Larry Judge

First year assistant coach Larry Judge gives a pep talk to the Reedsburg Area High School girls basketball team during practice on Nov. 13. Various coaches and members of the community will talk with the team about an overall theme each week to inspire the players.

CHRIS FLORES/Times-Press

The Reedsburg Area High School girls basketball team has steadily been building.

After recording a 9-14 record two years ago, the Beavers improved to 10-13 last season. This year Reedsburg could potentially see a winning record as the Beavers return four of its starting five and feature senior Brooklyn Schyvinck, who looks to end her high school career on the right note. Head coach Mark Simon said his team has what it takes to push the program to the next level once again.

“I’m very excited about the group coming in. We have a lot of returning players that have gained a great amount of experience over the years playing some pretty big games. This is a group that has really been competitive through its whole career. Looking back at season, I think there was one team that took it to us with Stoughton, but other than that we were right there every game we played.”

Offense will be Reedsburg’s strongpoint this season. The Beavers’ starting five covers nearly every basis an effective offense requires, including Schyvinck who provides height and all-around talent. A three-sport athlete who recently committed to compete for the Winona State track and field team, the senior recorded over 11 points per game last season.

“Brooklyn is just a special athlete that works extremely hard,” Simon said. “It’s one thing you know going into every practice and every game, you know from an effort standpoint she’s going to give it everything she has. She’s really shown that across the board in all her sports.”

Out on the perimeter will be junior Julia Korklewski, who set a school record in 3-pointers as a sophomore, collecting 72 threes. She averaged 11.2 points last season.

“She can really shoot the ball,” Simon said of Korklewski. “And she worked on her all-around game this summer to be more versatile offensively so I think we’ll see her getting to the basket a little bit more. She provides some offense for us that we’re going to need.”

Junior Ava Douglas has provided strong consistency over the past couple of years as the starting point guard. Simon said Douglas, who averaged 10.5 points last year, has improved herself physically which will help her in various ways.

“I think you’ll see she’s a lot bigger and stronger this year. With that you’re able to accomplish more on the floor, getting to the basket, getting to the foul line, and-ones. You just have more in your game when you’re a stronger athlete and with Ava being a junior now, physically she’s just going to be better and a more productive player.”

Juniors Alyssa Straka and Skyler Miller had quieter seasons in 2016-17, both averaging about four points per game but provide athleticism, crucial for grabbing rebounds.

“Alyssa Straka is real steady out there for us. Just does everything pretty well. She’ll score a little bit, but she really makes our offense goes. She’s a kid you want to have in the game in the end,” Simon said. “Skyler is a player that gives us great athleticism. She’s had a great start to the season so far at practice and showing what she can do.”

Reedsburg will feel the loss of Claire Sprecher due to graduation, as Sprecher averaged 9.2 points last year. The Beavers will see four players off the bench, including sophomores Kaitlyn Zunker, Rylee Dorow, and Ali Wallace. Zunker is the more experienced sophomore of the trio, having played in six games last season.

“I think we’ll have more consistent scoring this year. Last year you didn’t really know what you were going to get but this year you know certain kids are going to score. I think Ava is more of a scorer now, I think Brooklyn is ready for a season where every game she’s going to get you nearly a double-double,” Simon said. “I think you’ll see a pretty cohesive group as far as a group that shares the ball and plays hard together.”

Defensively, Reedsburg allowed 46.6 points per game. Simon said he plans on continuing to use his successful man-to-man setup.

“I’m pretty old school when it comes to defense, I like playing man-to-man. I think you’ve got to stop people man-to-man and I think we have some versatility as far as how we can guard the ball and our inside play with Zunker and Schyvinck giving us some size for rebounding.”

Conference-wise, the Beavers finished 3-9 in 2016 and will run into a talented new foe for the first time as Beaver Dam joins the Badger North. The Golden Beavers went an undefeated 28-0 last season, recording the WIAA Div. 2 State Championship and return most of their squad which averaged around 85 points per game last season. Simon said Beaver Dam, Waunakee, and DeForest will likely be at the top but is confident his team can shine from there.

“I think the next five teams, out of that bunch I think we have a chance to be a team that is in that top half.”

While Simon is changing anything too drastically within the way his team practices and plays, the 11-year head coach did implement a new part of practice, where coaches and members of the community take 5-10 minutes to talk with the team with the hope to inspire.

“As a staff we came up with the idea of potentially having a theme and then from there we thought how about we bring in some members from the community. We haven’t really locked in who’s going to be in yet but the idea is to have all six coaches take a week, and then from there we have contacted other members from the community that will come in and give something from the heart. I think it’s going to be inspiring to the kids and I look forward to it just as much as anyone.”

The Beavers open their season on Friday, Nov. 17 when they host Oregon.

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Regional Sports Reporter