By Rich Palzewic
A trio of freshman girls’ basketball players in the Fox River Classic Conference are already making a big impact this season.
Ashwaubenon’s Lily Hansford, Bay Port’s Emma Krueger and De Pere’s Jordan Meulemans are seeing significant playing time and helping their respective teams in the rugged FRCC.
The 5-foot-11 Hansford is a UWGB recruit and scoring about 10 points per game. She scored a career-high 20 at Sheboygan North Nov. 30.
“Offensively, Lily can shoot,” said Ashwaubenon head coach Nicky VanLaanen. “With my time coaching in college (St. Norbert) and high school, she’s probably the best pure three-point shooter I’ve ever coached, bar none – she can score. Our goal with Lily is to make her a complete player. My job the next four years is to get her ready for that next transition into college, especially on the defensive end.”
Hansford has scored 14 or more points in a game this season four times, including 15 against Bay Port on five made three-pointers.
“I feel like my year is going great,” Hansford said. “I would for sure say that the speed of the game is much faster than in eighth grade. I’m happy with my playing time and my shots are falling.”
Krueger, who scored a career-high 21 points Dec. 27 against Arrowhead, is vying for valuable minutes on a Bay Port squad that is loaded with talent and currently ranked No. 4 in Division I with a 10-0 record.
“It’s nice to see young talent in Northeast Wisconsin,” said Bay Port head coach Kati Coleman. “Emma is a hard worker and always plays even-keeled. She could be having the worst game or the best game of her life, and she’s going to have the same mentality. She had nice games against Southwest (15 points) and Ashwaubenon (13). She still has a lot to show – I think she’s only scratched the surface.”
The 5-foot-5 Krueger also had 15 points at Sheboygan South Nov. 30.
“I think my start has been pretty good,” said Krueger, who is also averaging about 10 points per game. “Now that I have played a few games, I’m starting to settle in and realize that I can play at this level. My teammates have been amazing as well – being the only freshman on the team, we have good chemistry. I still need to work on my defense, keeping my head on a swivel and knowing when to close out. I look forward to more improvement and seeing what this team can do this season.”
Krueger is shooting an impressive 40.6 percent (13-32) from beyond the three-point line.
Meulemans is also a UWGB recruit along with Hansford and is scoring 12 points per game for the 10-1 Redbirds, who are ranked No. 5 in Division I.
“Jordan’s start to our season has been outstanding from day one,” said De Pere head coach Jeremy Boileau. “She comes to practice ready to compete and always brings her maximum effort. It is rare to have a freshman as ready to play high school basketball as she is. She has been asked to guard the opponent’s best perimeter and post players this year and she loves the challenge. Jordan is very unselfish and very coachable and has quickly shown her ability to score inside and outside from the three-point line.”
Meulemans had a career-high 18 points at Ashwaubenon Dec. 14 and 16 in each of the next two games thereafter.
“The start of the season has been very smooth and consistent,” said the 5-foot-11 Meulemans. “The positive senior leadership and coaching have contributed to the good start. I like when the game pace is fast, and De Pere likes to play fast and push the ball up the court. I’m excited for the next few months.”
Meulemans is shooting 50 percent from the floor and almost 90 percent from the free-throw line.
All three girls are playing well beyond their years, so it’s only a matter of time before each will be atop the FRCC in scoring and making waves in the state.