Last season’s recap: The Blackhawks lost in the regional quarterfinal to rival Jefferson to end its season 3-20. Fort Atkinson finished the Badger South with a 0-14 conference record.
Coach’s resume: Michael Rajsich looks to build off his first season with the Blackhawks in year two.
Top returners: Tyla Staude returns for a junior season after being named to the Badger South’s honorable-mention list season as a sophomore. Staude was second on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game and had scoring outputs of 29 and 25 in single games last year.
Junior Taylor Marquart will bring her passing and defensive abilities to the Blackhawks this season once again. Marquart also will look to improve on her scoring after averaging 8.4 points per game. Junior Kiara Wolfram will be the defensive specialist for Fort Atkinson, while sophomore Brooke Christiansen brings a rebounding presence to the Blackhawks.
Departing players: Fort Atkinson loses its post player from last season in Anna Schoenike, who now plays basketball at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Schoenike is one of four seniors departing from the Blackhawks.
Season thoughts: “We will continue to work on improving every single day,” Rajsich said.
Last season’s recap: Jefferson finished the season 13-12 and advanced all the way to the regional final after the Eagles defeated rival Fort Atkinson and upset No. 2 seed Elkhorn in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal. Jefferson lost the next round to Waterford in overtime to end its season. The Eagles went 9-9 in the Rock Valley Conference.
Coach’s resume: Mark Peterson enters his second season after helping the Eagles finish above .500 in year one.
Top returners: Senior sharpshooter Ainsley Howard made the Rock Valley’s second team after averaging 14 points per game last season. Josie Peterson and Ayianna Johnson were both honorable-mention conference selections last year. Peterson — a senior — was third on the team in scoring with 6.4 points per game, while Johnson made an impact as a freshman last year scoring 8.4 points per game, second-best on the team.
Junior guards Riley Madden and Abby Helmink played significant minutes last season and should make for a strong backcourt rotation with Howard.
Departing players: Jefferson has 11 returning varsity players, including six seniors. The Eagles return all five of their starters from last season’s regional-final team.
Season thoughts: “We are excited about the upcoming season,” Mark Peterson said. “We have a very solid group of dedicated seniors along with some talented juniors and sophomores hoping to have a season.”
Last season’s recap: Cambridge earned a regional crown and advanced all the way to the sectional final last season. The Blue Jays finished the year 13-13 and 5-5 in the Capitol South, which was tied for second in the conference standings.
Coach’s resume: Kelly Cunningham will be at the helm for her third season. In Cunningham’s first two years at Cambridge, she has helped the Blue Jays to a 20-30 record.
Top returners: Mayah Holzhueter was selected to the Capitol South’s first team last season, scoring 12.6 points per game as a sophomore forward. That was a team-high, and Holzhueter also grabbed a team-best 8.5 rebounds per game last season.
Junior Taylor Stenklyft joins Holzhueter as a returning junior and a 2019-2020 starter for the Blue Jays. Stenklyft scored 5.8 points per game last season.
“They (Holzhueter and Stenklyft) both have two years of varsity experience which is going to be huge for us,” Cunningham said. “Stenklyft can lock in defensively and take care of business.”
Departing players: Cambridge lost five seniors to graduation, three of which were starters. Graduated seniors Gracie Korth (10.7 points per game) Olivia Williams (9.9 points per game) were second and third in scoring for the Blue Jays last season, respectively.
“We lost some strong leadership with (Olivia) Williams and (Gracie) Korth as captains, as well as being two very versatile players,” Cunningham said. “Both girls handled the ball well under pressure and would utilize their abilities to play inside.
“Mayah Holzhueter will be back as a huge presence in the post, but has expanded her game outside as well,” Cunningham said. “This season will give Taylor the opportunity to step in and demonstrate her skills as a point guard on the offensive end.”
Season thoughts: “We are looking forward to this season,” Cunningham said. “Despite the uniqueness of this season, we are really looking forward to getting started. The girls are eager to get back together as a team and continue to work.”
Last season’s recap: The Warriors went 13-11, including a 5-5 record in the Capitol North, which was good for fourth. Lakeside Lutheran lost to Kettle Moraine Lutheran in a WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal game to end its season.
Coach’s resume: Andy Asmus takes over after Tim Matthies stepped down as the Warriors’ head coach after 22 years. Asmus helped the junior and freshmen teams at Lakeside to a 251-39 record from 2003-2018.
Top returners: Lakeside Lutheran senior guards Mia Murray and Morgan Slonaker were honorable-mention selections in the Capitol North last season. Murray scored a team-high 8.6 points a game and was second in rebounding (4.1) and first in steals (2.3). Slonaker scored 4.8 points per game and secured 3.8 rebounds a game.
Both should see an uptick in production in their final seasons, along with senior Lily Schuetz, who was third on the team in scoring last season at 5.0 points per game.
Asmus noted Murray’s physical strength and aggressiveness, as well as Slonaker’s calmness under pressure and leadership. Schuetz’s leaping ability and defensive pressure were also noted by Asmus.
Departing players: The Warriors will be without Lauren Thiele, who was a second-team conference selection last year. Thiele scored 8.3 points per game and led Lakeside in both rebounds (5.9 points per game) and steals (1.8 points per game).
Asmus is expecting Claire Liddiocat and Julia Neuberger to help replace Lakeside’s lone departing senior.
Season thoughts: “Our kids are looking forward to starting the season,” Asmus said. “There is an energy and enthusiasm in the hallways. We are returning 11 players from last year’s team and are hoping younger players can contribute early. Our strengths will be our experience and depth. We hope to improve our outside shooting and team defense and rebounding.”
Last season’s recap: The L-Cats punched their first-ever ticket to the WIAA Division 3 state tournament. Lake Mills’ season ended in the state semifinals, finishing the season 24-3. The L-Cats won the Capitol North title with a 9-1 record.
Coach’s resume: Brandon Siska is 46-26 with Lake Mills as he enters his fourth season with the school.
Top returners: The L-Cats bring back 298 varsity starts from last season. Lake Mills senior point guard Julianna Wagner was named Capitol North Player of the Year last season. As a junior, Wagner scored 13.3 points per game on 82 percent shooting from the free-throw line and added 4.6 assists per contest.
Along with Wagner, senior forward Vivian Guerrero was also a unanimous first-team conference selection last year. Guerrero nearly averaged a double-double a game last season, scoring 11 points per contest and grabbing 9.1 boards.
Senior guard Taylor Roughen and forward Jade Pitta were both second-team Capitol North selections last season. Roughen scored 11.6 points per game, along with averaging 2.4 assists and 2.4 steals per contest. Pitta scored 10 points a game and averaged 3.8 rebounds.
As a sophomore, McClain Mahone was an honorable-mention conference selection.
“We are athletic, can shoot the 3 and we play really hard and are unselfish,” Siska said.
Departing players: Lake Mills losses no seniors from its state-qualifying team.
Season thoughts: “It will be an adjustment early in the season before we have Julianna back at full strength,” Siska said of the senior guard who tore her ACL in the state semifinals. “We have a talented, athletic and determined group of seniors ready to step up to that challenge. I expect us to improve as the season progresses and to be at our best when February rolls around. I am excited to see this special group of seniors showcase their talent and hard work.”
Last season’s recap: Whitewater went 13-11 last season, losing in the regional final versus Martin Luther. The Whippets finished fourth in the Rock Valley Conference with an 11-7 mark.
Coach’s resume: Kristen Lippens enters her third season as the head coach of Whitewater. She’s helped the Whippets to a 26-22 record in her first two years.
Top returners: Whitewater returns one of the best players in the Rock Valley in senior guard Kacie Carollo. The UW-Whitewater commit scored 19.1 points per game for the Whippets and broke the 1,000 career-point mark last year. Carollo — a first-team conference selection — ended with 20 or more points 14 times her junior year, including six 20-point plus performances to end the season.
“Kacie is a dominant threat, both offensively and defensively,” Lippens said. “She has tremendous athletic abilities, outstanding basketball IQ and great court awareness. She is a great outside shooter but can also take it to the rim.”
Senior Cora Linos will help the Whippets with her size down low. The 6-foot-1-inch Linos was fifth on the team in rebounding last season.
Departing players: Carollo loses her backcourt mate Abby Grosinske, to graduation. Grosinske — a second-team Rock Valley selection — was second on the team in scoring at 12.1 points per contest. The Whippets also lose their third-leading scorer in Cassidy Laue, as well as their fourth-leading scorer in Alyssa Schumacher.
Season thoughts: “This is going to be a unique and challenging season,” Lippens said. “We are grateful that we are able to get the players in the gym and we will take advantage of any opportunity we have.”
Last season’s recap: The Panthers finished second in the Trailways South standings with a 9-3 conference record and an 11-12 overall mark. Palmyra-Eagle ended its season with a loss to Dodgeland in a WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinal game.
Coach’s resume: Brad Czeshinski takes over as the Panthers head coach after three years as a junior varsity head coach as well as being an assistant on the varsity team.
Top returners: Senior guard Ally Czeshinski was a first-team conference selection in the Trailways South last season after averaging team-highs in points (13.5 per game), rebounds (8.1 per game) and assists (2.6 per game).
Senior guard Ally Fredrick and junior guard Kyler Koutsky were both honorable mentions in the Trailways South last year. Between Czeshinski, Frederick and Koutsky, the Panthers should have one of the better backcourts in the conference this season.
Departing players: Palmyra-Eagle lost one senior from last year’s team with the departure of Hannah Steinbach — who was a second-team selection in the Trailways South.
Season thoughts: “It’s an unusual season, I think for certain the girls just want to play ball and have some fun,” Czeshinski said.
Last season’s recap: The Bluejays finished sixth in the Trailways South last season, going 2-10 in conference and 3-20 overall. Johnson Creek lost in the first round of regionals to Horicon.
Coach’s resume: Jake Wedig will be in his fourth season with the Bluejays, collecting a 11-56 record through three seasons.
Top returners: The Bluejays bring back their top scorer in junior guard Lexi Swanson. Swanson averaged 11.2 points per game and was a rebounding machine at the guard position, grabbing 10.5 per game, which was seventh-best in all of Division 4. Swanson was selected to the conference’s second-team as a sophomore.
Like Swanson, Hannah Budig will be a returning-starting guard for Johnson Creek. The third-year point guard netted 4.3 points per game last year.
“I look for her (Budig) to make a jump and have a great season,” Wedig said.
Departing players: Johnson Creek loses three starters and four seniors from last year’s team. The biggest loss was two-time all-conference player Brooke Joseph, who led the Bluejays in steals.
Johnson Creek will look toward sophomore guard Brittany Rue to help replace some productivity. Rue appeared in 16 games last season as a freshman. Josey Whitehouse — another sophomore guard — will also look to build off her freshman season, a year she saw action in 15 games.
Season thoughts: “We are going to be a very young team with not a lot of varsity experience,” Wedig said. “We have zero seniors on our team and we are looking to develop our players and compete night in, night out.”