Several share in Tosa East's girls basketball team's success
Red Raiders put together a winning season
Years of hard work from many people resulted in the Wauwatosa East girls basketball team having one of its best seasons in several years.
The Red Raiders finished above .500 with a 12-11 record and were 6-8 in the rugged Greater Metro Conference, finishing tied for fifth with Menomonee Falls.
"As far as this season goes, the positives far outweigh any negatives," veteran coach Rob Hamill said. "I believed going into the year we would have a more fundamentally-sound group of young players surrounding our battle-tested D1 recruit Katie Salmon. We met most of our season goals."
The Red Raiders looked to first finish above .500, have a winning non-conference record (6-3), win at least one game against a traditional 'upper' level conference team (they won two) and win against their crosstown rival, Tosa West (57-50).
"There were other goals, but these were some of the most important ones for the team," Hamill said.
He was also quick to spread the credit around.
"Success has been a long time coming and people have been patient and understanding," he said. "I think now we have a player pipeline set up that will produce fundamentally sound, dedicated basketball players for a long time to come."
Hamill also credited his coaching staff.
"Tom Oleniczak did a great job with the frosh who produced more wins than I think anyone believed possible at the start of the season," he said. "JV coach Terry Benter's depth of experience proved valuable multiple times over the season.
"And we are fortunate to have assistant head coach Brian Karas working with the varsity. His dedication and attention to offense is a major reason for our success this year."
Hamill also credits all the help the feeder program has provided.
"I am not sure of too many programs that had as big a turnaround in W-L column as us," he said. "That is the result of the efforts of many people going back a number of years who worked tirelessly to develop the fundamental skills of our players in our youth program.
"Tom Oleniczak is executive director of the league and has done a great job recruiting coaches and putting Tosa East girls hoops on a positive track."
The Red Raiders will lose three seniors — Salmon, Averie Manke and Natalie Patton.
All three were captains and all three earned GMC Scholar-Athlete Awards (3.5 GPA for all four years and varsity letter winners).
Salmon, of course, finished an outstanding career. She led Division 2 teams in scoring (20.8 points per game, according to wissports.net) and was second in conference scoring (18.4 ppg).
She finished second all-time in Tosa East team history with 1,106 points, behind just Melissa Maas (1,860).
"While Katie's shoes will obviously be big ones to fill, next season we will have experienced varsity players ready to step in," Hamill said. "On our 10-person roster we had five sophomores, three of whom started and played lots of minutes in a majority of our games.
"That varsity experience, both in practice and in games, will be extremely important going into next year."
At the Team Awards Banquet last week, Salmon was the MVP and a captain and it was also announced she was first-team all-conference and a Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-State Honorable Mention.
Maya Walls was the Most Improved Player, Manke earned the Coaches Award and was named captain along with Patton.
The Red Raiders lost to Wisconsin Lutheran, 41-34, in a first-round playoff game, a team they beat earlier this year, to finish the season.
"No one — coaches and players — were happy with how our season ended," Hamill said. "Another major goal was to get a home playoff game and a win.
"The win didn't happen even though for a time it looked like we would get it together enough to get the 'W.'"
But Hamill sees good things for his team's future.
Sophomores Bailey Berlin (9.0 ppg), Walls (6.5), Tori Logan (5.7) and Lauren Minette (3.7) and junior Emily Winter (3.9) are returning players who played 15 or more games.
"I believe we turned a corner with our program," Hamill said. "The challenge, of course, is to maintain competitiveness and take another step.
"To take that next step will require serious off-season effort and a stronger mental approach to daily practice next season."
No. 1 in total and defensive rebounds
No. 3 all-time in free throw attempts and free throws made
No. 5 all-time as a team in total points scored 1097
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