EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- With an injury-ridden Blugolds squad, junior, Hallee Hoeppner has stepped up into a role she’s never been in and helped put UW-Eau Claire in the thick of the WIAC conference race. Hoeppner is our Osseo Automotive Athlete of the Week. SportScene 13’s Neil Hebert reports.
“I’m not sure if everybody realizes this, but she’s playing out of position right now,” Tonja Englund, the Blugolds’ head coach, said of her team’s leading scorer.
Hallee Hoeppner has been like a chameleon on the court for the Blugolds. And it’s not the first time she’s had to be flexible in her basketball career.
“In high school, I had a great team and we were kind of in the same position where we had to have people step up, so I’ve had to do it before,” Hoeppner said. “If that’s what it takes to win, then I’m more than willing. My teammates have been great helping me get used to the different positions I’ve had to play that aren’t certainly familiar to me. They’ve been really supportive and really helpful.”
“We have 3 post players that are hurt, so we really don’t have any interior players,” Englund said. “She’s gone from playing a 2-guard to playing our 5 (post), which is probably one of the most significant position changes you can make in basketball. She’s done it flawlessly. She’s done it willingly, unselfishly.”
A career-high 36 points against Stout on Saturday, Hoeppner is averaging just under 20 points per game, and she’s doing it effectively shooting over 50% from the field.
“The 36-point performance was in the half court,” Englund said. “There wasn’t one easy basket there. They were 3-point shots, it was going inside; it was doing a little bit of everything.”
Wednesday night’s game at Zorn Arena against WIAC-leading UW-Oshkosh will likely be the Blugolds toughest test so far this season.
“Oshkosh is always a really good team,” Hoeppner said. “Just going in and making sure that we are focusing on executing on our side of the ball. They’re a very disciplined team, so they do a really great job of playing to game plans. So that’s what we’re going to go in and do, and hopefully we can get a win.”
“We won here last year against Oshkosh,” Englund said. “I have players here that have been in this position before. We’re not young anymore. It’s the team that’s going to be able to play to their style that’s going to win the game. We have to have it really up-tempo. I’m sure Oshkosh is going to want to have a slower tempo.”
On the court, Hoeppner is dependable and consistent. Off the court, there’s hardly a difference.
“She’s an honors student, she’s a 4.0 GPA, and she’s all everything,” Englund said. “Good things happen to good people and that’s why it’s been fun to watch Hallee play this way and come into her own.”