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Girls will have steep climb

December 01, 2010 | 08:31 AM
As you read in last week's column, the area boys basketball teams all lost multiple starters and senior leaders.

Experience will not be abundant, and many players will earn their varsity stripes as the season progresses. Badger, Big Foot and Williams Bay must all replace at least four starters, and it will no doubt be a tall task to expect last year's production.

Well, I don't intend to sound like a Debbie Downer, but the girls teams could be in the same boat this winter. Gone are star scorers like Badger's Gina Ambrose, Williams Bay's Becca Hobbs, and Big Foot's Jordyn Courier and Haley Schwartz.

And poor Faith Christian, they completely lost their starting five and only have seven girls out for the program this year. And that's not just seven girls on varsity, it's seven girls playing basketball from throughout all four high school grades.

Girls varsity games start this Thursday, and all four teams will have to grow up in a hurry if they are going to be successful.

Let's start with Badger. Ambrose, backcourt general Anna Fronberry and Molly Schulting are gone from a team that advanced to the regional final and only lost by five to heavily-favored Kenosha Bradford. The team will miss the trio's combined 27 points per game, but junior forward/center Lana Wieseman will shoulder the scoring load this season.

The 6-footer averaged 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest last season. Lana also led the team in blocks. She combines a strong inside game with a nice touch from about 15 to 20 feet away.

But after Wieseman, Badger will have to rely on other girls to step up and score the basketball, including perimeter threats Emma Kopp and Tristan Sproul. Also, down low, Sara Reek and Abby Ketchpaw will provide a formidable front line. All four girls have varsity experience from last year. But the team can't simply rely on Ambrose to take over a game anymore. It will be more of a team effort.

Big Foot also will have to look to new scoring options. Courier and Schwartz were both all-Walworth County selections last year, and Kaleigh Young provided a floor general at point guard. The Lady Chiefs will have to make up for the 35 points per game from that talented trio.

And those three have left big shoes to fill from last year. The Chiefs advanced to the regional final before a loss to Union Grove, who ended up losing in the Division 2 sectional final. The Chiefs were 13-10 overall and posted a solid 10-6 Rock Valley mark, good enough for third place.

But lucky for Big Foot, senior Courtney Spangler is back. She is the team's leading returning scorer with 9.8 points per contest last year. Also, she scored 29 points in the team's playoff victory. Courtney can score from anywhere on the court, and her versatility will help lead a Chiefs squad that features five seniors but not a lot of varsity experience. Look for Jen Petkoff and Jordan Miller to step up with more expanded scoring roles this year.

Traveling back toward Lake Geneva from Walworth on Highway 67, we make our first stop at Faith Christian. The entire Eagle starting lineup from last year, Rae and Becca Brandes, Kara Flikkema, Kasey Montsma and Nicole Ackatz, have graduated. They took with them 41 points per game, just about the team's entire total. The leading returning scorers are Suzanne Knudtson and Abby Keizer, who both only scored 1.1 points per contest last year. The Lady Eagles will feature only one senior and three freshmen.

Coach Dick Ackatz said only seven girls are out for the program in all four grades, an all-time low. Also, this year's bunch has very limited varsity experience. Ackatz said the team will rely on its defense while it looks for scorers to emerge. But Faith has a lot of pride, and Ackatz said Alida Knudtson, Danielle Pettygrove and Keizer will have to become leaders in a hurry.

Last but not least, that brings us to the Bay. The Bulldogs will be without superstar guard Becca Hobbs, who was on the all-Walworth County first team last season. Hobbs was a scoring machine. She averaged 20.2 points per game and led the team in rebounds. Hobbs was a do-it-all type player that the other girls really leaned in crucial situations. The Bay will also have to replace key starters Hannah Szalewski and Kendra Sandberg.

However, senior Stephanie Tadje could be ready to assume the leadership role vacated by Hobbs. She is the team's leading returning scorer with 8.3 points per game last year, and Stephanie flies up and down the court. She runs the fast break, can pull up for a long jumper or take it to the hole. The Bay will also look to Beljeanne Forester and Claire Canda to step up as secondary scorers. Furthermore, Kelly Hansen and Josie Bauscher will provide strength in the post. After Tadje, anyone on any given night could be a leading scorer.

Along with the boys teams, the girls teams must replace some pretty special athletes who knew how to the put the ball in the hole when the game was on the line. But there are some good area coaches, and they always find a way to put their players in the best position to be successful. However, don't be surprised if none of the girls players average 20 points per game this season. But, if three or four girls can score 10 each, and these squads truly master the team concept, they will be just fine.

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