Injuries grounded Janesville Parker’s girls basketball season before it could even begin a year ago.
A shoulder injury cut Division I recruit Julia Hartwig’s senior year to just two games, while Tina Shelton, one of Parker’s best all-around athletes, saw a leg injury limit her to just five.
The result was a five-win season for one of the most storied program’s in city history.
The Vikings return just five upperclassmen, but head coach Jennah Hartwig said they are eager to help rebuild the program. The season begins at 7:15 p.m. today with a home game against Milwaukee Marshall.
“I think we’re going to be a lot better at the end of the season than we are at the beginning … but it’s a group that will really play hard,” Hartwig said. “I’m excited about the energy that they’re bringing, and I’m hoping that translates to success and competitiveness in games.”
Seniors Shelton and Jena Forrestal should make for a solid backcourt.
Forrestal is a three-year starter who scored nearly eight points per game last year to rank third on the team.
Shelton averaged eight points a game and was Parker’s second-leading rebounder two seasons ago.
“Tina is a really hard worker and is a great leader by example, number one, and by communicating, number two. She’s helping our younger girls in practice,” Hartwig said. “And we are looking forward to Jena stepping up into a leadership role, as she is our most experienced player. We will need her to set up the team offensively.”
Junior Jasmyn Demrow is Parker’s top post threat and only player taller than 5-foot-8.
At 5-10, she is the team’s leading returning scorer after averaging 8.1 points in 16 games as a sophomore.
Juniors guards Alexys Luek and Alli Rosga were thrust into bigger roles quickly last year and averaged 3.6 and 1.7 points per game, respectively.
“All three of our juniors got a lot of playing time last year and really have made big strides from last year to this year,” Hartwig said. “It’s been exciting to see them at practice. They’ve put a lot of time in to get better with shooting and ball-handling, and they are playing with more confidence.”
Senior Shay Riley joins the mix after spending her junior year focusing on volleyball and should step in to contribute right away.
Abby Blum, Emma Lippens and Alyssa Ayers all saw time on the court as freshmen last season.
“Abby struggled with a back injury all last season, but she does a ton of basketball work in the offseason and always has. She’s a good shooter and can handle the ball,” Hartwig said. “Emma, Alyssa and Martha all ended up getting pulled up (to varsity) last year with all the injuries. They put a lot of time into the gym and weight room and are playing with a lot more confidence.”
Parker will also have a couple freshmen on the roster in Ava Eggers-Ahrens, Paisley Booth and Layla Kleeman.
“We’re just going to take it one game at a time,” Hartwig said. “They just seem like they’re a group that doesn’t want to quit and keeps pushing forward. I like the energy of the kids who have been on the team. And I think that’s transferring over to the younger kids.”