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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Maddie Schires has quickly become invaluable threat for Bemidji State

Maddie Schires currently ranks 22nd in the country and second in the NSIC by shooting 45.3% from 3-point range. And that’s just the weapon the Beavers wanted to find during the offseason.

111721.S.BP.BSUWBB Maddie Schires.jpg
Bemidji State junior Maddie Schires (23) scores a 3-pointer in the first half against Mayville State on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at the BSU Gymnasium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
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BEMIDJI -- When Maddie Schires has the ball in her hands, she wants to shoot. That’s not something everybody knew in November, though.

“The first couple of games, you could definitely tell people didn’t know me,” said Schires, a junior transfer on the Bemidji State women’s basketball team.

Yet as the season’s gone on, opposing scouting reports have taken notice.

“As we’ve progressed, teams watch film on everyone,” the Wausau, Wis., native said. “They know personnel pretty well. It’s been harder, but my teammates do a really good job of getting me open.”

Schires currently ranks 22nd in the country and second in the NSIC by shooting 45.3% from 3-point range. And that’s just the weapon the Beavers wanted to find during the offseason.

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“That was an essential piece, to find a shooter just like herself,” BSU head coach Chelsea DeVille said. “That was one thing we were definitely missing last year. We had kickout shooters, but you need (players who can create their own) 3-point shots, as well. And that’s Maddie.”

Schires has been mighty efficient from downtown, shooting 29-for-64 on the season. It’s led to 8.5 points per game, which ranks third on the team, and a quick reputation on the perimeter.

“I take a good amount of pride in it,” Schires said. “I always find it funny when coaches are screaming, ‘Don’t let her shoot it, don’t let her shoot it!’ … It’s always been part of my game.”

Schires watched from Ohio in 2021 as Bemidji State pulled off its most successful season in decades. Then at Division I Youngstown State, Schires had just broken YSU’s freshman record for threes in a season, and her 65 makes ranked 11th among all D-I freshmen.

Her role diminished as a sophomore in 2020-21, but she’s found her stroke again after moving to the Division II level.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Schires said. “Obviously it’s a new feeling. Sometimes I feel like I’m a freshman, going through some drills that the upperclassmen are typically used to. But the girls are great at helping me out, and it’s been a different experience but one that I really like.”

More than just the points that a three provides, DeVille also sees the value in Schires’ presence on the floor. DeVille said that the threat of her shooting keeps opposing defenses from playing helpside defense or cheating down for a double team.

“She’s a kid who’s an instant-offense type of kid,” DeVille said. “Not only for herself, but she can create for others because of her spacing. … That helps our posts, it helps our attackers because they’re not going to help or she’s going to get that three off.”

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The Beavers (7-5, 5-3 NSIC) currently sit third in a crowded NSIC North Division entering the weekend. They have just one game on the schedule -- 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7, against Winona State inside the BSU Gymnasium -- because Saturday’s matinee against Upper Iowa was canceled due to COVID-19 within the Peacocks’ program.

In a season passing by quickly, every game becomes all the more valuable. Each win is soon critical, and each loss can be crippling.

“It goes quick,” DeVille said. “You can’t have any hiccups, you can’t have any letdowns because there’s not enough games to catch back up. Pretty soon, we’ll be in tournament time. We’re definitely focused on that.”

No matter how the season plays out, though, Schires is happy to be aboard for a run like this.

“I just love the atmosphere that we have,” she said. “We have such a positive and motivating atmosphere. Whether it’s in games, whether it’s in practices, whether it’s team dinners, it’s always something you want to be a part of.”

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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