Even with new roster, B-T girls hope to contend in conference

            Just a sophomore, Andrea Waldera is the only player with considerable varsity experience returning for Blair-Taylor this year. Waldera was a key player during the Wildcats’ run to the state tournament last year.      (Times file photograph)

After a run in which the core remained the same for the last two years, the Blair-Taylor girls basketball team will feature a lot of new faces this year.

The roster won’t be completely turned over. Andrea Waldera returns to the team after playing extensive minutes last year as a freshman. Waldera was a key to the team’s state tournament run as her length allowed her to challenge numerous shots in the post. She also averaged five points per game, the fifth-most for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association state runner-up. 

Other players saw time after the games got out of hand last year, but the Wildcats will need them to play key positions this year. That group includes Sam Aguilar, Maddie Frederixon, Andi Beck and Elissa Smetana. Aguilar scored 11 points for the Wildcats last year, Frederixon had seven and Beck scored five. 

“Obviously with a group of young players, there will be many ups and downs as the season goes along,” Jesse Lien, who is in his third year as the team’s coach, said. 

He said if the team can stay out of foul trouble and play well defensively, they have a good chance of competing for the Large Dairyland Conference title. The team doesn’t have any seniors this year and just three juniors. 

While most of the players weren’t directly on the court, Lien thinks the experience of being part of a state tournament team will help. 

“They got to see how hard you need to play every single day,” Lien said. “There will definitely be some growing pains along the way, but I think by being exposed to many of the situations that the team was in last year should really help them out now that it is their time on the floor this year.” 

Lien said he is looking forward to seeing his team grow and thinks they should improve as the season goes on. They begin their season this Thursday with a game at Black River Falls. 

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