean Hoolihan from the beginning.

“I'm just proud of her because she’s put a lot of time and effort in. Things haven't always gone the way she wanted them to go, but she just keeps fighting. She's got a lot of grit to her, and I think that's what's made her, not only a successful volleyball and basketball player, but it made her a successful leader for the team she plays on,” Hoolihan said. “She's not a vocal type leader, it's just all by example, and all the kids see that. So, I'm just super proud and excited for her because I think it’s one of the coolest things ever for her. She'll always be able to say she was the first.”

No one accidentally becomes the first athlete to reach such a high achievement; Hoolihan emphasizes the dedication that Ducklow has had to get where she is.

“She has spent a lot of time over the years working on her fundamentals. She had coaches and parents when she was growing up that really stressed those fundamentals. She really worked hard on those things, and I saw that from afar,” Hoolihan said. “And she's just always been that way, you know, very fundamentally sound. Honestly, she could also probably have 1,200 to 1,300 points if she would shoot more when she’s open, but she’s an unselfish player.”

In that same unselfish vein, Ducklow immediately gives credit to those around her who’ve helped to make this achievement and her whole career possible.

 “As soon as ball started in grade school, I got into it. My dad and brother encouraged me. My brother actually is someone who I used to go against. He would beat me and push me to get better, and I’d try to get on his level. I think he helped me a lot too,” Ducklow said. “I've just had like, a winning mentality throughout my life since I was young. It was frustrating starting out as a freshman going up against those senior girls because I didn't really know what I was really doing out there. So, I think kind of just looking back at my younger self, I’m achieving what she wanted.”

Ducklow says she didn’t really feel any pressure along the way because, until the last month or so, she had no idea how close she was to being the first 1,000-point shooter in school girls’ basketball history.

“I got told about halfway through the season that I was about 180 points away. So, that really got in my head and made me want to perform. I kept dividing each game up and being like, ‘I’ve got to score this many points,’” Ducklow said. “It feels really good. I'm very blessed to have my teammates and coaches with me, and it's an honor to be the first, but I want the younger girls to look up to it and try to achieve that as well.”

Coach Hoolihan says that it’s her drive that has made Ducklow such a tremendous player.

“I don't think you ever know you know. I mean, you have ideas like, ‘hey, this kid is really on track, I think she might be pretty good,’ but you see it so many times where a younger kid could be pretty good, but they don't put any time in. To be a great player has to come from within, I think, and Mara has been a great player for Spring Valley,” Hoolihan said. “It's because of the grit and the time she's put in, and you could see that as she was growing up. You saw the skills and everything, but you saw the grit and the work that she put in, and that's what's really cool.”

Molly Janke

The Ellsworth Panthers have a new all-time leading scorer in basketball, and her name is Molly Janke.

Janke was honored by the school and the program last week for her unparalleled accomplishments on the court.

When Janke joined the high school basketball team in the fall of 2020, she was able to share the floor and assist on several baskets made by Autumn Earney, who became Ellsworth’s all-time leading scorer in January 2021. At this time, Janke also met the Panthers’ all-time leading rebounder, Charysse Minder who had held the previous scoring record. 

Three years later, Janke has now played in 95 varsity basketball games with teammates who are her great friends, as well as a team of girls who have made their program as competitive as it’s been in many years.

Throughout her career, Janke has been the model of consistency, and she has compiled numbers that are unmatched in the history of Ellsworth basketball. 

Early in December, Janke grabbed her 764th rebound making her the program’s most prolific rebounder, passing Minder. Then, in a game at St. Paul Central on Jan. 8, Janke hit a three-pointer from the left wing for her 1,484th point as a Panther, becoming their all-time leading scorer by surpassing Earney.

This would be impressive enough as it is, but along the way she also broke the school record for assists set by Michelle Fisher at 330 and steals set by Karen Fenske with 258 as well.

Since then, she’s continued to add to her own records and her own legacy. As of last Thursday, in the final regular season game of her career, she had 1,708 points, 964 rebounds, 398 assists and 296 steals, completely smashing every single previous record.

All the previous record holders were specialists in their particular category, be it shooting, rebounds, assists or steals. Janke specialized in all of them.

For her part, Janke says that breaking the all-time scoring record and rebounding record was a huge accomplishment, and that she was surprised and honored to do so.

“It is incredibly special to break the record of one of my former teammates and role models, Autumn Earney. I hope that breaking those records has inspired younger girls in our community to work hard, set high goals for themselves and continue to raise the bar and set the standard even higher for Ellsworth Girls Basketball,” Janke said. “It has been an amazing journey to not only have four years of high school basketball playing for my dad but also playing with my best friends. I could not have achieved these accomplishments without my teammates' support and trust in me, and I wouldn't have wanted to play basketball with any other girls.”

Janke reflects on her years since beginning to play in fourth grade with her teammates and her dad, Head Coach Jason Janke coaching and what it has all meant to her.

“Looking up in the stands during a home game and seeing the youth basketball players in their jerseys is truly one of the most special parts of my basketball career. I hope that I have inspired some young girls to continue to work hard, not just at basketball, but at any other sport or whatever their passion is,” Janke said. “I think the most important thing I would want young kids to know is to find something you love and are passionate about and surround yourself with people who will cheer you on and help you achieve your goals. I was lucky enough to have incredible coaches and be surrounded by teammates who lift each other up and push each other to get better, and I am very thankful for them.” 

Ellsworth’s fans will have at least one more chance to see such rare talent play on their home court before senior Janke departs for good, and that will come on Friday night when the four-seed Panthers host the winner between St. Croix Falls and Osceola.

Mara Ducklow, Cade Stasiek, Molly Janke, Spring Valley Cardinals, Ellsworth Panthers, basketball, accolades, records