Burling leading experienced bunch
By Mike Ramczyk
The time may be now for the Burlington girls varsity basketball team.
With an experienced core of returning players, Mary Parker’s squad is looking to compete with the best competition in the Southern Lakes Conference.
Junior guard Jessa Burling, a first team all-county, all-conference and all-area pick last season, has taken her game to another level in the early season.
Burlington is 1-1 overall after winning at Racine Horlick, 52-39, on Nov. 17, and the versatile Burling did it all, recording 30 points, 14 rebounds, five steals and four blocks.
With Burling leading the way, Parker sees potential in her team.
“This year we will continue to build around our defense, and the energy and intensity we get from that side of the ball,” she said. “The returning girls have in some cases been on varsity for three-plus years, so that experience should be very beneficial in allowing us to do more on offense and defense.”
“The returning group of girls is a very athletic group, and we will hopefully be able to use that to our advantage.”
Along with Burling, Burlington features four seniors in Ashlyn Barry, Megan Wallace, Adeline Jachim and Mackenzie Zwiebel.
While Burling led the team with 15 points and 8.5 rebounds last year, Wallace added 11.2 points and six rebounds.
Barry and Wallace earned all-county honorable mention last season.
Parker, who owns a 31-39 record in three seasons, guided the Lady Demons to their best mark of 12-12 and 8-6 in the SLC last season.
After losing only one senior to graduation, Burlington welcomes back most of its team, including juniors Hannah Ketterhagen, Kali Nielsen, Jackie Garwood and Holly Johnson.
Sophomores Cassidy Askin and Caitlyn Matson along with freshmen Cora Anderson and Amelia Crabtree round out the roster.
Burlington will look to open things up on offense with improved perimeter shooting this season.
Burling, who’s averaged 23.5 points in two games, has knocked down seven triples.
Parker said 3-point shooting is currently the team’s key weakness.
“This year we will need to improve on offense,” she said. “We need to become more of a threat shooting from the outside, which would help to open things up for us around the basket.”
Burlington returned to action Tuesday at Waukesha South.
“This year we look to compete with some of the top teams in our conference, and continue to grow as a program,” Parker said.
Burlington 52, Racine Horlick 39
On Nov. 17 in Racine, the Lady Demons jumped out to a 26-18 halftime lead and increased their advantage in the second half to notch their first victory of the season.
Along with Burling’s stellar all-around performance, Wallace added eight points, five steals and three rebounds.
“I am very proud of our defensive effort,” Parker said about the game. “We were able to change up the looks we gave them to keep them off balance, and that led to us getting some steals. Our offense started out slow, but once we got moving the ball from side to side, that opened it up for us to get the looks we wanted. We showed some patience to get the looks we wanted, but the girls never lost their attack mentality. This is a great team win from start to finish.”
(HOME GAMES ALL CAPS)
November – 29: UNION GROVE. December – 2: LAKE GENEVA BADGER. 5: BROOKFIELD EAST. 9: WATERFORD. 10: BIG FOOT. 16: RLOA Holiday Showcase vs. Westosha Central. 17: RLOA Holiday Showcase vs Racine Park. 20: at Elkhorn. 22: at Muskego. January – 6: DELAVAN-DARIEN. 10: at Badger. 13: at Wilmot. 17: at Kenosha Bradford. 20: ELKHORN. 27: at Union Grove. 31: at Waterford. February – 7: WESTOSHA CENTRAL. 10: at Delavan-Darien. 16: W