Local players sparked resurgence in the north
Two local teams brought girls basketball to a new level this year in northern Wisconsin. In Division 1, the Superior High School girls made history with their second-place finish at the state tournament. The Spartans ranked among the highest-scor...
Two local teams brought girls basketball to a new level this year in northern Wisconsin.
In Division 1, the Superior High School girls made history with their second-place finish at the state tournament. The Spartans ranked among the highest-scoring teams in the state and won the Lake Superior Conference title with a 8-0 record in conference play.
In Division 5, the South Shore Cardinals followed up last year’s stellar season with another dominant effort. The Cardinals won the Indianhead West Conference title with a perfect 16-0 record and finished one win short of their second state tournament berth in two years.
Both teams will lose valuable seniors to graduation, but a strong group of juniors and sophomores will have a chance to carry on the legacy next season.
Joining Superior’s Jessica Lindstrom on the 2014 Superior Telegram All-Area Girls Basketball Team are three seniors, four juniors and two sophomores.
Also nominated were Solon Springs senior Alicia Jensen and sophomore Phoenix Thomas; South Shore senior Jenna Sorenson; Northwestern junior Amanda Ogren and sophomore Aleia Lupa.
Players are listed below in alphabetical order.
The Cardinals lose one of their mainstays this season with the graduation of Janice Anderson.
The senior guard leaves South Shore with more than 1,000 career points and a reputation as a fierce competitor.
“Janice had a great senior campaign,” said Ryan Tiberg, South Shore head coach. “Very hard working and relentless defensive pressure.”
The senior guard averaged 15.9 points per game and shot 75.5 percent from the free-throw line. She also finished the season with 112 steals, more than four per game.
“She used her quickness and speed to lead the team in steals,” Tiberg said.
Anderson was named to the Indianhead All-Conference first team and was an honorable mention selection in Division 5 for the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State Team.
At 5-foot-11, junior Elise Burns patrolled the paint for the Northwood Evergreens this season. She pulled down 6.9 rebounds per game and averaged 1.7 blocks before an injury sent her to the sidelines.
“Elise was having a very good year until she tore her ACL and meniscus in early February,” said Jason Schultz, Northwood head coach. “She missed the last seven games of the season, which included the last three conference games, and we missed her badly in all areas of the game.”
Burns averaged 9.9 points per game at forward. The junior also added 2.9 steals and 1.8 assists per game for the Evergreens this season.
Coming into the 2013-14 season, opponents knew Alyssa Correll as the Spartans’ sharpshooter from the arc. The junior built on that reputation this year but added another element to her game as well.
“Alyssa also dazzled the crowd with her vast array of step backs, spin moves and floater shots,” said Phil Roe, SHS head coach.
Correll finished the season shooting 56 percent from 2-point range and 35 percent from 3-point range. She averaged 13.3 points per game and 2.8 assists per game, while also shooting 71 percent from the free-throw line.
On defense, Correll averaged nearly two steals per game.
“Alyssa was also second on our team in blocked shots (15) and showed some good improvement over last year on her on-the-ball defense,” Roe said.
Correll was named to the LSC All-Conference first team and served as a team captain for the Spartans.
“She leads by example to her younger teammates with the tremendous amount of time and dedication she puts into the offseason,” Roe said. “She is constantly working on her game whenever she can, and she is going to have a great senior year.
“Having Alyssa on our team the past couple years has been a big reason why we have had back-to-back state appearances and our first championship appearance and state runner-up trophy in school history.”
In the regular season South Shore was unstoppable this year. The Cardinals were undefeated until the Division 5 sectional finals, and the team’s success was due in large part to 6-foot-3 junior Megan Gustafson.
“Megan is extremely talented player, who faced doubled and triple teams all season and was still very productive,” Tiberg said.
Gustafson made history this season as the first junior girls basketball player to score more than 2,000 career points. She averaged 29.3 points per game and 18.9 rebounds per game - both state-leading figures.
Gustafson also contributed 161 blocks for the Cardinals this season and has more than 1,000 career rebounds. She shot 63.4 percent from 2-point range and 73.2 percent from the free-throw line..
The junior was named the Indianhead Conference Player of the Year, was a unanimous selection for the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division 5 All-State Team and was named to the Associated Press All-State fourth team.
With a very young squad this year, the Northwestern Tigers looked to underclassmen to make an impact.
Sophomore Cheyenne Johnson was among the players who stepped up.
“It was her first year on varsity,” said Molly Fletcher, Tigers head coach. “Cheyenne rose to the occasion and was the inside threat for our team. She hustles, is very coachable and has a great attitude.”
Johnson was the leading rebounder for the Tigers, averaging 6.8 rebounds per game - good for third overall in the Heart O’ North Conference. The 5-foot-10 forward also added 9.8 points per game, shooting 46.3 percent from 2-point range.
Johnson was an honorable mention selection on the HON All-Conference team.
When the Spartans needed a boost in their sectional final game against Neenah, sophomore Mackenzie Kmecik paved the way with a 9-for-11 shooting performance. She led the team with 22 points that game and cemented her position as a potential game-changer.
“Mackenzie Kmecik had an amazing sophomore season” Roe said. “Despite having to be out three games with a separated shoulder, Mac was close to the top in many of our statistical categories.”
Kmecik shot 53 percent from 2-point range and 35 percent from the arc, averaging 7.9 points per game. She also added 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
“Mackenzie really shined through as a shut-down defender and was rarely out of position on her help side defense,” Roe said. “Mac had to do a lot of the work in our 1-3-1 and diamond press defense packages.”
Roe said Kmecik was Superior’s most improved defender this year and is fearless on both ends of the court - giving the Spartans a good building block for next year.
“You rarely see a sophomore who can take the kind of contact that Mackenzie can and just bounce back up,” Roe said. “Mackenzie became a big difference-maker for our team offensively and defensively this year.”
For four seasons, Hailey Kontny led Superior’s offense at point guard. In that time the senior amassed 1,693 career points and dished out 366 assists.
“Hailey has a great argument for being the school’s best scoring/point guard in Spartan history,” Roe said. “Hailey is the school’s No. 1 scoring guard, second-leading girls scorer and assists career holder.”
In her senior season, Kontny scored 537 points, an average of 19.2 per game. She shot 50 percent from 2-point range and averaged 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Kontny also contributed 2.1 steals per game.
“She was a great scorer, passer and defender; there is a lot of Lindsay Whalen in Hailey’s game,” Roe said. “Hailey not only improved her scoring average this season but she improved her shooting percentages across the board and grabbed a career high 188 rebounds. Hailey led the team in assists and charges taken and was second in rebounds and steals.”
Kontny often came through in clutch situations for Superior. She hit a buzzer-beater to push the Spartans past Chippewa Falls in the regular season, and in the sectional semifinals she went 3-for-3 at the line to give Superior a last-minute win over D.C. Everest.
Kontny was named to the LSC All-Conference first team and the WBCA Division 1 All-State Team, and she was also an honorable mention selections for the AP All-State Team. The senior served as a team captain for the Spartans and is signed to play basketball at the University of Minnesota Duluth beginning next year.
“I believe Hailey has not reached her potential yet, and she is going to do some great things at UMD,” Roe said. “I will miss Hailey’s energy and enthusiasm that she brought on the court. Hailey could really do some exciting things with the basketball - dribbling, spinning, creating shots - that would wow the crowd and get the fans pumped up.”
Tylor Kruse has been with the Eagles since the years when the team was struggling to fill its roster.
The program has since revived, and seniors like Kruse are largely to thank.
At center, Kruse accumulated 153 points this season, an average of 9.6 points per game. She also added 112 rebounds and shot 60 percent from the free-throw line.
“Tylor was our post and our offense went through her,” said Brian Amys, Solon Springs head coach. “She was a great asset to the team because of her jump shot and rebounding.”
With the graduation of Sarah Benson, the Evergreens were in need of a new point guard this season.
Junior Mckayla Waggoner was chosen to fill the void, even though she’d played away from the ball most of her career.
Despite the position change, Waggoner led Northwood in scoring again this year, averaging 10.6 points per game.
“Mckayla was our best player, and everyone knew that coming in to every game,” Schultz said.
Waggoner also averaged 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.8 steals per game for the Evergreens.
Waggoner was named to the Lakeland Central All-Conference team for the third consecutive season this year.