By Mike Wendlandt
The basketball season is just over the halfway mark and the CWC-East has been one of the most competitive in the state with constant movement in the standings from the very first week. As we drive toward the home stretch of the regular season and toward the state tournament, let’s take a look at where each team stands. We’ll look at their records, their leading players, and look at a key win that each team has had to push them toward the tournament. We’ll start with the girls, where two teams have started to separate themselves but five teams are within three games in the loss column of each other.
Conference Leader: Bonduel Bears (10-3, 5-0)
Statement Win: December 14 at Amherst (52-49)
Leading Scorer: Allaina Robaidek, 19.9 PPG
The defending conference champions are looking like a strong contender to defend their title and they’ve already got a massive win over their biggest competition in Amherst. They showed great resolve to withstand a Falcon comeback attempt and senior guard Robaidek hit two free throws with seven seconds left to get the win. She also went over 1,000 career points in that game. But where the Bears have a huge edge is their depth. Robaidek is the only player averaging in double figures, but they have seven players averaging at least four points per game. Ella Hischke is leading the team from beyond the arc (33% shooting), Hailey Zernicke is the top rebounder (5.7 per game) and the team is taking extremely smart shots, shooting 44% from the field for the season. With home games against both Amherst and Shiocton remaining, the Bears are in a great position to add to their conference championship banner.
2nd Place: Amherst Falcons (9-5, 5-1)
Statement Win: December 9 at Shiocton (53-41)
Leading Scorer: Sydney Lehman, 13.8 PPG
Just a game behind Bonduel we have the Amherst Falcons. Coach Brandon Trzebiatowski’s squad has been playing shorthanded all year with one starter and one reserve who have missed all but two games with injuries limiting the Falcons to eight rotation players for most of the season. Much like Bonduel, the strength of Amherst is their shot selection and defensive acumen as they have been extremely effective in limiting their opponents chances. That is keyed a lot by seniors Lehman and Hannah Wall (12.1 PPG). That duo is shooting an even 50% from the field and averaging a combined 13 rebounds. No where was that more visible than their game against Shiocton in early December. Down seven at halftime, the Falcons scored 41 in the second half and outscored the Chiefs by 19, clamping down defensively and shooting 60% from the field to solidify their current spot in the conference. That game in Bonduel on January 28 is going to be a must watch event.
3rd Place: Shiocton Chiefs (8-5, 3-2)
Statement Win: January 11 at Iola-Scandinavia (55-46)
Leading Scorer: Kendal Stingle, 9.8 PPG
Just two games behind Amherst is another extremely balanced team in Shiocton. With all eight primary rotation players average at least 4.6 points per game, few teams can consistently match up with Shiocton. Larissa Young is the primary shooter in terms of volume but it’s the duo of Kiley Dorn (45%) and Autumn Taylor (50%) who may have the biggest impact in the final stretch of the season. Their biggest win, at least in this writer’s eyes, is their last one, over the team right next to them in the standings in Iola-Scandinavia. Getting twelve points each from Young and Stingle and ten from Claire Collar, they controlled the Thunderbirds on offense and defense, forcing 28 turnovers. With games against both Amherst and Bonduel on the schedule still, they’re in the conference race but they’ll have a tough battle to do so with both games on the road.
4th Place: Iola-Scandinavia Thunderbirds (10-5, 3-3)
Statement Win: November 18 vs Wautoma (57-48)
Leading Scorer: Lillian Fuhs, 11.6 PPG
When you talk about defense in the CWC-East, you start with Joel Biadasz’ squad in Iola-Scandinavia first. Allowing just under forty points per game as a team, they’ve relied on that suffocating defensive style to get ten wins so far and keep their names in the conference picture. That’s balanced out an at times inconsistent and top heavy offense that can be limited if they don’t win the rebounding battle. Fuhs leads in both scoring and rebounding (9.1 per game) and the duo of Jaelyn Sivertson and Madeline Much are both just shy of ten points per game with excellent ability to get to the basket, and they’ve been able to find another scorer depending on the game and matchup. They’ll be a team to watch the final two weeks of the season as they play all three teams ahead of them with trips to Amherst and Shiocton and homes games against Lourdes Academy and Bonduel to end the season.
5th Place: Wittenberg-Birnamwood Chargers (8-5, 2-3)
Statement Win: December 7 at Three Lakes (50-46)
Leading Scorer: Reese Rogowski, 17.7 PPG
The duo of Reese Rogowski and Kaylee Schram is one of the very best in the conference, only really rivaled by the Amherst duo of Lehman and Wall as far as scoring goes, and they do a lot of the main offensive work for the Charger squad. Schram in particular is a player to watch, shooting 67% from the field for the season and still averaging 11.8 points per game while also leading the team in rebounding. The Chargers do a great job taking care of the basketball and have a great chance to control their own destiny with games ahead still against Amherst, Shiocton, Iola-Scandinavia and Bonduel (twice). Of the five teams at the top of the conference, they are going to be an interesting one to keep an eye on with so many big games remaining.
6th Place: Menominee Indian Eagles (6-6, 1-4)
Statement Win: January 11 vs Weyauwega-Fremont (45-43)
Leading Scorer: Mariah Fish, 17.8 PPG
Menominee has had some extremely impressive flashes of play and if they can put it all together on a game to game basis, they can compete with almost everyone in the conference. Mariah Fish has been quite the player for the Eagles this season, showing ability to score from anywhere in the half court, both off the dribble and in a catch-and-shoot form. When she’s on, she’ll take over games. Kaysha Wilber can do similar things offensively and can score in bunches. After that, it’s all about the Eagles finding more depth to balance it out. Teams are keying on Fish and Wilber and with the team playing shorthanded at different times it’s been difficult to get the results that they desire. They’ve got three straight games against conference contenders (at Shiocton, vs Iola-Scandianvia, and vs Bonduel) and plenty of ability to put a wrench into the conference title picture.
7th Place: Weyauwega-Fremont Warhawks (4-10, 0-6)
Statement Win: November 22 vs Almond-Bancroft (29-28)
Leading Scorer: Olivia Witkowski, 7.4 PPG
The Warhawks team has been improving all year, and they’ve been especially tough to play against since the new year started, but they’ve got some work to do to get back into the race. Dropping their last three contests by a combined sixteen points to conference foes has demonstrated that, but the future is looking up for the team with only two seniors departing at the end of the year. With one game against each of the other conference opponents yet to be played, Weyauwega-Fremont can be an interesting team to watch to see if they can pull off an upset.
Conference Leader: Iola-Scandinavia Thunderbirds (12-0, 6-0)
Statement Win: December 7 vs Wittenberg-Birnamwood (44-40 OT)
Leading Scorer: Parker Prahl, 19.2 PPG
Undefeated and at times unstoppable on the offensive end, the Thunderbirds are tough to beat in 2021-2022, scoring at least fifty points in ten of their twelve games on the season. The two times they were held under were their closest battles, a three point game over Winneconne and their four point overtime win over a physical Wittenberg-Birnanwood team that might be the only one in the conference who can keep up with them on the glass. Parker Prahl leads the way again with the three year starter and four year varsity standout going over 1,000 points in their most recent game and averaging a double-double (19.2 PPG, 10.3 Rebounds). He’s balanced out well by the ball handling and shooting of guard Isaiah Hoyord (11.1 PPG, 38% 3 Point), and 6’8” Brock Wester (10.7 PPG, 53% shooting). With a tough schedule remaining, especially in non-conference play, it’ll be interesting to see if the Thunderbirds can finish the season with an unblemished record. Pay attention to January 27 when they take on Wittenberg-Birnamwood on the road.
2nd Place: Wittenberg-Birnamwood Chargers (6-6, 3-1)
Statement Win: January 4 at Amherst (55-41)
Leading Scorer: Simon Schairer, 14.2 PPG
No team can match the physical play of the Chargers, who dominate inside and are immovable in the paint. With exceptional strength and the ability to constantly get second and third chances on the offensive glass, they are a nightmare for any team to take on. Schairer is as consistent as it gets in the midrange game, but watch for guard Ben Wesolowski to heat up. The senior is averaging just shy of thirteen points a game but hasn’t really found his touch from beyond the arc. Max Fraaza and Ben Flak hold down the fort inside and Jack Fraaza has done a little bit of everything for the team as they sit just a game out in the loss column. The next four games will be telling as they play in Shiocton, have back to back games against Bonduel and then that big matchup with Iola-Scandinavia. That could decide their fate in the conference this year.
3rd Place: Weyauwega-Fremont Warhawks (6-6, 2-2)
Statement Win: December 2 vs Pacelli (58-50)
Leading Scorer: Quinn Dittman, 13.7 PPG
Four guys do most of the scoring for Coach Kyle Loughrin’s squad, and those four do it pretty well. Quinn Dittman might be the most exciting player in the conference with the ball in his hands as he can create off the dribble with ease and score both inside and outside. Jaden Rice is consistent and excels in the midrange (12.6 PPG). Brayden Arndt is their top outside shooter and isn’t afraid to let it fly (11.8 PPG), and big man Ethan Marquette (6’11”) continues to get better with each passing game. With wins over Pacelli, Bonduel, and Rosholt, they’ve held their own. But they need to get past both Wittenberg-Birnamwood and Iola-Scandinavia to keep pace and still have both games with Amherst on the way.
4th Place: Amherst Falcons (8-4, 2-3)
Statement Win: December 20 vs Shiocton (62-56)
Leading Scorer: Tyler Soulsby, 17.6 PPG
It took a little bit for the Falcons to find their stride and identity, but once they did they’ve been a tough team to beat. After their loss to Iola-Scandinavia on December 16, they’ve won five of seven and had impressive showings against Shiocton, Adams-Friendship, and Pacelli (in defeat). Tyler Soulsby is the catalyst as he currently sits ninth in Division 4 in three point shooting (44%). Teams have started to scheme their defenses to slowing down his perimeter shooting, but that has opened up things for Matthew Glodowski (7.6 PPG) and Aiden Jastromski (9.2 PPG). The Falcons can score with almost anyone, but to get back into the conference title picture, they need to limit second chances for their opponents. They’re a guard dominant team with height and length an issue. They’re likely going to need to have spectacular offensive performance to keep pace with the top teams, but they can hang with anyone in the CWC-East.
5th Place: Shiocton Chiefs (5-8, 2-3)
Statement Win: December 17 vs Florence (76-64)
Leading Scorer: Dawson Schmidt, 25.6 PPG
Tied with Amherst is Shiocton, who have the conferences’ leading scorer in Dawson Schmidt. It’s been an incredible season for the junior, who’s shooting 48% from the field, 35% from three, and 82% at the line. He’s dominated game after game and has been able to do it while creating his own shot or by getting set up by his teammates. He’s no alone, though. Jacob Klitzke (11.7 PPG) and Bennett Wilcox (11.2 PPG) are also serious threats from inside and out and Cade Stingle (8.3 PPG) is one of the best pure athletes in the conference. If there’s been one thing that’s hurt the Chiefs, it’s been their scoring defense. They’ve allowed at least fifty points in every game this year and at least sixty in all but two. With big games against Wittenberg-Birnamwood, Amherst, and Weyauwega-Fremont all up in a row, they’re right in the thick of it.
6th Place: Bonduel Bears (6-6, 1-3)
Statement Win: December 7 vs Amherst (64-45)
Leading Scorer: Reece Stoltenow, 16.3 PPG
The trio of Reece Stoltenow, Noah Weier (12.5 PPG), and Jon Sell (9.8 PPG) is tough to guard for the Bonduel Bears. All three guys are shooting around 40% or greater from the field, Stoltenow and Weier are both over 70% from the line, and Stoltenow is 41% from deep. In a conference that is as competitive as the CWC-East, the Bears may be in sixth, but have the ability to climb up the standings in a hurry with their ability to put the ball in the basket. They just need some consistency. They beat Amherst handily earlier in the season, and fell to Iola-Scandinavia by only eleven on the road. But Shiocton beat them by 23, Weyauwega-Fremont by 10 and they dropped close ones to Peshtigo and Clintonville out of conference. They have five games against the top of the conference starting on Friday (Wittenberg-Birnamwood back-to-back, at Amherst, vs Weyauwega-Fremont, at Shiocton). That quintet of games could vault them right back up the standings.
7th Place: Menominee Indian Eagles (6-5, 0-4)
Statement Win: December 21 vs Wabeno/Laona (68-66)
Leading Scorer: Isaiah Moss, 16.1 PPG
The Eagles can flat out score. They’ve had three games of seventy-plus points, ten of fifty-plus. Isaiah Moss, Lloyd Reevis (15.2 PPG), and Allen Smith (10.4 PPG) all average in double figures. They get 32 rebounds a game as a team. And while they don’t have a conference win yet, they can be tough to play against. Their nine point loss to Shiocton proved that. If they can find consistency in the conference and limit their turnovers (17.9 per game), they’re a team that can cause some problems in the conference race.