By Dave Boehler
Beacon Sports Editor
It’s pretty unusual for any high school sports team to return every player from the previous season, but that’s the case for the Sheboygan Christian girls basketball team.
“I think it’s very rare,” Eagles’ coach Brad Bulkow said. “It’s nice to know everybody’s back.
“It helps with practice that we can continue to build on the things that we did last year, offensively and defensively. We don’t necessarily have to start over from square one. We can continue what we did previous years and add or build to it from there.”
Christian won just three games last season, but at least the team does not have to worry about replacing leading scorers or rebounders.
“It’s definitely boosting our confidence because we know last year we definitely pushed hard. Now this year, we know we have the same people so we can go even farther, to the next step,” Christian’s Grace VanEss said.
Teammate Megan Moeller agreed.
“We already have this great team bond and we’re ahead of teams because we have the same people coming back,” she said.
Fourteen girls are in the program – four seniors, three juniors, one sophomore and six freshmen – and all eight that played varsity return.
Moeller and VanEss each averaged a team-best eight points per game.
Bulkow says Moeller brings energy as the squad’s point guard.
“We kind of go as Megan goes,” her coach said. “She really kind of sets the tone for us and drives us forward. She’s a high-energy player.”
VanEss increased her scoring toward the end of last season, according to Bulkow.
“She’s kind of one of those girls who does a little bit of everything,” he said. “She can score, defend, rebound and is a pretty good all-around player. She’s a good one-two punch with Megan.”
So there is a good chance Christian surpasses its victory total from a year ago, but that is not the coach’s No. 1 concern right now.
“We don’t necessarily focus on total wins, but what we’re focused on in preseason meetings and getting practice going here is just working on increasing our intensity,” Bulkow said. “Being more competitive. We want to increase our competitive nature and our intensity, then hopefully that increases that three win total.”
The top-three scorers graduated and sophomore Hailey Schimberg, the top returning scorer, re-injured her knee last week and has an MRI scheduled this week.
There are several seniors on the team, however: Abbie Puksich, Megan Glewen, Molly Peterson and Carly Schreurs.
“These four will be asked to provide leadership,” Crusaders’ coach Mike Scheele said.
Keith Conway is the new coach after spending the previous seven seasons as an assistant.
This is the first head coaching job at the varsity level for Conway, who played at North and graduated in 1989.
Twelve letterwinners return, including seven seniors. So Conway expects to finish in the top half of the Fox River Classic Conference.
“I think we’ll be athletic and we’re very junior- and senior-heavy,” he said. “We have a good number of returning players with experience.”
The school also has a new coach running a varsity program for the first time in Ellyn Hansen, who played at Milton.
This is Hansen’s eighth year of coaching at South. She was the Redwings’ junior varsity coach last year after serving as the varsity assistant the previous two seasons.
“We lost only one senior from last year, so this is a seasoned, tight-knit group that has a renewed energy and enthusiasm,” she said. “And I think we are going to surprise some people this year.”