Leader on the court

Junior Grace Roth returns to the Lady Norskies after earning all-conference last season.

With 12 returning letterwinners from a team that won a WIAA Division 2 regional title, expectations are high for the DeForest girls basketball team this season.

“This year’s team returns 70 percent of our scoring and rebounding,” Norski coach Jerry Schwenn said. “Competition will be very good in practices. Some of our strengths this year include depth, athleticism, varsity experience and interchangeable players. Development of roles and inside play are the main questions entering this season.”

The Lady Norskies finished 17-8 overall last season. They advanced to a WIAA sectional semifinal where they lost to eventual state runner-up Monroe.

DeForest went 10-4 in the Badger North Conference to tie Reedsburg for second place behind Beaver Dam (14-0).

The Norskies have two starters to replace this season, as Aleah Grundahl and Bryn Smith have graduated. Grundahl was a first-team all-conference selection as a senior and is now starting at UW-Whitewater.

DeForest’s wealth of returning talent includes honorable mention all-conference picks Grace Roth (Jr.), Megan Mickelsen (Sr.), Sam Schaeffer (Sr.) and Maggie Trautsch (Sr.).

Roth averaged 9.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season.

“Grace has always had a scorers mentality, but has improved as a shooter,” Schwenn said. “We expect her to be more of an inside-out player.”

Schaeffer is entering her fourth year on varsity. She averaged 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game last year.

“Sam has played in all 73 games in her three years on varsity,” Schwenn said. “We expect her to demonstrate more as a playmaker this year.”

As a junior, Mickelson averaged 8.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

“Megan is a leader who could guard all five positions defensively,” Schwenn said. “We need her to increase her rebounding productivity his season.”

Trautsch returns average averaging 6.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season.

“Maggie has been a relentless worker in the gym,” Schwenn said. “She has the ability to have a big impact on this season.”

Also back with varsity experience are seniors Alyssa Laufenberg, Taylor Tschumper, Brooke Buhr, Alyson Benkert, Sydney Hahn and Tahlia Hardiman and juniors Natalie Compe and Morgan Hahn.

Laufenberg averaged 2.1 points and 1.0 rebounds per game, while Tschumper averaged 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds.

Also looking to make an impact this season are juniors Riley Herrick and Kendall Rauls, sophomores Jocelyn Pickhardt and Maya Pickhardt and freshman Jaelyn Derlein.

Beaver Dam is again the favorite in the Badger North Conference.

“They are the defending Division 2 state champs and return a good amount of experience to their lineup,” Schwenn said. “Their rotation may not be as deep as the past couple of years, but teams will still need to play a near perfect game to beat them.”

Reedsburg and Waunakee should also be in the mix with DeForest for a top-three finish.

“Our conference will have more depth this season,” Schwenn said.

The Norskies will kick off Badger North play this Friday with a 7:15 p.m. game in Baraboo.

DeForest will get its first shot at Beaver Dam on the road on Jan. 7. The Norskies will host the Beavers on Feb. 13.

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