Madison Memorial senior wing Leilani Kapinus and Beaver Dam junior guard Maty Wilke were first-team selections on The Associated Press All-State girls basketball team, chosen by a statewide panel of sports reporters and released Wednesday night.
The 5-foot-11 Kapinus, the Big Eight Conference Player of the Year and a Penn State commit, came back from a knee injury that sidelined her for most of her junior season and averaged 18 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.5 steals, 2.2 blocked shots and 1.8 assists per game for the Spartans, who shared the conference title with Middleton. Second-ranked Madison Memorial (24-2) advanced to a WIAA Division 1 sectional final, falling to top-ranked Middleton 61-58.
The 5-10 Wilke, the Badger North Conference’s top player and a heavily recruited prospect, averaged 16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.6 steals for the league champion Golden Beavers. Beaver Dam advanced to the Division 2 state tournament, where it was seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive state title, but didn’t get to play because of the tournament’s cancellation due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wilke was the only junior on the first team, which also included unanimous player of the year Lexi Donarski of La Crosse Aquinas, Racine Lutheran senior Caroline Strande and West Bend West senior Maddison Baker.
Iowa State commit Donarski, a 5-10 senior guard who was a unanimous first-team pick along with Minnesota-bound Strande, was the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association’s “Miss Basketball,” the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American selection.
Lexi Donarski’s father, Aquinas coach Dave Donarski, was named coach of the year. The Blugolds, who won the past two state titles in Division 4, won their Division 4 state semifinal but didn’t get to play in the title game when the state tournament was canceled.
“He loved everyone on the team and treated everyone equally,” Lexi Donarski said of her father. “It was very special to have that bond with our whole team and with him as the coach. We were truly a family.”
Lexi Donarski averaged 24.2 points, 6.9 assists, 5.5 steals and 4.5 rebounds per game. Aquinas defeated Crandon 73-42 in a state semifinal in which Donarski had 23 points, nine assists, seven steals and five rebounds. She shot 57.2% from the floor, 45.1% from the 3-point line and 81.2% from the foul line as a senior to cap a career that began on the AP all-state third team. She moved up to the second team as a sophomore before earning first-team spots her last two seasons.
Among other area players, Loyola (Illinois) commit Sitori Tanin, a 6-2 senior forward from Middleton, earned second-team recognition; Marshall 6-1 junior forward Anna Lutz, who’s orally committed to UW-Milwaukee, was on the third team; and Beaver Dam senior guard Jada Donaldson, also a UW-Milwaukee commit, was named to the fourth team.
Black Hawk senior Natalie Leuzinger, a 5-9 guard who will be a preferred walk-on at the University of Wisconsin, was chosen for the fourth team. Platteville 6-2 senior Sami Martin was a third-team pick.
Area players who earned honorable mention recognition included Beaver Dam junior Natalie Jens, Marshall junior Laura Nickel, Madison Memorial senior Emmoni Rankins, Watertown Luther Prep sophomore Grace Schmidt, DeForest senior Maggie Trautsch, Oregon senior Liz Uhl and Lake Mills junior Julianna Wagner.
Region players who received honorable mention recognition included Evansville senior Paige Banks and Mineral Point senior Nicole Johnson. Black Hawk junior Bailey Butler also was an honorable-mention pick.
There was little doubt Lexi Donarski would be player of the year.
Dave Donarski first coached his daughter Lexi in a basketball game 14 years ago.
The thought of that luxury coming to an end probably didn’t cross his mind until late this season.
“It wasn’t until the last 10 games, or around there,” Dave Donarski said. “Then it was like, ‘I only have a month left’ or ‘I only have a week left.’ “That was hard.”
What the two accomplished together with Aquinas will forever be etched in history, but it received something much more than a footnote with the AP honors nearly two weeks after their final game was called off due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The Blugolds (25-1 this season) qualified for the past four Division 4 championship games and won two of the three they played.
Their semifinal win gave the Blugolds a championship game against Melrose-Mindoro (26-1), the same team it defeated for titles in 2018 and 2019.
But even as the postseason awards begin to pile up, they won’t erase the fact that the Blugolds didn’t get the chance to win a third championship.
“The awards are truly a great honor, every single one of them,” Lexi said. “It’s still painful, though, because we didn’t get to finish the year the way we wanted to.
“It’s still really fresh in my head, and this team was really, really close this year. It would have been another game to play with my dad, my sister (Macy) and, the senior class and everyone else.”
Said Dave Donarski: “I feel the same as she does with the awards,” Dave said. “I know how badly she wanted to win that (championship) game. It was tough talking to the girls after (the tournament was canceled). It was no one’s fault, but it was tough.”
Dave Donarski, whose record over six seasons with the team is 147-13, was selected from a nomination group that included Middleton’s Jeff Kind, Beaver Dam’s Tim Chase, Hortonville’s Celeste Ratka, Black Hawk’s Michael Flanagan, Oconomowoc’s Bob Shea, Platteville’s Mike Foley, Bay Port’s Kati Coleman, Laconia’s Chris Morgan and Wrightstown’s Mike Froehlke.
Donarski also was the state’s coach of the year after Aquinas defeated Melrose-Mindoro 68-52 for the championship in 2018. This season’s version of the Blugolds won 18 games by more than 40 points and beat eventual MSHSL Class AAA finalist DeLaSalle 81-30 and three-time defending Division 2 state champion Beaver Dam 53-36.
2019-20 AP ALL-STATE GIRLS BASKETBALL
PLAYER OF THE YEAR – Lexi Donarski, La Crosse Aquinas (unanimous)
COACH OF THE YEAR – Dave Donarski, La Crosse Aquinas
Maddison Baker, 6-2, sr., West Bend West; Lexi Donarski, 5-10, sr., La Crosse Aquinas (unanimous); Leilani Kapinus, 5-11, sr., Madison Memorial; Caroline Strande, 5-11, sr., Racine Lutheran (unanimous); Maty Wilke, 5-10, jr., Beaver Dam.
Leah Earnest, 5-11, sr., Stevens Point; Macy McGlone, 6-3, sr., Hortonville; Anna Mortag, 6-0 sr., Brookfield Central; Jaddan Simmons, 5-9, sr., Green Bay Southwest; Sitori Tanin, 6-2, sr., Middleton.
Courtney Becker, 6-0, sr., La Crosse Aquinas; Bridget Froehlke, 5-9, sr., Wrightstown; Anna Lutz, 6-1, jr, Marshall; Sami Martin, 6-2, sr., Platteville; Natalie McNeal, 5-8, sr., Germantown.
Abbie Aalsma, 5-9, so., Waupun; Jada Donaldson, 5-6, sr., Beaver Dam; Natalie Leuzinger, 5-9, sr., Black Hawk; Khamya McNeal, 5-7, sr., Milwaukee King; Olivia Sobczak, 6-0, sr., Oconomowoc.
Kamorea Arnold, fr., Germantown; Paige Banks, sr., Evansville; Bailey Butler, jr., Black Hawk; Mesa Byom, sr., Melrose-Mindoro; Angie Cera, sr., Mukwonago; Ella Diny, sr., Wrightstown; Carley Duffney, jr., Green Bay Preble; Olivia Gamoke, jr., Onalaska; Morgann Gardner, jr., Racine Lutheran; Remi Geiger, sr., Loyal
Caelan Givens, sr., Chippewa Falls; Erin Hedman, sr., New Berlin Eisenhower; Emily Herzberg, sr., Melrose-Mindoro; Dru Henning, sr., Mukwonago; Ellie Hoesley, sr., Arcadia; Natalie Jens, jr., Beaver Dam; Mackenzie Johnson, sr., Bay Port; Nicole Johnson, sr., Mineral Point; Lily Krahn, so., Prairie du Chien; Jasmine Kondrakiewicz, sr., Pius XI
Emily La Chapell, so., Appleton East; Isabella Lenz, jr., Prescott; Peyton McGinnis, sr., Waupun; Sarah Mueller, sr., Stevens Point Pacelli; Brianna Nelson, sr., Eleva-Strum; Laura Nickel, jr., Marshall; Olivia Pitrof, sr., Racine Horlick; Olivia Rangel, jr., Franklin; Emmoni Rankins, sr., Madison Memorial; Haley Rens, jr., Laconia
Katie Rohner, sr., Waterford; Becca Schauer, sr., Ozaukee; Lauren Schill, sr., Pewaukee; Grace Schmidt, so., Watertown Luther Prep; Kylie Schmidt, jr., Mishicot; Maddy Schreiber, jr., Kimberly; Julia Seidel, sr., Wausau Newman Catholic; Kylie Strop, sr., River Falls; Taylor Theusch, sr., La Crosse Aquinas; Maggie Trautsch, sr., DeForest
Liz Uhl, sr., Oregon; Kennedy Van Zile, sr., Rhinelander; Hailey Voelker, sr., Colby; Julianna Wagner, jr., Lake Mills; Emma Wollert, sr., Sheboygan Falls; Madison Zimmer, sr., Clear Lake.
— The La Crosse Tribune’s Todd Sommerfeldt, the State Journal’s Jon Masson contributed to this report.
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