A year after claiming the program’s first ever conference title, posting a 17-6 record and reaching the regional finals, the L-Cats return virtually their entire squad as they look to repeat.
Junior point guard Julianna Wagner, last year’s Capitol North Co-Player of the Year, is one of four returning all-league performers.
Wagner led the team with 13.5 points per game and junior forward Jade Pitta, a second team all-conference player, scored 12 points a game. Junior guard Taylor Roughen (10.6 ppg) and junior center Vivian Guerrero (10.3 ppg), who will miss the first few weeks of the season with an ankle sprain, also averaged double-figures; both were second team all-conference recipients.
The L-Cats want to get out and go in transition and will use plenty of pick and roll action.
“Hopefully we’re running the floor and our spacing is great, sharing the basketball,” third-year Lake Mills coach Brandon Siska said. “Lots of pick and roll. With Ava (Wollin), Julianna and Taylor we have three guards who can shoot and get to the rim. (Sophomore) McClain Mahone was more of a rebounder and defensive specialist last year, but she can shoot the three. I look for her to score a lot more. Jade brings energy, deflections and can knock down shots.”
The L-Cats will be deeper then a season ago with Wollin, a junior guard, and junior forward Hannah Lamke playing key roles. Junior forward Brooke Fair and 6-foot-2 junior center Kayla Will, who missed last season due to injury, will also vye for minutes on a team that has nine juniors and no seniors.
“We have a lot more depth then we’ve had the last two years,” Siska said. “We are experienced. I expect us to play hard. We’ll be in your face defensively. Play fast but play disciplined. Hopefully improve every day as the season goes on and make a push in the playoffs.”
Wagner matched a career-high with 27 points in the team’s season-opening 60-43 win over Big Foot.
The L-Cats scored 55.6 points a game last year and held 11 opponents under 40 points.
“Make sure we are executing our plan for the night,” said Siska of the defensive keys. “Pay attention to detail with the scouting report. We have to be locked in with the scouting report and make sure we execute.”
The Capitol North as a whole was young last year as eight of the first and second team all-conference spots went to non-seniors. Siska anticipates Lodi and Lakeside Lutheran to field solid teams and mentioned Luther Prep as a program on the rise.
“We expect all teams to be improved,” Siska said. “Last season, in the first half, we may have snuck up on some teams. It will be different this year, we are going to have the bullseye on our backs. We are going to get everyone’s best shot.”
The L-Cats have a tough non-conference slate, including a road game Dec. 5 against two-time defending state champion Marshall and home games with Oregon, Greendale Martin Luther and Platteville.
The puzzle pieces appear in place as the L-Cats look to win a second conference title, and this season they will be the favorite instead of the underdog.
2019-20 LAKE MILLS
GIRLS BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
(Home games in CAPS)
Tues., Nov. 19 BIG FOOT, 7:15
Thurs., Nov. 21 OREGON, 7:15
Tues., Nov. 26 Deerfield, 7:15
Tues., Dec. 3 Sauk Prairie, 7:15
Thurs., Dec. 5 Marshall, 7:30
Tues., Dec. 10 Wisconsin Dells, 7
Fri., Dec. 13 Watertown Luther Prep, 7:30
Mon., Dec. 16 FORT ATKINSON, 7:30
Thurs., Dec. 19 Cambridge, 7:30
Fri. Dec. 27 BELLEVILLE, 3
Sat., Dec. 28 MARTIN LUTHER, 3
Sat., Jan. 4 PLATTEVILLE, 3
Tues., Jan. 7 Whitewater, 7:15
Tues., Jan. 14 Lakeside Lutheran, 7:30
Fri., Jan. 17 COLUMBUS, 7:30
Thurs., Jan. 23 Poynette, 7:30
Tues., Jan. 28 LODI, 7:30
Fri., Jan. 31 Watertown Luther Prep, 7:30
Thurs., Feb. 6 LAKESIDE LUTHERAN, 7:30
Tues., Feb. 11 Columbus, 7:30
Fri., Feb. 14 POYNETTE, 7:30
Thurs., Feb. 20 Lodi, 7:30