Now that the prep girls basketball season has been rolling along for a couple of weeks, we are starting to get a better idea of what the area teams are going to look like this season.
The teams in Rio and Lodi have come out of the gates flying. The Vikings, despite losing a boatload of talent to graduation, look like they could be good enough to win a second straight Trailways West Conference title after opening the season with five straight wins. The Blue Devils are off to 3-0 start, and are looking like they might be the team to beat in the Capitol North Conference.
The other thing that has jumped out in the first month of the season is that there is no shortage of talent suiting up for area teams. Here is a closer look at that talent, as we highlight 10 area players to keep an eye this season. The players on this list were selected based on last season’s performances and their expected contributions this season. Players from Portage are not included, as they were highlighted in earlier stories that appeared in the Daily Register.
Taylor Bignell, So., Westfield
The talented sophomore has quickly established herself as Westfield’s top scorer this season. Her season-high 17 points in a 42-35 win over Mauston last Friday night helped the Pioneers pick up their first win since the 2015-16 season. The 5-foot-6 guard also scored 16 points in Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin Heights and 12 points in a season-opening defeat at Montello.
Callie Brouette, So., Pardeeville
Last year as a freshman, Brouette earned honorable mention in the Trailways North Conference when she averaged 7.9 points and 3.3 assists per game for a Bulldogs team that won 19 games. This season, Brouette has taken over more of the scoring load, as she is averaging 10.4 points per game, including a 20-point night in a 47-42 win over Deerfield on Nov. 21. She is also averaging 4.2 assists per contest this season as Pardeeville has started 3-2.
Josie DeLapp, So., Pardeeville
After losing do-everything senior Mikayla Brouette to graduation in the offseason, Pardeeville needed some younger players to step up this season, and DeLapp has certainly done that. Through five games this season, the 5-10 forward has about doubled all of her statistical contributions, and is averaging 8.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. She recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds in a 44-39 season-opening win over Waterloo on Nov. 14.
Chloe DeYoung, Jr., Cambria-Friesland
The Hilltoppers are 2-3 on the season and have already matched last season’s win total. A big reason for the team’s early success has been DeYoung. The 5-9 junior is averaging 9 points per game this season, including a 17-point effort in Cambria-Friesland’s 41-39 victory over Wayland Academy on Monday night. It was the second straight double-digit scoring night for DeYoung this season.
Alana Gilles, Jr., Lodi
The 5-10 forward might be the best player in the Capitol North Conference this season, one year after being named a first team all-conference pick as a sophomore when she averaged 15.8 points per game. Gilles has continued to lead the Blue Devils this season. She is averaging 14 points per game for a 3-0 Lodi squad that could compete for a conference championship. Her double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) helped carry the Blue Devils to a 40-37 win over New Glarus on Tuesday night.
Jordyn Hutzler, Jr., Rio
After helping lead Rio to a conference championship last season, Hutzler has the Vikings off to a 5-0 start. The 5-7 junior guard has been hard to stop so far, averaging 17.6 points per game. In a 59-52 win over Oakfield on Nov. 21, Hutlzer made five 3-pointers and finished with 25 points, while also pulling down a dozen rebounds. As Rio’s one returning starter, Hutzler will play a huge role for a Rio team that hopes to compete for another Trailways West title.
Hailey Kaenel, Jr., Montello
Kaenel has been a force on the offensive end for the Hilltoppers this season, averaging 15.5 points for a Montello team that is off to a 1-4 start this season. In Tuesday’s 63-53 loss in Wautoma, Kaenel scored a team-high 20 points. She also had 15 points and eight rebounds in a 48-38 win over Westfield on Nov. 20.
Ashlynn Klosky, So., Poynette
The 6-2 sophomore center has had a pair of early breakout performances for the Pumas so far this season, scoring 17 points in a 61-44 loss to Marshall on Nov. 30, and then doing it again in Tuesday’s 46-37 win over Cambridge. Klosky’s emergence should provide a big boost for a Poynette team that is replacing three of its top four scorers after winning a Capitol North Conference championship a year ago.
McKenzie Sampson, So., Rio
Sampson has seized her opportunity of more playing time for a Rio team that is replacing four starters this season. The 5-10 sophomore is averaging 13.8 points through five games this season for the Vikings. She has scored in double figures in four of those games, including a Dec. 1 win over Montello, when she poured in 19 points. Sampson also recorded her first career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Oakfield on Nov. 21.
Rhianna Walzer, Jr., Lodi
The 5-8 guard earned honorable mention honors in the Capitol North Conference last year. Through three games so far this season, she is averaging 6.7 points per game, including a 10-point effort in a 62-43 win over Portage on Nov. 27. Walzer can find ways to contribute even when she isn’t scoring. In the 59-54 season-opening win over Belleville, she finished with 10 assists.