BADGER SOUTH CONFERENCE
Team: Conference W-L, Overall W-L
Monona Grove: 12-2, 20-3
Monroe: 11-3, 21-7
Stoughton: 10-4, 15-9
Watertown: 8-6, 15-9
Madison Edgewood: 4-10, 7-17
Milton: 3-11, 11-14
Fort Atkinson: 0-14, 2-22
Top WIAA tournament performances: Monroe lost to Beaver Dam in the Division 2 championship, 65-46; Monroe defeated Milton in a sectional final, 62-51; Monroe defeated DeForest in a sectional semifinal, 71-54.
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
First team: Baluck Deang, jr., Madison Edgewood; Megan Benzschawel, jr., Monroe; Liz Uhl, sr., Oregon; Kaitlyn Schrimpf, sr., Oregon; Teya Maas, jr., Watertown.
Honorable mention: Sarah Lazar, jr., Madison Edgewood; Lindsey Langlois, sr., Madison Edgewood; Anna Schoenike, sr., Fort Atkinson; Abbie Campion, sr., Milton; Jenny Gorton, sr., Monona Grove; Grace Tostrud, sr., Monroe.
1, Oregon; 2, Madison Edgewood; 3, Monona Grove and Monroe.
Fort Atkinson Blackhawks
Coach: Michael Rajsich, first year.
Returning starters (2): Anna Schoenike, 5-11, sr., F (9.9 points per game); Klaire Trieloff, 5-8, sr., G (3.7 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (5): Taylor Marquart, 5-7, so., G (4.3 ppg); Tyla Staude, 5-8, so., W (6.6 ppg).
Key fact: Michael Rajsich will be the new head coach for the young Blackhawks. Anna Schoenike returns from a knee injury, but sophomore Lily Belzer will miss the entire season with a knee injury.
The lowdown: Fort Atkinson, last in the top-heavy Badger South last year, lost three starters to graduation. “There are a lot of players fighting for varsity positions,” new coach Michael Rajsich said. With Anna Schoenike returning as the team’s lone all-conference player, the Blackhawks will seek some much needed minutes from their up-and-coming young players.
Quotable: “We are hoping to work hard to become the best team we can be. As a first-year coach, I have no idea where we fit in the conference race. We are focused on getting better every day,” Rajsich said.
Madison Edgewood Crusaders
Coach: Lora Staveness, 26th year (392-194).
Returning starters (4): Baluck Deang, 6-1, jr., SF/PF/C (13.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.1 spg); Sarah Lazar, 6-3, jr., SF/PF/C (10.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.8 bpg); Sydney Olsen, 5-7, jr., PG/SG (4.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.2 spg); Amber Grosse, 5-10, so., SG/PG/SF (6.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 apg).
Other returning letterwinners (6): Lindsey Langlois, 5-7, sr., SG (7.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.5 apg); Liz Cook, 5-8, sr., SF (1.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg); Truely Wallhaus, 5-7, sr., SF (1.3 ppg, 1.1 rpg); Ellie Iglar, 5-8, jr., SG/SF (1.8 ppg); Ellie Meriggioli, 5-6, so., SG (1.1 ppg, 1.0 rpg); Ella Foti, 6-1, jr., PG/SG/SF (14.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.6 spg in 14 games as a freshman)
Key facts: The Crusaders return four of five starters, including first-team All-Badger South and leading scorer Baluck Deang, who averaged 13.2 ppg and shot 40 percent from 3-point range. Junior Ella Foti returns after a year and a half on the sideline due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury to her knee. Sophomore Amber Grosse broke her non-shooting hand during tryouts and will be out six to eight weeks to start the season. Coach Staveness can pick up her 400th win.
The lowdown: After finishing sixth in the Badger South last season, Staveness’ squad will challenge for the conference championship with a deep squad this year, barring no more injury bugs. Leading scorer and 6-1 junior Baluck Deang and fellow junior 6-3 Sarah Lazar, an honorable-mention pick, both averaged at least 10.4 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game as sophomores. Deang is coming off a WIAA Division 2 individual state tennis title, and can stretch the floor as a scorer inside and out. Lazar, a career 73 percent free-throw shooter, can also score from multiple areas and has worked to become physically stronger. The 6-1 Ella Foti, returning from an absence of more than a year, posts a threat in the paint with height, athleticism and leadership. Sophomore guard Amber Grosse will miss the first six to eight weeks of the season, but has worked hard on ball handling skills and consistency this past summer in AAU ball. Junior point guard Sydney Olson “continues to show great confidence in her game,” Staveness said. Senior guard Lindsey Langlois, an honorable mention all-league pick, made 48 3-point baskets last year. If healthy, Staveness’ crew could challenge for a Division 3 state title, which would be the Crusaders' second since 2017.
Quotable: “We must stay healthy to achieve some of the goals we have set for ourselves,” said Staveness, “we have to continue to develop depth as we have the opportunity to be the deepest team I have ever had.”
Milton Red Hawks
Coach: Stacy Skemp, fifth year (48-52).
Returning starters (3): Abbie Campion, 5-8, sr., G (9.3 ppg); Shelby Mack-Honold, 5-7, sr., G (8.3 ppg); Abbey Falk, 5-11, sr., F/C (7.3 ppg).
Other returning letterwinners (2): Alex Rodenberg, 5-7, sr., G (3.9 ppg); Courtney Weberpal, 5-5, sr., G (2.6 ppg); Grace Quade, 5-10, jr., F (3.4 ppg); Nora Stuckey, 6-0, jr., C (2.9 ppg).
Key fact: The Red Hawks have advanced to WIAA Division 2 sectional play in three of the last four years.
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The lowdown: With three starters back, and the smooth Campion ready to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load if necessary, Milton expects to be in the Badger South title hunt. Skemp said his team has ample amounts of athleticism and basketball IQ, as the coach plans to use multiple defensive sets. Rebounding will be a question mark for Skemp, especially in the early going.
Monona Grove Silver Eagles
Coach: Tyler Kuehl, third year (45-24).
Returning starters (1): Seana Curran, 5-11, sr., F (5.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.9 apg).
Other returning letterwinners (5): Peighton Nelson, 5-8, jr., G (4.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.3 spg); Jenny Gorton, 5-7, sr., G (8.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.2 spg); Jadee Christiansen, 5-10, sr., F (1.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg); Kayleigh Zank, 5-9, sr., F (1.3 ppg, 0.7 rpg); Emma Goke, 5-6, jr., G (2.6 ppg, 0.6 rpg).
Key fact: The defending Badger South champions graduated Gatorade Player of the Year and Wisconsin's Miss Basketball, McKenna Warnock. Now playing at the University of Iowa, Warnock averaged 29.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.0 blocks per game last year.
The lowdown: The Silver Eagles were one of the state's highest-scoring teams last season, but will have to replace four starters, including Warnock. Kuehl is optimistic that the scoring will be more spread out among his players this season though, “with a number of kids that can get to the basket and shoot from outside,” he added. Seanna Curan, a third-year varsity player, will lead the team as the only returning starter. The 5-11 Curran will play at UW-Oshkosh next year. Although in a different role last season, junior Peighton Nelson started as a freshman and will be “one of our go-to kids from the point guard position,” Kuehl said. Senior Jenny Gorton was the No. 2 scorer last year (8.1 ppg). “She will be relied on to raise her scoring level this year, and is primed to do so from both inside and out.” Jadee Christiansen struggled with injuries, but will be a key player at forward with athleticism on defense and in transition. Senior Kayleigh Zank and junior Emma Goke return.
Quotable: “We return a lot of players with significant varsity experience and will be adding some highly skilled kids. Overall, we have a fast and athletic group that has good skill level,” Kuehl said.
Coach: Sam Mathiason, tenth year (111-112).
Returning starters (3): Grace Tostrud, 6-0, sr., F (7.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.1 apg); Grace Mathiason, 5-11, sr., G ( 4.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.2 apg); Megan Benzschawel, 6-0, jr., G ( 10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.7 apg).
Other returning letterwinners (9): Emma Towne, 5-5, sr., G, (1.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg); Kayleigh Nesbitt, 5-7, sr., G, (1.8 ppg); Sydney Updike, 5-7, jr., G (1.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.4 apg); Sadie Conway, 5-10, sr., F (1.1 ppg); Barret Foulker, 5-6, jr., G; Taylor Jacobson, 5-9, fr., G; Laurel Houston, 5-6, sr., F (0.4 ppg); Chloe Bunker, 5-9, sr., F (1.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg).
Key fact: The Cheesemakers lost two key starters, Sydney Hilliard and Emily Benzschawel, to graduation. Sydney Hilliard is already a regular at the University of Wisconsin. Emily Benzschawel is at NCAA Division II Lindenwood University.
The lowdown: Monroe looks to continue its successful ways after coming up short in the state championship game last year. The Cheesemakers will return three starters from last year, and they'll “all need to step up and be ready for the expanded roles,” Mathiason said. It will be a tougher road for Monroe, as Madison Edgewood and Oregon have the most returning talent this year. “The conference looks to be very balanced, and every night should be very competitive,” Mathiason said.
Quotable: “We hope to be able to push to be in the top three of the conference race,” Mathiason said.
Coach: Adam Wamsley, third year (30-17).
Returning starters (3): Liz Uhl, 5-8, sr., SG (14.1 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game); Kaitlyn Schrimpf, 5-8, sr., G (10.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.7 apg); Izzie Peterson, 5-5, sr., PG (6.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.2 apg).
Other returning letterwinners (6): Carleigh Roberts, 5-5, jr., PG (3.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.1 apg); KT Schwass, 5-6, jr., G (1.4 ppg); Emily Statz, 5-9, jr., F (0.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.5 apg); Jaelyn Nedelcoff, 5-5, jr., PG (0.9 ppg); Megan Bloyer, 5-8, jr., F (0.5 ppg); Michaela Rosga, 5-9, sr., F, (1.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg).
Key fact: The Panthers have three returning starters that have been starting since the 10th grade. Liz Uhl is committed to playing at NCAA Division II Illinois-Springfield. Kaitlyn Schrimpf has an offer from Division II college Winona State. Izzie Peterson has an offer from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. All three are talented players who'll draw lots of attention this season.
The lowdown: Oregon aims to take the conference by storm. While the Panthers lost six letterwinners to graduation, three key starters return. Uhl, Schrimpf, and Peterson all are back to add a spark to the starting five. “Our core has played a lot of basketball together, including varsity minutes,” Wamsley said. “We should have the depth and ability with our guard play to be aggressive on defense, create turnovers and score in transition.”
Quotable: “I like our chances to compete for conference (championship). We put together a really balanced and challenging schedule that I hope prepares for tournament time,” Wamsley said.
Coach: Brad Pickett, sixth year (78-23).
Returning starters: None.
Other returning letterwinners (5): Myranda Kotlowski, 5-5, sr., W/G (5.0 points per game, 1.3 rebounds per game, 0.6 assists per game); Delaney Seidel, 5-8, sr., W (3.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 0.6 apg); Micah Zaemisch, 5-9, sr., F (1.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.3 apg); Megan Marggi, 5-6, sr., G (2.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.7 apg); Riley Royston, 5-10, sr., F, (1.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.6 apg).
Key fact: The Vikings lost all five starters to graduation, but a new, all-senior starting five will take the floor this year for the Vikings.
The lowdown: After coming up short in the regional final against Monroe, the Vikings will look for their seniors to step up. After losing five starters to graduation, five new starters will take over. Stoughton finished third in the Badger South last year, and with this new starting five, the Vikings look to make a push for the top spot this year. “The Badger South will be very competitive this year,” Pickett said. “Oregon is the team to beat with all the kids they have returning. After that, I think you will have some very close ballgames,” Pickett said.
Quotable: “If we can get kids to buy into their roles, we have a chance to be successful,” Pickett said.
Coach: Matt Stollberg, second year (26-22).
Returning starters (2): Teya Maas, 6-0, jr., F (12.8 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game, and 2.0 assists per game). Aubrey Schmutzler, 5-8, jr., G (9.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.8 apg).
Other returning letterwinners: None.
Key fact: The Goslings lost four staters to graduation. Forward Teya Maas will take the reigns as the go-to player. She averaged 12.8 ppg and 10.2 rpg last year.
The lowdown: After finishing fourth in the Badger South, the Goslings will look to four core players. Tyea Mass, who was all-conference as a sophomore, Aubrey Schmutzler, show average 9.5 ppg, and Lily Gifford and Carly Heiman, who have strong scoring ability. “We are counting on team defence remaining a strength; our offense will depend on how we develop as a team,” coach Stollberg said.
Quotable: “Our group is very competitive and committed, and we expect to improve throughout the season as we gain experience,” Stollberg said.