Prep girls basketball preview: Monroe still the favorite in an absolutely talent-packed Badger South Conference
BADGER SOUTH CONFERENCE
Fort Atkinson Blackhawks
Coach: Greg Riddell, second year (2-21).
Returning starters: Kat Brandl, 5-4, sr, G, 6.9 ppg; Anna Schoenike, 5-10, jr, F, 5.6 ppg; Sara VanderMause, 5-6, sr., G, 5.0 ppg; Corinne Stoutenborough, 5-6, sr., G, 2.1 ppg.
Other returning letterwinners: Klaire Trieloff, 5-8, jr., G, 5.5 ppg; Caley Haas, 5-3, sr., G, 2.7 ppg; Jackie Jensen, 5-7, sr., F, 2.3 ppg; Maggie Opperman, 5-8, sr., W, 2.0 ppg; Haylee Miles, 5-2, sr., G, 1.8 ppg.
Key fact: The Blackhawks have lost 35 consecutive Badger South Conference games. Their last league victory came on Dec. 17, 2015, a 53-45 win at Milton. Fort Atkinson is 2-48 in the league over the last four years.
The lowdown: Last year’s leading scorer, Sarah Pfeifer, has graduated, but four starters and five other seniors return for the Blackhawks. Consistency remains a major question for Riddell’s team, especially when it comes to developing a scoring punch. But depth and experience will help in that area, as Riddell expects to use a large number of players to better keep up with the pace of opponents’ play.
Madison Edgewood Crusaders
Coach: Lora Staveness, 26th year (385-201).
Returning starters: Baluck Deang, 6-1, so., G/F, 8.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg; Madison Moore, 5-3, sr., G, 3.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg.
Other returning letterwinners: Ella Foti, 6-0, so, F/G, 14.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg; Sarah Lazar, 6-3, so., F, 4.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg; Sydney Olson, 5-4, so., G, 1.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg; Ally Cruz, 5-10, so., F, 1.3 ppg.
Key fact: Ella Foti, an honorable mention all-state pick as a freshman last year, is out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury in her knee and Staveness expects that she will “not play, most likely, this season.” Staveness also says that while Lazar is playing, she is still recovering from “knee soreness from her growth spurt.”
The lowdown: There’s the heart of a champion beating inside the Crusaders’ program, just as there was when Staveness’ team won the Division 3 state title in 2017. But right now, all the pieces to make that dream a reality aren’t in place. Foti’s injury cost the Crusaders their No. 2 scorer and No. 1 rebounder, and the graduation losses of Caitlin Link to Southern Illinois University and Sophie Iglar to graduation also hurt. Deang is a physically strong player who still can “put the ball on the floor and get to the rim as well as hit the 3,” Staveness said. And there has been an infusion of fresh blood, including 5-10 freshman guard/forward Amber Grosse, whom Staveness said is an “athletically gifted player (who can) hit the 3, the pull-up jumper and get to the rim (and is) extremely quick.”
Quotable: “(Ella Foti’s injury is) obviously a major loss, but it will allow her teammates to grow up even more so when she does join us, we will be that much stronger,” Staveness said.
Milton Red Hawks
Coach: Stacy Skemp, third year (37-38).
Returning starters: Chloe Buescher, 6-1, sr., F, 14 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2 spg
Other returning letterwinners: Abbie Campion, 5-8, jr., G, 6 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.2 apg; Carly Hanke, 5-8, sr., F/G, 2.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg; Abbey Falk, 5-11, jr., F/C, 3.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg; Shelby Mack-Honold, 5-7, jr., G, 3.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg; Grace Quade, 5-10, so., F 0.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg; Nora Stuckey, 6-0, so., F, 0.9 ppg, 0.7 rpg.
Key fact: The Red Hawks lost four seniors who saw a lot of playing time last year, so Skemp says the Red Hawks’ weakness will be “experience at the varsity level.”
The lowdown: Honorable mention all-conference senior forward Chloe Buescher was Milton’s leading scorer and rebounder last season. Buescher, senior Carly Hanke and junior Abbie Campion will lead the team as captains this year, and Skemp says all three “will be instrumental on both ends of the floor.” The Red Hawks will use their size and inside presence on the offensive end, and Skemp says their athleticism will create pressure on defense in the full-court game.
Quotable: “We have a strong group of girls from the (junior varsity) joining the varsity this year. We are excited about the hunger they are showing to make an impact on the team right away.”
Monona Grove Silver Eagles
Coach: Tyler Kuehl, second year (25-23 overall).
Returning starters: McKenna Warnock, 6-2, sr., G, 28.5 ppg, 12.9 rpg; Peyton Blang, 5-6, sr., G, 6.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg; Peighton Nelson, so., PG, 3.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg; Kailey DeVault, sr., 3.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg; Julia Bruns, sr., 6.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg.
Other returning letterwinners: Kaylee Kellogg, 5-9, sr., G, 7.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg; Daryan Johnson, sr., G, 2.7 ppg; Chloe Larsh, 5-3, sr., G, 4.2 ppg; Jenny Gorton, jr., G, 4.9 ppg; Seanna Curran, 5-11, jr., F.
Key fact: Warnock, now a senior, already ranks as the school’s all-time leading scorer (1,629 points) and rebounder (1,183 rebounds) for both girls and boys basketball. She is on pace to finish among the top 10 scorers in state girls basketball history. The current No. 10 scorer is Whitefish Bay Dominican’s Allazia Blockton, who tallied 2,143 points from 2011-2015. Warnock is ranked 86th in the national class of 2019 by ESPN.com.
The lowdown: Monona Grove did not lose any starters, but did lose last year’s team defensive player of the year, Jordan Dahlhauser. With all that experience and depth, Kuehl is hoping that the returning starters and letterwinners can “consistently pick up more of the scoring load” as to relieve the pressure on Warnock. Kellogg, when fully healthy, could be the one to alleviate that pressure. Overall, Kuehl hopes the Silver Eagles can be more consistent on both sides of the ball this year.
Quotable: “We have an incredibly athletic lineup that will allow us to control the pace of the game,” Kuehl said.
Coach: Sam Mathiason, ninth year at Monroe (90-105); 16th year overall (148-197).
Returning starters: Sydney Hilliard, 6-0, sr., PG, 22.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg; Emily Benzschawel, 5-9, sr., G, 14.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg; Grace Tostrud, 6-0, jr., F, 8.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg.
Other returning letterwinners: Grace Mathiason, 5-10, jr., G, 3.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg; Megan Benzschawel, 6-0, so., F, 5.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg.
Key fact: Monroe has made it to the WIAA Division 2 state semifinals each of the last two seasons, falling to runner-up New Berlin Eisenhower last year and champion Beaver Dam in 2017.
The lowdown: Once again, the Cheesemakers have a loaded, do-it-all lineup anchored by the roster’s only two seniors, Hilliard and Emily Benzschawel. Hilliard, a University of Wisconsin commit, already is the school’s scoring leader (1,395 points) and was an Associated Press first-team all-state pick last year. Benzschawel, who will play next year at Division II Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, is a versatile scorer with a strong outside touch, but it was Tostrud who led the team in 3-point baskets last year, with 40. Sophomores Megan Benzschawel and Grace Mathiason should fit right into the lineup, and a large group of varsity newcomers will hope to contribute in small and large ways. Simply put, Monroe is a team brimming with talent, accustomed to success and the hard work it takes to built that success, and used to playing with each other. “We hope to compete for another conference championship, but realize the conference is again very balanced,” Sam Mathiason said.
Quotable: “Every team except Monona Grove graduated at least one senior who played a large role for their team. Which team that can best fill those holes will have the advantage. The league appears to be very balanced and will be very competitive again this year,” Mathiason said.
Coach: Adam Wamsley, second year (16-8).
Returning starters: Liz Uhl, 5-7, jr., 11.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg; Kaitlyn Schrimpf, 5-8, jr., 9.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg; Izzie Peterson, 5-5, jr., PG, 3.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.6 apg; Sydona Roberts, 6-0, sr., F, 5.7 ppg., 3.9 apg
Other returning letterwinners: Jenna Statz, 5-7, sr., G, 6.2 ppg; Brinlee Hall, jr., G, 1.0 ppg; Katie Eisele, sr., G, 1.7 ppg; Peyton Spilde, sr., F, 1.4 ppg; Megan Duff, sr., F; Brooklyn Kane, jr., F; Vanessa Goltz, sr., G, 1.9 ppg.
Key fact: With six seniors and five juniors returning from last year’s varsity, including four starters, the Panthers’ depth — led by Uhl — will be the key to success.
The lowdown: The graduation loss of statistical leader Ellen McCorkle (15.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg) presents a challenge, but four returning starters and seven other returning letterwinners should fill the gaps as new leaders emerge. “Our strengths are our depth and speed and quickness,” Wamsley said. “Our goal is to space the floor, shoot when open, create pressure and turnovers. … Our expectations are to compete for a conference championship. That’s a team goal of ours that all players agreed on.”
Quotable: “I expect all my upperclassmen to lead the way. Whether it’s scoring, defense, rebounding (or) pressure, everyone will be a contributor every game in some fashion,” Wamsley said.
Coach: Brad Pickett, fifth year at Stoughton (83-19), 15th year overall.
Returning starters: Peighton Trieloff, 5-8, sr., G, 10.4 ppg; Emma Kissling, 5-9, sr., W, 9.9 ppg; Kyianna Baker, 5-8, sr., W, 4.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg.
Other returning letterwinners: Ashley Nelson, 5-11, sr., F, 4.3 ppg; Alex Ashworth, 5-8, sr., G, 3.4 ppg; Alita Frick, 5-8, sr., W, 3.6 ppg. Frick is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee.
Key fact: Brynn Sproul, a 5-11 senior, did not play for the Vikings last season after seeing limited playing time as a sophomore. She is back out for basketball this winter and is expected to be an important part of the Vikings’ plans.
The lowdown: Three seasons removed from a WIAA Division 2 state runner-up finish, the Vikings again are a team to contend with. There is plenty of experience and scoring ability in the lineup, which averaged almost 60 points per game last season. Rebounding toughness and a high across-the-board work ethic are Stoughton trademarks. Trieloff shot 48 percent from the field last year, and Kissling made 18 3-point baskets on 40 percent shooting last season. Pickett sees Ashworth and Sproul as the leaders to fill in the two open starting spots in the lineup, though there are plenty of others with at least some varsity experience ready to move to the next level.
Coach: Matt Stollberg, first year (40-79 overall).
Returning starters: Jenna Koepp, 5-5, sr., G, 9.7 ppg, 55 3-point baskets; Teya Maas, 6-09, jr., F, 9.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg; Bri Korducki, 6-0, sr., F, 2.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg.
Other returning letterwinners: Brianna Hendricks, 5-9, sr., G, 3.5 ppg; Rachel Moldenhauer, 5-9, jr., F, 2.3 ppg; Hannah Walker, 5-7, jr., G, 1.6 ppg; Taylor Adams, 5-10, sr., G, 1.0 ppg
Key fact: Stollberg, the former Fort Atkinson coach, relocates a couple dozen miles up State Hwy. 26 to take over the Goslings program.
The lowdown: Watertown hopes to challenge for the top half of the loaded conference, despite the loss of two starters (including 15.7-point scorer Lauren Burd). Koepp and Maas provide instant inside-outside punch, as Stollberg says Watertown has “several good outside shooters” and a “hard-working group of post players.” The coach is hoping some of his varsity newcomers will step up to contribute once they get a taste of varsity competition.
Quotable: “We have great veteran leadership on our team and our group will work hard each day,” Stollberg said.