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Wauwatosa East played better second time around

Red Raider girls to lose Walls, Pickering, Jolitz, Jokisch

March 12, 2013

On paper, it looks like it might be hard to find some highlights for the 2012-13 season for the Wauwatosa East girls basketball team.

The Red Raiders finished the year with a 5-18 record, 3-11 in the Greater Metro Conference, tied for sixth.

But veteran coach Rob Hamell had some bright spots to talk about - the seniors, rebounding, improvement and the young program to name just a few.

The Red Raiders will lose four seniors - Alayah Walls, Ellen Pickering, Sarah Jolitz and Lexi Jokisch.

Walls

Walls was Tosa East's point guard since her sophomore year and one of three captains this season. She was the team's No. 1 defender throughout her career, always drawing the toughest defensive assignment and running the team on the offensive end as well.

She ends her career with a couple of noteworthy statistics. She finished her career with 145 assists, good for third in all recorded Tosa East girls basketball history dating back to 1989.

She also ranks seventh all-time in 3-point field goal shooting percentage for a season with 41.9 percent made this season and scored a career-high 16 points against West Allis Hale on Feb. 5 this year.

"I think the fact that she will have earned 11 varsity letters at Tosa East by the end of her athletic career speaks volumes toward the kind of all-around athlete she is," Hamell said. "Throughout her career, she continuously led the way as a model for the team … She leaves behind big shoes to fill for next year and she will be missed."

Pickering

As one of three captains, Pickering clearly understood what the coaching staff was looking for in terms of scheme and communication. She was the consummate captain according to Hamill.

"She was always one of the first to practice and navigated the job of spokesman for the group exceedingly well," he said. "Her spirit will truly be missed next season."

For the past two seasons she has worked at maximizing her main strength: shooting.

"We often felt that Ellen hitting her shots was key to our performance," Hamell said. "I think this was best shown in our second game of the season against Brook Central. Ellen hit two early shots and that seemed to pick everyone up to play the best game of the season against a tough opponent."

Jolitz

Jolitz was never afraid to shoot the open shot nor to mix it up with bigger inside players, a job often given to her because of Tosa East's relative lack of size. She also had a tough mental approach.

"Sarah really came to understand and accept her role on the team as the season went on and she really did take most advantage of the playing time that she earned," Hamell said. "She was always ready and it is that kind of approach from a senior player that other girls on the team should recognize and aspire to."

Jokisch

After missing her junior year, Jokisch came back this past season with the kind of serious attitude and work ethic all teams need and can rally around.

"I feel that Lexi had the big-person mentality trapped inside a smaller body," Hamell said. "She was tough. I believe she led the team in charges taken.

"Her scrappiness was really her best asset and a model for the team for the kind of attitude and effort shown that gets a person on the floor during games. She did a great job and I was really happy to have her on the squad all season long."

High notes, challenges

This team ended the season ranked fourth all-time in school history with 368 defensive boards. Sammie Osinski led the way with 85 total rebounds, 65 of them on defensive end.

"We started the year with eight members of our 13 on the squad that had not played one minute of varsity-level basketball," Hamell said. "Considering that fact I believe we showed progress, though admittedly it was up and down. We played our conference opponents better the second time around - playing our best basketball against Sussex and Brook Central."

Physically the Red Raiders did not match up well against many of the teams they played.

"Our squad most often responded with the kind of effort needed to be competitive and proud," Hamell said. "Certainly we finished the season on a down note in our playoff loss to Milwaukee Washington, a team and place we were very familiar with. But there were plenty of occasions during the season of which to be proud."

Brighter future

Hamell does see a brighter future for the Red Raiders.

"I think our younger squads, especially our freshman team show great potential for the future," he said. "The freshmen group is really the first group to have played together and been trained for a long duration of time under the guidance of our youth program the Wauwatosa Basketball Club (WBC).

"They went 16-4 this season and both teams give us many reasons to feel optimistic about girls basketball at Tosa East," Hanell continued. "I think with the leadership and stick-to-it-tiveness model of our varsity group and the fundamental skill development of our two other teams, we're on the right path for future success."

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