By Brian Kalish
November 7, 2018
Wausau– The Wausau West girls basketball program under second-year coach Tom Weinkauf may be hitting its stride. And that’s not something that the Warriors’ opponents are going to be particularly keen on hearing.
After a 2017-18 campaign that saw the Warriors go 16-8 overall and finish third in the Valley with a 7-5 conference record, West is poised to make a push for the conference title– and perhaps make a little noise in the playoffs as well.
While the Warriors’ goals include capturing the Valley crown and going to state– which team at this early juncture doesn’t have the goal of winning conference and heading to the Resch Center in March?– Weinkauf is taking a much more measured approach.
“Our main goal is to get better every day,” said Weinkauf. “If we do that, the wins will take care of themselves. Obviously you can say you want to win the conference or go to state. Those are goals, but they’re all superficial goals. Our main goal is to improve every day, and my main goal is to make these players the best ball players they can possibly be.”
Fortunately for Weinkauf, he’s got a roster with some pretty darn good players to start with, including five returning seniors.
No discussion of Warriors girls basketball would be complete without first mentioning Maddie Schires.
Schires enters her senior season after leading West in scoring last year with a 20.5 points per game average. She was a unanimous first team all-conference selection and averaged 19.9 points per game in Valley play. As a junior, Schires scored at a rate that eclipsed even 2017-18 Conference Co-Players of the Year Maggie Negaard of SPASH (18.6 ppg) and Taylor Petit of D.C. Everest (14.6 ppg) in conference play.
Schires said the 2018-19 Warriors have a leg up on last year’s squad.
For one, they lost only one senior who saw significant playing time in Shelby Samz. Secondly, the players have had an entire year to digest Weinkauf’s system, so less time needs to be spent on X’s and O’s and more time can be spent on executing within that framework.
“With a lot of girls back on the team… a lot of people know what we’re doing, and we don’t have to teach as much as we do if we had a lot of incoming players on varsity,” Schires said. “It’s definitely a strength having a lot of girls back here.”
Joining Schires is senior is Tess Hauer.
According to WSN, Hauer averaged 15.2 points per game last season. She also had a healthy 6.2 rebounds per game average in the Valley.
In assessing this year’s team, Hauer said offense is not going to be a problem and that defense, which was a weakness at times for the Warriors last season, is the primary focus in their early practices.
“I think a lot of us are very capable at shooting,” Hauer said. “We had very high-scoring games last year. But definitely one of our weaknesses is defense… The majority of our practice is for defense because it’s what we need to work on and we know we need to work on it and get better.”
West will be tested early as they take to the road to face Pulaski on November 13 and Appleton East on November 20.
Another interesting match up will be when the Warriors host an upstart Newman squad– a team Weinkauf had tremendous success coaching prior to his tenure at Wausau West– on November 27.
Weinkauf said those early tests will reveal a lot about the team going forward.
“We start out with Pulaski who is one of the favorites in their conference, the we play Appleton East, who is one of the favorites in the Fox Valley,” said Weinkauf. “Then we come back and play Newman… Playing good teams is great because you find out where your warts are. You find out what you have to improve on. Unfortunately, our first two games are on the road, but if you want to be a good team, you have to play the good teams, and play them on the road. If you can beat them on the road, you can beat them anywhere.”
Check out the CWS YouTube Channel for full interviews with Hauer and Schires, as well as more Wausau West sports videos! Subscribe to the channel so you won’t miss out on any video content!