Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran hoping for back-to-back winning seasons
By Murray Gleffe
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran/Providence Academy girls’ basketball team celebrated its first winning season last year, a first since 2016-17.
It was a big accomplishment going 13-9 for the Blazers, who compete in the Packerland Conference and have an enrollment of a shade more than 100 students.
“We had a slow start, and the girls had to mesh together,” N.E.W. Lutheran Head Coach Nicole Natzke said. “Our offense had to figure out who the shooters and rebounders were last season. It took some time. We also had a tough schedule to begin with, so it made a difference. Our conference is tough with the likes of Southern Door and Kewaunee. However, those games prepare us for the postseason. Many teams we play compete in a level or two up from us in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs.”
If the Blazers are to repeat their success from a season ago, they’ll have to do it without five of their top six scorers who graduated in June.
Josie Nelson and Bailey Scholz were double-digit scorers.
In addition, Mattie Zimmer, Stephanie Frappy and Ellie Jung brought an inside-outside punch to N.E.W. Lutheran, who beat Peshtigo, Oconto and Sturgeon Bay during a stretch when it won 10 of 12 games.
The 2021-22 program will look much different with Leah Schmidt being the lone holdover.
Schmidt averaged a shade more than six points a game but also led the team with eight rebounds a contest.
She’ll most likely be asked to lead a young squad this season.
“Our offense will look different this season,” Natzke said. “We’ll change it up with a 3-4 out to get more girls involved with the scoring. We’ll have more balance. Defensively, we are fast. We have smart basketball players.”
Brynn Rice, Gabi Hillmann and Natalie Lange all saw limited action but are upperclassmen who have been around the program for a few years.
“We’ll have to replace a talented senior group from last season,” Natzke said. “Our returners are willing to put in the work and step up in a leadership role. (Schmidt) is going to draw lots of attention, so we must be multi-dimensional with our inside-out game. I told (the other girls) over the summer I need my next group of shooters to get the job done. We have to continue to get stronger with workouts.”
With most schools in the Green Bay area pushing 1,500 to 2,000 students, N.E.W. Lutheran remains a small school, which catches some people by surprise when it qualifies for state.
“N.E.W. Lutheran has girls come from all different areas,” Natzke said. “They don’t get to build relationships with each other from an early age. They must bond together quicker than other high school teams that went to grade school and middle school together. We only have around 60-70 girls in the high school. I still love coaching basketball. It’s fun to walk in the gym and see their smiles.”
Sports editor’s note: To read the preview for the Ashwaubenon girls’ basketball team, CLICK HERE.
To read the Bay Port girls’ preview, CLICK HERE.
To read the De Pere girls’ preview, CLICK HERE.
To read the Green Bay East girls’ preview, CLICK HERE.
2021-22 Green Bay N.E.W. Lutheran girls’ basketball regular-season schedule
11/30 – @ Sturgeon Bay
12/3 – @ Algoma
12/9 – Gibraltar
12/14 – @ Kewaunee
12/18 – Reedsville – 2:30 p.m.
12/28 – Hilbert – 6:30 p.m.
1/3 – Oconto
1/7 – @ Peshtigo
1/11 – Sevastopol
1/15 – @ Southern Door
1/17 – Gillett – 6 p.m.
1/20 – Sturgeon Bay
1/22 – @ Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah – 3 p.m.
1/24 – Algoma
1/28 – @ Gibraltar
2/1 – Kewaunee
2/5 – @ Three Lakes – 12:30 p.m.
2/8 – @ Oconto
2/11 – Peshtigo
2/14 – @ Sevastopol
2/17 – Southern Door
Sports editor’s note: All games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.