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Heights girls picked to finish fourth


November 15, 2018

Editor’s Note: The following preview was compiled by

2017-’18 recap

Marshall went undefeated in the Southern Captiol and finished the year as the Division 3 state champion. The Cardinals defeated Amherst, 63-55, in the state title game and finished the year 27-1.

Cambridge finished in second place in the league and reached a Division 4 sectional final before losing to eventual D4 state champion Aquinas, 86-33. Belleville posted a 5-5 in the conference; the rest of the standings went New Glarus (4-6), Wisconsin Heights (3-7) and Waterloo (1-9).

Players to Watch

Ashlee Adler, jr., Wisconsin Heights — Adler takes over as the go-to player for the Vanguards. She averaged 10.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

JayLynn Benson, soph., New Glarus — Benson will move into a larger role after averaging 8 points per game as a freshman.

Jade Halvensleben, sr., Belleville — Halvensleben took home honorable mention all-Capitol South laurels after averaging 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a junior.

Rachel Heittola, sr., Belleville — Heittola (6-2) was named first-team all-conference as a junior. The Bemidji State recruit averaged 15.8 points, 13.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.1 blocks per game.

Gracie Korth, jr., Cambridge — Korth will move into a larger role this season after averaging 6.5 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists per contest as a sophomore.

Brittney Limoseth, sr., Waterloo — Limoseth was named first-team all-league after averaging 15.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a junior.

Anna Lutz, soph., Marshall — In her debut season, Lutz, a 6-foot forward, averaged 12.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per game on her way to earning honorable mention all-conference. She posted games of 17 and 16 points at the state tournament.

Mia Morel, soph., Marshall — Morel, a Division I prospect, averaged 16.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 4.7 steals per game en route to being named Capitol-South Player of the Year and WBCA Division 3 all-state for the champion Cardinals. She was also named to the 2018 All-Tournament at state.

Laura Nickel, soph., Marshall — Nickel, a 5-foot-11 forward, received second-team all-league honors after averaging 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game as a freshman for the D3 state champions.

Olivia Williams, jr., Cambridge — Williams will take on an expanded role this season after averaging 6.1 points and 2 assists per game as a sophomore.

Team Previews

1. Marshall

The Cardinals dominated the Capitol-South and went on to capture the Division 3 state title. It was Marshall’s first state title since 1977, and it finished the year with a 27-1 record.

The Cardinals averaged 68 points per game last season and opponents scored 50 points per contest. Marshall’s lone loss last year came against Lakeside Lutheran after it won its first 21 games. The Cardinals then won their next six games, including wins over Wisconsin Dells (58-47) in a state semifinal and Amherst (63-55) in the state title game.

Second-year head coach Alex Koeller, a Marshall graduate, told WSN that experience and high basketball IQ are strengths, and depth and leadership are weaknesses heading into the season. The Cardinals welcome back nearly their entire roster, but will miss the all-around play and leadership of Samira Arvin.

Leading the way for the defending D3 state champions is sophomore point guard Mia Morel, the player of the year in the Capitol-South and a WBCA Division 3 all-state selection, who averaged 16.9 points per game.

Joining her as headliners on the roster are fellow sophomore standouts Anna Lutz (6-0) and Laura Nickel (5-11), who averaged 12.8 and 10.8 points per game, respectively. Joining the trio of sophomores as returners to the starting five is senior Ceraya Morel who will help provide leadership.

Additional returning contributors are Rain Held (jr.), Kyra Andrews (sr.) and Mya Andrews (soph.). The Cardinals have many others who could be in the mix for playing time, including a couple freshman.

Marshall plays Lodi on Dec. 7, a rematch of last year’s regional final. The Cardinals also play defending D4 state champion Aquinas at the Sentry Classic at UW-Stevens Point and D2 state qualifier Monroe on Feb. 9 at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells.

2. Belleville

The Wildcats are poised to make a jump this season after going 5-5 in the Capitol-South and 15-10 overall last year. Coach Sean Greenleaf told that Belleville will have size in the middle and have experience. “Weakness might be at the point position, no true point guard,” he said.

Four of the Wildcats’ top six scorers are back from last season, led by Bemidji State recruit Rachael Heittola who averaged a double-double with 15.8 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. Joining her as returning starters are Jade Halvensleben (sr., 8.7 ppg) and junior Sophia Grady (jr., 5 ppg), who will help provide backcourt help to help bridge the gap after the graduation of Kalin O’Rourke.

The Wildcats also welcome back Jenna Schrader (8 ppg) as a key contributor. Other notable returners are junior Erin Kittleson and sophomore Ceci Grefsheim. A number of others, including freshman, are expected to be in the mix as well.

Belleville will get tested in its first five games as it has road contests at Lodi and Wisconsin Dells (D3 state qualifier).

The Wildcats don’t play defending D3 state champion Marshall until Jan. 11.

3. Cambridge

The Blue Jays will be in a transition year after finishing second in the league and reaching a Division 4 sectional final last season. Cambridge will need to fill the void left with the graduation of three starters, including first-team all-league picks Joriann Clary and Elyssa Stein, from a squad that went 20-6 in 2017-18.

The Blue Jays will also have a new coach this season with Kelly Cunningham replacing Mike Jeffery who accepted the boys’ basketball head coaching position at the school.

“We have a couple talented starters returning and well as supporting juniors that have played together as youth,” coach Cunningham told WSN.

Returning starters are juniors Olivia Williams (6.1 ppg) and Gracie Korth (6.5 ppg), who will move into leading roles this season. Other notable returners are Ashlynn Jarlsberg (jr., 5.1 ppg) and Hannah Hoffman (6-1, sr.).

Coach Cunningham said the freshman class will provide some talent as well, including Maya Holzhueter.

4. Wisconsin Heights

The Vanguards will look to compete for a spot in the top half of the standings with the return of four starters from last year’s team that posted a 3-7 record in the Capitol-South.

Heights will need to replace the production of second-team all-league pick Karlee Adler, who led them in most categories, including scoring. Coach Bill Sullivan told that strengths are athleticism and the group of returning players.

“We are short on numbers and lack size,” noted Sullivan.

Highlighting the group of returners for the Vanguards is Ashlee Adler who averaged more than 10 points per contest last season as a sophomore. Other top returners are Kelsi Handel (jr., 7.3 ppg), Hana King (soph., 6 ppg) and Natalie Hering (jr., 5.5 ppg).

Additional notable returners include juniors Miranda Keith and Jada Wood. The Vanguards could also get contributions from a couple freshman.

5. Waterloo

The Pirates could make a jump in the standings this season with the return of all of their key players from last year’s team that finished 1-9 in the league and 9-15 overall.

Coach Gabe Haberkorn told WSN that their guards will be very strong again.

“Our weakness will be in the post where we have the talent, but lack the height,” he said.

Leading the way for the Pirates is senior Brittney Limoseth who finished second in the conference with 15.9 points per game last season. Other top players are seniors Sam Battenberg (9.1 ppg) and Melanie Renforth (7.5 ppg), as well as returning starters Katie Kuhl (5.8 ppg) and Kaitlyn Filter (6.1 ppg).

Four others also return as contributors, including Ashley Caraballo (sr.) and Skyler Powers (soph.).

6. New Glarus

The Glarner Knights will need to fill the void left with the graduation of three of their top five scorers from last year’s squad that posted a 4-6 record in the conference. The most notable loss to graduation is second-team all-league pick Willow Lee.

The top returnees are sophomore JayLynn Benson (8 ppg) and senior Lexi Krause (7.3 ppg). Other key returners are Morgan Hustad (sr.), Lily Himmelman (jr.) and Emily Steiff (jr.).


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