Women’s basketball ready to bounce back

With basketball season just weeks away, the women’s basketball team prepares for a competitive season.

After a tough 8-17 season with only four conference wins, the Pioneers face the upcoming season with high hopes.  Their goal this season is making it into the WIAC Conference Tournament finals.

“Our goal this year is getting to double-digit wins,” said head coach Megan Wilson.  “Only six teams in our conference are taken for the tournament each year.  Last year we missed by one game.”

This season’s line-up is experienced.  With seven starters returning this season on a roster of 13, the Pioneers are hoping for glory.

“We have a great senior class coming back. Liz Lawinger, Claire Poad and Ashley Henry; all three have started the two years I’ve been here,” Wilson said.  “It’s really their team.”

Senior forward Ashley Henry lead the team in rebounds per game with 6.4 and was  fourth in points per game at 9.1

Senior point guard Liz Lawinger, last year’s winner of team awards Top Offensive Player and Pioneer Award, scored a team-high 12.8 points per game last season.  This year she has her sights set on the WIAC’s Most Valuable Player award.

“Last season we had a problem finishing out games.  We had a lot of close games but we just couldn’t finish in the second half,” Lawinger said.  “This year the goal is to put together a full 40 minute game.”

With the Pioneers looking to rebound as a contender in the conference, they are focusing on pushing one another harder in practice and the mental aspects of the game.

“It comes down to having confidence and believing in themselves to finish the games and going a little harder at practice,” Wilson said.

The team has an edge this season in the chemistry they share, said senior guard Claire Poad.

Poad won the team award of Top Defensive Player and scored 238 points (9.5 points per game) last season.

“We are not afraid to open up to each other,” Poad said.  “We have fun playing all the time.”

One thing both the coach and the players agree on is defeating conference rival University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where Wilson was an assistant coach.

UW-Stevens Point had a 13-3 conference season in 2011-12.  The Pioneers will face UW-Stevens Point at home on Jan. 16.

The first home game for the Pioneers is Nov. 20 against Luther.