Miss Basketball candidate Linster adjusting to winning with Davies girls basketball
Raegan Linster wasn't expected to win. To Linster, losing had become normal.
In her last game played for Dickinson in 2016, she scored 24 points as the Midgets lost by double-digits in a West Region tournament play-in game to end their season 2-21 overall.
Now a senior, Linster would have never believed she would be the East Region senior athlete of the year or a Miss Basketball finalist.
She certainly never thought she would be leading Davies to its first ever East Region championship. The Eagles will be the region's No. 1 seed going into the North Dakota Class A state girls basketball tournament which begins Thursday at the Fargodome with a 5 p.m. game against Bismarck Legacy.
"I came here with this mindset that nothing can touch me," Linster said. "Nothing will get to me because I've been through the worst that anybody can go through."
Linster took everything upon herself while playing for Dickinson like being the go-to scorer, the ball handler and the best defender. If she didn't play well, the team didn't play well either.
Linster fell in love with basketball after moving to Dickinson from South Dakota in the fourth grade. She almost considered quitting going into her sophomore year.
"I'm not scared of anything anymore," Linster said. "I struggled to get up every day and didn't want to go to school because I knew practice was coming."
Linster was terrified when her family moved the summer before her junior year. Her dad's job as a pharmaceutical representative selling medicine led her family to Fargo. Although she had cousins in town, she was scared having to meet new people and start over.
Linster had only played a couple times during the summer with a couple of her new Davies teammates, including point guard Carly Kottsick, before her first practice with the Eagles.
Linster was too nervous to even eat in front of her teammates. Kottsick laughs about that now. "Her style of play fit right into what we needed," Kottsick said. "Raegan has made an impact on the team. Mentally, physically, it's all come together."
Linster's first season was also Tim Jacobson's first year as head coach, so Linster said the entire team didn't know what to expect.
Leading up to her first practice with Davies, Linster said her stomach hurt and she was shaky as she spent her seventh period of the school day wondering what her new teammates would think of her.
"I know that struggle has helped me become so much stronger," Linster said. "It's helped motivate me. I wouldn't change it for anything."
In her first game against Devils Lake, she was pulled as the Eagles were winning by double digits midway through the second half.
Being pulled for playing well was a foreign thought.
"Wow, this is real. This is what I am now. This is what I get to do," Linster said. "This is the best feeling ever."
Linster, a 5-foot-10 forward, was second in the Eastern Dakota Conference regular season with 16.6 points per game and averaged 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals a game while shooting 47.6 percent and 38.3 percent from 3-point range.
Jacobson, who remembered Linster as the standout left-handed shooter during summer camps before she moved to Fargo, said he always saw talent in Linster. Jacobson said the Eagles have learned to trust her judgement when she's given the ball.
"She puts herself second at all times," Jacobson said. "She did a great job of adjusting, making friends and getting her game better. She spent a lot of time on it."
Linster always had dreams of playing in college but didn't know if that was going to happen a couple years ago. After finding love for the sport again, Linster committed to play for Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., which is the top seed in this year's NAIA Division II national tournament.
Linster gets emotional as she reflects back on her journey to get where she is.
"Being here sparked that love again," Linster said. "It made me realize I didn't want to quit. I just want to keep going as long as possible."