The Whitewater High School girls basketball team, under the direction of head coach Judy Harms, above, wrapped up the regular season last week undefeated at 22-0. The team continues its quest for a championship tonight at home. (Bob Mischka photo)

The Whitewater High School girls basketball team, under the direction of head coach Judy Harms, above, wrapped up the regular season last week undefeated at 22-0. The team continues its quest for a championship tonight at home. (Bob Mischka photo)

At 22-0, state’s No. 1 team opens playoffs tonight

By Tim Wester

Sports correspondent

Every season Whitewater High School girls basketball coach Judy Harms comes up with a theme for her basketball team.

This season, Harms’ theme for the Whippets is to write their own history.

And that’s exactly what the No. 1-ranked team in Division 3 has done.

For the first time in school history, Whitewater (22-0, 16-0) finished the regular season undefeated, and with one more win, they would set the school record for single-season wins for girls and boys teams.

Their storybook season has earned them the top seed in an unbelievably daunting sectional that features the top three ranked teams in the state.

The Whippets will kick off their quest for a state championship tonight at home against the East Troy/Lake Mills winner.

After that, the Whippets could face the third-ranked team in the state, Lakeside Lutheran. If they survive that showdown, Whitewater could later take on second-ranked Adams-Friendship. The sectional also features Marshall, another state-ranked team.

So how did so many of the top-ranked teams in the state get placed into the same sectional? It’s certainly something that many coaches, included Harms, are scrutinizing.

“It’s sad that they split the regional like they did,” Harms said. “We and Lakeside are ranked in the state and so is Marshall. It’s unfortunate that Marshall, who went 20-2, may not even get a home playoff game. And that’s not how it should be. Our second and third games will be state championship level games.”

If any team is up for the challenge, it’s the Whippets. After dropping a disappointing 47-42 to eventual state-bound Brodhead in a sectional semifinal playoff game last year, Whitewater has been focusing on redemption.

“That game certainly left a sour taste in our mouths, Harms said. “We just didn’t play well, and it’s something that we haven’t forgotten.”

 

Meet the Lady Whippets

Autumn Bultman helps the Whippets’ cause in last week’s 66-26 win over Delavan, followed by a 61-32 win over East Troy Feb. 19 to bring the team’s regular season to a close undefeated at 22-0. (Peter Mischka photo)

Autumn Bultman helps the Whippets’ cause in last week’s 66-26 win over Delavan, followed by a 61-32 win over East Troy Feb. 19 to bring the team’s regular season to a close undefeated at 22-0. (Peter Mischka photo)

That game, however, helped shape this year’s remarkable run. The multifaceted Whippets feature one of the best inside scoring duos in the state with senior Sarah Schumacher (16.3 points per game) and sophomore Myriama Smith-Traore (12.7 points per game).

Complementing the inside players are a group of talented perimeter players, including sophomore Rebekah Schumacher (13.4 points per game), and seniors Kailey Reynolds and Melanie Martinez.

“Our team has really blossomed this year because we relied on last year’s leading scorer and current UW-Whitewater women’s basketball player Brooke Trewyn way too much,” Harms said.

“Once our team stepped away from that and relied on each other as a whole, it made us a very dangerous team. As a varsity group, this team has never been too high or too low and never looks past its next game,” she added.

That winning mindset has made the Whippets fun to watch this season. In their last game of the regular season against a struggling East Troy team, the Whippets scored a jaw-dropping 29 first-quarter points en route to a 61-32 victory.

“The first quarter against East Troy was the most amazing quarter that I’ve seen out of a girls basketball team,” Harms said. “We didn’t miss a shot until late in the first quarter. They moved the ball so well, which is fun to watch.”

 

Location an advantage

On top of being talented and motivated, the Whippets have the benefit of playing in a college town. Harms has been able to recruit college students on intramural teams or UW-Whitewater women’s basketball alumni to come to the high school and scrimmage her team.

“We have been able to bring in college girls almost every year,” Harms said. “My husband works at the university and knows a lot of the athletes on campus, and our oldest daughter also works at the university and helps get players to scrimmage. It’s a huge advantage to be in a college town.”

And when the college kids aren’t available, Harms has been able to set up scrimmages with the Whippet freshman boys basketball team as well.

That outside-the-box thinking will certainly help the Whippets pursue their goal of a state championship. If they can survive a tough sectional, they could be in the driver’s seat for a state championship in Madison.

“We have the opportunity to write our own story and take each game as a new chapter,” Harms said.

The Whippets’ unfinished story could very well have a happy ending.

 

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