They’re young and they will run
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – The 2017 version of the Bay Port girls’ basketball team will be slightly different than years past.
With only a few seniors on the roster with varsity playing experience, expect the Pirates to pressure the ball defensively and get the ball out in the open court in transition with their young talent.
The 2016 Pirates finished 17-7 overall, 14-4 in the Fox River Classic Conference and saw their season end in the regional finals with a 38-37 loss to Sussex-Hamilton.
“I’ve been telling the girls that we are losing 70 percent of our offense from last season,” said head coach Kati Coleman, whose teams hosts Luxemburg-Casco on Friday, Nov. 17, in a season-opening, non-conference game at 7:00. “On the defensive end, Colleen (Torzala) was very good, as were Maddie (Re) and Meg (Knutson). Losing seven girls is always hard but the girls that were here last year got to see that success, and our JV team went undefeated.
“We are going to push the ball, get out and run, press and get up in (the opposition’s) face. I’m thinking 30 percent of our offense is going to be half-court, while the other part is going to be from steals, fast-breaks and pressing.”
Re (13 points, 12.2 rebounds per game) is now playing at Division II Truman State and broke the all-time career rebounding mark at Bay Port towards the end of her senior season. She and Knutson (13 ppg) were first-team all-conference.
“You can’t dwell on the players you lost,” added Coleman, who was also a star for Ashwaubenon and UWGB in her playing days. “You will miss those players but someone always fills the void.”
Coleman used the example of Brooke Harris from a few seasons ago. Her junior year she averaged under eight points per game but nearly doubled that her senior year.
A strong sophomore group – led by Alaina Abel, Emma Nagel and McKenzie Johnson – who were all a part of the state runner-up soccer team a season ago, should give Bay Port a strong nucleus for the next few years.
“When you have a group of girls like we do that has seen success in other sports, it really helps our program,” noted Coleman. “They like to win, so I don’t think they know any different.”
Add sophomores Mady Draak and Raegan McIntyre, and Bay Port has great depth and height from that class.
Junior Grace Krause, who was also a part of the state soccer team, saw extensive playing time on the varsity as a sophomore and will return. Juniors Kaitlyn Tingley, Autumn Arbour and Peyton Coughlin join from the JV team, while seniors Sofia Draghicchio and Alexis Tingley return from the varsity a season ago.
Senior Taz Smith and sophomore Nela Merxbauerova (Czech Republic) fill out the roster. Senior Amber Drier is the team’s manager.
Losing senior Grace Van Egeren to an ACL tear will be a huge loss. Van Egeren injured her knee this past summer and won’t be cleared for contact until May. She would have been counted on for her scoring and aggressive defense.
Coleman tabs Ashwaubenon and Notre Dame as the teams to beat in the FRCC but also says Southwest, and De Pere will be strong.
Coleman added, “I learned from one of my college coaches that you have to think you’re going to win conference. The FRCC will be very competitive this season but I think absolutely we will be up there.”
Notes: Bay Port also lost seniors Alexis Farmer, Natalia Draghicchio, Taylor Arbour and Amber Freeman.
The sophomore group won the Powderpuff football championship for the second year in a row in early October.
The Pirates have never won a FRCC title. The last time they won a conference title overall was in 2004 when they were members of the Bay Conference.
For a complete schedule, log on to the FRCC website and navigate your way to the girls basketball schedule.