Motivated would be a good word to describe this year’s edition of the Warsaw Lady Tigers basketball team. After losing by just a point in last season’s sectional final against Penn, the team is uniform (no pun intended) in their goal of avenging that loss.
It would seem Head Coach Lenny Krebs, in his fourth season at Warsaw with a record of 48-26, definitely has the talent and experience on his roster to make that happen.
Seniors Kensie Ryman, Audrey Grimm and Kendall Wayne will be counted upon to provide not only points and playmaking but also leadership. Ryman has signed on to join her sister Maddie in continuing her basketball and academic careers at Grace College. A broken collarbone suffered early in the season barely fazed her as she returned two weeks earlier than expected to average 7.9 ppg and 2.7 assists.
Last year’s loss to Penn by a score of 45-44 in the sectional title game is clearly still on their minds.
“One of our goals is to win the Northern Lakes Conference,” said Ryman. “For the past two years we’ve been runner up so it’s time now for us to win it. But we also really want to win sectionals. We lost to Penn last year by only one point and that still hurts so we definitely want to win that too.”
As talented as the three seniors are, there is serious ability among the Lady Tiger underclassmen as well. At 6’2, Abby Sanner is a force to be reckoned with no matter who the team is up against. Sanner averaged nearly 9 points and 8 rebounds per game, leading the team in both categories as just a sophomore last year. Her rebounding led the way as the Lady Tigers outrebounded 20 of 24 opponents last season.
The team is full of lights-out shooters as well, as evidenced by their 128 made 3 pt field goals last season, breaking the school record of 121 set the year before. Junior guard Kacilyn Krebs led the squad in that category with 36 threes while averaging 7.4 pts.
Rounding out the rotation are juniors Hannah Hatfield, Bailie Stephens and Abby Taylor, and sophomores Zoe Bergan and Lauren Grose.
Krebs described his expectations for the season as that of most coaches … ‘up in the air’ yet hopeful and still optimistic considering the seemingly constant unknowns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think our main goal is to keep as many people healthy as we can,” Krebs said. “Keep them on the court where we can play and compete. How we do that is getting tougher and tougher every day with the number of COVID cases and contact tracing still going up.
“But regardless of who’s on the floor, we know what we want the Warsaw girls basketball program to look like. We’re going to play hard, we’re going to compete, we’re going to communicate, we’re going to play together and we’re going to be disciplined. Regarding the COVID situation, all we can do is control the controllables.”
Krebs said he’s very confident in the team’s returning players and eager to see some of the younger Lady Tigers hit the varsity floor for the first time.
“We’ve got six of our top eight coming back so we’ve got some nice experience,” he said. “If you look at our stats from last year, most of those players averaged between 5 to 7 ppg each which gives us some really nice balance as well.
“All six of those returners are going to have to play a key role. Kensie Ryman is a third year varsity starter at point guard. Anytime you have a point guard who’s in their third year, coaches can rest a little bit easier. Kendall Wayne and Audrey Grimm are also third year varsity players so we have a lot of valuable experience here.
“Abby Sanner and Kacilyn Krebs are two juniors who have already had two years of varsity experience as well. Bailie Stephens got her first varsity letter last year and she’s improved tremendously.”
Krebs mentioned some younger players who he is expecting to step up, including sophomores Zoe Bergan and Lauren Grose. Krebs also mentioned Hannah Hatfield and Abby Taylor as players who also did great things for the team when they were able to get minutes last year.
Krebs mentioned freshman forward Ava Wetzel who may be called up to the varsity squad at some point.
“Ava is somebody people are going to absolutely fall in love with,” Krebs said. “This kid’s motor, she just doesn’t stop. Her motor and her toughness, that’s going to be important for us to have someone like that who we could bring up to the varsity squad if we need to.”
As far as this being the last go-round for the three seniors, Wayne said “It’s definitely bittersweet and I wouldn’t want to do it alongside anybody else. This team is really close and we really work well together.”
“I’m excited for it to be my last year but I think it’s going to be a successful and rewarding year,” Grimm added.
“Six of the girls were on the wrong end of a 45-44 lost in the sectional finals last year so they are most definitely motivated,” Krebs added. “The nice thing is that they’ve set their goals and expectations for this season pretty high. The last three years we’ve finished second in conference and we’re tired of that. I know they’re going to work hard to try and win it this year, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. I’m very proud of these kids and looking forward to see what they have in store for us.”
The team will look to improve on last year’s record of 16-8 beginning tomorrow night with an away contest at Class 3A Norwell beginning at 7:45 p.m.
Lady Tigers 2020-21 Roster
5 Zoe Bergan 10 G/F 5’10”
10 Kensie Ryman 12 G 5’5”
11 Bailie Stephens 11 G 5’6”
12 Kendall Wayne 12 G 5’6”
21 Audrey Grimm 12 F 5’10”
22 Lauren Grose 10 G/F 5’9”
23 Hannah Hatfield 11 G 5’5”
31 Abby Sanner 11 F 6’2”
34 Abby Taylor 11 G/F 5’7”
35 Kacilyn Krebs 11 G 5’9”