Westosha Central’s Ellie Witt finishes a free throw attempt during a game against a Southern Lakes Conference opponent last season. Witt was an All-Conference honorable mention pick as a junior (Jason Arndt/The Report).

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

Mindy Stewart has reasons for optimism entering her third season as head coach of the Westosha Central High School girls basketball team.

She said that optimism includes a strong youth movement and key returning letter winners.

“Overall expectations are high this season,” Stewart said. “I am not sure how our youth will adjust to varsity level, but if they adjust like I think, we should be competitive with all teams. I expect us to finish in the top half of the Southern Lakes Conference and surprise some teams.”

Westosha Central, which opened the season 1-1, begins Southern Lakes Conference play at Wilmot on Friday.

The Falcons, who finished 3-20 overall and 2-12 last season, bring back scoring leader and senior Ellie Witt along with juniors Jillian Adams and Michelle Frahm.

The 5-foot-9 Witt, an All-Conference performer last season, averaged a team-leading 9.5 points per game as a junior.

Stewart said Witt should make a bigger contribution as the team’s starting guard.

“Coming into the start of the season Ellie has a new grit about her game,” Stewart said. “I think the addition of the underclassmen has given her a new vision of how her senior season could end up.

“We are looking for her to run the floor and score,” Stewart added. “As our go-to shooting guard, Ellie is going to draw in the defense, which will allow her teammates to shine also.”

Meanwhile, the 6-2 Frahm finished second on the team with 7.3 points per game, while the 5-9 Adams pitched in another 6.5 ppg.

Stewart said the two post players will offer Witt some relief and complement the team’s speedy guards.

“Their size and strength will complement the speed we have at the guard position,” Stewart said.

Additionally, the Falcons bring back 5-8 senior leader Grace Anderson, who brings the team needed enthusiasm.

“Our senior captain Grace Anderson is looking to provide energy and leadership to our young team,” Stewart said. “Her intensity at practice is contagious.”

Other returning letter-winners include Witt’s twin sister, Megan, and senior guards Paige Wysiatko and Carlie Odejewski.

Odejewski, who committed to play softball at the University of Charleston in West Virginia, comes back to play basketball after a one-year layoff from the game.

But what about the youth movement?

Several years ago, a group of girls joined the Westosha Youth Basketball Club, and they are now sophomores: Ellie Reynolds, Riley Spencer, Maggie Kimpler, Ava Viirre, Ki Anderson and Evie Hinze.

“This group has been talked about since they were in middle school,” Stewart said. “Now that they are full-time varsity players, time will tell how they adjust to the speed and physicality of the varsity level.”

Freshman Reese Rynberg, who scored 12 points in the Falcons’ season opener, also joins the fray.

“We look for Ellie Reynolds to lead us on the court as our point guard with Riley, Maggie and Evie helping out in that role,” Stewart said. “Ava is our most versatile player and able to run the court and bang inside. Ki is a threat because of her speed and vertical. I see her being a force in the lane.”

As for Rynberg, a 5-10 forward, she helped the Falcons come away with a 61-54 nonconference victory at Kenosha Indian Trail on Nov. 20.

Rynberg made four buckets and went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the win.

“Reese Rynberg is going to fit in well with the sophomore group and their fast- paced play,” Stewart said. “We look for her to run the floor and score in transition. Her fearless attitude on the court is something that will benefit her at this level.”

The Falcons, however, will be without graduated senior Sara Backus.

Backus plays tennis at Division 3 Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and exhibited strong leadership on last year’s team, Stewart said.

 
 

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