Monthly Archives: March 2017

LANCERS’ LEXI ROMERO SHINES IN GOLF, GYMNASTICS, TRACK

LANCERS' LEXI ROMERO SHINES IN GOLF, GYMNASTICS, TRACK



Whether driving a golf ball deep down the center of a fairway, flipping high in the air and handing on a balance beam or exploding out of the blocks in the 100-meter dash, three different coaches have similar reasons for Brookfield Central junior Lexi Romero's success.

The Lancers 3-sport 'star' - note the last word - has gone to state with Coach Brian Scrobel's golf team, with Coach Erin Kokta's gymnastic team and with Coach Brian Calhoun's track & field team.

"Her grandparents, her dad (Dennis) all were golfers," Scrobel said. "She transfers her athleticism to the golf course. She's strong, powerful, she generates so much power."

Scrobel also brings her gymnastics skills into the picture.

"There's a link to gymnastics on the beam, vault and bars," he said. "She so good at kinesics awareness. She knows where her body is, where her golf swing is.

"For example, if she hits the ball into the trees off the tee, we have a plan. She will take 2-3 practice swings and almost on command, her muscle memory reproduces the shot."

It didn't take Kokta long to see what she had in Lexi.

"She brings something different to the team as she is most powerful and explosive gymnast that has come through this program since I have been coaching," she said. "To put it very straight forward, Lexi is an 'athlete.' You can just look at her and know that she is going to a tough competitor in any sport.

"I knew that Lexi was a special talent the moment she stepped onto the floor her first day of practice her freshman year. She walked onto a team that already had two established gymnasts in the state and instantly turned heads as a freshman and that says a lot."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

As for Calhoun, an outstanding track/football player himself, he agreed with Scrobel and Kokta on some of Lexi's strengths.

"She's a student of the game," he said. "She wants to know the reasons, break down why we're doing it. She wants the smaller details most athletes do not understand or know. She really asks those questions.

"'How can I cut off this much time? What do I have to do?" Most kids at this age, don't pay attention to it. Lexi feels she 'must know my P's and Q's.'"

When asked what Lexi needed to work on to get better, brought Calhoun some hesitation.

"That's a very tough question," Calhoun said. "She's already right there. Already strong, so she has to stay healthy. She is so involved in other sports. Her head is on a swivel. With more reps in track, the sky's the limit for her to do a lot of things well."

Kokta pointed out Lexi's amazing gymnastics results when asked what she needs to work on.

"I can't honestly say that Lexi has a 'weak' event," she said. "She has placed in the All-Around at state as a sophomore and this year as a junior. If it wasn't for an injury her freshman year, she would have been in the mix for All-Around that year as well.

"In her three years on the team Lexi has made the state podium 9 times for 4 of the 5 possible events (Floor, Beam, Vault, All-Around). Her 9 times on the State podium is a team record, and she did that in only 3 years! So in short, Lexi's best events are all of them."

Sometimes athletes need to work on the emotional part of their game - not Lexi according to Scrobel.

Lexi’s personality is contagious and she has a way of connecting with her teammates. She brings joy and laughter to the gym everyday. I don’t think I have ever seen Lexi in a bad mood. She knows when she needs to work and when to have fun.”

Coach Erin Kokta

"She tends not to get too wound up or up tight," the veteran coach said. "She has a calm down point. You don't find too many 3-sport athletes in high school who have been to state in three separate sports."

What's amazing about Romero's track career is it didn't even get started until her freshman year at Central.

It took until her freshman year because she was always involved in gymnastics.

"Caitlin Locante (gymnastics teammate) is my good friend who was on the track team and she got me to go out for it," Lexi recalled. "I've always like sprinting. I've always raced my friends at school. The relays, it's been fun all these three years."

Romero will run the 100 and 200-meter opens and take part in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.

"I enjoy the open 100 because it's like the shortest one," Lexi laughed. "It's not as tiring. You don't have to really deal with the handoffs - those can be stressful."

Calhoun talked about what he and the coaches have in mind for her this season.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

"We'll try and map out different races," he said. "But she will run the open 100. She is also strong in the group relays 4x100, 4x200. She excels in the relays.

"She enjoys running with teammates. Running with other girls there's a different purpose. She's running some fantastic relays for us. She runs the second leg, but we will dabble with her at anchor this year."

Romero talked about her strengths and weaknesses on the track.

"I like sprinting," she said. "I have the ability to keep going. Getting out of the blocks, being explosive. But I need to work on handoffs on relays. We have new girls who you have to get to know. We have to work on our outdoor handoffs and getting our endurance up."


Having been involved in her sports for three seasons, Lexi will be looked at as a leader come her senior year.

"I think it's important," she said. "I'm going to be the gymnastics captain for next year. I'm part of NHS (National Honor Society), it's a whole leadership club."

"I want to make the freshman more comfortable; I'm aware of how everything works. I've always looked up to the seniors and everything they taught me. I've never been the oldest on a relay before. Now I teach them our traditions. For example, before every race we kiss the baton for good luck. I show them how to get our steps down, how to warm-up. It's fun."

Kokta spoke about Romero's leadership skills.

"She is truly modest in her success, and is the epitome of 'leads by example' by exuding hard work and dedication in all aspects of her life," she said. "Its because of these reasons that Lexi was selected by her teammates to be a captain in her senior year."

Calhoun also feels Lexi sets an example as a leader, but is also accepting more of a hands-on role.

"She is a leader by example," he said. "Our girls are supportive of each other. (Lexi) let's them know when it's time to run, to always keep their focus. But she keeps it light, so everyone is not too serious. She's being a leader, definitely accepting the role."

Kokta talked about how Lexi's dedication goes beyond the athlete field.

"Lexi's motivation is unlike many others," she said. "Her dedication to her work ethic is truly second to none, which is something that is certainly evident by her cumulative 4.0 GPA.

"Lexi consistently demonstrates a mature attitude towards her accolades and strives to challenge herself as she has earned academic success in addition to her three varsity sports. Finding the balance between academics and athletics is something she does well as she has stressed high academic goals, putting success in the classroom as important as success in the gym."

Scrobel was asked what is Romero like away from sports.

"She's charming, delightful, the whole All-American girl. She makes everything fun."

Calhoun added.

"She's a fun girl, likes to laugh, likes to joke a lot. I tell her 'You're one of best players in the state, yet you're down to earth.' She is so humble. Freshman through seniors can talk to her. That's a testament to her parents - they raised her right."

Kokta had similar feelings.

"Lexi's personality is contagious and she has a way of connecting with her teammates," she said. "She brings joy and laughter to the gym everyday, sometimes too much laughter! I don't think I have ever seen Lexi in a bad mood. She is always happy go lucky. She knows when she needs to work and when to have fun.

"If I had to give one word when I think of Lexi it would be laughter. She has the best laugh - it’s loud and genuine - that's the best kind."

QUESTIONS FOR LEXI ROMERO

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Bacon Cheeseburger
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  Pop & Country
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'The Notebook' - Action, Horror.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Friends'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  AP Statistics
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Hawaii
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Netflix, Funny Videos on Youtube, Paint her nails.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Last fall golf team tied at sectionals for second, won playoff to go to state.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?  Attend college, Major in Business, Actuarial Science

















BROOKFIELD EAST’S PATRICK CARTIER BUSY YEAR AROUND

EAST'S PATRICK CARTIER IS
BUSY YEAR AROUND




Patrick Cartier of Brookfield East keeps busy year around. When he's not in the classroom, Cartier is active in three prep sports from fall through spring.

Quentin and Maria Cartier had four kids and sports is big in the Cartier household. Patrick and his twin brother Everett, go to East; Dominic attends the University of Minnesota and sister Maddie attends St. Louis University.

Patrick currently teams with Everett, a tackle, on the football team, and played football and basketball with Dominic, also an outstanding prep athlete.

This past fall he was a starter on the State Champion Brookfield East football team at receiver and when needed, he stepped in at safety. This past winter he started at center for a young, improved Spartans basketball team and earned All-Greater Metro Conference honors.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh

Now with spring upon us, Cartier brings his skills to Coach Mike Steiner's talented track and field team, taking part in the 110 and 300 hurdles, the triple jump and high jump.

"He is truly committed to the team process," Steiner said. "He's a good teammate, hard worker, not afraid of challenge. He functions at a high level and is respectable in all his events.

"When you talk about his skill sets, his training is excellent in multi-sports. He is also flexible and explosive."

With two spring seasons ahead of him yet, Steiner talked about what Cartier needs to work on.

"Kids are all trying to get faster," he said. "He is working on getting a better vertical jump. He has a competitive spirit and he works on developing strength and speed."

Cartier first got into track in the fifth grade at St. Dominic's.

"I participated in the sprints and jumps because they didn't have hurdles at that level," Cartier recalled. "Track helped me with my other sports and I loved competing and a lot of my friends were doing it so it was always fun for me."

Cartier, who stands 6-foot, 8 inches and weights 205 pounds, feels his height is an advantage for him.

"Being taller, I bring an advantage," he said. "I'm above the hurdle already. I have pretty good form."

Cartier is pleased to be part of Steiner's program, which has won several Greater Metro Conference titles, as well as state championships.

"Coach is awesome," he said. "He does a great job in getting guys involved. Obviously he's had so much success. It's great to be part of this program. They three-peated a little while ago.

He’s a good teammate, hard worker, not afraid of challenge. He functions at a high level and is respectable in all his events.”

- Mike Steiner, Track & Field Coach

"I'm blessed. Coach Steiner does a great job of putting guys in their events, recruiting guys, keeping people involved."

Cartier had a dream season during the fall as the Spartans won the school's first football state championship. In fact, he played a key role, catching a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jake Graf with 50 seconds left in the half to tie the score, 21-21, at halftime.

"It was unbelievable," Cartier said. "Even now, looking back months later it is hard to believe we won the state title."

First-year head coach - Ben Farley - had good things to say about his junior wide receiver.

"He was a big target for us," he said. "His touchdown in the title game before half gave us some momentum. He is a hard worker, a physical player.

"His route running ability was very strong and he had good footwork, which you can see on the basketball court. He can go get the football and catch the ball. He is also a physical blocker, smart, athletic."

Cartier agreed with his coach when asked about his strength on the gridiron.

"Going up and getting balls with my reach," he said.

Cartier has been started playing football in the third grade when he played flag football. He joined the Jr. Spartans in fifth grade.

"I was a lineman because I was over the weight limit," he laughed. Then in seventh grade I played receiver."

So why did he stay with it.

"I like the physical nature of it. I had success in it. I like the winning part of it (laughs). It was a fun sport."

Cartier was on the freshman team at East before moving up to the varsity as a sophomore, getting about 20 plays a game in a rotation.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh

Last fall the Spartans ran most of the time behind the efforts of Sam Santiago-Lloyd and Graf, but Cartier did lead the team in most receiving statistics.

He caught 14 passes for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 16.8 yards per catch.

But of the three sports he plays, Cartier's future is on the basketball court. He has started on the varsity the past two seasons.

As a sophomore he was third in scoring (10.6) and points scored, tied for second in field goals and he led the team in free throw attempts, doing most of his work inside.

This past season he earned first-team All-GMC honors, finishing first in field goals made, free throws made and attempted and second in points and a 16.8 points per game average.

"He did a really nice job handling the amount of offensive responsibility we gave him," first-year coach Joe Rux said. "He carried a lot. He has to score around the basket for us, but he is not your typical big man. He really moves well.

"He is a heck of a post-player. He has outstanding footwork and he has several moves. He added a jump shot this year. Now if he can concentrate the same dynamic on the defensive end that would give him a good all-around game. He's a pretty tough high school player."

Cartier enjoys his role.

"My post-up game has really come along," he said. "I also think I have pretty good passing ability for a big guy."

Patrick's basketball career began in first grade, playing in the Upward League Church League. Then in fourth grade he played for the Jr. Spartans and fifth and sixth grades played at St. Dominic's. He was really busy in seventh and eighth grades playing for both the Jr. Spartans and St. Dominic's.

"I felt like I had a knack for it," Cartier said when asked about why he continued with the sport. "My friends were doing it. It was just really fun to play. My dad was coach in middle school so I got raised into it with my family. I was always one of the taller kids. I just kept growing. I didn't really slow down."

Cartier knows that next season he is going to have to take on a leadership role being a senior and a top player.

"Leadership is very important," he said. "Every team needs a leader. Some guys who step up towards the end of games. Getting guys in the weight room, getting guys to come in and shoot around. This year I started getting the hang of it. I enjoy it."

His coaches see him developing his leadership skills.

"He is always trying his hardest," Rux said. "He's one of those kids, if things weren't going well he would address it. He holds himself and his teammates accountable."

Farley sees Cartier coming around also.

"He leads by example," he said. "But he will speak up - not a ton - but he is slowly getting more comfortable with it."

Steiner had similar thoughts.

"He leads with his work ethic and presence, but he is not quiet," Steiner said. "He doesn't back down. He shows that he respects them. When he goes out for track other athletes see that and figure track must be important."

That's the kind of example Patrick Cartier brings to the table.

QUESTIONS FOR PATRICK CARTIER

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Spaghetti
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  'Future' - Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Get Out' - Horror and Comedy
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  One Tree Hill
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  AP Pyschology
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Nothern Wisconsin, Florence County.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch Netflex, hang with friends, pick-up basketball
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield Central
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Winning State Football Championship last fall
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?  Attend college, Major in Psychology or Education

















TOSA WEST’S CHERI’A ADAMS HAS A SUCCESSFUL RUN

TOSA WEST'S CHERI'A ADAMS

HAS A SUCCESSFUL RUN




If Wauwatosa West's Cheri'A Adams can start as well as she finishes this season, the senior sprinter will make life even more miserable for Trojans' opponents.

Adams, who will participate in the triple jump, will also run the 100 meters, 200 meters and the 4x100 relay. Coach Jack Lopresti said she will also take part in the 2x100 relay at times.

Adams talked about what she needs to work on this season.

"I have to work on my blocks," she said. "They're not explosive. I guess I don't have a good push off. There's a starting mark that you want to hit and I'm usually behind it. I got better last year."

If Adams continues to show that improvement in her starts, because of her strengths, she will be even more effective.

"My acceleration throughout the race is my strength, she said. "I don't have such a good start, so I catch up by accelerating."

Lopresti argees.

"She has tremendous speed and a tremendous desire to improve."

He has a major goal in mind when it comes to his star athlete.

"The thing we will be working on with her all season will be maintaining her health, keeping her healthy," the veteran coach said. "Taking care of her body. Knowing when to push and when she kind of relaxes it. Then she gets the best result."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh

Results is something that Adams have been successful at in her career, having made three trips to the state meet in her first three seasons. Here's a look at her history.

As a freshman, Cheri'A finished second in the 4x100 (48.56 seconds) along with Briana Horton, Mercy Ndon and Azya McLin. They also qualified for state in the 4x200, finishing 15th.

As a sophomore, she was part of the winning 4x100 (48.61) with McLin, Ndon, and Horton. They were also fifth in the 4x200 (1:42.91) and she qualified in the triple jump and the 200.

Last season at state she was part of the winning 4x100 relay (47.91) with McLin, Ndon and sophomore Breanna Weigman. She was part of the fifth-place 4x200 relay with McLin, Ndon and Horton. She was also eighth in the triple jump (36-11.5) and 10th in the 100 (12.85).

This season the Trojans will lean on their captain a lot.

"She will take part in the 100, 200, triple jump and a couple different relays (4x100, 4x200)," Lopresti said. "We will move Cheri'A around during the course of the season."

Adams likes the 100 and 200, but favors the later.

"I like both of them, obviously, but in the 200 I feel I'm more relaxed and I can increase my speed more," she said. "But the 1 is more faster. The 200 I like because it's so fast. My blocks aren't too good, so I kind of catch up. Also in the 100 you have a pre (preliminary) and a final, but in the 2 you don't."

The best thing about her leadership is it’s about her running. It’s super consistent. She might have a bad day, but you aren’t going to hear that from her. She always has a smile on her face.”

- Coach Jack Lopresti

She also enjoys the triple jump.

"I like the triple," she said. "I stopped doing long (jump) to do the triple. All my friends were doing it. I just really like the triple."

Lopresti can't say enough good things about Adams.

"She is a hard worker, a talented sprinter with a great attitude, a team player. And she loves to compete. She loves the sport. She is just an excellent track and field athlete."

That shouldn't be surprising since Adams has been running since she was 5 years old in the AAU program with the Joe Sim's Milwaukee Striders, something she is still a part of.

Her mother, Cheryl Torrence, ran in the club and got Cheri'A involved.

"It kept me busy during the summer months," Adams recalled. "Then I just started getting better and better, so I just stuck with it."

Cheri'A used her success in AAU in her prep career at Tosa West.

"It just motivates me," she said. "If we're going into conference, I won it last year, I want to win it again."

Her experience at state helped her every season.

"It does kind of help," she said. "How things are run, how much time you kind of have - especially because you don't have a lot of warm-up time. Because I did four events, I kind of had to time myself."

The state crowd, which intimidates some athletes on the big platform, didn't bother Adams.

"The crowd was actually kind of small compared to nationals for AAU," she pointed out.

Cheri'A showed her versatility at Tosa West by also playing basketball, making the varsity the past two seasons.

"She was a tremendous leader on and off the court," Trojans first-year coach Gordon Nikolic said. "She was super quick with the ball in her hands, was our best on-the-ball defender and she never got tired. A very positive player, competitive."

Basketball - like track - runs in her family. Her father, Taurus Adams, played basketball and football when he was younger, and her brother, Taurus II, is playing basketball at Southern Connecticut State after a fine career at Brown Deer High School.

Cheri'A started a few games as a junior on the varsity and got in every game this year.

"My dad didn't want me to play," she said. "He just wanted me to do track. But then my mom convinced him so I played basketball in eighth grade at Longfellow."

The classy Adams, officially a team captain this year, has always been a leader according to Lopresti.

"All four years she's really been a captain," he said. "Just with her work ethic at practice her leadership is awesome. The best thing about her leadership is it's about her running. It's super consistent. She might have a bad day, but you aren't going to hear that from her. She always has a smile on her face."

Cheri'A finds leadership something she enjoys and is not afraid to be vocal about it.

"I like being a good individual; honest" she said. "We had some freshmen sitting down and I was like 'Hey guys, let's go so we can get our work done.' If it's needed to get things done, I will, otherwise I will let the coaches do it. If there is someone who needs help - like blocks and that type of stuff - I'm ready to help them."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh

When people asked me I was nervous at first. I don't want to say the wrong stuff. But it's nice most of the time unless it's something I don't specialize in. Maybe it's about something in the weight room or sprints and jumps. Then it's pretty easy."

Looking back, Cheri'A is happy with her time at Tosa West.

"It's been phenomenal, even outside of sports," she said. "School's really good, everyone around here is really nice. In track we did really good."

The feeling is mutual for Lopresti.

"The very first day I saw her, you could see she had a lot of talent and a lot of work ethic. She doesn’t have a bad race. She's always working hard, but she makes it look easy. She will always give 100 per cent, so to have someone that motivated and that willing it's no wonder what she can do for the track team."

Away from the track, she also brings it every day.

"Cheri'A is a great person," he said. "So much fun to be around and she rubs off on her teammates and her positive energy is contagious. She has been such a tough consistent runner for us and she has really given our track team a new identity."

QUESTIONS FOR CHERI'A ADAMS

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Chicken Alfredo
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  R & B, Pop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Colombiana' - Action movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Empire
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Yearbook (Design)
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Bahamas
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Sleep
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Milwaukee King (Relays).
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Running 47.81 in 4x100 relay at Arrowhead, the 5th fastest time in state last year.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?  Attend Bemidji State in Minnesota, run track and study Pre-Med Bio work work in OBGYN.

















HELPING GAGE THE LANCERS’ SUCCESS

SOPHOMORE GUARD MALENSEK HELPING GAGE  LANCERS SUCCESS




When Brookfield Central boys basketball coach Dan Wandrey was asked when he knew Gage Malensek was going to be something special, it didn't take him long to think about it.

"About a minute into the first game I saw him," Wandrey said, chuckling. "There is just something about kids. When you see them you can tell. Then as you get to know him and you get to talk to people. He's an absolute gym rat. I know I'm not very smart, but it didn't take very long to know he was special."

Malensek, who played on a fourth-grade team as a third grader, played with brother Gunnar, who played with Caleb Mortag, the older brother of current girls freshman star, Anna Mortag.

Winning caught Gage's attention as he went through the Jr. Lancers system.

"I think it was just the winning," he said on why he developed a love for basketball. "We won little league, third-grade; we were with Tosa East, neck-to-neck, in fourth grade and then won state titles in fifth, sixth and seventh grades."

Gage's brothers (Hunter and Gunnar) were in Wandrey's classes and they were on the boys teams before he took over.

"I heard about these two kids (Gunnar and Gage)," Wandrey recalled. "As talk of coach (Mark) Adams' retirement and me possibly moving over, I was already aware of those guys. I wouldn't say that played a big role in my decision. But I've known about him (Gage) and saw him play (with Jr. Lancers, AAU) even before I became the boys coach.

As a freshman, Gage was second-team All-Greater Metro Conference and finished second in scoring and field goals as a starter for the Lancers. That year of experience helped him according to Gage and Wandrey.

"I was kind of assuming it," Gage said of playing a lot since he was on the varsity as a freshman. "It helped a lot this year, especially when you knew the team, you knew the offense. I'll help coach (Wandrey) on the court. Like he said you can't just have people yelling on the sideline."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Wandrey can see the obvious improvement in his second year point guard.

"He has improved a lot," he said. "Gage was good for us last year - he didn't play like a freshman. His skill is beyond his years. He has a mentality and a composure to himself. To be beyond his years, that almost increased exponentially this year.

"He hit a game-winning shot last year against a cross-town rival." Wandrey said. "He had an incredible game in beating Marquette here and then in the regional final game he had great game, but we lost a close one. He was really good."

Malensek had 15 points in a 53-52 win over Brookfield East and 18 points in a 69-63 loss to MUHS in the regular season. In the 54-47 playoff loss to the Hilltoppers, he had 13 points and 4 assists.

"You can always believe that you're that good," Wandrey said. "You can have confidence that you can make plays. But I think it's get nothing but better when you actually go and do it. We're seeing the benefits of that this year."

Malensek is leading the Lancers in scoring average (20.0), field goals made, attempted and field goal percentage, free throws made, attempted and free throw percentage, assists per game (4.8) and assists. He was second in steals and third in 3-pointers made.

Wandrey is still amazed by what Malensek does.

"I think probably one of the best compliments I can give him is at Menomonee Falls (82-65 loss in season finale) he's sitting on the bench and I'm thinking he's not having a very good game. But he had 25 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds. It's been incredible.

Right or wrong, people look at good players, look up at them and expect them to be leaders. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way, but in his case it does.”

- Coach Dan Wandrey

"He's the leading scorer in the conference; leader in assists, probably one of the leaders in minutes played. It's impressive. It really is. He's one of the reasons we're as good as we've been. But it's not like it’s a bad team where he can go out there and do whatever he wants."

Malensek can look to three other excellent shooters to work with in junior Andres Peralta-Werns (14.5 points, .446 shooting percentage), senior Sam Rohde (10.9, .519, .479 3-point percentage) and sophomore Cole Nau (10.1, .424). And he takes advantage of that.

"We have gaps," he said. "(We have guys) on the wing and me in a lane. It's like having someone always there on every single shot - each corner, at the top of the key. Getting the pass to the right players in one of my strengths.

"It's me starting it off and them finishing it. I like passing. It makes them feel good. It makes me feel good. They have confidence in me and I have confidence in them. It goes hand in hand. I pass to them one time and then it's my turn. We have all options and all angles to deal with.


"I have three shooters on each side of me and we have guys coming off the bench who can shoot. I feel comfortable now. We're winning games and we're getting four people in double digits."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Wandrey then got into what he felt made Malensek a "special player."

"His work ethic," he said. "The guy has worked incredibly hard to get to where he's at. He has an incredible passion for basketball. His toughness. He's physically strong, he's mentally strong. Then you watch him play.

"People don't understand on how good a shooter he is. He's so good with the ball. He's a good shooter, a great decision-maker, incredibly gifted with the ball. What's really neat about those things is he's found ways to get better.

Wandrey then talked about his improvement this year.

"His ball handling," he said. "He has an incredible change of pace where he can get by guys and do things - he almost lulls them to sleep, keeps them off balance. He's got a great pull-up game. He's got a knack for being able to finish in different ways."

Wandrey then went back to last year's Marquette games.

"He finished at the rim. Another time he shot a floater. Another time he shot a pull-up. Those big athletic guys - and Marquette had a bunch of them last year - were physically, mentally off-balance. It's like he choose the right move every time."

Wandrey pointed out that with the game on the line, he likes the fact that Malensek wants the ball in his hands.

"From his standpoint it's the result of all the hard work he's put in," he said. "He's a gym rat. He's working on his game and he's getting better. We have a lot of players who are really good - but not a lot of players thrive on demanding that ball. So what's really nice is he wants it. He knows how to go about getting it. His teammates know that he wants it. Good things are going to happen when he has it."

The Lancers captains are Rohde and center Chris Post, both seniors. But on the court, Malensek takes on a leadership role as a point guard.

"I'm just a very talkative guy," Gage said. "Talking about offense especially. If we have foul troubles and we have new guys come in, I help set plays, knowing what they're comfortable at. Directing them, especially on defense too. I like that."

Wandrey does see Malensek as a leader despite his sophomore standing.

"He has respect them from his teammates and coaches - it's not about being the best player - the work and the efforts that he has put in that has brought a lot of respect from his teammates.

"Right or wrong, people look at good players, look up at them and expect them to be leaders. Sometimes it doesn't work that way, but in his case it does."

Wandrey might surprise you when asked what Malensek needs to do to get better.

"We talk about him being a good shooter," he said. "I don't think he shoots enough from the perimeter. He's been so good at getting by people and getting to the basket he might depend on that a little bit. He needs to look for his outside shot a little bit more.

"He can become a better defender. He's pretty good on the ball. We're had some situations where he hasn't been great off the ball. As he's going forward he needs to be a leader and a vocal leader. In those areas that will improve in time and hopefully, we will ask him to get a little bit better."

Which is certainly bad news for Greater Metro Conference opponents.

QUESTIONS FOR GAGE MALENSEK

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Spaghetti
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  Christian/Gospel
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Now You See Me, Now You Don't. Magic & Action movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: The Office
  • FAVORITE CLASS: Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Vail, Colorado
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Hang with friends, watch The Office
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Game-winning basket over Brookfield East last year.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?  Attend college and play basketball.

















FRESHMAN ANNA MORTAG COMING THROUGH FOR LANCERS

FRESHMAN ANNA MORTAG COMING THROUGH FOR LANCERS




When the Brookfield Central girls basketball team lost senior captain Claire Haynes, a returning first-team all-Greater Metro Conference player, to a back injury in the second game of the season, the Lady Lancers needed someone to step up.

Between losing a star player and the emotional toll it took on the players, the Lady Lancers dropped 5 of their next 6 games to give them a 2-5 record to start the season.

With team's starting to double team Central's star guard Caroline Busch, Coach Mallory Liebl needed someone to step up big time. Surprisingly, she turned to a freshman on this senior-dominated team to step forward.

But then, Anna Mortag isn't your typical freshman.

So Liebl figured it was time to sit down with Anna and have a heart-to-heart talk.

"It's hard to come into any program and for one, to be the only freshman, on a varsity team," Liebl said. "Especially with seven seniors, we're very senior-dominated. Our team is filled with really strong personalities in a good way.

"With Anna, I knew she could do more than what she was doing. She was kind of holding back a little bit because she wanted to be respectful of the older girls on the team and the other returnees. But we needed her to play up to her potential if we wanted to be successful."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

Mortag remembers that meeting well.

"Coach told me I know you do what you can, but you could do a lot more." Anna recalled. "It kind of put a little more confidence in me. I was thinking I could do those things. I felt pressure, but it was kind of good pressure."

Since that 2-5 start, the Lady Lancers went 14-3 to go into the sectionals with a 16-8 record. And Mortag did her part.

She is second to Busch in scoring (11.5 points per game ), rebounding (6.2 rebounds per game), field goals made (109) and attempted (235), free throws made (41) and attempted (70).

She also tops the team with 37 blocked shots and a .464 shooting percentage and is third on the team in 3-pointers.

Liebl has been more than pleased with Anna's development and contribution.

"She's definitely gotten better and more comfortable as the year has gone on," she said. "From the beginning of the season until now, she's more confident. She kind of knows how we play now, how I coach. It's really exciting to think about how much she's improved just in these last few months."

Anna gives a lot of the credit for the way she was accepted by the squad.

"Coming into this year I was shy and stuff," she said. "They were really nice. We're like sisters now. I really don't want this season to be over."

Bill Mortag, Anna's father, emphasized how wonderful it was the way the team accepted his daughter.

"She was very lucky, very fortunate that the juniors and seniors she plays with are really great girls," he said. "And Rob and Ellen Busch (Caroline's parent) have been awesome."

Anna is a 6-foot forward who has a well-rounded game. She can handle the ball, she is a solid shooter from the floor, an excellent shot-blocker and has a quick, first-step move to the baseline as good as any player I have seen this season.

"I enjoy going to the hoop because of my height," she said. "And blocking shots. I like blocking shots. It's just funny. I know my teammates like it."

Mortag then talked about what she needs to work on.

"When I'm playing good I enjoy defense, but sometimes it's just hard," she said. "I have to work on getting back on defense and being low and guarding my girl."

She also knows she wants to improve her ballhandling and shooting. "Sometimes it's on, but it's really inconsistent, so it probably needs work," she said.

Liebl knows she is dangerous with the ball in her hand as well as her work in the paint.

"Her strengths are definitely scoring the basketball," she said. "Being able to score the ball near the basket. Obviously her ability to block shots and protect the basket is also big."

But being a freshman, her game can only get better.

"She has potential for really every part of her game to get better," Liebl said. "I think it's really important for people to remember that she is only a freshman - even though she doesn't play like a freshman.

She has potential for really every part of her game to get better. I think it’s really important for people to remember that she is only a freshman – even though she doesn’t play like a freshman.”

- Coach Mallory Liebl

"She's just going to get better at everything. One of her biggest things is she can get a little bit tougher. But again, that's just being part of a freshman. She has to work on adjusting to the style of play. But she is just going to continue to get better at everything."

Mortag's success shouldn't be surprising, considering her two oldest brothers played at Brookfield Central. Seth is currently playing at St. Cloud State and Caleb is at UW-Whitewater. She also has a brother, Noah, who is a tackle on the Lancers football team.

"It was kind of crazy, because growing up it was always Seth and Caleb, Seth and Caleb. It was always about them," she laughed. "But now they have a lot of expectations for me.

"Every game it's like 'Anna you've got to do this.' I just want to kind of make them proud. They're good role models. They come to my games."

Anna's dad, Bill, worked closely with his daughter.

Anna has been into basketball since she was in the third grade. Her dad coached and she would practice against boys who were in fifth grade. That's where she first started to develop her dribbling skills.

She recalled playing at the YMCA when she was 6 years old and she played for the Jr. Lancers in third grade while attending Wisconsin Hills.

Anna talked about why she stuck with basketball.

"Having the good drive to get better," she said. "I just like new things that I could do like dribbling the ball and doing different moves. My dad really helped me work on stuff so it was never really boring.

"I worked on my dribbling with my dad. My dad doesn't want me to be a post necessarily. He taught me how to do everything. Working with the team, meeting the people, winning games."

Bill had high praise for his daughter.

"She has the God-given ability. She could be the best of the three," he said of his basketball-playing children.

Liebl recalled when she first say Anna play.

"The first year I got the job here she was in seventh grade," she said. "The first time I saw her play was at Jr. Lancer tryouts. Initially when I got the job, people were talking about her and said 'Wait until you see her play. She's going to be a really good high school player.' So I started to pay attention a little bit."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC

It took Liebl only a few games to realize Mortag was something special.

"In seventh grade, you don't expect somebody to be dominating," she said. "When I saw the way she played - even at that age - you could tell there was a lot of potential there to be a great player."

Mortag and Busch helped the Lady Lancers until they put things together down the stretch this year.

Busch became the Lady Lancers all-time scoring leader and needs 12 rebounds to take over the all-time top spot in rebounds.

Claire Haynes returned to the lineup in late January and is almost playing like she never left.  Senior Leah Swenson has become a legitimate 3-point scoring threat.  Amanda Miller continues to do an excellent job running the offense and playing defense.

Several other players have stepped up and contributed which help save a season that was spiraling out of control early in the year.

Mortag talked about the team's adjustments.

"We can depend on each other a lot more. Caroline trusts us a lot," she said. "We're working the ball, everyone's scoring. People are getting points here and there. Everyone's contributing. They're doing their best. That's a big part of it."

Liebl meanwhile looks forward to having Anna Mortag around for three more years.

"To think that she still has three more years to continue to improve," she said. "So from that stand point it's really exciting that she's definitely done a really good job of stepping in and helping our team kind of turn things around."

QUESTIONS FOR ANNA MORTAG

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Mashed potatoes
  • FAVORITE MUSIC/GROUP:  Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Mean Girls, 16 Candles. '80's Movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW: Vampire Diaries
  • FAVORITE CLASS: Gym
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Florida
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV or Listen to Music.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY/ATHLETE:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE SPORTS MOMENT:  Reverse layup against Brookfield East to take lead.
  • WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?  Attend college and play basketball.