Kewaunee aims to take flight in Packerland
KEWAUNEE – Wings on a basketball court and wings on a fighter jet are much different things.
But Kewaunee High School girls basketball coach Lynn Geier is finding common ground between the two this season.
Geier had her players watch the movie “Top Gun” during the first week of practice to help relay an important message to her talented team.
“I’m trying to get my team to believe in one another and take care of one another,” Geier said about choosing to watch the 1986 film. “Basically, make sure you’re there for your wingman. We have to stick together as a team because that’s the only way we’re going to do something this year.”
The Storm is aiming to reach the top of the Packerland Conference standings in what should be a highly competitive year for the eight-team league.
Kewaunee and Southern Door are tabbed as the preseason favorites, according to a survey of coaches conducted by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
Algoma — the 10-time defending champion — is flying under the radar a bit after graduating standouts Baleigh Delorit (who is attending Northern Michigan University) and Anna Dier (University of Wisconsin-Green Bay).
The Wolves had their 46-game conference winning streak come to an end Nov. 21 in a 58-54 overtime loss at Gibraltar.
The contest serves as a microcosm as to why nobody should expect to cruise through the conference with an unblemished record this season.
“I still think they’re the favorite,” Geier said about Algoma prior to the season. “I think the tradition that they bring, and the intensity they bring with that full-court press, those girls aren’t just going to lay down. They’re going to play hard.”
Geier wants her to team to play the same way in pursuit of its first conference title since it won shares of three straight Packerland championships with Algoma from 2011 to 2013.
The Storm is bringing back all of its starters and has eight seniors on the team, including Bri Barta, Abby Baumgartner, Brooke Geier, Angie Kudick, Hannah Lamack, Kristen Malach, Ellie Olsen and McKenna Rentmeester.
The collection of players have helped the school win conference titles in track and field, cross country and volleyball this year. It would like to add the elusive title in basketball before they graduate.
“The way we perform on the practice court is going to be the way we perform on the game court, so we always have to do our best and give it everything,” said Brooke Geier, the coach’s daughter.
Geier surpassed 1,000-career points last season and averaged 18.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 assists per game as a first-team all-conference choice.
Olsen (9.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg) was named second-team all-conference, while Kudick (9.7 ppg) and sophomore Sara Dax (8.0 ppg) received honorable mention.
“They all need to complement each other,” Coach Geier said. “I want those blue-collar workers that are getting down and dirty on those loose balls, getting rebounds and pushing the ball down the floor. That’s the kind of team I want.”
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Coach: Mark Zastrow, 11th year.
2015-16 record: 23-3, 14-0 Packerland.
Projected starters and top reserves: Madison Feld (so., G, 5-5), Courtney Guilette (jr., G, 5-9), Makayla Guilette (so., F, 5-10), Mikayla Haack (jr., G, 5-6), Jordan Jossie (jr., G, 5-4), Karina Naze (jr., G, 5-5), Sierra Nessinger (so., F, 5-9), Shauna Slaby (sr., F, 5-6), Alli Spitzer (jr., G, 5-7), Lucy Wiese (jr., G, 5-6)
Notable: Baleigh Delorit (2015) and Anna Dier (2016) leave some big shoes to fill for the Wolves after being the conference players of the year in back-to-back seasons. Haack, Spitzer and Courtney Guilette are returning starters. Spitzer was an honorable mention all-conference choice last season.
Coach: Josh Kropuenske, seventh year.
2015-16 record: 17-8, 8-6.
Projected starters and top reserves: Sheridan Ash (sr., F, 6-1), Bria Caldecott (so., G/F, 5-9), Raina Haleen (jr., G, 5-8), Riley Haleen (sr., G/F, 5-10), Hannah Helm (sr., G, 5-4), Sofia Jauregui (jr., G, 5-7), Payton Pluff (so., F, 5-11), Abbigael Sitte (fr., G, 5-4),Ida Whitney (jr., G/F, 5-10).
Notable: The Vikings set a program record for wins last season. They’ll have to replace Lauren Kita (12.0 ppg, 3.9 apg), a four-year starter and first-team all-conference choice. Ash averaged 10.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season. Riley Haleen (5.2 ppg and 3.4 apg) is also a returning starter.
Coach: Lynn Geier, 14th year (nonconsecutive).
2015-16 record: 16-7, 11-3.
Projected starters and top reserves: Bri Barta (sr., G, 5-4), Abby Baumgartner (sr., F/C, 6-0), Sara Dax (so., F/C, 6-0), Brooke Geier (sr., G/F, 5-8), Angie Kudick (sr., G, 5-5), Hannah Lamack (sr., G, 5-7), Kristen Malach (sr., F, 5-6), Ellie Olsen (sr., F/C, 5-10), McKenna Rentmeester (sr., G, 5-5).
Notable: Geier (first team), Olsen (second team), Kudick (honorable mention) and Dax (honorable mention) received all-conference recognition last season. Geier (16.9 ppg) was the conference’s second-leading scorer, while Olsen averaged 6.0 rebounds per game to lead the team.
Northeastern Wisconsin Lutheran
Coach: Nicki Natzke, fourth year.
2015-16 record: 10-15, 5-9.
Returning starters: Morgan Meerstein (sr., G, 5-8), Taylor Natzke (sr., G/F, 5-5), Morgan Steffke (sr., G, 5-5), Afton Wenger (so., G, 5-5).
Notable: The Blazers return a majority of their starting lineup, but have to replace Alivia Wilke, who led the team with 5.6 rebounds per game and received honorable mention all-conference accolades. Meerstein, an honorable mention all-conference choice, averaged 11.5 points, 3.1 assists and 2.9 steals per game to lead the team.
Coach: Russ Young, 26th year.
2015-16 record: 9-14, 5-9.
Projected starters and top reserves: Mara Allen (so., F, 6-0), Becky Berth (jr., F, 5-7), Hattie Gering (so., F, 5-7), Jenna Hornblad (fr., F, 5-8), Jasey Jicha (jr., G, 5-5), Sydney Koch (so., F, 5-10), Alyson Nerenhausen (sr., F, 5-10), Lauryn Nerenhausen (jr., G, 5-7), Elizabeth Suarez (so., G, 5-5), Jaysa Young (jr., G, 5-6).
Notable: Kelly Stewart (11.6 ppg), the team’s leading scorer and a second-team all-conference choice, has to be replaced. Berth (9.1 ppg), Jicha (5.3) and Young (4.9 ppg) are returning starters. Berth earned honorable mention all-conference accolades last season. Alyson Nerenhausen is returning from a torn ACL.
Coach: Dan Judas, third year.
2015-16 record: 4-19, 0-14.
Returning letter winners: Stephanie Bemmann (so., F, 5-9), Jessica Emerick (sr., F, 5-7), Patricia Estrada (sr., G, 5-4), Anna Giblin (sr., G, 5-4), Jillie Jorns (jr., F, 5-7),Lexie LeClair (jr., G, 5-6), Amber Roalkvan (so., G, 5-3), Courtney Tebo (jr., F, 5-8),Olivia Wagner (sr., G, 5-4).
Notable: Giblin, Wagner and Estrada are returning starters. The Pioneers have to replace Adaline Nelson (7.5 ppg), who was the team’s leading scorer and an honorable mention all-conference choice.
Coach: Brandon Wautier, sixth year.
2015-16 record: 18-5, 11-3.
Projected starters and top reserves: Gabby Atkins (jr., G, 5-6), Tehya Bertrand (so., F, 5-8), Katie Guilette (sr., F, 5-8), Meghan LaCrosse (jr., C, 6-3), Grace LeGrave (so., G, 5-8), Hanna Mallien (sr., G, 5-7), Megan Pavlik (sr., F, 5-8), Alexa Soto (sr., G, 5-6).
Notable: Atkins, LaCrosse, Pavlik and Soto are returning starters. LaCrosse (13.2 ppg), a first-team all-conference choice and three-year starter, averaged 9.8 rebounds per game in conference play to lead the Packerland last season. Pavlik (12.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Soto (7.6 ppg) earned second-team all-conference accolades, while Atkins (8.3 ppg) received honorable mention.
Coach: Erik Tauschek, second year.
2015-16 record: 2-20, 2-12.
Projected starters and top reserves: Allison Alberts (jr., G, 5-4), Tanya Blau (jr., F, 5-10), Allison Bridenhagen (jr., F, 5-9), Sarah Bridenhagen (fr., G, 5-4), Hailey Degrave (fr., G, 5-7), Morgan Nelson (jr., G, 5-5), Andie Rockendorf (jr., F, 5-6).
Notable: The Clippers don’t have a senior on the roster, but return seven juniors that earned varsity letters last season. Blau averaged 3.7 rebounds per game to tie for the team lead and is a returning starter along with Rockendorf.
– Andrew Pekarek, Green Bay Press-Gazette
This article originally appeared on Wisconsin: Kewaunee aims to take flight in Packerland