By Paul Lecker
For Zaleski Sports
The 2020-21 high school girls basketball season begins with a smattering of games around the area on Tuesday, Nov. 24, and will get going in earnest next week with all teams set to start their respective seasons.
Zaleski Sports will have live coverage of dozens of games this season. Stay up-to-date on what games will be live-streamed on the Zaleski Sports page on Facebook and by checking zaleskisports.com/live-sports.
Here is a look at what area teams will bring to the court this winter:
Coach: Dale Aue, second year, 17-7 record.
2019-20 record: 17-7, 11-5 Marawood Conference South Division second place, lost in WIAA Division 4 regional final to Stevens Point Pacelli.
Returning players: Aliah Hamus, junior; Paityn Hamus, 5-5 senior guard, 3 points per game; Georgi Schmutzer, 5-8 senior guard, 9.2 points, 2.7 rebounds per game, 47 3-pointers; Lauren Peplinski, senior forward, 2.2 points per game; Kaitlyn Kundinger, 5-8 senior forward, 7.2 points, 5.8 rebounds per game; Victoria Hasenhorl, senior guard; Hailey Grimm, 5-8 senior forward, 5.8 points, 5.1 rebounds per game; Annamarie Aue, sophomore forward, 2.8 points, 2 rebounds per game.
COLUMBUS CATHOLIC DONS
Coach: Ron Wilczek, third year, 26-22 record.
2019-20 record: 12-12, 9-7 Cloverbelt Conference East Division fifth place, lost in WIAA Division 5 regional semifinals to Eleva-Strum.
Returning players: Emmalee Jicinsky, 5-11, senior forward, 7 points, 8 rebounds per game; Meghan Kibbel, 5-10 senior guard, 5 points, 3 assists per game; Kelsey Moore, 5-6 senior guard, 5 points per game; Erynn Meece, 5-10 senior forward; Jenna Kibbel, 5-9 sophomore forward.
Key newcomers: Lily Stratman, 5-4 sophomore guard; Mira Torbey, 5-6 sophomore guard; Hailey Zimmermann, 5-11 sophomore forward; Ayana Bousum, 5-10 freshman guard; Maggie Callaghan, 5-5 freshman guard; Raella Schueller, 5-10 freshman forward.
From Coach Wilczek: “An expectation for this season is to compete for the Cloverbelt East conference championship. It is a lofty goal considering the strength of our league, but winning a championship is something we strive for every year. We also talk a lot about working hard to get better every day while enjoying our time together. Due to COVID, I think it is important to enjoy every moment and make every moment count. A key to our success is to continue to defend and take care of the ball like we have in the past. Developing our bench is another key because we have a lot of young, inexperienced players on our team. Scoring is a concern since we lost our two leading scorers from last season. That being said, I really like our personnel and I am excited about the trajectory of this team.”
Coach: Trevor Wuethrich, second year, 8-16 record.
2019-20 record: 8-16, 4-12 Cloverbelt Conference East Division seventh place, lost in WIAA Division 5 regional semifinals to Prairie Farm.
Returning players: Olivia Klabon, 5-6, 7.4 points per game; Mesa Rasmuseen, 5-7, 6 points per game; Celine Wuethrich, 5-4, 5.5 points per game; Kia Abel, 5-5, 3.5 points per game; Cassie Hebert, 5-4, 1.2 points per game; Gracie North, 5-7; Emma Schlough, 5-3; Jasmine Wolf, 5-10.
Key newcomers: Becca Kind, 5-4; Delaney Kirchner, 5-4; Avry Wuethrich, 5-6; Zoey Schofield, 5-5.
From Coach Wuethrich: “I am excited to see Celine, Olivia, Kia and Mesa grow in their positions. I’m looking for a fifth player to step up. The bench will be a question. We did not play this summer to get a handle on who can/will step up to perform. It may take a few games to find that rotation. I have confidence in replacing our scoring from last season, but am concerned who will replace our rebounding. The key to success will be our toughness, which will include our stamina and ability to ramp up and maintain our defensive pressure.”
Coach: Taylor Varsho, third year, 25-20 record.
2019-20 record: 15-7, 11-1 Wisconsin Valley Conference champions, lost in WIAA Division 1 regional semifinals to Superior.
Returning players: Madison Voss, 5-5 junior guard; Maddie Michaelis, 5-7 senior guard, 11.2 points per game; Danielle Minsaas, 5-7 sophomore guard, 8.5 points per game; Brianna Varsho, 5-8 senior guard; Quincy Lang, 5-7 senior forward, 3.8 points per game; Loryn Jakobi, 5-4 junior guard, 4.3 points per game.
Coach: John Gaier, 19th year, 380-66 record.
2019-20 record: 22-3, 15-1 Cloverbelt Conference East Division champions, lost in WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinals to Melrose-Mindoro.
Returning starters: Bella Opelt, 14.8 points, 3 steals, 2.3 assists per game (first-team all-conference); Emma Moseley, 5.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals per game (honorable mention all-conference); Jaden Barth, 6.7 points per game.
Other returning varsity players: Ameilia Trunkel, Terren Stockheimer.
Key newcomers: Emily Hanson, Kiley Boyer, Delaney Rochester, Skylar Hart, Ava Mortenson, Katie Mayer, Amanda Schneider, Arianna Rochester, Mandy Donnelly, Paris Opelt.
From Coach Gaier: “We will not have a lot of size, so we will have to depend on quickness and toughness to compete with bigger teams. Not having a normal summer of playing opportunities will provide an additional challenge to find out how well untested players will compete at a higher level than what they have experienced to this point.”
Coach: Krystal Weier, second year, 7-16 record.
2019-20 record: 7-16, 3-13 Cloverbelt Conference East Division ninth place, lost in WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinals to Stratford.
Returning players: Zalexis Mannigel, 5-1 guard, 4.5 points per game; Cassidee Widmann, 5-3 guard; Elexa Post, 5-3 guard, 3.6 points per game; Jorie Meyer, 5-10 forward, 4.5 points per game; Heavyn Kind, 5-8 guard, 14.7 points per game (second-team all-conference); Rebecca Mlsna, 5-5 guard; Madison Knecht, 5-6 guard, 5.2 points per game; Amber Becker, 5-6 guard, 3.3 points per game; Faith Miller, 5-8 forward; Haylee Hopperdietzel, 5-5 gyard.
From Coach Weier: “Our expectations this season are to make each other better by working hard every day and become more of an offensive threat throughout the season.”
STEVENS POINT PACELLI CARDINALS
Coach: Jake Jalling, fifth year, 54-39 record.
2019-20 record: 16-9, 10-2 Central Wisconsin Conference South Division second place, lost in WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinals to Marathon.
Returning players: Sami Miller, 5-7 senior forward, 9 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals per game (honorable mention all-CWC South); Emma Van Order, 5-7 senior guard, 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists per game (first-team all-CWC South); Anna Van Order, 5-5 sophomore guard, 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists per game; Ashley Strizel, 5-5 sophomore; Tess Lawlis, 5-5 sophomore; Amelia Jacoby, 6-1 sophomore.
Key newcomers: Novalee Schober, 5-6 freshman; Hannah Trzinski, 5-6 freshman; Casey Vaughan, 5-5 freshman.
From Coach Jalling: “We’ll need our two seniors to step up with being such a young group. We’re also going to need to have some patience early on. The majority of this team is either second- or first-year varsity players, so we’re going to make some mistakes. We’ll just need to make sure we continue to work throughout the year to improve those issues and be at our best come playoff time. As of right now, I love the work and effort that I’ve seen from this group and I hope it continues throughout the year.”
Coach: Tammie Christopherson, eighth year.
2019-20 record: 10-14, 7-9 Marawood Conference South Division sixth place, lost in WIAA Division 4 regional semifinals to Auburndale.
Returning players: Tanaya Schillinger, 5-6 senior guard, 6.1 points per game (honorable mention all-Marawood South); Maria Schoenfuss 5-6 senior guard; Makenna Leonhardt, 5-5 senior guard, 3 points per game; Breanna Ackley, 6-1 senior forward, 16.1 points, 7.7 rebounds per game, 49 3-pointers, 82 percent free throws (second-team all-Marawood South); Gracie Hauke, 5-6 senior guard, 1.9 points per game; Emily Hughes, 6-2 senior center, 9.7 points per game (honorable mention all-Marawood South); Lauren Kraus, 5-9 sophomore forward, 1.4 points per game
Key newcomers: Allison Lindner, 5-6 sophomore guard; Nailey Linzmeier, 5-6 sophomore; Ella Heidmann, 5-6 sophomore; Lexie Christopherson, 5-5 sophomore guard.
WISCONSIN RAPIDS ASSUMPTION ROYALS
Coach: Ryan Klein, fifth year.
2019-20 record: 13-11, 8-8 Marawood Conference South Division fifth place, lost in WIAA Division 5 regional semifinals to Wild Rose.
Returning players: Emily Bohn, 6-4 center, 8.3 points, 7.8 rebounds per game; Jessie Grundhoffer, 5-11 forward, 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds per game, 31 assists, 40 steals (honorable mention all-Marawood South); Sammy Nelson, 5-2 guard, 3.6 points per game, team-high 18 3-pointers, 30 assists, 28 steals.
Key newcomers: Ainara Martin, 5-6 guard; Cristin Casey, 5-8 forward.