By Craig Marx, Editor
The Lady Robins finished 13-11 overall last season and 7-5 in the Great Northern Conference, a GNC that perennially-tough opponent Mosinee ended up winning (16-7, 11-1). As a foreshadow to this season, Antigo was heavily reliant on its defense last year, as evident of the girls’ first place rank in the conference for scoring defense, allowing 41.1 points per game. The offense finished fifth of the seven teams in terms of collective offense, however, posting 51. 8 PPG.
Returning starter Laurissa Belott, a senior, was sixth in the conference for individual scoring with 13.7 PPG, while teammates Abi Warren (now graduated) and Hannah Zenkovich posted 9.5 and 9.2 PPG, respectively. Belott was named to the first-team all-conference last year, while Warren received second team honors.
The loss of Warren, Mandy Petts, and Nicole Payant will be difficult to deal with as the Lady Robins continue their current season. Warren was third in the GNC for rebounds last season with 88 (averaging 7.3) while Payant posted 31 steals on the year.
“Mandy was instrumental in breaking the press last year – no one really could press us. Abby was a nice defensive zone player and was a good scorer. Nicole was a good shooter as well,” head coach Jim Kondzela said about his former players.
Petts and returning senior Allison Kondzela received honorable mentions last year in the GNC. Kondzela was a force underneath the basket, where she placed fourth in the conference in rebounds with 85 (7.1 average), just behind Warren.
The girls have bought into Coach Kondzela’s defensive scheme and have demonstrated it well despite a lack of offense thus far this season. On Nov. 25, the Lady Robins scored a comeback win against Wausau East, creating turnovers and fightinh their way back into the game that they won 43-40.
“I like our defense. They are able to create turnovers and help to fight and keep his in games. We just have to get better offensively and learn to finish games. We need to close out our 2-foot shots and our shooting in the paint. We need to have offensive productivity,” Kondzela added.
Kondzela lists nine girls this season on his current varsity roster, including Morgan Hotchkiss, Kendall Smith, Ashlyn Nedden, Brinna Mauk, Laynie Weix, Kondzela, Zenkovich, and Belott.
The girls are look to make a GNC title run in a conference that is stacked with talent. Rhinelander returns its top senior guard, Kaly Kostrova, who averaged near 25 points per game before breaking her collarbone last season. Lexi Smith of Northland Pines, last year’s GNC Player of the Year, also looks to be a stiff competitor to deal with as she broke the 1,000 career point threshold last season and returns for her senior year on the court.
If the offense can find a means to score more frequently, Antigo’s defense will give them a shot to be in any game this season.
“I like the way the girls practice and they work hard in games. We are building confidence that we will take going into the season,” Coach Kondzela said in closing.
2016 AHS Lady Robins Basketball Schedule
All times are 7:15 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Thursday, November 17 – vs. Oconto Falls (W 40-32) – Antigo High School
Monday, November 21 – vs. Newman Catholic (L 65-29) – Antigo High School
Friday, November 25 – at Wausau East (W 43-40) – Wausau East High School
Saturday, November 26 – at Wausau West (L 66-32) – Wausau West High School
Thursday, December 1 – at Clintonville – Clintonville High School
Friday, December 2 – vs. Tomahawk – Antigo High School
Thursday, December 8 – vs. Rhinelander – Antigo High School
Tuesday, December 13 – vs. Northland Pines – Antigo High School
Friday, December 16 – vs. Wittenberg-Birnamwood – Antigo High School
Monday, December 19 – at Crandon – Crandon High School
Thursday, December 22 – at Shawano – Shawano High School
Thursday, January 5 – at Medford – Medford Area High School
Tuesday, January 10 – vs. Lakeland – Antigo High School
Friday, January 13 – at Mosinee – Mosinee High School
Monday, January 16 – vs. Merrill – Antigo High School
Thursday, January 19 – at Tomahawk – Tomahawk High School
Tuesday, January 24 – at Rhinelander – Rhinelander High School
Friday, January 27 – at Northland Pines – Northland Pines High School
Tuesday, January 31 – at Wausau East – Wausau East High School
Tuesday, February 7 – vs. Medford – Antigo High School
Friday, February 10 – at Lakeland – Lakeland Union High School
Friday, February 17 – vs. Mosinee – Mosinee High School