Opening Night Games to Watch
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Tomorrow morning, the first practices of the 2023-24 season get underway. In honor of that, I want to preview some of the games to start the season on Nov. 14 and 16 to give you some reading material as the…
Tomorrow morning, the first practices of the 2023-24 season get underway. In honor of that, I want to preview some of the games to start the season on Nov. 14 and 16 to give you some reading material as the season officially begins tomorrow morning. We’ll start with four games on the 14th and close with four on the 16th.
Waunakee at Westfield
Opening their seasons in Westfield, there will be two teams who have a case that they could make a run to the state tournament in their respective divisions. Westfield will likely be seen as the underdog in this one, mainly because they are a D4 school playing against a D1 school, but their backcourt ofand is a problem for any backcourt in the state regardless of their division. They have the explosiveness in Showen that will allow them to push the pace and get easy ones in transitions, and Drew’s pragmatic offense gives them a threat in the halfcourt.
However, the Warriors from Waunakee have a retooled rotation intending to create chaos whenever possible. Freshmangives them an identity they lacked last season, but they still get back the Conference Player of the Year in the Badger-East last season in . Along with those two, you’d expect internal improvement with maturity and a summer of AAU under their belt from kids like Lexi Fuhremann, , and . A team that was probably slightly thin last year comes into this season as arguably the deepest in the Badger.
Menomonie at La Crosse Central
In a game that some may look over because they couldn’t attend it if they wanted, I’m eager to watch this one back or check the result.
The Mustangs bring back nearly the entire group, who were a few bounces of the ball away from playing at the state tournament in D2 for the second year in a row. I’ve always been a fan of how the future UW-Stout Blue Devil, Team Wisconsin group, but she rarely makes mistakes. Fellow WIAC commit, but to UW-La Crosse, has been one of the best slashers in the state the past few seasons. She’s not the most explosive, but she understands angles and is an excellent finisher in traffic. Even sophomore showed flashes of being a significant contributor last season and will likely play a prominent role this season., initiates offense for Menomonie or her
Looking on the other side of this one, La Crosse Central lost a scholarship-level kid to Michigan Tech but has one of the most talented sophomores in Alahnna Simpson. Her role is likely to increase, and there’s a chance she’s better than people expect. I’d keep an eye on this one.
Oostburg at Laconia
Last year, I opened my year for the first leg of the home-and-home for Oostburg and Laconia, and I’ll do it again this season, albeit slightly further north in Rosendale.
Looking at Laconia, most of the faces will be familiar, except‘s younger sister, , who can shoot the lights out and may take the starting spot left by Reece Keel. Speaking of , she showed as much as I could’ve hoped this summer. The lefty scored on catch and shoots, off the dribble, getting to the rim, and overall looked like a complete offensive player, which drew the attention of multiple D2s in the region. You then look towards two other juniors, and , who each have been productive since the moment they stepped onto the floor as freshmen. Each can handle it, make some things happen off the dribble, and are reliable with the ball. That’s not even mentioning some of the other contributors they have, like Callista Vande Berg, Molly Duel, and Eva Engel, who all can help the Spartans turn losses into wins.
The Ketterhagen twins are two of the most dangerous players in D3. Each is uber-athletic and loves to run on the open floor. This summer, they proved to be efficient players in slower settings, which was the most important thing for them at the high school level. In games like the Kewaskum one to end the year, they struggled, partially because Kewaksum was a sound defensive unit and because they panicked when they got forced into a style of game they weren’t comfortable with. I don’t see that happening again, and I wouldn’t be shocked if this group was one of the most explosive offenses in the state. This opener could be a scoring fest. I don’t think they’ll get as frustrated as they did at times last season, and you won’t find many backcourts like Oostburg’s.