Ready to make a run: Bay Port girls’ basketball preview
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – The Bay Port girls’ basketball team won its first-ever Fox River Classic Conference title last season and came within a whisker of qualifying for the WIAA state tournament. With a young, but yet experienced and talented roster returning, the Pirates appear set to take that next step.
The Pirates, who were picked seventh in the FRCC preseason polls last year, finished 14-4 in conference play, a full game ahead of Notre Dame. They lost in the sectional finals to Arrowhead, 49-34.
“I can promise you that we won’t be picked seventh this year,” said Bay Port head coach Kait Coleman, who is the reigning FRCC coach of the year and helped lead her team to a 20-6 overall record a season ago. “Our conference is going to be just as weird as it was last year. The FRCC had a lot of seniors that graduated. There is a ton of young talent, including a few young freshmen that people don’t know about. I don’t think the conference champ is going to lose five games, but I feel like the top the five teams are pretty interchangeable.”
Bay Port returns seven players that saw significant playing time in 2017-18, including four that were members of the 2018 WIAA state championship soccer team this past spring.
Juniors Alaina Abel, McKenzie Johnson and Emma Nagel were all a part of that team, as was senior Grace Krause.
“That state championship experience is very valuable,” Coleman said. “We can’t forget that they were in the state championship game as freshmen, too. They’ve been in some big games and pressure situations, so it will definitely help us this year. Our whole team is a bunch of competitors.”
Johnson (second team all-conference, 11.7 points per game), Nagel (first team, 10.3), Abel (honorable mention, 8.8) and 6-foot junior Mady Draak (honorable mention, 9.8) are all capable of filling the nets.
Nagel led the team with 8.5 rebounds and 3.4 steals per outing.
Abel, a defensive stalwart, chipped in with over two assists and two steals a game, while Johnson nailed 44 three-point field goals. Draak is already garnering Division 1 interest.
Junior Raegan McIntyre (6.0) and seniors Peyton Coughlin (5.7) and Krause (5.2) will add valuable scoring depth.
Senior Autumn Arbour, junior Kenzie Nolle and freshman Emma Krueger round out the 10-player roster.
Despite her youth, Coleman said Krueger is very crafty on the offensive end and is a true competitor.
Coleman knows other teams will be giving her team their best effort each and every game. Look for De Pere, Green Bay Preble and Green Bay Southwest to also have strong seasons.
“I tell the girls that the best shot is the best pass,” Coleman added. “It might take us a little bit to work things out with our chemistry, but it’s nice having so many options. We don’t have to rely on one single player and things will be spread out. You can’t just shut one of our players down because we have others who can step up.”
Bay Port lost four seniors from last year – Sofia Draghicchio, Taz Smith, Alexis Tingley and Grace Van Egeren. Losing that foursome of graduates accounted for only six percent of the scoring.
Van Egeren lost the entire season due to an ACL tear before the season started and is now playing at UW-Eau Claire.
Senior Kaitlyn Tingley has also decided not to play this year due to repeated concussions a season ago but will remain with the team as the manager.
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