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Injuries open up Rock Valley

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JOHN N. BARRY
December 9, 2007

ROCK VALLEY AT A GLANCE


2006-07 Standings


League Season


W L W L


Walworth Big Foot 7 7 10 11


Evansville 13 1 16 6


Brodhead-Juda 7 7 9 12


Edgerton 8 6 10 11


Palmyra-Eagle 1 13 5 16


Beloit Turner 4 10 6 15


Orfordville Parkview 9 5 14 8


Clinton 7 7 8 13


All-Conference


FIRST TEAM


Hgt. Yr.


Jordan Courier, Big Foot 5-10 Fr.


Sarah Theune, Big Foot 5-10 So.


Kristen Ruchti, Brodhead 6-0 So.


Elizabeth Althoff, Clinton 5-6 So.


Bri Cox, Edgerton 5-7 Jr.


Traci Wileman, Edgerton 5-7 Sr.


Alicia Kopp, Evansville 5-10 Jr.


Tiffany Draeving, Parkview 5-6 Jr.


Ralissa Nelson, Parkview 5-11 So.


Kaylyn Sherrod, Turner 5-9 Sr.


Player of the Year—Traci Wileman, Edgerton.


Coach of the Year—Nikki Forster, Evansville.


HONORABLE MENTION


Brodhead—Paige Hoeper, jr.; Alyssa Harding, soph. Clinton—Kara Risseeuw, jr.; Jaimie Tracy, jr. Evansville—Kaia Schoenenberger, sr.; Alyssa Keister, sr. Palmyra-Eagle—Gina Muth, sr.; Kristion Baumhofer, sr.


Orfordville Parkview—Laura Neal, sr.; Katie Danielson, jr. Turner—Lindsay Henderson, sr.; Ali Driscoll, sr.


Will two season-ending injuries set the stage for a number of teams to contend for the Rock Valley girls basketball title?


That seems to be the consensus among conference coaches.


Edgerton’s Traci Wileman, the 2007 Rock Player of the Year, apparently is out for the year after suffering a torn ACL in the last volleyball match of the season. Coupled with the loss of Walworth Big Foot first-team all-conference selection Sarah Thune to a knee injury, and it’s apparent that four or five teams could contend.


“I really think it’s going to be up in the air,” Parkview coach Tina Aasen said of the Rock Valley race. “It may come down to the last week with everybody hoping for help from everybody else.


“Anytime you deal with an injury or a transfer, it takes time to learn to play with new people on the court. You’re forced to go deeper into your bench than you probably wanted to,” she said.


Aasen didn’t have to deal with a season-ending injury, but her roster was depleted by a pair of transfers. First-team all-conference selection Ralissa Nelson transferred to Fort Atkinson, while junior Courtney Mielke is now Brodhead’s starting point guard.


“Obviously, we’re not as tall or deep as we would’ve been with those two, but we’re pretty quick, and we shoot the ball well,” Aasen said.


Brodhead appeared to be a slight favorite going into the conference season, but the Cardinals lost their Rock Valley opener to Big Foot.


“I would rate Brodhead more than just a slight favorite,” Collins said. “I think they’re a prohibitive favorite with their size and speed. Mielke fills a big hole for them, and (Kristen) Ruchti is going to be one of the best players in our conference.


“We’re hoping to finish in the top half of the conference. The key for us will be learning how to win the close games, which we did the other night in beating (Westosha) Central.”


Defending champion Evansville lost four starters from a team that went 13-1 in the Rock Valley. The Blue Devils, under first-year coach Jim Schoenenberger, will rely on 2007 first-team All-Rock selection Alicia Kopp.


Edgerton has struggled early on without the all-everything Wileman, also the conference Player of the Year in volleyball. The Crimson Tide does return first-team all-conference selection Bri Cox, but must find a way to make up the loss of Wileman and her 14.5 scoring average.


“That’s a incredibly tough loss for Edgerton,” Collins said. “You just can’t replace a player like Wileman. She did so much for that team and was such a special all-around player. You really hate to see that happen.”


Clinton finished 7-7 in the Rock Valley a year ago, and with first-team all-conference pick Liz Althoff one of four starters returning, the Cougars could push for an upper-division finish.


Beloit Turner and Palmyra-Eagle lost four starters each and could struggle in a balanced Rock Valley race.


The overall outlook:


BELOIT TURNER


Head coach: Jennifer Pozzani, second year (6-15).


2006-07 record: 6-15 overall, 4-10 in Rock (seventh place).


Last conference title: 1984.


Key losses: Four starters, including first-team, all-conference selection Kaylyn Sherrod.


Starter returning: Melissa Grover, 5-6, sr., guard.


Other letter winners: Kayla Conway, 5-7, sr., forward; Brianna Herold, 6-0, sr., center.


Other likely contributors: Courtney Crouse, 5-4, jr., guard; Brittni Peach, 5-6, jr., forward; Doretta Purdy, 5-8, jr., forward.


Season outlook: A lack of experience may make wins hard to come by for the Trojans. Pozzani must find a scorer and a dependable point guard.


BRODHEAD


Head coach: Chris Medenwaldt, ninth year (89-82).


2006-07 record: 9-12 overall, 7-7 in Rock (tied for fourth).


Last conference title: 2002 (co-championship with Clinton and Evansville).


Key losses: None.


Returning starters: First-team, all-conference selection Kristen Ruchti, 6-0, jr., center (12.3 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game); Paige Hoeper, 5-5, sr., guard (10.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg); Dana Lewis, 6-0, so., forward (7.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg); Alyssa Harding, 5-8, jr., forward (6.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg); Courtney Mielke, 5-5, jr., guard, transfer from Orfordville Parkview and starter for the Vikings last season.


Other letter winners: Leah Hegi, 5-5, jr., guard; Cassie Wymer, 5-3, jr., guard.


Other likely contributors: Kristy Shanks, 5-6, jr., guard; Brooke Lederman, 5-6, jr., guard.


Season outlook: The Cardinals are the Rock preseason favorite, thanks to the return of five starters, but they lost their season opener to Belleville, 41-39.


Leadership is a concern, with only one senior on the roster. Size is not a concern, with two starters 6-foot or taller.


CLINTON


Head coach: Bill Greer, third year (16-24).


2006-07 record: 8-13 overall, 7-7 in Rock (tied for fourth).


Last conference title: 2004.


Key losses: Danielle Oldenburg, 4.2 points per game and 5.6 rebounds per game.


Returning starters: First-team, all-conference selection Liz Althoff, 5-6, jr., guard (12 points per game, 5 rebounds per game); Jaimie Tracey, 5-1, sr., guard (5.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg); Kara Risseeuw, 5-7, jr., forward (5.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg); Emily Buchanan, 5-8, jr., center (3.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg).


Other letter winners: Amy Blue, 5-2, sr., guard; Kati Campbell, 5-5, sr., guard.


Other likely contributors: Erica Clark, 5-5, jr., guard; Valerie Dautermann, 5-5, jr., guard; Hillary Huisheere, 5-7, jr., forward; Meghan Jeffers, 5-5, jr., guard; Maggie Schultz, 5-10, so., center.


Season outlook: The undersized Cougars will rely on strong guard play from Althoff and Tracy to overcome a lack of a true post player. An upper-division finish will depend on how the Cougars can rebound against much taller teams, and the ability to create turnovers on defense.


EDGERTON


Head coach: Mike Schmidt, sixth year (37-65).


2006-07 record: 10-11 overall, 8-6 in Rock (third place).


Last conference title: None.


Key losses: Traci Wileman, the 2007 Rock Player of the Year, apparently is out for the season with a torn ACL; Kelly Fox, who averaged 7.1 points per game and 6.5 rebounds.


Returning starters: First-team all-conference selection Bri Cox, 5-8, sr., forward (10.4 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game); Ellie McCall, 5-9, sr., forward (6.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg); Fawn Bingham, 5-9, sr., center (5.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg).


Other letter winner: Nicole Donnelly, 5-7, sr., guard.


Other likely contributors: Andrea Lippert, 5-8, jr., forward; Amanda Zeimet, 5-7, jr., forward; Jordan Olson, 5-6, jr., guard; Cassie Morrison, 5-5, jr., guard; Marie Stettler, 5-7, soph., guard; Meggie Schmidt, 5-6, fr., guard.


Season outlook: Edgerton was a preseason Rock Valley co-favorite before Wileman’s knee injury suffered during the volleyball season took her out of the basketball picture. There is a chance she could return late in the season, coach Mike Schmidt said Monday. But it’s a stretch, he admitted.


Talent and althleticism remain, thanks to the return of three starters, including Cox. But will the loss of Wileman be too tough for the Crimson Tide to overcome?


EVANSVILLE


Head coach: Jim Schoenenberger, first year.


2006-07 record: 16-6 overall, 13-1 in the Rock (first place).


Last conference title: 2007.


Key losses: Four starters, including Megan Cox, who averaged 14 points and five rebounds per game.


Returning starter: First-team, all-conference selection Alicia Kopp, 5-10, sr., forward (10 points per game, 4 rebounds per game).


Other letter winners: Hailey McIntyre, 5-8, jr., forward; Ashley Beirman, 5-4, sr., guard; Karmin Arnold, 5-7, sr., forward; Korie Klitzman, 5-8, sr., forward; Tara Porter, 5-3, sr., guard; Amanda Perskie, 5-9, sr., forward.


Other likely contributors: Haley Petterson, 5-6, jr., guard; Mariah Beck, 5-5, jr., guard; Callie Reese, 5-5, jr., guard.


Season outlook: The defending champion Blue Devils must replace 70 percent of their scoring from a year ago.


Seven seniors, led by Kopp, should help make Schoenenberger’s first season a smooth one. The Blue Devils are not likely to repeat, but could push for an upper-division finish.


PALMYRA-EAGLE


Head coach: Katy Morgan, first year.


2006-07 record: 5-16 overall, 1-13 in Rock (eighth place).


Last conference title: 1999.


Key losses: Four starters.


Returning starter: Jessica Steltz, 5-8, sr., forward (3.7 points per game, 4.1 rebounds per game).


Other letter winners: Jenna Starr, 5-10, sr., center; Jessica Steltz, 5-7, sr., forward; Debbie Wisneski, 5-6, sr., forward; Kelly Bolli, 5-5, jr., guard.


Other likely contributors: Megan Hack, 5-6, jr., forward; Amy Hawes, 5-6, jr., forward; Liz Madecky, 5-6, jr., forward; Katie Martin, 5-10, sr., center; Stephanie McGivern, 5-4, jr., guard.


Season outlook: Morgan, who played on Janesville Parker’s 2000 Division 1 state championship team, takes over a program that has struggled to reach .500 in the Rock Valley. The Panthers are inexperienced, with only one starter returning and don’t have a lot of size.


ORFORDVILLE PARKVIEW


Head coach: Tina Ausen, ninth year (91-80).


2006-07 record: 14-8 overall, 9-5 in Rock (second place).


Last conference title: 1990.


Key losses: Starters Kelsey Carroll and Laura Neal, along with point guard Courtney Mielke—who transferred to Brodhead.


Returning starters: First-team all-conference forward Tiffany Draeving, a 5-5, senior; Katie Danielson, 5-4, sr., guard.


Other letter winners: Maggie Danielson, 5-4, sr., guard; Ashley Oldenberg, 5-7, jr., forward; Jenna Larsen, 6-10, soph., center; Jasmine Koch, 5-5, soph., guard; April Wellnitz, 5-7, soph., forward.


Other likely contributors: Charissa Drake, 5-3, sr., guard; Brittney Muenchow, 5-5, sr., forward; Becca Neal, 5-8, soph., center; Sabrina Suiter, 5-6, soph., forward; Stephanie Aasen, 5-7, fr., guard.


Season outlook: Can the Vikings build off of last year’s 16-0 junior varsity team? Draeving and Katie Danielson lead an experienced team that is 2-1 early on this season.


WALWORTH BIG FOOT


Head coach: Tim Collins, seventh year (75-46).


2006-07 record: 10-11 overall, 7-7 in Rock (tied for third place).


Last conference title: 2006.


Key losses: Starter Caitlyn O’Leary, along with first-team all-conference selection Sarah Thune—out for the season with a knee injury.


Returning starters: First-team, all-conference selection Jordyn Courier, 6-0, so., forward (11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg); Kristin Collins, 5-8, sr., guard (5.5 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game); Kaylee Kolnik, 5-5, sr., guard (4.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg).


Other letter winners: Tara Nagel, 5-7, jr., forward; Jenny Pietkauskis, 5-7, sr., guard; Kim Dowden, 5-7, sr., guard; Kasey Keeler, 5-11, sr., center.


Other likely contributors: Haley Schwartz, 5-8, so., guard; Kaleigh Young, 5-4, so., guard.


Season outlook: Will the loss of Thune cost the Chiefs a shot at the Rock Valley title in Collins’ final season as head coach?


Big Foot is carrying only nine players on varsity, but three are returning starters—including Courier, a first-team All-Rock selection. The Chiefs will find out early if they’re contenders with the conference opener tonight at preseason favorite Brodhead.



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