Boys hope for injury-free start to season

By Michael S. Hoey


The Badger High School girls basketball team opened the 2016-17 season with a 64-53 loss to Watertown on Nov. 17. The Goslings are coming off a 17-7 season last year. Badger was 12-11 overall and 9-5 in the Southern Lakes Conference.

Watertown took control in the first half and led 35-27 at halftime. Badger could not overcome the deficit in the second half as the Goslings outscored the Badgers 29-26.

Emily Amann led the Badgers with 15 points on five three-pointers. Courtney Oomens, Madison Smid and Jada Moss all added eight points each. Watertown got 19 points each from Liz Oswald and Paige Schumtzler.

The Badgers are in the process of growing up this season. The team returns 12 varsity players, 10 of whom were sophomores last season. The team has just two seniors this year – Jenn Freeman and Tara Ptak.

“They are both four-year varsity players, and we will lean on their experience and leadership this year, especially during times of adversity,” Coach David Jooss said.

“They all gained tremendous playing time experience last year,” Jooss said. “You can’t teach experience, and I feel like that is a strength for us this year.”

The Badgers finished last season winning 12 of their final 18 games, providing evidence that the team survived early growing pains and got better as the season progressed. Jooss is looking for the same kind of progress this season.

The team will miss the two seniors from last year. Jooss said Sam Tisa and Leslie Zelinski both had great seasons, and they will be difficult to replace. Tisa was first-team all-SLC and was the main presence in the paint for the Badgers averaging 13.7 points-per-game.

Junior Courtney Oomens, at 6-foot-1, will lead what Jooss calls a great group of interior players who will step up to fill in for Tisa. Oomens averaged 8.1 points per game last year and earned all-SLC honorable mention recognition. Junior Madison Smid and sophomore Jada Moss are the other interior options.

“Courtney’s presence inside and ability to play out of the high and low post have made her into a more complete post player and she is ready to have another great season,” Jooss said.

The top returning scorer is senior Jenn Freeman, who averaged 11.2 points per game last year and earned second-team all-SLC recognition. Jooss said Freeman and Oomens had great seasons last year and will have big roles this year as potential scorers and leaders. Jooss said Freeman has improved her game and added more weapons to her offensive arsenal.

“I believe she is in a great position to have an awesome senior season,” Jooss said.

Jooss said the team’s greatest strength this season is its depth, and he will use that to play fast and utilize the bench. He also said the team has a great balance of inside and outside offensive threats.

“I am very confident in our entire varsity roster and how they will all contribute to our success,” Jooss said.

Jooss said Oomens, Smid and Moss will provide strong post play around the rim and juniors Chloe Kleeman and Marissa Nurnberg will provide solid point-guard play. The Badgers have a deep set of guards in Freeman, juniors Olivia Deering, Maureen Clifford and Amann and senior Ptak. Jooss said the entire group can shoot and defend well. Badger’s swing players include juniors Lexi Todd, Molly Hibbler and Lindsay Bland. Jooss said they will play inside and out and add toughness to the team.

Deering and Hibbler both are returning from off-season knee surgeries.

“It’s great to have them return this year after working so hard to get back,” Jooss said.

Jooss is looking for additional growth from his still-young team. He said the team needs to get better at rebounding and finishing around the rim along with being more consistent shooters.

“I am very confident in our players and their ability to improve on these facets of the game,” Jooss said.

Jooss said the SLC should be very balanced this year with last year’s co-champions Wilmot and Union Grove both returning much of their rosters. He said, as always, he expects his Badgers to compete for a conference title.

“Our players are very committed and have put in a lot of time into their game,” Jooss said. “It should be an exciting season.”

Badger hosted Beloit Turner on Tuesday and opens the SLC season on Nov. 29 at home against Waterford.

Boys look for better start

      The Badger boys team is hoping for a healthier season this year. Last year the team lost Ryan Sproul in early December to a season-ending injury. Austin Jackson, Badger’s main presence in the middle at 6-foot-7, missed three games early in the season to a back injury. Leading scorer Jake Berhorst also missed three games to injury.

Those injuries contributed to a 2-6 start that the Badgers spent the rest of the season trying to recover from. The Badgers went 10-5 the rest of the way and finished 9-5 in the SLC, but their 12-11 overall record was only good enough for a No. 11 seed in the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association regional opener against a very tough Oconomowoc team. The Badgers’ season ended with a 64-43 loss in that game.

Even if they are healthy this year, the Badgers are going to have to overcome losing most of last year’s offense. Borst, who averaged 21.1 points per game, Jackson, who scored 10.4 points per game, and secondary inside threat Chase Kruger have all graduated.

Coach Forrest Larson said Borst was the team’s point guard and an all-SLC player. Jackson, Larson said, was really good by the end of the year and played his best basketball in February, saving his best game for the final game against Oconomowoc. Jackson scored 17, despite being guarded by 6-foot-11 Spencer Treder.

Yet another challenge for the Badgers will be a big lack of size. With Jackson and Kruger both gone, sophomore Lake McGreevy is the only player taller than 6 foot on the roster at 6-foot-4.

Senior Mason DuMez is the top returning scorer at 11.8 points per game. Senior Ian Schirtzinger (7.9 points per game) and McGreevy (six points per game) will also be counted on for points. Seniors Sproul, Nate Gibson, and David-Michael Mikrut will provide senior leadership. Juniors Brady and Tanner Fields and Austin Flower will also contribute. Larson said two sophomores and a freshman will also add depth.

Larson said the team has several shooters who could provide offense from beyond the three-point arch and the team has strong character. Larson said his team needs to have several players average 10 to 12 points per game to have success.

“We need to get better in every aspect of the game,” he added.

Larson said Burlington, Elkhorn, Westosha Central, and Wilmot are the favorites to contend for the SLC title. Badger will open its season on Nov. 29 at Racine Horlick and will host Verona on Dec. 3. Badger will travel to Woodstock North on Dec. 6 and open the SLC season at home against Westosha Central on Dec. 9.


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