WAUPUN — The Waupun prep girls basketball team has lived through some ups and downs in the early going this season.
But that’s going to happen with a new coach who has new philosophies on offense and defense.
“We will be running a motion offense focused on crisp ball movement and hard cuts,” Waupun head coach Tim Aalsma said. “Sharing the basketball will be key for us.”
Aalsma takes over the Warriors girls team after spending the past three seasons as an assistant for the Waupun boys.
But even though Aalsma is new to the girls hoops scene, he expects his Warriors to compete well just like last year’s team did en route to a 20-6 record and a close loss to Greendale Martin Luther in the WIAA Division 3 sectional finals.
“I’d like to think we can compete on a nightly basis with great effort and attitude,” Aalsma said. “If we do that well, winning will take care of itself.”
In order to do so, the Warriors will try and quickly fill the shoes of Maiah Domask and Danielle Hopp, who were key members of last year's team but have since graduated and are now playing at UW-Platteville and Ripon College.
“Anytime you lose a couple of players like that, you’re always looking to see who’s going to bring it next year and who’s going to step in,” Aalsma said. “That void will probably be filled collectively as a whole. We’re not looking for one or two people to do that. We’d like multiple people to step in and fill those scoring vacancies, the rebounding and everything those two girls brought to the table.”
According to WisSports.net, Maiah Domask led the conference in scoring with 16.6 points a game and was second with 3.2 assists a game. Hopp was a sharpshooter who could get hot at any moment.
The pair helped Waupun finish 12-2 in the East Central Conference, second behind undefeated Plymouth.
How soon Waupun — which is off to a 2-1 start and will hit the court again Tuesday against Columbus — can jell will go a long way toward determining how much of a challenge the Warriors will be to Plymouth again this year, as the Panthers figure on making a strong push to repeat as conference champs.
Also in the mix for the ECC crown will be Kettle Moraine Lutheran and Winneconne, who tied for third last year at 8-6.
The Warriors return four very talented players.
Tops among them is 6-foot-2 senior center Syd Flier, who could make a push for the Player of the Year award in the ECC after leading the conference in rebounding last year at 10.3 per game while also scoring 15.3 points per contest.
“She certainly has the athletic ability,” Aalsma said of Flier, who has signed an NCAA National Letter of Intent to play for Division II Winona State beginning next year. “We’re trying to get the mindset to bring hard work and have that lunch-pail mentality every practice and every game. She’s been starting to show those things.
“We’re asking her to do a lot more on the defensive end than she’s done in the past. Hopefully, she’ll be able to maintain that and she’s certainly a leader for us.”
Elyse Stelsel (4.8 points, 5.7 rebounds per game last year), Meghan Flier (2.2, 2.3) and Peyton McGinnis (4.5 points, 1.4 assists) will be expected to step up their games in an entirely new offense that could focus on their passing ability.
“Peyton had a good offseason; she worked really hard,” Aalsma said. “There was something I saw in Elyse when I took the program over, so she definitely has some tools. We’ll look to try and get her in favorable matchups. Hopefully she can continue the success she’s had early on.”
Waupun averaged 58 points last season due to having Domask, Hopp and Flier, all of whom were unanimous first-team selections.
But Aalsma said success this year will hinge more so on the other end of the court.
"We defend, we can be in every game that we play," he said.