As they prepare to head into the back end of their season, the New Berlin West Girls’ Basketball team can be very pleased with their very solid start. Right now, they are sitting at 4-3 in conference and an overall record of 8-4, which is an improvement to their record at this point last season.
The team has also played much more consistently to start this season compared to last year, as they haven’t lost back-to-back games all year, while last year they started the season on a five game losing streak. Overall, it seems like they are finding their stride this season and will look to continue this success for the rest of the season.
To start the season, West lost to rival New Berlin Eisenhower by a score of 57-46. Right now, Ike sits in first place in the Woodland Conference and has proved to be an extremely tough opponent throughout the season. West’s second matchup against Ike won’t be until their final regular-season game on February 2nd.
After taking the initial loss, they were able to bounce back and get their first win of the season in blowout fashion against Cedarburg. Sophomore shooting guard Ella Kern had a career performance in this game, as she scored 27 points including 7/10 on three-pointers and led West to a 76-52 victory.
Three days later, West got their first conference win of the season in an extremely close matchup against Pewaukee. Sophomore Meghan Schultz and senior Elena Barnes both led the team with 14 points and 10 rebounds each, helping them complete their second-half comeback with a close final score of 52-50.
After taking a loss to Pewaukee in their second matchup, their record dropped to a mediocre 2-2. However, West went on a four game winning streak against Greenfield and West Allis Central to propel them towards the top of the conference. But after dropping a recent conference game to Pius, they now sit in fourth place and two games back of 1st place Eisenhower.
Their next conference matchups will be extremely crucial if they want to have a chance at winning conference. They’ll face off against Greendale, who is currently in second place. If they can win both of their matchups against Greendale, then their final matchup of the season against Ike could potentially be the deciding factor of who wins the conference this season.
This season, West has had lots of success due to the incredible play from star power forward and center Meghan Schultz. Schultz is currently averaging 18.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game this season, including four double-doubles and five 20+ point performances. In a recent game on January 12th, Schultz put up a season-high 26 points to lead West to a dominant performance over Waukesha North. Collin Thompson, the head coach of the Lady Vikings, said that in terms of Schultz’s contributions to the team, “her inside presence draws so much attention and becomes our biggest ‘distraction’ for other teams to game plan off of. Her simple presence makes our other players better and allows our guards to get good looks from the perimeter.”
Due to her success in her first two seasons at West, Schultz has received multiple college offers as a sophomore already, a very impressive and rare feat. She’ll look to continue her dominance for the rest of the season, but she has also received lots of help from other players on the team. For her post-high school career into the future, Coach Thompson said that “The sky is the limit for Meghan.”
Guards Ella Kern and Kayla Garny have also played significant roles in the team’s success this season. As mentioned previously, Kern had 27 points in a matchup earlier this season and has consistently been one of the team’s top perimeter shooters. Garny, who is averaging 11 points per game, has also filled a crucial role in the starting lineup as a strong shooter and facilitator.
Coach Thompson also mentioned other players this season that have impressed him to this point. “Players like Savannah Derby and Kali Stanislawski have impressed me with their transition from JV to Varsity this season.” He also mentioned Grace Timmers and Madisyn Hegarty, saying that they have “really stepped up to be there for their teammates and help pick each other up with positive attitudes.” These contributions from everyone in the lineup have been the driving force behind the team’s success this season and, hopefully, their success moving forward.
Running the Table
As they prepare for their upcoming matchups, Coach Thompson said that the Vikings’ success will come down to “playing within ourselves as individuals and playing as a unit.” He also added that “building consistency has been the message as of late, and if we do that, our performances will follow.” To make a run for that top spot, they will need consistently strong play every night, as it is likely they will need to string wins together in conference the rest of the way.
Still, even if West is unable to complete this run at the conference championship, they can be proud of a much-improved finish from last season if they’re able to maintain their strong record. Last season, they finished 4th, but if they can grab a few more wins to end the season they’ll easily finish top three, which would be the first time they have finished that high in the standings since 2017 during Thompson’s first season as head coach.
All in all, the Lady Vikings look well on their way to another strong season and hope to finish the year well as they compete for the highly-desired conference championship.