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The Assumption girls basketball team won the WIAA Division 5 championship last season and returns a squad with a number of returning players. (Zaleski Sports photo)

By Paul Lecker

Zaleski Sports

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.”


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.

Columbus Catholic guard Maggie Callaghan returns to the Dons after helping them to an 12-11 finish in 2020-21. (Photo courtesy of Lucky Shot Photography)

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.”