Linsey Masnari hasn’t made many headlines playing alongside future Division I talent Teagan Reeves, nor is it likely she will in the next couple months as the Three Rivers girls basketball duo’s final season plays out.
It’s a reality Masnari, who would be the star on any other team, has accepted. But it hasn’t always been easy taking a backseat to one of her best friends.
“There have definitely been some very tough and challenging times when it comes to that, and I don’t think people realize it,” the 6-foot forward said. But you go through challenges in everything in life, and I think it’s made me into a better player and person. But I love playing with ‘Teag’ … wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Reeves (6-2) is trading her Wildcats jersey for a Western Michigan University uniform next year after leading Three Rivers offensively for most of her four-year varsity career. Masnari wants to play at the next level and hopes more college coaches will take notice in her final season.
Trine, Hope, Concordia and other small schools have shown interest in Masnari, who isn’t sure where she’ll land just yet. Her goal is to play either at the Mid-Major or Division II level.
But anyone familiar with Three Rivers hoops knows the Wildcats, which finished 22-2 last winter on its way to a Class B regional semifinal appearance, wouldn’t be nearly as ferocious without Masnari.
Just ask Reeves.
“Linsey is a huge key to our team,” she said. “She is a dominant presence in the post and allows for me to be able to play on the perimeter. Linsey and I have always been really good friends and have always had a great connection on the court. She has great court instincts and knows the game inside and out.”
Masnari shot 41 percent (108-for-265) from the field as a junior, averaging 11.2 points, one block, 4.92 rebounds per game and finishing with 46 assists and 39 steals. She joined Reeves on the All-Wolverine Conference First Team after the Wildcats claimed a league championship.
Off to a 5-0 start (3-0 Wolverine), Three Rivers’ potent frontcourt tandem is again dominating, with Reeves averaging 21.4 points per game and Masnari putting up 14. The two have combined for 177 of the squad’s 308 points this year and have nearly equaled the 181 total posted by the five teams they’ve played.
Both agree it’s a case of steel sharpening steel in the physical practices in between contests.
“Oh we’re always pushing each other in practice,” Masnari said. “We’re never on the same team for drills, so everything is a competition. I love that, and it’s not like we’re out to get each other. If one of us has a good move the other person acknowledges it. We basically don’t let each other take days off.”
Close since the seventh grade, it was a natural connection on the court. It was also clear right away that Masnari understood, even with her own athletic gifts, Reeves was a rare breed that would be the focal point.
“I distinctly remember in seventh grade Rising Stars we were playing at Lakeview and we just played like we never have before,” Masnari recalled. ‘Teag’ had like 40 points and I had every one of her assists.”
The ceiling is high for this year’s Wildcats team, which has received big contributions from players such as junior forward Alexis Herbert and senior guard Alicia Schmidtendorff.
“I think my team is capable of an undefeated regular season and a deep run in the playoffs,” said Masnari, who has improved her post game after switching from shooting guard as a sophomore. “We will keep improving throughout the season, and I’m really excited to see where we’ll be at come late February.”