Pirates look to rebound from rocky season
By Rich Palzewic
SUAMICO – After making it to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 State Tournament in 2020, the Bay Port Pirates girls’ basketball team took a step back last season but will look to rebound this year.
The Pirates, who finished 6-14 in 2020-21, are hoping to return to glory this season under second-year Head Coach Dennis Gladwell.
“I finally feel like the team is mine,” Gladwell laughed. “I feel lots more comfortable because I was able to work with the girls more and put more emphasis into what I wanted to do. We had a normal offseason, which helped. I have lots of confidence in this team. We can play with teams and won’t be an easy cakewalk.”
Gladwell took over last season for the departed Kati Coleman and was hired about a week before the season.
“I had already been with the program (as an assistant coach under Coleman), so that helped,” Gladwell said. “I don’t have anyone back from the previous coaching regime, so I can finally say this team is truly mine.”
Bay Port started last season 2-10 but won four of its last eight games.
“It was an up-and-down season,” Gladwell said. “We started poorly, then won four straight and then lost four in a row. We’re looking for more consistency this year. We had a bunch of youth that never played varsity basketball before. We didn’t have a true point guard – I had to put players in positions they weren’t used to playing. It’s what we had to do.”
Gladwell said last season’s schedule was “extremely difficult” in playing Kimberly, Hortonville, De Pere and Notre Dame Academy.
“Ultimately, our tough schedule last season will help us this year,” he said.
Gladwell said veteran senior Emma Krueger decided not to go out this year because she’s concentrating on softball.
Krueger recently committed to Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., to play softball.
She was a part of the girls’ basketball state championship squad in 2019 as a freshman.
In seven games last season, Krueger averaged 12.4 points per game.
“She’s had some injuries as well,” Gladwell said. “She’s a great softball player.”
Sophie Vandeyacht also graduated after scoring 7.5 points per game.
Junior Kyla Hendricks (10.4), sophomore Ellie McDermid (8.5) and senior Jacki Szelagowski (5.7) are the top returning players from last season.
Hendricks nailed 36 triples to lead the team.
“Those three girls will need to step up their games from a scoring standpoint,” Gladwell said. “With being only a freshman last season, (McDermid) got better as the season wore on.”
Gladwell said 6-foot senior Maggie Luedke, who has battled a foot injury most of her high school career, is back.
“I’m excited to get (Luedke) back on the court,” he said. “She’s stronger than what she’s been in the past.”
Besides De Pere and Notre Dame, Gladwell said Pulaski, Green Bay Southwest
“During summer play, we played against both teams and held our own,” he said. “Preble has a new coach, so you never know there. Sheboygan North has a great coach and is always tough.”
Gladwell said there are 16 freshmen in the program as well, which should bode well for the future.
Sports editor’s note: To read the preview for the Ashwaubenon girls’ basketball team, CLICK HERE.
2021-22 Bay Port girls’ basketball regular-season schedule
11/23 – Kaukauna (L, 59-66)
11/27 – @ New Berlin Eisenhower – 5:45 p.m.
11/30 – West De Pere
12/3 – @ Sheboygan South
12/9 – Sheboygan North
12/14 – Manitowoc Lincoln
12/17 – @ Ashwaubenon
12/27 – @ Pius XI – 7:30 p.m.
1/4 – @ De Pere
1/7 – Notre Dame Academy
1/11 – @ Green Bay Southwest
1/14 – Pulaski
1/18 – Green Bay Preble
1/21 – Sheboygan South
1/22 – @ Brookfield Central – 4:30 p.m.
1/25 – @ Sheboygan North
1/28 – Ashwaubenon
1/29 – @ Divine Savior Holy Angels – 2 p.m.
2/1 – @ Manitowoc Lincoln
2/4 – @ Notre Dame Academy
2/8 – De Pere
2/11 – @ Pulaski
2/15 – Green Bay Southwest
2/17 – @ Green Bay Preble
Sports editor’s note: All game begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.