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Jaguars look to take next step

By Murray Gleffe

ASHWAUBENON — A year after finishing 10-14, the Ashwaubenon girls’ basketball team is ready to break into the top echelon of the Fox River Classic Conference standings.

Four part-time or full-time starters return to a squad which lost five games by six points or less in 2018-19.

“We had two varsity returners one year ago in Lydia [Schaible] and Kally [VanLaanen],” said head coach Nicky VanLaanen. “Last year, this team took huge strides learning the varsity game. They were inconsistent in practices and games with being a young squad. We had a great summer, and I expect us to continue our steady improvement from the first day of practice. We will add our next levels of schemes on offense and defense. It should combine to form an improved finish in a strong conference this season.”

The Jaguars’ 2019 season ended to Notre Dame Academy in the WIAA Division 2 regional finals, 56-47.

Post players Anna Wendorf and Schaible combined to average 17 points and more than 10 rebounds a game last year.

Wendorf is 6-foot, and Schaible is 6-foot-1.

“I am excited to have more bigs alongside me this season,” said Wendorf. “I hope the three of us can work together, get some high-low action, penetration to the basket and a kick-out to our shooters. Our frontcourt players are great athletes who want to work hard, and I think we can cause teams to struggle this year if we come out strong and ready to compete.”

On the perimeter, the Jaguars return senior point guard VanLaanen, who has been a mainstay in the program since her freshman year.

Ashwaubenon girls’ basketball coach Nicky VanLaanen.

With a young squad in 2019, VanLaanen had a leadership role, ran the point and increased her defensive tenacity on off-ball opponents.

As a junior, guard Rylie Severson became the Jaguars’ top-outside shooter, averaging 6.3 points a game.

Madi Appleton, Brenna Schlader, Nyia Marohl, and Crystal Kunesh will add depth.

Top returning scorer Lily Hansford has transferred to Appleton East.

“Our No. 1 goal this season is to have fun, enjoy the game and each other,” said VanLaanen. “If we are having fun, enjoying the game and building relationships with each other, then we will have a season of significance. We have several community service events where our athletes give back to our area and help those in need. We are using basketball as a tool to learn the game of life. It’s my goal every year.”

Ashwaubenon will again play an 18-game Fox River Classic Conference schedule and sprinkle Bay Conference members Seymour, Menasha, West De Pere and New London into the mix.

VanLaanen lists Bay Port, Green Bay Preble, Notre Dame Academy and Green Bay Southwest as her favorites in the FRCC.

“It’s a battle every night in the FRCC,” VanLaanen said. “Every team in our league is tough, and you have to bring your A-game every day.”

Ashwaubenon girls’ basketball schedule

11/19 – Seymour

11/26 – @ New London

12/3 – @ West De Pere

12/6 – Sheboygan North

12/12 – Pulaski

12/17 – @ Notre Dame Academy

12/19 – Bay Port

12/30 – Menasha – 7:15 p.m.

1/3 – @ Green Bay Southwest

1/7 – Manitowoc Lincoln

1/10 – @ Green Bay Preble

1/14 – @ Sheboygan South

1/17 – De Pere

1/24 – @ Pulaski

1/28 – Southwest

1/30 – @ Sheboygan North

1/31 – @ Bay Port

2/4 – Notre Dame

2/7 – @ Manitowoc

2/11 – Preble

2/14 – Sheboygan South

2/20 – @ De Pere

Editor’s note: All games begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

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