Wolves look to take next step
By Josh Staloch
ALGOMA – Head coach Mark Zastrow and the Algoma High girls basketball team is ready for a level up.
With last season’s 13-15 overall record (7-9 in the Packerland Conference) in the rearview mirror, the Wolves will look to its core of juniors and sophomores, along with a key senior leader, to move things forward as the team looks to compete at a higher level in a tough conference.
“I think we’re going to be good defensively, which we weren’t in the last couple years. When we are at our best, we control, we pressed full court the entire game. We brought the heat, brought the pressure. It gave us a certain mentality that we’re here, we’re in a dogfight and our opponent us going to have to deal with us”
Now in his 18th year coaching the team, coach Zastrow, known as a vocal, intense sideline general, said he likes how this year’s group is progressing so far.
With the Wolves only a week in to official practice, he’s comfortable with allowing the girls to work things out for themselves.
The team meets at half court after every session and has a talk about that day’s practice, what worked, what can be improved on.
Zastrow said it’s all about the players holding each other accountable.
“I love the way our players are handling practices right now,” Zastrow said. “They’re all working very hard and I think we’re going to improve throughout the year.”
Seven players from last year’s team have graduated and so Algoma will rely heavily on the only senior on its roster in Ryley Zimmerman, a First Team All-Conference pick from last season, for a lot of leadership and big minutes this year.
Juniors Nora Krause, Sierra Slaby and Brooke Mattson are also going to be playing a lot this season along with sophomores Callie Haegele, Macie Zimmerman, Jadyn Nellis, Therese Gerdmann and Mia Barragan.
Coach Zastrow said the team has a challenging non-conference schedule that will test the Wolves in all aspects of the game.
The team opens with Bonduel at home and then has road matchups with Freedom and Mishicot, both solid teams, before beginning Packerland play against N.E.W. Lutheran.
But improvement, coach Zastrow said, is the expectation and he has no doubt the team will make that goal a reality.
“We weren’t far off last year,” he said. “We lost some tough ones but we were in most of our games.”
Algoma will look to play a very aggressive brand of defense to counter for a lack of overall depth.
They’ll be using a couple of different defensive schemes but look for the Wolves to play fast and in opponents’ faces, looking to make them work hard just to move the ball around.
This season will hinge on how well the team’s juniors and sophomores can develop over the tough early schedule, but Zastrow says he is encouraged by the team’s energy so far and that he hopes the enthusiasm carries over into the regular season.
“I like where the mindset of the team is right now and I like the leadership I see developing,” he said. And I really like the fact that they’re competing to get better. We’re not going through the motions, there’s a real effort to be the best we can be.”