Playing in summer leagues, practicing with her high school teammates and soaking in all she could about basketball from her coaches has finally paid off for McFarland High School senior Katie Hildebrandt.

The 6-foot-2 center for the girls’ basketball team officially signed her national letter of intent to play college basketball at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

She said completing the process is a big relief off her shoulders.

“This is great. I feel like the stress has been released,” she said after signing the letter at the high school while her parents Steven and Kristin, coaches Sara Mallegni, Jossie Peterson, Matt Hounsell and Pete Williquette, and athletic director Paul Ackley looked on.

“My family supported me and spent countless hours taking me to tournaments over the summer,” Hildebrandt said. “My coaches in both summer league and high school helped develop my skills and make me the best player I can be.”

Hildebrandt led the Spartans with 14.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 2019-20 as the team finished 9-9 in the Rock Valley Conference and 9-14 overall.

She scored a season-high 28 points in the Spartans’ 60-52 WIAA Division 2 tournament loss to Stoughton last February.

Hildebrandt had seven blocked shots in a 59-43 conference win over Jefferson on Nov. 22, 2019, and she had six blocks in two other games.

She was also adept at passing by averaging 2.3 assists per contest.

In her three varsity years, she has scored a total 820 points for a career average of 11.9 points per game and made better than 75-percent of her free throws.

Mallegni, who was Hildebrandt’s head coach in her sophomore and junior years, said her strengths will be an asset to the North Dakota State women’s basketball program.

“Katie’s list (of strengths) is very long. Everything from leadership, discipline and responsibility,” Mallegni said. “There is nothing Katie can’t do and she does it with a smile.”

Hildebrandt said she will find ways to practice her game during the pandemic and will need to do some work in the weight room if she wants to succeed in college.

“There are going to be players that are bigger, and I’m not used to that because normally I am the biggest person,” Hildebrandt said. “Being able to play with players that have a higher level of experience will also help my game and develop my skills even more.”

Aside from basketball, Hildebrandt is also an accomplished soccer player who won All-Rock Valley Conference first team honors as the team’s goaltender in 2019. That same year, she was a first-teamer on the girls’ volleyball team as a middle blocker, and helped McFarland reach the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 2 state title match in Green Bay.

“I’m really excited to go outside my comfort zone and go far away, meet new people and start the next new chapter of my life,” she said.

In 2019-20, the Bison finished with an overall record of 11-19 under head coach Jory Collins, who will be entering his second season at the helm. Assistant coach Morgan Paige played women’s college basketball at Wisconsin and scored 1,230 career points before earning her degree in 2014.

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