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Girls basketball preview: Defending champ McFarland will face some challenges in the Rock Valley
GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW | ROCK VALLEY CONFERENCE

Girls basketball preview: Defending champ McFarland will face some challenges in the Rock Valley

From the Prep girls basketball preview: Capsule preview of area conferences and teams series
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ROCK VALLEY CONFERENCE

2018-2019 STANDINGS

Team: Conference W-L, Overall W-L

McFarland: 13-4, 14-9

Evansville: 12-6, 14-10

East Troy: 12-6, 15-8

Whitewater: 10-8, 13-11

Walworth Big Foot: 10-8, 12-12

Brodhead: 9-9, 13-10

Clinton: 9-9, 13-11

Jefferson: 7-10, 12-12

Beloit Turner: 7-11, 9-14

Edgerton: 0-18, 1-22

Top WIAA tournament performances: McFarland lost to Monroe, 71-33 in the D2 regional semifinals.

RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS

First team: Paige Banks, sr., Evansville; Reagan Courier, sr., Walworth Big Foot; Olivia Tinder, jr., Beloit Turner; Liz Kalk, sr., Clinton; Olivia Ganser, sr., Jefferson; Grace Lomen, so., East Troy.

Second team: Katie Hildebrandt, jr., McFarland; Kacie Carollo, jr., Whitewater; Kiarra Moe, so., Brodhead; Abby Grosinske, sr., Whitewater; Abby Efftemoff, sr., Evansville.

Honorable mention: Viola Larson, sr., Walworth Big Foot; Hannah Welte, sr., Clinton; Addyson Ciochon, sr., Clinton; Gracie Moker, jr., East Troy; Addy Lomen, jr., East Troy; Josey Rinehart, jr., Evansville; Ainsley Howard, jr., Jefferson; Josie Peterson, jr., Jefferson; Lindsey Lonigro, jr., McFarland; Marlee Young, sr., Beloit Turner; Cassidy Laue, jr., Whitewater.

COACHES’ FAVORITES

1, Evansville; 2, Clinton; 3, McFarland


TEAM CAPSULES

Conference overview

Evansville, which tied East Troy for second in the league last year, is picked by league coaches to win it all behind the return of 5-9 senior wing Paige Banks, the Rock Valley Player of the Year last year who averaged 17.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. The Blue Devils also return senior Abby Efftemoff (9.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg), and new head coach Tony Wiemiller replaces Tina Aasen. McFarland remains in the title chase, along with a Whitewater team led by junior Kacie Carollo (13 ppg), senior Abby Grosinske (11 ppg) and senior Cassidy Laue (9.8 ppg). East Troy returns eight letterwinners, led by sophomore first-team all-conference guard Grace Lomen (14.9 ppg). A deep list of returnees led by senior Liz Kalk has Clinton gearing up for an upper-division finish, and Brodhead returns Kiarra More (13.3 ppg). Jefferson lost Olivia Ganser, who suffered a knee injury in the spring after averaging 16.4 points as a junior, and has a new coach in Mark Peterson. Beloit Turner returns junior Olivia Tinder (14.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg), a first-team all-conference pick last year.


Edgerton Crimson Tide

Coach: Mike Schmidt, 17th year.

Returning starters (4): Kate Fox Gunderson, 5-8, so., G (8.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.6 spg); Cassidy Danks, 5-10, sr., P (4.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.2 apg); Carly Rebman, 5-9, jr., G (3.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.8 spg); Grace Schuman, 5-7, sr., G (1.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg).

Other returning letterwinners (3): Hailey Johnson, 5-7, so., G (0.2 ppg, 0.6 rpg); Hannah Zeimet, 5-6, jr., G (1.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg); Lauren Radtke, 5-6, jr., G (1.7 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.0 spg).

Key fact: The Crimson Tide graduated Morgan Demrow, their leading scorer last season with 9.8 points per game, but return the remaining four of their five starters.

The lowdown: Schmidt loses leading scorer, Morgan Demrow, but he gains two incoming freshmen: point guard Sylvia Fox and post Shannon Rusch. Said Schmidt of Fox, “she will contribute immediately and knows the game”. Sophomore Kate Fox Gunderson, the second leading scorer on the team at 8.8 points, is back and the shooter should fill the score box. Senior Cassidy Danks will be a strong force inside again, and junior Carly Rebman will bring the defensive edge as a lengthy guard. The Crimson Tide are more athletic this season overall and return many young players. Schmidt knows the Rock Valley conference is tough, but would like to challenge for the middle.

Quotable: “Our skill development is better and should be much improved. We would like to compete at a higher level this season and get more victories in a tough conference,” Schmidt said.


McFarland Spartans

Coach: Sara Mallegni, 2nd year (14-9).

Returning starters (3): Katie Hildebrandt, 6-1, jr., F (11.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.0 apg); Lindsey Lonigro, 5-7, jr., G (8.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.0 apg); Freya Gilbertson, 5-6, sr., G/F (7.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.2 apg).

Other returning letterwinners (7): Morgan Butler, 5-8, jr., G/F (6.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg); Maddy Fortune, 5-9, so., G/F (2.2 ppg; 2.7 rpg; 0.5 apg).

Key fact: The defending Rock Valley conference champion Spartans are returning five key players from last season which will likely make up the starting lineup for the team. Butler occasionally was in the starting lineup last season.

The lowdown: The Rock Valley conference will be competitive from top to bottom — with only three of ten total teams posting losing conference records — and McFarland should be one of the better teams in the conference. The Spartans have three returning starters who will serve as leaders, as well as some underclassmen who saw significant playing time last season. Katie Hildebrandt, a 6-1 second-team all-conference forward, will lead the team again after finishing 10th in the Rock Valley in scoring at 11.4 points per game. Honorable-mention pick and junior guard Lindsey Lonigro and senior guard Freya Gilbertson are back to the starting lineup, with junior Morgan Butler and sophomore Maddy Fortune rounding out the squad. Lonigro, Gilbertson and Butler all averaged at least six points a game last season. Gilbertson also put up 6.1 boards a game, second on the team, and Hildebrandt posted 5.2 per game. Lonigro posted three assists per night and will look to keep the offense flowing again this year.

Quotable: “Replacing some scoring from two senior players that played and contributed the last four years will be a challenge overall. We will depend players that have worked hard this offseason to step-up and define their role on this team” Mallegni said.

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