Pfaff has had the ball in her hands since stepping onto a high school court and scoring a team-high 12.6 points per game to earn honorable mention All-Badger North recognition as a freshman in 2019-20. Even after Maya White Eagle transferred into the program and scored 20.1 points per game last season, Pfaff still got plenty of touches, averaging 11.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.2 assists per game. The 5-foot-7 junior guard will look to use that all-around ability to help the Thunderbirds improve from last year’s 4-18 record. “Taylor is underrated,” Baraboo coach Michael Behl said. “She might be the best overall point guard in the Badger West. She shoots it well from 3 and mid-range, scores at the rim, sees the floor well and is very unselfish. She is our best rebounder and has turned herself into an above-average defender.”
Monroe junior guard Taylor Jacobson already owns a handful of Division I offers.
But she's not the only impressive talent in her conference. Here is a look at 10 players you need to know for this upcoming girls basketball season in the Badger West Conference:
Taylor Pfaff, jr., G, Baraboo
Amber Grosse, sr., F, Madison Edgewood
Grosse is a 5-foot-10 inside player who was third in scoring (6.9 points per game) on a Crusaders team that went 17-7 last year. She’s well respected by the Badger West Conference coaches. Baraboo’s Behl said she’s a “tough matchup for most opponents.” She’ll be expected to step up after both Sarah Lazar (14.2 points, 4.5 rebounds) and Baluck Deang (11.7 and 5.5) graduated last year.
Taylor Jacobson, jr., G, Monroe
Jacobson stood out for the 6-4 Cheesemakers, averaging 8.2 points a game with seven 3-pointers. She was third in scoring behind the graduated Megan Benzschawel (16.5 points, 10 rebounds) and junior Breanna Giasson (8.3, 7.6 rebounds). Jacobson was third with 4.4 rebounds a game, and she led with 2.5 assists, 2.1 steals and 11 blocks. Jacobson has college interest from Marquette, UW-Milwaukee and Wisconsin, according to WisSports.net.
Grace Vesperman, jr., G, Mount Horeb
The Vikings lost leading scorer Julia Magnuson (17.0 points), which means it’s time for Vesperman (7.0 points) to step into a larger role. Mount Horeb coach Tom Lesar said she’s worked “incredibly hard” to evolve on offense, developing her 3-pointer and floater in the offseason. Lesar expects her to take on crunch-time duties this season. However, it’s her defense that really stands out for her squad. “Grace is a fierce competitor — she is as good of defender as I’ve ever coached,” Lesar said. “We put her on our opponent’s best player, and she embraces the challenge.”
Emily Mortenson, sr., G, Oregon
A UW-Stevens Point commit, Mortenson is returning from a torn ACL which cut her junior season shorter than it already was — she played in only five games. However, she averaged 9.8 points per game and made 10 of 24 3-pointers. She tied Carleigh Roberts, who graduated last season, as the Panthers’ leading scorers. “(She’s) a great shooter and leader,” Oregon coach Adam Wamsley said.
Cameran Ratz, sr., G, Portage
She’s a coach for the youth program in Portage, called the Lil’ Warriors, and that mentality comes across when she’s with her varsity teammates, too. Portage coach Jessica Howe said Ratz “wants to be a role model not only as an athlete but also (as a) community member.” Ratz was the Warriors’ leading scorer last year, averaging 9.7 points a game with nine 3s as the Warriors went 1-17.
Mahra Wieman, sr., G/F, Reedsburg
The 5-foot-10 wing scored a Reedsburg-record 21.2 points per game and added 6.2 rebounds per game to earn first-team all-state honors from the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association and fourth-team honors from The Associated Press while leading the Beavers to a 20-2 record and a WIAA Division 2 state runner-up finish. She scored 19.5 points per game at state, a run that included a semifinal win over New Berlin Eisenhower before a championship loss to Green Bay Notre Dame. “She is an elite scorer who can score so many different ways which makes her tough to guard,” Reedsburg head coach Mark Simon said of Wieman last winter. “She was so consistent all season for us and scored with such efficient numbers.” Wieman is third on Reedsburg’s all-time scoring list with 1,124 career points, trailing only Katie Webber (1,285) and Amanda Reimer (1,144). She also finished the 2020-21 season with program records for 3-point percentage (.459) and free-throw percentage (.772) in a season.
Trenna Cherney, sr., G/F, Reedsburg
Like Wieman, Cherney is entering her fourth year as one of Reedsburg’s key pieces. She averaged 14.5 points per game last season to earn all-state recognition from the WBCA and The Associated Press. Another 5-foot-10 wing, she’s ninth in Reedsburg history with 957 points. “Trenna is fearless,” Simon said. “She has developed an outside game along with her inside game. More than anything, Trenna plays really physical, which contributes to the style we like to play.”
Sydney Cherney, so., G, Reedsburg
Sydney is the younger of the two Cherney sisters and is emerging as one of the top players in her class, according to Simon. As a freshman, she averaged 14.5 points a game, second on the team, and had 20-point and 14-point games during the state tournament. “One of the better sophomores in the state of Wisconsin based on production,” Simon said.
Maggie Hartwig, jr., G/F, Sauk Prairie
Hartwig is Sauk Prairie’s leading returning scorer after the graduation of current Winona State University athlete Naomi Breunig (13.9 points). Hartwig, a 5-foot-11 junior, averaged 7.0 points per game as a freshman and 9.5 points per game as a sophomore. She turned it on at the end of 2020-21, scoring in double figures in five of her last six games after hitting the 10-point mark in just three of her first nine games.