The hoop outside the Prestegaard’s house has gotten plenty of use over the years, serving as the venue for some very competitive basketball games for three very talented sisters.
They would play one-on-one, rotating through the different matchups. In was in those battles that Allison Prestegaard started swatting away shots and Madeline Prestegaard honed her low-post skills.
It’s also where their younger sister, Jaynee Prestegaard, learned how to contend with both.
Jaynee said those matchups on the concrete against Madeline tend to be pretty even, with neither sister dominating the one-on-one battles.
“It depends,” Jaynee said. “Who’s got the best tread on their shoes, I guess.”
They would also do battle at open gyms,where the games stayed competitive.
“We really just beat the heck out of each other,” Madeline said. “That probably helped us in many situations. It’s made Jaynee stronger for sure.”
The matchups weren’t as even early on, when Jaynee would play against Allison.
“She’d mostly win,” Jaynee admitted. “She’d block my shot with her long arms.”
Getting shots blocked by Allison Prestegaard puts Jaynee in good company. Allison blocked 96 for Wisconsin-Platteville this past season, leading the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference; the player in second place blocked 46 shots. Allison was fourth in the nation in Division III in shot-blocking and was an honorable mention selection on the all-conference team and named to the all-defensive team.
Some of that shot-blocking seems to have rubbed off on her little sister. As a sophomore at AFC this year, Jaynee averaged 2.8 blocks per game, tied for the top mark among area players with West Carroll’s Maddie Meek.
Jaynee’s 17.3 points per game and 9.4 rebounds per game didn’t have her tied with anyone. She stands alone on top of the leaderboard in those categories.
In scoring points in bunches, pulling down rebounds in bunches, blocking shots in bunches, and dominating the paint, Jaynee is showing how, just 2 years into her high school career, she is living up to the legacy of Allison and Madeline.
“I knew that my older sisters left a good mark on AFC,” Jaynee said. “I knew I had to live up to the expectations of the Prestegaard family.
“It was nerve-wracking at first. I remember some days I would get down on myself because I didn’t think I could do it, especially with my hip, but I pushed through and made it.”
That hip took an entire year from her basketball career before she even got to high school. She was playing in summer league in sixth grade when a girl landed on her and her growth plate slid down.
Madeline remembers the last practice Jaynee went to, trying to gut it out through the pain, until ultimately, she just couldn’t go on. Jaynee had to have surgery and had to have three screws put in her hip.
“I thought that was going to be a setback in my basketball career, but luckily it was not,” she said. “It’s made me step it up and realize this is my favorite sport, I’m not going to let anything like a hip surgery affect that.”
In seventh grade, Jaynee got to take the floor for two games. She said it made her realize just what she would do to play the game she loves. If it took 110 percent to get back on the court, that’s what she would do.
It still hurts her some days. Some days, she said, it’s pretty rough. She’ll suck it up though. No matter how her hip feels, she’ll do what she needs to do.
“Eighth grade year is when she really became determined,” Allison said. “She found out that this was something that she really wanted to do. I’m sure she saw Madeline and I play together. I feel like at that point she just decided to set her mind to something. That’s the thing about Jaynee. When she sets her mind to something, she’s going to do it.”
That determination comes out in practice. If Jaynee Prestegaard’s in the gym, she’s ready to go, wanting to work on any little detail in her game that could give her and her team an edge.
“I never have any question about that work ethic, and that comes from her whole family, hard-working family, farm family,” AFC coach Chris Jahn said. “Her older sisters are the same way. ... She wants to improve. I think one of her strongest aspects is, she wants to improve, but she wants the team to get better.”
She recorded double-doubles at a steady pace throughout the year. She had two of them in the first two games – 19 points and 11 rebounds against Galva, 19 points and 12 rebounds against Aquin. By the end of the year, she totaled 11 double-doubles.
By the time the regular-season ended, she had been held to single digits just once – scoring seven in a game against Polo on the night Madeline scored her 1,000th career point as Jaynee happily deferred to her on the offensive end.
Annawan was the only other team all year to hold her to fewer than 10 points, limiting her to four in the sectional championship game. For most of the year, she ran up a steady stream of 18-, 19-, and 20-point games, on her way to averaging 17.3 points per game for the season.
Not that any of that matters to her.
“At the end of the day, I just wanted to win,” Jaynee said.
And the Raiders did plenty of winning. AFC went 26-3, winning the NUIC East title and capturing a regional crown for the second year in a row, all while spending most of the season near the top of the AP rankings.
“This season was amazing, not only for us, but for our fans,” Jaynee said. “It was the best season AFC’s probably ever had. We were so overwhelmed with how far we got.”
That’s a lot of responsibility to put on the shoulders of a sophomore, but then, she carried plenty of the load last year as well. She said she was a little scared walking in her freshman year. Allison had just graduated, leaving a massive legacy, and Madeline had already established herself as a major low-post threat. Some days, she even got down on herself, not sure if she could live up to their legacy.
Jaynee got bumped up to varsity immediately, and immediately announced her presence. In a win over Galva where Madeline scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Jaynee contributed 11 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks in her high school debut.
That year she put up 14.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, taking first-team all-conference and all-state honorable mention honors.
It turned out, that was only the beginning.
In the 2016-17 season, AFC had plenty of contributions from the guards, from the defensive acumen of Bryce Gittleson to the sharp shooting of Laci Meurer. There were key contributions from Emily Shrimplin and Lexi Meurer along the way.
But the heart and soul of the Raiders resided in the post, with the hard to stop one-two punch of Jayne and Madeline Prestegaard.
The only low-post player in the NUIC who can stop a Prestegaard is another Prestegaard.
“When we’re working in practice, I’ll post up against her, she’ll post up against me,” Jaynee said. “It just helps me become a better player and it helps her become a better player, and that’s what we want. We want each other to become better players.”
For each, it’s nice to have someone sharing the workload. If one Prestegaard misses a shot, the other can grab the rebound. If a defense tries to focus on one, the other can have a big night.
Madeline is the low-post player and shooter. Jaynee is the more athletic of the two, and is working on fine-tuning a turnaround jumper.
“If she gets the ball in the low post, you’ve already lost the game pretty much,” Madeline said. “She does not miss the turnaround jumper. Teams always tried to play behind her. You can’t play behind her, you need to play in front of her.”
Together, they create a force that few teams can reckon with. On a team boasting a slew of senior guards, the sophomore and junior low-post players knew there were times during the season where they had to take charge. Jaynee admits that was nerve-wracking at times, but they handled it well.
“Madeline, I couldn’t have done it without her, she couldn’t have done it without me,” Jaynee said. “We were basically inseparable on the court.”
“They’re double the trouble,” Allison said. “Good separate, but unstoppable together.”
It’s been hard for Allison to see many games her sisters have played the last couple of years with her own busy schedule, but she has been able to make a couple of trips down to catch a game here and there, even bringing some teammates down on one trip.
She’ll get another year to watch Madeline play at AFC, 2 more to watch Jaynee, but the next time Jaynee takes the floor for the Raiders, it might be in a different capacity.
With much of the backcourt graduating, Jahn is looking for someone to step in and take care of things farther from the basket for next year’s team.
“She wants to expand her game, and I think we’re going to need her to expand her game,” Jahn said. “As we move on with her career, with the young talent we’ve got coming up, we might need her to be more of a swing-type player and more outside, more ball handling, more penetration to the basket instead of back-to-the-basket.”
So it will be back to the gym to work on a new skill set in an effort to bring that third consecutive regional title to AFC.
That’s what you do for the game you love.
High school: AFC
Sports: Basketball, volleyball
2016-17 stats: 17.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 2.8 blocks per game
FYI: Led area in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. ... Shares low-post duties with older sister Madeline, a junior this season. ... Older sister Allison led WIAC with 96 blocked shots this season for UW-Platteville, holds AFC record for blocked shots, and also is tied for 10th on IHSA list for blocked shots in a single game with 16 (Feb. 16, 2014 vs. Amboy). ... Raiders won first-ever regional title last season, and won their second straight this season.