Tigers look to have another strong season

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

HOWARDS GROVE – The Howards Grove Tigers have high expectations for the 2015-16 girls basketball campaign as they return four starters from last season’s Division 4 regional championship team.

HGHS is coming off a strong season in which it finished second in the Central Lakeshore Conference with a 12-2 record and chalked up a 17-8 overall mark. The Tigers lost in the sectional semifinals to St. Mary’s Springs (Fond du Lac), 56-47. The Ledgers went on to earn a berth in the state tournament.

“I am always optimistic for every season. We have a lot of talent this year and while the roster isn’t very long we have a solid core of dedicated kids who have been playing together for a long time,” said Tiger head coach Heidi Georgeff who is in her ninth season at the helm.

“The ultimate goals are always to win conference and be playing for the gold ball [championship trophy] at state. For now, we are just taking it one game at a time and are focused on playing our best each night.”

The Tigers moved from the Central Lakeshore Conference last season to the newly formed Big East Conference this year.

The Tigers’ group of returning starters are led by junior guard Brittany Schaller and junior forward Sam Yancy who earned All-CLC first-team honors last season. Last season, Schaller led HGHS in scoring with a 9.7 points-per-game average and steals with a 2.4 average.

Yancy paced the the Tigers in rebounding and blocked shots with averages of 6.7 and 0.9 per contest, respectively, and ranked third in scoring at 9.1 per game.

The other returning starters are junior guard/forward Olivia Stauss and junior guard/forward Kaitlynn Near. In addition to the starters, the other letter winner back is junior forward Addi Gerber.

“Our key players are our eight full-time varsity team members. They all have to pitch in,” said Georgeff.

“When someone is not having the best game, someone else needs to step up. We have to be balanced and we all have to contribute.”

Among the varsity newcomers, the coach has been impressed with junior guards Ashley Reinemann and Paige Splittgerber.

“I’ve been most impressed by newcomer Ashley Reinemann who is proving to be a workhorse. She’s very quick and smart on both sides of the ball us,” said Georgeff.

“Paige Splittgerber is another newcomer who will be one of our top outside scoring threats.

“Our strength is our speed. Our weakness is limited personnel in the post position,” Georgeff observed.

The Tigers’ defense is also expected to be a strength. The team allowed an average of only 37.7 points per game last season. In their season-opening 52-45 win over Kiel Thursday night, the Tigers’ pressing defense had an outstanding 22 steals.

The coach pointed out the keys for her team to be successful:

“Playing together, avoiding injuries, staying out of foul trouble and playing better defense than our opponents,” she said.

Georgeff favors Oostburg, Sheboygan Christian, Reedsville and Sheboygan Lutheran as the top BEC title contenders.


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