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Marti signs to play basketball at Northern State University
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Jessi Marti signed to play basketball at Northern State in South Dakota. Pictured at her signing are, from left, sister Kayla Marti, father Shane Marti, Jessi Marti, mother Tammy Marti and brother Ben Marti. - photo by Dena Harris

CUBA CITY – Jessi Marti has had plenty of success on the basketball court for Cuba City High School throughout her eventful prep career and, because of all her successes, the Cuban star will have the chance to extend her playing career at the next level.

Marti accepted a scholarship offer to play basketball at Northern State University, a NCAA Division 2 school located in Aberdeen, S.D., by signing with the Wolves during a National Signing Day ceremony attended by her family, friends and prep coaches in the Cuba City High School Library on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

“It’s really great. It’s good knowing that the future is set for me. Now I can focus on getting through high school before making the next step in my life,” said Marti.

Marti, the daughter of Shane and Tammy Marti, was heavily pursued by three or four schools during the recruiting process. She said she had interest in two of those other schools before making her final choice. In the end, the Cuba City senior chose Northern State.

“They have a fantastic basketball program. When I went out there to visit and watched a practice, the way the girls connected with each other was like one big happy family,” Marti commented.

Marti, a 5’10” shooting/point guard for the Lady Cubans, is one of four guards in NSU head coach Curt Fredrickson’s five-player recruiting class for 2016. Also signing with the Wolves were guards Brianna Kusler, 5’9” out of Aberdeen (S.D.) Central High School, Carley Peterson 5’8” out of Sioux Valley (Voga, S.D.) and Tera Williamson, 5’9” out of Belle Fourche (Newell, S.D.) along with center Sara Tvedt , 6’2” out of Brookings’ (S.D.).

“Last year we concentrated on the forward position in the recruiting process, this year we concentrated on the guard position,” commented Coach Fredrickson, who has posted 773 victories in 36 seasons at NSU.  “We feel like we recruited one of the top centers in the state in Sara and now we can surround her with four outstanding guards that are all 1,000 point scorers by their junior year and are all excellent three-point shooters. We are very excited about our recruits.”

The Lady Wolves earned their second straight NCAA Regional appearance after posting a 26-7 overall record and a 16-6 conference mark in the competitive Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) North Division under the direction of Fredrickson.

The Wolves also captured not only the NSIC North Division Title, but their first ever NSIC Conference Tournament Championship before falling to Pittsburg State University, 60-53, in their regional game.

This season, the Wolves are picked to finish 10th among the 16 NSIC schools, and fourth in the North Division.

“It’s a relief knowing that I’m going there,” she added. “Now I can focus on basketball this year and focus on my schooling. I like knowing where I’m going. It makes it a lot easier for me.”

Marti enters her senior season as the Cubans’ fifth all-time leading scorer (1,119 points) and has a chance to pass Aimee Tranel (1,466) as the school’s all-time scoring leader. Last season, she averaged 15.5 points, 3.4 steals, 2.3 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game for the Lady Cubans, while sinking 39 of her 114 3-point attempts (.342).

Marti has made three trips to the state tournament with Cuba City and has been a key part of the Cubans’ back-to-back WIAA Division 4 state championship titles. She was an honorable mention Wisconsin Basketball Coaches’ Association D4 All-State selection as a sophomore, and she moved up to a WBCA D4 first-team choice in 2015.

So far in her prep career, Marti has posted an 80-3 overall record with the Lady Cubans, including a 42-0 mark in the SWAL during her three conference championship seasons.

“Jessi has been hooked on basketball from the time she started coming to Cuba City basketball games way back to the time she put the baggy shorts on and wouldn’t take them off for her basketball career over there at HG-IC and everywhere else along the line,” said Cuba City girls’ basketball coach Jeff Pustina. “We’re proud of Jessi and the hard work has paid off as she is heading to Northern State on a scholarship.”

Marti will go from one legendary coach to another as she moves from Pustina, whose 590-115 record in his 28 seasons at Cuba City ranks third in the state of Wisconsin in prep girls’ basketball victories, to Fredrickson, who is the second-winningest active NCAA II women’s basketball coach and also one of just two DII women’s coaches to surpass 700 wins. 

He is also just the 16th head coach across all NCAA divisions to reach the 700-win mark.

In his years at NSU, Fredrickson has tallied four Hall of Fame honors (NSU, NSIC, NAIA, and SD), two national championships, NSIC Conference titles, a NSIC Conference Tournament title, and All-American nods as a student-athlete for the Wolves.

“He’s a great coach. All the girls say they love him and he knows what he’s talking about, so it’ll be fun going out there next year,” said Marti.

Marti is thinking about majoring in occupational therapy at Northern State.

Northern State University was founded in 1901 and has an enrollment of more than 3,600 students. The school offers 43 undergraduate bachelor’s degree programs, seven associate degree programs and nine master’s degree programs. NSU also offers 13 sports programs.