Leading Wauwatosa West girls basketball, Ashley Imperiale returns to Greendale
Coach optimistic after Trojans recorded first win of the season against St. Francis
Wauwatosa West's first girls basketball victory on Friday - a 68-50 victory over St. Francis at home - couldn't have come at a better time for first-year coach Ashley Imperiale.
That's because Imperiale and the Trojans are heading for her old stomping grounds Friday in Greendale.
Imperiale is a former star player for the Panthers, who then turned a great prep career into a fine college career at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
"I will always have a great deal of pride for Greendale and what I was able to be a part of in my time there," Imperiale said. "You can't take away the first 18 years of your life and where you grew up as a kid.
"Anytime I walk into that gym, I am flooded with great memories, but now I'm part of the Trojan family and while I'll always have that Panther blood in me, I am a competitor and a competitor knows when to 'cross that line' and put on their game face."
Imperiale then expressed her excitement for the game.
"When I'm part of a team, it doesn't matter to me who we are playing or what the name is on the front of the other team's jerseys," she said. "We're going to play energetic, intense Trojan basketball for 32 minutes and I'm going to battle and do everything in my power to have my players' backs.
"I am looking forward to it as I'll have a lot of great support there from my former teammates, high school friends and family. But we have business to take care of as a team and that's to get better than we were the last game."
Improvements were made
The Trojans, who played at Greenfield to start this week, lost a 53-30 decision at South Milwaukee on Dec. 4.
The offense struggled all night, not scoring double figures in a quarter until the fourth period when they managed 12. They managed a total of 18 points (three, nine, six) in the first three quarters.
The Rockets led 12-3 after one quarter and 27-12 at intermission. They increased their margin to 36-18 after three periods before West had a 12-9 fourth-quarter advantage.
"I thought we won every aspect of the game from heart, intensity, teamwork, toughness, communication, ball movement, quality shot attempts," Imperiale said. "The final score was the only category we didn't win, but the fight in us and the attitudes before, during and after were phenomenal and the true 'win.' "
Lindstrom stepping up
But Imperiale said she is starting to see the pieces fall into place.
"I was very happy with the girls' execution on both ends of the floor and it was extremely exciting to see things start to click and skills we work on be applied in the game," she said. "Our posts did a great job of battling down low with South Milwaukee's 6-footers and really limited their inside game.
"It was exciting to see Ashley Lindstrom really embrace the 'emotional' leader role and get the team pumped after taking a charge or getting on the floor."
Lindstrom finished with 10 points, going 8-for-10 from the free throw line, and Elise Ditscheit had nine points.
West in control
The Trojans execution carried over into their game Friday night against St. Francis. They led 20-9 after one quarter, 33-26 at intermission and 54-30 going into the final period.
St. Francis runs a Grinnell College-style up-tempo offense, looking to put up as many shots as they can and hoping to crash the boards and get easy putback points.
"I was very happy with our execution in breaking their full-court pressure and the girls did a great job of adjusting to changes defensively as we made them," Imperiale said. "Our guards showed great strides in attacking the defense and reading the defense. I was very happy with our ball movement."
Jessica Pike led the way with 14 points, while Abbey Jones followed with 13 points and Ditscheit added 12 points.
The balanced Trojans also got help from Lindstrom with nine points and Ashley Colebourne with eight.
Team making strides
Imperiale said despite the Trojans' 1-4 record entering this week, she is happy with how her team is improving.
"I'm very grateful that we started off the season playing three very strong teams (Waukesha North, New Berlin Eisenhower and Pewaukee) as it has been a great example to our girls of the level of play we want to get to as a team.
"We've talked a lot about how it's the little things that competitive teams do consistently that lead to success and Friday was exciting for me as a coach to see the girls apply those little things - like backing up their dribble - that we have been drilling in practice and talking about in film and be successful in applying them."
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