Last season was a rebuilding year for the Williams Bay girls basketball team, as a roster made up mostly of sophomores and freshman dealt with growing pains en route to a 5-16 record.
However, the upside of that down year is that the vast majority of the squad returns this year with a season of varsity experience under their belts.
“Last year really helped, because now a lot of those girls feel more comfortable on a varsity court,” player Cassie Silverman said.
Silverman and fellow senior Hannah Rabenhorst are the only two seniors who return from last year’s team, but they are joined by a pair of seniors who had stepped away from basketball for a couple of seasons, as Taelyn Smith and Annika Pfeil rejoined the program this winter.
Smith and Pfeil both played basketball for the Bay as freshmen, and were multi-year stars on the volleyball court. So while they may be new faces to many of their teammates, they have the proven athletic potential to give a boost to the Bulldogs.
It did not take long for the two returning players to get used to the hoops routine.
“I love coming to practice every single day,” Pfeil said. “I’ve definitely gotten back into the zone. It’s been fun.”
However, the biggest return for the Bay will be junior Braiya Nolan getting back on the court. Nolan was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer in the first 10 games of last season, before a shoulder injury sidelined her for the rest of the year.
For as much as the Bulldogs program will stay the same, there will be some differences as well, the main one being the fact that they have a new head coach. Coach Alyssa Arneson stepped down after the end of the 2018-19 campaign, and assistant coach Ryan Fritz was promoted to the head coaching spot.
Fritz is far from a newcomer to the Bay athletic department, though, with about a decade of experience as an assistant for the Bulldogs’ boys and girls basketball teams. As such, very little is actually changing, except for who holds the title.
“Having familiarity with the girls definitely has been a bonus,” Fritz said. “I think my biggest goal is something we started last year — making the practice atmosphere more competitive.”