The Campbellsport girls basketball team has two main goals in mind for this season: have a winning record, and win a playoff game.
The Cougars’ last winning campaign was 2008-09 when they went 15-7. Since then, it’s been a steady climb back to success. The win totals the last four seasons have gone 4, 6, 7 and finishing 9-14 a year ago. It’s also been four years since the last win in regionals.
Campbellsport seems primed to achieve its goals this winter, bringing back four starters as part of eight girls who return varsity experience.
The season got off on the right foot last Tuesday in Mayville, where the Cougars edged the Cardinals 55-49 in nonconference action. With a 9-day layoff between the second game Thursday at New Holstein, it was important to get off to a positive start.
“It was exciting for us,” second-year Campbellsport head coach Steve Hamm said. “The last few years we’ve struggled as a program. Opening with a win was very good for us.”
The Cougars went 4-10 in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference last year, placing sixth before losing in the first round of regionals. But with the experience they return, a higher finish seems likely.
Campbellsport’s only significant loss due to graduation was Paige Birschbach, a second-team all-EWC pick who was second for the Cougars in scoring at 8.6 points per game.
The returners are led by 6-foot-0 senior Haley Feucht. She’s a three-year starter and earned EWC honorable mention last year. She finished ninth in the EWC in scoring at 9.4 ppg, and was seventh in rebounding (7.2). Last Tuesday she had 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting and four steals.
“She’s going to be a big part of our offense and defense,” Hamm said. “We’re expecting her to put everything together and have a real nice season for us. Hopefully we’ll be able to share the scoring load like we did Tuesday.”
Five different Cougars had at least seven points vs. Mayville. Besides Feucht’s 11, sophomore Tiffani Anderson (5-10) had a team-high 13, junior Brooke Birschbach (5-7) had 11, sophomore Cheyenne Renderman (5-6) had eight and senior Micaela Ward (5-6) chipped in seven.
Birschbach runs the offense at point guard and will be counted on a lot to distribute the ball where it needs to go. She did a fine job vs. Mayville, dishing out six assists as the Cougars had assist on 18 of their 31 field goals. It was just part of her big game, as she also grabbed 11 rebounds and came up with six steals.
“Everything is going to run through her,” Hamm said of Birschbach. We’re depending on her a great deal to take care of the ball and get it to teammates to score. A lot of times she’ll have to find her own shot when things aren’t set up for her. She’s also our best defensive player coming back.”
Ward was the team’s third-leading scorer last year at 5.5 ppg, while Anderson will take on a bigger role this year after scoring 3.3 ppg as a freshman.
“We’re expecting big things out of Tiffani this year,” Hamm said. “She’s a good ball-handler and has a good sense on the court. We’re hoping she makes a big jump from freshman to sophomore.”
Junior Abby Gierach was the other starter last Tuesday. She had a poor shooting night (0-for-7), but had six rebounds and three assists before fouling out.
“Abby’s an outstanding defensive player, and more of a role player on offense,” Hamm said.
After the starters, Campbellsport should see key contributions from varsity returners junior Nicole Hepp (5-8) and sophomore Cheyenne Renderman (5-6). Newcomers to the varsity include sophomores Samantha Jandre (5-6) and Ashley Emmer (5-6) and junior Hailey Hall (5-3), who is playing for the first time since eighth grade, while 5-9 seniors Katie Schumacher and Kelley Konen are back after taking last year off from basketball.
“It’s going to take them a little while to get caught up to speed and back in the flow of everything,” Hamm said.