By Dave Boehler
Beacon Sports Editor
Winning the first two or three games of the basketball season is not unusual.
But it’s been awhile since it’s happened at Sheboygan South – until now.
The girls started 3-0 for the first time in 12 years and the last time the boys were 2-0 (entering play Friday) was in 2008-09.
“I think both programs, it’s good to experience a little success,” second-year boys coach Jesse Shaw said. “I think both have been down now for quite a few years where we’ve been the team that has kind of been the doormat, the cupcake for everybody else.
“Now it’s nice to be on the other side of that, or at least we’re hoping to be competitive in all our games this year. That’s going to be the goal. And I think we have a legitimate shot at doing that.”
Last year, South’s girls lost its first 17 games and finished with just one win.
The Redwings, who had a total of only three wins the previous two seasons, already have their most victories since 2015-’16.
And they’ve done this with a first-year coach in Ellyn Hansen.
She says she was aware of her team’s fast start and talked to her girls about it to use it as motivation to keep it going.
“Prior to coming in this year, I hadn’t thought about it, I suppose,” Hansen said. “But once we won the first one, then the second one … Our assistant coach actually brought (the start) up. He’s an alumni here.”
Hansen credits the early success to the girls having a new enthusiasm and a desire to work hard thanks to a larger, more upperclassmen-orientated team this year of juniors and seniors.
“So there’s a little more motivation for those seniors because their journey is coming to an end here as their final year,” she said.
Although South has lost its last two games, it was to reigning state champion Bay Port (ranked No. 1 in Division 1) and Green Bay Notre Dame (No. 4 in Division 2).
“Bay Port is very seasoned,” Hansen said. “They play six girls and the top five are all seniors. They have experience winning state, so they just have that experience.
“We just have to know we’re not quite there yet but is something we can built toward. We’re taking it stride by stride and not being overwhelmed by them.”
South’s Halle Boldt averages a team-high 8.8 points per game and Bjondina Bushhi adds 7.8 ppg.
Maddie Ognacevic leads the squad in rebounding with 8.4 per game to go with 5.8 ppg. Kaitlyn Stricker scores 5.6 ppg and Lindsey Horen grabs 5.8 rpg.
The boys are led by Josh Govek’s 25.0 ppg, and Marcell Drone chips in with 13.5 ppg to go with a team-high 9.5 rpg. Jake Marver contributes 7.5 ppg and Kollin Fischer adds 7.0 ppg.
South, which won a total of only three games two years ago, opened with a victory over New Holstein and then beat Milwaukee North.
What impressed Shaw is that the Huskies’ halfcourt style of play is similar to the Redwings and most teams in the area, and the Blue Devils’ is more up-tempo with full-court presses that is often seen in the City Conference.
“In the end, I was pleased we were able to, for the most part, adjust to a different style of basketball and still come out on the positive end,” he said.
But the coach also used it as a teaching tool, as he made the team watch both game films because there were “lots to correct.”
Shaw said: “I bet we spent probably an hour watching film on both teams. It’s good to go over the mistakes we made and a lot of them are correctable things, which is good to see.Mistakes that don’t necessarily require talent, it just requires concentration, knowing your role and executing whatever it is we’re asking you to do on offense or defense. So really correctable things, but things as a young, learning team, we need to correct.
“In the end, I’d rather win and correct than lose and correct.”