Juneau-Douglas High School graduate and Colorado State University-Pueblo freshman Mary Rehfeld helped her team go where no other ThunderWolves team has gone before.
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Thanks in part to Rehfeld's impressive play, the 19-11 CSU-Pueblo will make its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship. The ThunderWolves visit the top-seeded University of North Dakota at noon today.
This is the first time fans around Pueblo are excited about the national tournament, but they are already very aware of the Rehfeld basketball tradition.
Mary's older sister, Hilary, is a senior on the team.
Both now live and play in the much different climate of southwestern Colorado.
"Pueblo is more of a desert area, but I really like the people and the school," said Mary Rehfeld. "The team is just amazing. They made it really easy to adjust."
Mary went to CSU-Pueblo in the hopes of playing alongside her sister.
Due to a left knee injury prior to the season, however, Hilary received a medical redshirt and was sidelined for the year. Her wish of playing with her sister must wait until next year.
In a strange twist of fate, though, the ThunderWolves looked to freshman Mary to help fill the void left by her injured sister.
"It's not necessarily a great thing, but it's really allowed me to step up and play a big role on this team," she added.
Mary Rehfeld immediately responded to the challenge.
The 5-foot-10 freshman stepped up and averaged more than 20 minutes per game on the season, appearing in all 30 games this year.
She currently is shooting 43-percent from the field, including a team-best 43-percent from 3-point range.
"I've taken a whole lot more inside shots than outside shots, but the 3 has really been my thing," said Mary. "I played guard in high school, but now I'm playing small forward, and that has given me a lot more opportunities to shoot."
Last Saturday in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship game, Rehfeld scored a game-high 20 points to help the ThunderWolves defeat the Colorado School of Mines, 65-54.
That victory gave the team an automatic berth into the Division II version of March Madness and also earned Rehfeld a spot on the RMAC All-Tournament team.
"It's a lot of excitement," Rehfeld said. "It's the first time in school history we've ever been this far. We kind of came together these last few games and it all kind of just started to click."
The North Dakota Fighting Sioux stands at an unbeaten 32-0 on the season and will likely be a tremendous test for ThunderWolves. North Dakota routed CSU-Pueblo, 89-47, in December.
Today, Rehfeld and the rest of her teammates hope the outcome will be much different. Either way, however, the former Crimson Bear will be back in Pueblo next year, ready to play alongside her sister.
"I'm really looking forward to her coming back next year and us playing together on the team," Mary Rehfeld said.
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