BY KEVIN BONESKE
Rhinelander High School senior Kaly Kostrova wants to be part of the women’s basketball program that is the back-to-back defending champion of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
Kostrova, a unanimous All-Great Northern Conference first-team selection in girls basketball for 2016-17, made her college plans official Tuesday during a ceremony in the RHS library by signing a national letter of intent to attend the University of Wisconsin-Superior, an NCAA Division III school.
“I like the coach (Don Mulhern) a lot, and I went to one of the basketball games and I just got introduced to the whole team, and hanging out with them and seeing the locker room experience, I really liked the atmosphere and the team,” she said.
After sustaining a broken collarbone her junior season in high school, Kostrova said she was “super determined” to get ready for her senior year to be able to play well enough to advance to the collegiate ranks.
“I knew I lost a lot of game time and a lot of opportunity to get my name out there,” she said. “The summer (before my senior season) was a big opportunity for me to work hard and build up what I lost, I guess, and this year was a big year.”
In 12 conference games during the 2016-17 season, Kostrova ranked second in the GNC in points per game (18.9) with 227 points. She also was second in the conference in free-throw percentage (78.4 percent) after shooting 40-51 from the charity stripe and sank 23 baskets behind the arc to tie for second in the league in the number of 3-point shots made.
Hodag girls basketball head coach Ryan Clark said Kostrova worked on her skills and development the summer before her senior season.
“She would work really hard without a coach even standing there,” Clark said. “She’s got the right character and discipline to do well.”
Clark said UW-Superior recruited Kostrova “hard” her senior season.
“I know they’re really excited to have her, but I think it’s a good fit,” Clark said. “Talking to the Superior coaches, they care more about Kaly than just a basketball player…. She’s going to go into a nice situation where she’s going to learn a lot from these upperclassmen (at UW-Superior) and she’s going to find her niche.”
Kostrova said she expects to become a shooting guard on the team.
“They said they need some shooters – 3-point shooters,” she said.
Kostrova said she hopes to see some time on the court at UW-Superior in 2017-18.
“I’m going to have to work really hard, but I’m sure I’ll be playing a lot of games on (junior varsity) at first,” she said.
Academically, Kostrova said she would like to be involved in athletic training and sports medicine.
“I’d like to work in a school setting with the high schoolers or younger kids,” she said.