GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW
BIG EIGHT CONFERENCE
Madison La Follette;8-10;12-11
Top WIAA tournament performances: Madison East — Lost to Mukwonago, 61-56, in D1 sectional final; Sun Prairie — Lost to Madison East, 56-44, in D1 sectional semifinal; Janesville Parker — Lost to Mukwonago, 61-49, in D1 sectional semifinal; Madison Memorial — Lost to Madison East, 60-42, in D1 regional final; Verona — Lost to Sun Prairie, 51-33, in D1 regional final; Middleton — Lost to Janesville Parker, 56-52, in D1 regional semifinal.
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS
First team: Julia Hartwig, 6-2, sr., F, Janesville Parker; Leilani Kapinus, 5-11, jr., G/F, Madison Memorial.
Second team: Kaytlin Eder, 5-6, sr., G, Madison La Follette; Cassie Goswick, 5-7, jr., G, Janesville Craig; Grace Hilber, 5-6, sr., G, Sun Prairie.
Third team: Elle Moore, 5-7, sr., Wing, Sun Prairie (currently sidelined by injury); Emily Pierson, 5-3, sr., G, Janesville Craig; Nyenhial Riak, 6-1, jr., F, Madison La Follette.
Honorable mention: Rayna Briggs, 5-5, jr., G, Verona; Daiysha Brown, 5-8, jr., G, Madison Memorial; Sitori Tanin, 6-0, jr., F, Middleton.
1, Madison Memorial; 2, Middleton; 3. Sun Prairie.
Beloit Memorial Purple Knights
Coach: Larry Blake, first year (coached two years at South Beloit, Illinois)
Returning starters: N/A
Other returning letterwinners: Meghan Drucker, 5-9, jr., F, 4.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg; Ter’Rayjanay Peppers, 5-6, jr., G, 2.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg; Adi Renteria, 5-9, jr., C, 2.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg; Jayda Bessel, 5-6, so., 6 ppg, 3 rpg.
Roster: Keazza Webster, 5-6, jr.; Lindsey Gama, 5-6, jr.; Jacey Walker, 5-9, jr.; Bre Davis, 5-9, fr.; Jacque Pabst, 5-9, fr.; Mizahana Burner, 5-6, fr.; Tajah Randall, 5-6, fr.; Cameron Thomas, 5-5, fr.
Key fact: Blake takes over for Gary Stuedemann, a longtime teacher and coach in Beloit who retired after a short stint coaching the Purple Knights (he coached last season and part of the previous year).
The lowdown: The Purple Knights made some progress under Stuedemann, building the program’s organization and winning two games. Blake likely will play a lot of freshmen as he tries to build the program. Beloit Memorial will struggle to be competitive with the top teams.
Janesville Craig Cougars
Coach: Kerry Storbakken, ninth year (191-112 overall)
Returning starters: Cassie Goswick, 5-8, jr., G, 14.3 ppg; Emily Pierson, 5-3, sr., G, 13.2 ppg; Claudia Fieiras, 5-9, so., F, 9.9 ppg.; Hannah Dunlavy, 5-8, jr., G, 7.1 ppg; Brooke Parkhurst, 5-7, jr., G, 7.3 ppg.
Other returning letterwinners: Abbey Schrader, 5-8, jr., F, 3 ppg; Rileigh Elgas, 5-8, jr., G, 6.9 ppg; Maddy Arrowood, 5-8, jr., G, 4.5 ppg; Madisyn Ingalls, 5-3, sr., G, 1.5 ppg; Sarah Gregg, 5-5, jr., G, 5.3 ppg.
Key fact: Last year’s leading scorer, junior Cassie Goswick (14.3 ppg), is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee.
The lowdown: The Cougars return four of their five starters and 10 overall varsity players. Janesville Craig hopes to finish in the top five in the conference. Madison Memorial is the favorite, but Storbakken believes eight teams could contend for the title.
Quotable: Storbakken said his team has quickness and athleticism, and Janesville Craig will need to “shoot well, play great defense and speed teams up.”
Janesville Parker Vikings
Coach: Jennah Hartwig, fourth year (34-38)
Returning starters: Julia Hartwig, 6-2, sr., F, 17.3 ppg, 13.2 rpg, 2.2 apg; Brooke Graesslin, 5-5, sr., G, 5.8 ppg, 2 rpg, 1.6 apg; Tina Shelton, 5-6, jr., G, 7.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.4 spg; Jena Forrestal, 5-3, jr., G, 8.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.4 spg.
Other returning letterwinners: Ryann Porter, 6-2, jr., F, 1.6 ppg, 0.1 rpg; Sophia Dooman, 5-7, sr., G, 0.3 ppg, 0.2 rpg; Ashlyn Burdick, 5-8, sr., G, 0.2 ppg, 0.7 rpg.
Key fact: The Vikings return four starters from last year and this should be the “most experienced” group that Jennah Hartwig has had in the last three seasons. However, her daughter, UW-Green Bay signee Julia Hartwig, sustained a shoulder injury the first week of practice and will not play for the rest of the season.
The lowdown: After going 6-12 in the Big Eight, the Vikings rode a hot streak in postseason, defeating Middleton and Watertown on the road. The Vikings lost to Mukwonago in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal. This season, Hartwig was expected to be a dominant player in the conference, after a productive year scoring, rebounding and blocking shots a year ago when she was a first-team all-conference selection and an honorable-mention pick on The Associated Press all-state team. Behind the four experienced starters and rotational bench players, the Vikings look to have a stronger regular season and “compete for the top half of the conference,” Jennah Hartwig said.
Quotable: “We have a great group of experienced ball handlers, shooters and height inside,” Jennah Hartwig said.
Madison East Purgolders
Coach: James Adams, ninth year (70-92 overall)
Returning starters: Ashayla Moseberry, 5-11, sr., W, 8.4 ppg; Kalena Bentley, 5-6, jr., PG, 4.6 ppg.
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Other returning letterwinners: Nevaehia Boston, 5-10, jr., F, 3.3 ppg.
Key fact: The Purgolders will be led by Moseberry, a strong defender and scorer who is receiving college interest. “She is determined to to spearhead us back into the sectional finals/state appearance,” Adams said.
The lowdown: The Purgolders must replace Erin Howard and Justice Filip from last season’s sectional final team, but Adams expects East again to be rugged defensively and “right in the mix for a top spot” in conference play after finishing second last year. Moseberry and Bentley, who’s also receiving college interest, will lead the way. East has size inside, including 6-4 Olivia Smith . “She will give us great size in the paint,” he said. Adams expects post player Nevaehia Boston to have a breakout year. Alonna Williams, who averaged 18.8 points per game on the junior varsity last season, is primed to get valuable minutes.
Quotable: “We have a collective group of talented players who complement one another,” Adams said.
Madison La Follette Lancers
Coach: Will Green, third year (20-26).
Returning starters: Kaytlin Eder, 5-4, sr., PG, 11.8 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.2 spg; Nyenhial Riak, 6-0, jr., PF, 12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.1 bpg; Sydni Olson, 5-8, sr., SF, 9 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.1 spg; Jayzmyn Ingersoll, 6-0, sr., PF; Evelyn Walker, 5-9, so., PF.
Other returning letterwinners: Megan Lowrey, 5-6, jr., SG; Khersa Morgan, 5-9, sr., SF.
Key fact: The seniors and juniors have developed in Green’s system, giving the Lancers experience with what he wants. Meanwhile, La Follette adds several freshmen, with considerable AAU experience, who could make an immediate impact on the team.
The lowdown: The Lancers return all five starters from last season, plus a couple key rotation players off the bench. Team MVP and senior point guard Kaytlin Eder will be the leader on and off the floor. She and 6-0 junior power forward, Nyenhial Riak, were both all-conference in the Big Eight last year. Eder, Riak, Lowrey and Olson are all scoring threats. With their speed, size and aggressive play Green hopes the Lancers will contend for a top three finish in the conference this year. To do that, Green said the Lancers must take better care of the ball.
Quotable: Coming into the third year of his system, Green said the seniors are now “believing in themselves and the system.” Madison La Follette now has “a group of girls who are willing to support each other and play together as a team,” he said.
Madison Memorial Spartans
Coach: Marques Flowers, fifth year (44-73 at Madison Memorial and overall)
Returning starters: Leilani Kapinus, 5-11, jr., G/F, 14.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 3.3 spg, 2.3 bpg; Liliana Garcia, 5-5, jr., PG, 6.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.4 spg; Emmoni Rankins, 5-7, jr., G, 8.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.6 spg; Daiysha Brown, 5-8, jr., G, 7.1 ppg, 3.1 spg; Maya White Eagle, 5-7, so., G, 9.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.1 spg.
Other returning letterwinners: Cynthia Rosales, 5-10, jr., G/F, 3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.3 bpg; Brooke Peters, 5-8, jr., G, 4.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg; Abby Wilson, 5-7, sr., G, 3.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1 apg; Reette Thorns, 6-1, jr., C, 1 ppg, 1.1 rpg; Alyana Enemuoh, 5-7, sr., G, 2.6 ppg; Elle Kinney, 5-6, sr., G, 2.2 ppg; Emma Tomalin, 5-11, jr., F/C; Abbey Maier, 6-0, sr., C; Lily Frisch, 5-7, sr., G, 1 ppg.
Key fact: The Spartans hosted and won their first playoff game in program history since the 2004-2005 season. Madison Memorial looks for its first Big Eight conference title since 1986-87.
The lowdown: Madison Memorial returns all of its starters and rotation players (14) from last year. “We are one of the most experienced teams in our league,” Flowers said. Junior first team all-conference guard/forward and reigning defensive player of the year Kapinus will be the force behind this versatile and heavily-favored Spartan team. Kapinus became the program’s all-time leader in steals and blocks last year and began the season needing 323 points to become the first to reach the 1,000-point mark in program history. Junior point guard Liliana Garcia also is on the verge of becoming the all-time leader in assists. The upperclassmen have their sights set on some big goals this year. “Our players have a strong understanding of our style of play and systems,” Flowers said, and “that continuity will provide us with a strong foundation to work from to start the season.”
Quotable: “We have developed many multi-skilled players, which allows us to play a `positionless’ style of basketball,” Flowers said.
Madison West Regents
Coach: Chaz Jones, fourth year (12-54 overall)
Returning starters: Kaitlin Manke, 5-3, sr., G, 4.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.6 spg; Grace McGrath, 5-8, sr., F, 4.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.4 apg.
Other returning letterwinners: Gabby Drucker, 5-7, sr., F/W, 6.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.2 bpg; Halle Brown, sr., W, 1.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg; Eniya Driscoll, sr., 1.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg; Josie Jankovich, sr., 1.6 ppg; Carson Drury, sr., G, 1.2 ppg; Lissy Kettleson, sr., 2.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg.
Key fact: The Regents -- who must replace leading scorer Kate Carlson, a senior last year – will rely on quickness, defense and hustle because they lack height, which could hamper their rebounding effort.
The lowdown: The Regents return eight letter winners this season. It will be a challenge, but Jones hopes West can make a jump from last year’s ninth-place finish in conference play to the middle of the pack. Despite losing three starters, Jones has seniors he will count on, including Gabby Drucker, Kaitlin Manke, Grace McGrath and Halle Brown. In order to be successful, Jones said, “We will depend heavily on our quickness and our ability to be extremely scrappy.”
Quotable: “This season I have a roster full of seniors,” Jones said. "It will be a complete team effort.”
Coach: Jeff Kind, 26th year (424-178 at Middleton, 578-262 overall)
Returning starters: Hannah Flottmeyer, 5-11, sr., F, 5.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg; Sitori Tanin, 6-2, jr., F, 8.7 ppg, 5 rpg; Josie Lemirande, 5-9, jr., G, 4.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg.
Other returning letterwinners: Charlotte Dunn, 5-9, sr., G, 4.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg; Evie Coleman, 5-10, jr., G, 5.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg; Karina Bursac, 5-11, jr., F, 7.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg.
Key fact: Tanin led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding last year and should be a formidable player in the lineup. She is receiving NCAA Division I interest.
The lowdown: Kind believes the Cardinals will contend for the league crown if they play more consistently on offense, reduce turnovers and improve their half-court defense. In addition to Tanin, four-year varsity forward Hannah Flottmeyer will provide strong leadership. Dunn, after missing the second half of last season, returns at point guard, permitting Lemirande to move to off-guard, along with Coleman. Bursac also figures into the rotation. “We have a long, athletic team and we have to learn to use that to our advantage,” Kind said.
Quotable: Kind believes his team “should be in the mix for the conference championship along with about seven other teams,” adding, “The conference is extremely balanced this year - look for a lot of close battles.”
Sun Prairie Cardinals
Coach: John Olson, ninth year (107-90 at Sun Prairie)
Returning starters: Grace Hilber, 5-6, sr., PG, 9.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.4 spg; Alexis Baker, 5-7, sr., G, 7.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.7 spg.
Other returning letterwinners: Elle Moore, 5-8, sr., W, 10.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.4 spg
Key fact: Senior sharpshooter Elle Moore will miss most of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her knee, though Olson said Moore might be able to return in late February The loss of Moore “will create a scoring and defensive void that has to be replaced,” Olson said.
The lowdown: Sun Prairie won the outright conference title last year after sharing the crown with Middleton the previous year. The Cardinals will be a relatively young and inexperienced team this year, especially after the injury to Moore and departure of the graduated Jayda Jansen and Carly Coulthart. Point guard Hilber, who has signed with NCAA Division II Lewis University in Illinois, will direct the attack, though she began the year sidelined due to an ankle injury. Senior Alexis Baker will provided needed experience. Sophomores will play key roles, including guard Bailey Lutes, wings Grace Radlund and Ashley Rae and post player Jazzanay Seymore. The Cardinals added a freshman guard Imani Simmons, a transfer from Marshall. Olson is optimistic, saying the team will play at a “high energy, up-tempo” pace, while also remaining patient as the younger players grow into their roles. Olson hopes the Cardinals can finish among the top five in league play.
Quotable: “This is a very smart and competitive group that can progress throughout the season,” Olson said.
Coach: Angie Murphy, 15th year (243-93 at Verona and overall)
Returning starters: Rayna Briggs, 5-6, jr., G, 10.5 ppg, 3 rpg; Kyiah Penn, 5-6, so., G, 7.5 ppg, 4 rpg; Sydney Rae, 6-1, sr., C, 5 ppg; Breyona Penn, 5-5, sr., G, 6.1 ppg.
Other returning letterwinners: Bre Duling, 5-3, sr., G; Ally Kundinger, 5-9, sr., G/F.
Key fact: Highly anticipated freshman guard Aaliyah Smith joins the program this year after playing with many of the state’s top players with Wisconsin Flight Elite during the AAU summer season. Smith ranks as the 16th-best player in the nation for her age level, according to the Naismith Youth National All-American report, Murphy said.
The lowdown: The Wildcats’ WIAA Division 1 state title team in 2016 had three starters 6-1 or taller, but Murphy said Verona will need to rely on its speed this season. The Wildcats return four starters and will be led by guards Briggs and Kyiah Penn. Verona will be young. Out of the 12 players, four are sophomores and one is a freshman.
Quotable: “We have the capability of being a dangerous team this season if we can do all the little (effort) things that take no talent, and take no plays off, “ Murphy said.
State Journal staff, Jon Masson