Opening Week 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.
Oshkosh West at De Pere
If you like watching a contrast of styles, look no further than Oshkosh West against De Pere.
Last season was a project for De Pere. They lost four starters who led them to the State Tournament in 2022, then lostthat July to injury, so everything was new for Red Birds. The best thing throughout the season was finding kids who could help them contribute this season. Future UW-Eau Claire Blugold gave De Pere excellent minutes on the block and was the surprise of the FRCC. They also got solid scrappy play from kids like and Jaden Cieszelcyzk. Those three in particular, and the reintegration of now Minnesota Duluth commit , gives the Red Birds the balance on both ends to be a competitive group in their sectional.
If we’re being objective about Oshkosh West, they haven’t been near the top three or four teams talent-wise in the FVA, but they punch above their weight because of how they defend. They have a 6-0 kid who can guard anyone on the floor in UW-Oshkosh commit,, who’s been the anchor of the Wildcat’s defenses the past few seasons. However, ‘s defense at the point of attack has always been something I thought had flown under the radar. If they get a healthy season out of , I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave one of the top teams in the FVA a scare or a loss.
It’ll be a sneaky, fun game to start the year for these two.
McDonell Central at Neillsville
Although it may or may not technically be a Cloverbelt Conference game for these two, there are bragging rights and postseason implications in this one up in Neillsville.
The Macks are the reigning D5 state champions and avenged their losses to Assumption the previous few seasons.and Aubrey Dorn are back, and each will be among the top players in D4. However, the biggest x-factor will be Emily’s younger sister, . The Macks lost their smoothest offensive creator in Marley Hughes, and EllaMay has the tools to fill that role. She’s as quick as anyone in the state, finishes around the rim, can make pull-up jumpers, and is a reliable ball handler.
On the Neillsville side, they have a kid who’ll likely be the POY on their side of the conference in, who I believe is one of the most underrated kids in the state. You name it, she can do it. She’s one of the most versatile kids in Wisconsin and will be looking to get this group to state one more time.
Xavier at Laconia
I talked about Laconia plenty today, so let’s skip over to the Hawks.
Xavier had injury issues last season, which affected their season quickly, and they’ll still have some kids out early, but this will be one of the most talented groups in D3. The Krull sisters are all high-level athletes with plenty of skill. I’m unsure how long Brynn will be out, but Elle and Joy will be indispensable for this group. Having Halle VandeHey and Catie Power back adds to the depth the Hawks have built over the past year. If this team gets healthy and hits the level I believe they can, they’re a legitimate threat in D3.
Kettle Moraine at New Berlin West
Every year creates situations where things change, but possibly not as much as it has for these two teams.
The Lasers lost the duo that’s led them to a state title in the past two seasons, Grace Grocholski and Braelyn Torres, but they still have pieces that can create a competitive environment for them in the Classic 8.and each played in one of the most aggressive backcourts in the state and are back. They also have some length and athleticism back in 5-11 wing , who hit some big shots and played in the most crucial minutes the Lasers played last season.
Whenever a 6-4 post player walks out the door, the identity of your team changes, but if anyone’s ready for it, it’s New Berlin West. Sophomore guardhas generated interest from regional schools with her smooth offensive arsenal and ability to create without turning the ball over. will be able to operate in an inside-out role that suits her skillset, and the “others” have shown up to Summer and Fall leagues to get used to some of the things they want to do. I like what the Vikings have.