By Paul Lecker
The 2021-22 high school girls basketball season kicks off this week, with some teams playing its first games on Tuesday, while most of the others start the year Thursday or Friday.
Wisconsin Rapids Assumption is among the teams to watch after winning the WIAA Division 5 state championship a year ago and returns all-state and first-team all-Marawood South Division selection Ainara Sainz de Rozas, along with a number of other key contributors.
Auburndale and Stratford tied Assumption for the Marawood South title last season, and other area teams defending conference championships include Mosinee (Great Northern Conference), which returns a roster full of experienced seniors, Neillsville (Cloverbelt East), and Rosholt (Central Wisconsin Conference South).
Here is a look at the 25 girls basketball teams in the Zaleski Sports coverage area:
Coach: Ally Meserole.
2020-21 record: 4-14, 2-10 fourth place Marawood Conference North Division; lost 64-54 to Spencer in WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Bridgett Pogodzinski, sr., 5-4 guard, 3.8 points per game in 2020-21; Biseida Escalara, so.; Sydney Falteisek, so., 9.1 ppg, 10 3-pointers, honorable mention all-Marawood Conference North Division; Sommer Brodhagen, so., 1.9 ppg; Brissa Diaz, jr., guard, 4.4 ppg, 11 3-pointers; Adriana Fuentes, jr., guard, 1.1 ppg; Alea Graff, sr., honorable mention all-Marawood North.
Coach: Brandon Trzebiatowski.
2020-21 record: 14-8, 7-3 second place in Central Wisconsin Conference East Division; lost 58-55 in WIAA Division 3 sectional final.
Returning players: Nicole Eiden, sr., 5-5 guard, 4.1 points per game in 2020-21; Hannah Wall, sr., 6-1 guard/forward, 11.1 ppg, first-team all-Central Wisconsin Conference East Division; Payton Jastromski, jr., 5-8 forward, 6 total points; Alexa Shulfer, sr., 5-11 guard/forward, 9.1 ppg, 4.1 rebounds per game; Sydney Jastromski, sr., 5-7 guard/forward, 5.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, honorable mention all-CWC East; Sydney Lehman, sr., 6-4 forward/center, 12.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg; Scout Spadoni, so., 5-10 forward/center, 1.7 ppg.
Top newcomers: Grace Szmkowiak, so., 5-7 guard; Sydnee Schulist, jr., 5-8 guard.
Coach (record): Ryan Klein, sixth year (72-49).
2020-21 record: 16-8, 8-3 Marawood Conference South Division co-champions; def. Three Lakes 55-48 in WIAA Division 5 state championship.
Returning players: Ainara Sainz de Rozas, sr., 5-5 point guard, 13.5 points per game, all-Marawood South first-team and WBCA Division 5 all-state selection in 2020-21; Cristin Casey, 5-5 forward; Izzy Jungwirth, 5-5 forward; Kayla Kerkman, 5-7 guard.
Top newcomers: Maleia Kolo, jr., 5-10; Kaycee Schultz, jr., 5-6; Morgan Reichl, jr., 5-10; Kendall Duellman, so., 5-5; Sarah Shaw, fr.; Addi Vollert, fr.; Anna Schooley, fr.
From Coach Klein: “Assumption hopes to win the Cranberry Classic (Thanksgiving Holiday Tournament) and to compete for the Marawood South Conference title as well as for the sectional crown. Both the conference and the sectional will be very competitive. The pieces have changed, but the high expectations for success remain the same. Speed and agility should be the strengths of this team. We will need our young players to set up and fill the scoring and rebound void that has been created by the graduation of two second-team all-conference players, but we are blessed with the talent to do so. We will need to improve throughout the season to have a chance to bring home another gold ball.”
Coach (record): Kyncaide Keefe, third year (18-26).
2020-21 record: 11-10, 7-4 second place Marawood Conference North Division; lost 73-30 to Three Lakes in WIAA Division 5 sectional final.
Returning players: McKennzie Schug, sr., center, 10.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, first-team all-Marawood Conference North; Jazelle Hartwig, so., forward/guard, 9.6 ppg, 6 rpg, 49 percent shooting, second-team all-Marawood North; Elizabeth Van Rixel, sr., forward/guard, 7.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 10 3-pointers, honorable mention all-Marawood North; Addyson Zettler, jr., guard, 0.6 ppg; Addison Lavicka, so., forward, 6.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg; Celina Ellenbecker, jr., guard, 2.7 ppg; Sophia Coker, so., center, 7.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg; Sydney Coker, so., forward, 0.6 ppg; Alonna Haines, jr., forward/center, 0.3 ppg.
From Coach Keefe: "We expect to fight for the Marawood North Conference championship. We also expect to build off of where we ended last year, by making it to sectional finals. We feel we had a taste of how good we can be, and now we put in some work to see how great we can become. Some keys to our success this season will be our core of returners coming back from last season. I feel we were playing our best basketball at the end of the season, and throughout the summer months we put in a lot of extra works to improve."
Coach (record): Dale Aue, third year (35-12).
2020-21 record: 18-5, 10-3 Marawood Conference South Division co-champions; lost 67-55 to Bangor in WIAA Division 4 sectional final.
Returning players: Annamarie Aue, jr., 5-9 guard, 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds per game, first-team all-Marawood South in 2020-21; Aliah Hamus, sr., 5-2 guard, 2.1 points per game; Ashlyn Grimm, jr., 5-7 guard, 2.5 points per game; Josie Ertl, jr., 5-7 guard, 2.4 points per game.
Top newcomers: Gracie Krings, jr., 5-4 guard; Delaney Becker, jr., 5-4 guard; Lily Hasenohrl, jr., 5-7 forward; Samantha Stanton, so., 5-4 guard.
From Coach Aue: “Expectations are playing hard and being competitive every game. Shooting and rebounding the ball well will be keys to our success.”
COLUMBUS CATHOLIC DONS
Coach (record): Ron Wilczek, fourth year (38-33).
2020-21 record: 12-11, 10-5 third place Cloverbelt Conference East Division; lost 52-28 to Loyal in WIAA Division 5 regional semifinals.
Returning players: Jenna Kibbel, jr., 5-9 forward, 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, honorable mention all-Cloverbelt Conference East Division in 2020-21; Maggie Callaghan, so., 5-7 guard, 7.4 ppg; Lily Stratman, jr., 5-4 guard; Mira Torbey, jr., 5-6 forward; Hailey Zimmermann, jr., 5-11 forward.
Top newcomers: Sam Casperson, so., 5-4 guard; Courtney Sommer, so., 5-9 forward; Gracie Wilczek, fr., 5-5 guard.
From Coach Wilczek: “An expectation for the girls is to work hard and get a little better every day. We’re a very young team so hopefully continuous improvement throughout the season will give us a chance to compete for a conference championship. We’re not a very tall team so our ability to defend the interior and rebound will be keys to our success.”
Coach (record): Terry Schmitt, second year (12-9).
2020-21 record: 12-9, 8-7 fourth place Cloverbelt Conference East Division; lost 61-45 to Neillsville in WIAA Division 3 regional semifinals.
Returning players: Brett Schmitt, sr.; Kya Viegut, sr.; Hayden Willner, jr.
Top newcomers: Kylie Orth, so.; Trisha Vanderhoff, jr.
From Coach Schmitt: “We are very inexperienced and young, but very athletic. We will have our ups and downs, but the goal is to be competitive in conference and get better as we go through the season and be ready for the playoffs. If there is going to be any key for us this year it is going to be strong defensively to keep us in games.”
Coach (record): Tom McCarty, second year (13-10).
2020-21 record: 13-10, 8-6 fourth place Marawood Conference South Division; lost 45-28 in WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinals.
Returning players: Reagan Borchardt, 5-10 forward, 9 points and 5 rebounds per game, second-team all-Marawood Conference South Division in 2020-21; Makayla Wirkus, 5-8 forward, 4 ppg, 5 rpg; Morgan Schnelle, 5-5 guard; Malia Hoesly, 5-6 guard, honorable mention all-Marawood South; Skylee Manecke, 5-6 guard; Karlin Lipinski, 5-9 guard; Leah Davis, 5-7 guard; Olysta Baumann, 5-2 guard; Amber Skrzypcak, 5-5 forward.
Top newcomers: Taylor Lemmer, 5-3 guard; Morgan Streveler, 5-7 forward.
From Coach McCarty: “We return nine of our 10 letterwinners. Replacing Makenna Guden (the program’s all-time leading scorer) will be very difficult and will take some adjusting, but we bring back a lot of experience. I think that this can and will be a very dangerous team once they learn to be confident scorers, and adjust to playing with each other. Our hope is to compete with the best teams in the conference and state. We will go as far as our defensive pressure takes us. We have a lot of great athletes on our team. If we can defend without fouling, we will be very good on that end. Offensively, we will have to move the ball efficiently and develop some confident scorers.”
Coach: Andy Radloff, first year.
2020-21 record: 2-14, 2-10 eighth place Cloverbelt Conference East Division; lost 65-27 to Columbus Catholic in WIAA Division 5 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Megan Walter, sr., forward, 4.9 points per game in 2020-21; Sam Martin, sr., forward, 1.2 ppg; Jayden Bymers, sr., guard, 1.7 ppg; Alexis Pongratz, jr., guard, 1.4 ppg; Abby Woller, jr., forward, 0.8 ppg; Maya McConkey, so., guard, 0.6 ppg; Anna Kayhart, so., guard, 0.9 ppg.
Top newcomers: Lizzy Reinart, jr., guard/forward; Emma Woller, fr., guard/forward; Ella Piskow, fr., guard; Ashley Hensiak, fr., guard.
From Coach Radloff: “Our main goal and expectation for this year is to improve our record from last year. Although we didn’t have that high of a winning percentage, we are always looking to improve as a team and as individual athletes. The biggest key to our success would be limiting turnovers and second-chance points. We also need to work as a team and improve our on-court communication. Another key to success is to figure out our own identity on the court.”
Coach (record): Trevor Wuethrich, third year (12-25).
2020-21 record: 4-9, 3-6 seventh place Cloverbelt Conference East Division; lost 75-29 to Assumption in WIAA Division 5 regional semifinals.
Returning players: Mesa Rasmussen, sr., 5-6 guard, 7.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals per game in 2020-21; Kia Abel, sr., 5-7 guard, 6.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.1 spg; Avry Wuethrich, so., 5-8 forward, 1.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg; Emma Schlough, sr., 5-3 guard, 1.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg; Becca Kind, sr., 5-6 guard, 0.7 ppg.
Top newcomers: Sara Beth Reiff, so., 5-6 forward; Britney Walde, so., 5-3 guard; Lainy Trampush, so., 5-9 forward; Tysen Lindner, fr., 5-7 forward; Addison Davidson, fr., 5-3 guard.
From Coach Wuethrich: “We are young. I hope we can mesh early. If so, we can compete and be competitive in every ball game. The girls are smart basketball players. Hopefully that will cut down on the mistakes. We don’t have a lot of height and need to make up for that with our intensity.”
Coach: Joel Biadasz, third year (25-17).
2020-21 record: 14-5, 6-3 third place Central Wisconsin Conference East Division; lost 56-48 to Auburndale in WIAA Division 4 regional final.
Returning players: Jaelyn Sivertson, 5-8 guard, 13.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.6 steals per game, all-CWC East honorable mention pick in 2020-21; Lillian Fuhs, 5-10 guard/forward, 11 poiints, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.4 steals per game, all-CWC East second-team; Makayla Much, 5-7 guard, 5.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg; Marin Hoyord, 5-6 guard, 2.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.9 apg; Madeline Much, 5-6 guard, 4.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg; Clara Koles, 5-10 guard/forward, 1.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg.
Top newcomers: Myah Heschke, 5-11 forward; Elle Charles 5-5 guard.
From Coach Biadasz: “Last year we ended the season tied for second in a competitive conference and made it to the regional final, losing a close game against a great Auburndale team. I think experiencing that type of environment has helped us build confidence coming into this season. We have many returning players this year and look to strive better offensively and defensively as we head into the season. I think we have players who have established leadership roles to help our team improve each day throughout the season.”
Coach (record): Mike Rueth, 10th year (172-76).
2020-21 record: 12-7, 10-3 second place Cloverbelt Conference East Division; lost 59-43 to Assumption in WIAA Division 5 regional final.
Returning players: Haven Peroshek, sr., 1.8 points per game in 2020-21; McKenna Schley, sr., 2.6 ppg; Abrial Kubista, sr., 3.1 ppg; Tylee Brecht, sr., 4.1 ppg; Natasha Tellock, sr., 3.4 ppg.
Top newcomers: Alyssia Zvolena, jr.; Anna Lindner, jr.; Courtney Rakovec, jr.; Sheila Tellock, so.
From Coach Rueth: “We are hoping to be in the top third in conference. Neillsville looks to
be the best team in our conference. I feel there will be a battle for the second spot, which I hope could be Loyal. I feel for Loyal to be successful we will need to be a better rebounding team and cut down on turnovers.”
Coach (record): Taylor Varsho, fourth year (32-34).
2020-21 record: 7-14, 3-9 sixth place Wisconsin Valley Conference; lost 55-43 in WIAA Division 1 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Abby Ongna, so., 6-1 forward, 6.4 points per game; Dani Minsaas, jr., 5-7 guard, 12.3 points, 2.9 assists per game, 35 percent 3-point shooter, honorable mention all-Wisconsin Valley Conference in 2020-21; Loryn Jakobi, sr., 5-6 forward, 42 percent field goals, 6.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game; Madison Voss, sr., 5-6 guard, 4.7 ppg; Sophia Gruenling, sr., 5-9 guard, 1.8 ppg; Brooklyn Bohman, sr., 5-5 forward, 1.5 ppg.
Top newcomers: Raella Schueller, so., 5-11 guard; Ayana Bousom, so., 5-11 guard; Ashley Grancorvitz, so., 5-11 guard; Elise Posteluk, sr., 5-5 guard; Cami Wucherpfennig, jr., 5-11 forward; Samantha Kilty, jr., 5-8 guard; Ashlyn Barwick, so., 5-4 guard.
From Coach Varsho: “The expectations for this season is to create young ladies that are prepared for their life after high school sports, to teach them life skills that they will be able to use for their future. Additionally, teach them basketball skills and compete at a high level. Also, have fun and create lifelong friendships throughout this journey. The key to Marshfield Tigers girls basketball this season is the ability to use our length and athletic ability to guard. We must control each possession with girls understanding their role when they enter the playing floor. This year I would like to play quicker and push the ball up the floor.”
Coach: Scott McKellips.
2020-21 record: 16-7, 9-1 Great Northern Conference champions; lost 55-52 to Medford in WIAA Division 2 regional semifinals.
Returning players: Lexi Freiboth, sr., 5-6 guard, 13.1 points per game, 21 3-pointers, first-team all-Great Northern Conference selection in 2020-21; Kate Fitzgerald, sr., 5-8 guard, 12.6 ppg, 22 3-pointers, first-team all-GNC; Adalyn Lehman, sr., 5-5 guard, 6.9 ppg, second-team all-GNC; Jenna Placek, sr., 5-10 forward, 6.6 ppg, honorable mention all-GNC; Abbi Martin, sr., 6-1 center; Claire Selenske, sr., 5.7 ppg, 5-6 guard; Jessica Maurer, sr., 5-7 guard; Hailey Snowske, sr., 5-6 guard; Brooke Baumann, sr., 5-8 forward; Hannah Schnowske, sr., 5-6 guard, 2.4 ppg.
Coach (record): John Gaier, 19th year (400-68)
2020-21 record: 20-2, 14-0 Cloverbelt Conference East Division champions; lost 47-41 to St. Croix Falls in WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinals.
Returning players: Emma Moseley, first-team all-Cloverbelt Conference East Division, 7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals per game in 2020-21; Paris Opelt, second-team all-Cloverbelt East, 7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals per game; Amelia Trunkel, second-team all-Cloverbelt East, 10.2 points, 2 assists per game; Delaney Rochester, 3.1 ppg; Ava Mortenson 1.5 ppg; Kylie Boyer 3.2 ppg; Katie Mayer 1.2 ppg; Amanda Schneider 0.5 ppg; Paige Voight 0.7 ppg; Skyler Hart 0.9 ppg.
Top newcomers: Abby Koepp, so.; Lilly Opelt, so.; Natalie Harris, so.
From Coach Gaier: “We do have kids back that played some significant minutes for us last season, and some young players that will add some size to our lineup if they work to develop their skills. We lost a lot of scoring from last year’s team, so we will be challenged to replace those points.”
NEWMAN CATHOLIC CARDINALS
Coach: Luke Knoedler, first year.
2020-21 record: 1-15, 0-13 sixth place Marawood Conference South Division; lost 73-53 to Athens in WIAA Division 5 regional semifinals.
Returning players: Sidney Galang, jr., 5-6 guard; Maggie Wulf, jr., 5-10 forward; Lily Zeimetz, sr., 5-6 guard; Danisa Zenk, 5-8, jr., forward.
Top newcomers: Mel Severson, fr., 5-4 guard; Lily Shields, fr., 5-3 guard; Ashley Jankowski, so., 5-9 forward; Evie Bates, fr., 5-11 forward; Annika Svennes, fr., 5-8 guard; Lexi Repinski, so., 5-7 guard; Olivia Fox, fr., 5-9 forward.
From Coach Knoedler: “Our expectations and keys are rebounding and defense, hustle, building team chemistry and getting a little better every day.”
Coach: Ross Jensen, first year.
2020-21 record: 11-10, 8-3 third place Central Wisconsin Conference South Division; lost 41-27 to Wild Rose in WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Anna Van Order, jr., 5-6 guard, 3.6 ppg, 3.4 rebounds per game in 2020-21; Casey Vaughn, so., 5-5 guard, 0.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg; Ashley Stizel, jr., 5-6 guard, 0.2 ppg; Novalee Schober, so., 5-6 guard, 1.8 ppg; Cabrini Brandl, jr., 5-7 guard/forward; Sydney Krueger, so., 5-9 forward; Madison Grover, jr., 6-0 forward, 0.5 ppg; Hannah Trzinski, so., 5-6 guard, 1.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg; Amelia Jacoby, jr., 6-1 forward, 7 ppg, 7.2 rpg.
Top newcomers: Kaylin Yenker, 5-8 guard/forward; Katy Ilkka, 5-4 guard; Malania Cashin, 5-4 guard; Lily Gerhage, 5-5 guard/forward; Peyton Mancl, 5-4 guard/forward.
From Coach Jensen: “I think we will surprise some people who are unsure about our team because we are young, and I believe we will contend for the conference championship. Since we are a young team, we need to come together, build chemistry, focus on attention to detail, and put in the work with maximum energy and effort. This will allow us to get better every day, and achieve our short-term, and long-term goals.
Coach (record): Travis Shupe, third year (14-24).
2020-21 record: 6-10, 3-6 sixth place Central Wisconsin Conference South Division; lost 60-30 to Iola-Scandinavia in WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Haylee Zawislan, jr., 5-6 point guard, 6 points, 3 assists per game in 2020-21; Kristin Zdun, sr., 5-6 guard; Delaney Klamrowski, sr., 5-8 forward; Natasha Loevski, so., 5-8 forward.
Top newcomers: Brynn Friday, fr., 6-0 forward; Reese Grimm, fr., 5-3 guard.
From Coach Schupe: “We are looking to improve the whole program one day at a time and compete for a conference title. Teamwork, defense and gaining varsity experience, as we are a very young team are our keys to success.”
PORT EDWARDS BLACKHAWKS
Coach (record): Deb Martin, 12th year (122-129).
2020-21 record: 7-12, 4-8 fifth place Central Wisconsin Conference South Division; lost 42-37 in WIAA Division 5 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Taylor Martin, sr., 5-8 guard, 16.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game, first-team all-CWC South selection in 2020-21; Melanie Sillars, jr., 5-6 guard, 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game; Nakita Borths, so., 5-3 guard; Aubree Shroda, so., 5-4 forward; Dakota Bares, so., 5-0 guard.
Top newcomers: Alliyah Ruiz, so., 5-5 forward; Nadia Ellingson, so., 5-4 forward; Makayla McGuffey, fr., 5-7 forward; Felicity Clouse, fr., 5-5 guard.
From Coach Martin: “We’re short on numbers and not real tall. We have a young team with only one senior and one junior. We’re looking to improve with each game experience. We need to take care of the ball and hit from the outside.”
Coach (record): Curt Dombrowski, third year (32-15).
2020-21 record: 14-8, 10-1 Central Wisconsin Conference South Division champions; lost 66-42 to Iola-Scandinavia in WIAA Division 4 regional semifinals.
Returning players: Sarah Trzinski, so., 5-8 forward/guard, 3.5 points per game in 2020-21; Lily Lorbiecki, jr., 5-6 forward/guard, 1.4 ppg.