Waterford junior Katie Rohner leads a Wolverines squad hungry for a state tournament berth. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Chris Bennett


Expectations are high this season for the Waterford Union High School girls basketball team. Experience and talent explain why.

The Wolverines always upbeat and optimistic coach, Dena Brechtl, enters her eighth season confident the Wolverines are the team to beat in the Southern Lakes Conference.

“We return many players from a team that made a nice postseason run,” Brechtl said. “We also return a First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-Conference player.”

Waterford opened the 2018-19 season Tuesday with a non-conference game at Kenosha Bradford. The Wolverines play a non-conference game Nov. 20 at Kettle Moraine.

The Wolverines’ home opener – and first game in conference play – is Dec. 6 against Wilmot.

Waterford finished 10-16 overall last season and went 5-9 in SLC play, good for fifth in the eight-team conference.

The Wolverines turned into a different team in the postseason. Waterford entered WIAA Division 2 tournament play seeded sixth and went on a SLC revenge tour.

Waterford beat 11th-seeded Delavan-Darien 54-32 in a regional semifinal and dropped third-seeded Burlington 46-42 in overtime. The Wolverines beat second-seeded Union Grove 51-46 and won a regional title.

The Wolverines’ season ended with a 39-33 loss to Jefferson in a sectional semifinal – two games short of the Division 2 state tournament.

Brechtl said the Wolverines are looking forward to the upcoming season after their deep postseason run. Waterford will open the season knowing guard Torie Loppnow is out for the season due to injury. Brechtl said another guard – junior Maddie Bartol – will return from injury in late December.

Junior guard Katie Rohner earned First Team All-SLC honors as a sophomore. Rohner averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and almost three steals and four assists per game last season.

“Rohner continues to improve her game and make an impact in not only the conference, but also the area,” Brechtl said. “She has a great floor sense, a strong handle of the ball and finishes well at the rim.”

Kat Fitzgerald, a sophomore post, averaged eight points, seven rebounds and more than three blocks per game. Fitzgerald earned Second Team All-SLC honors last season.

“Fitzgerald has also advanced her game by continuing to find ways to dominate inside, as well as hit the outside shot,” Brechtl said. “She looks very comfortable on the floor – both defensively and offensively.”

Senior guards Emma Karpinski and Ellie Werner, junior post Annie Benavides and junior guard Mackenzie Stiewe are also expected to be key contributors. Sophomore post Kaityln Kolb and sophomore guard Meghan Schmidt will also see time.

Brechtl said she expects Burlington and Union Grove to also be tough this season in the SLC. The Broncos are the defending SLC champions.