NO LONGER UNSUNG
On Friday, Jan. 5, New Berlin Eisenhower senior forward Hannah Plockelman probably got rid of the 'unsung hero' tag forever.
That's because Plockelman was the hero in a 50-37 victory over Pewaukee which kept the Lions unbeaten (6-0) and in first place in the Woodland West. The 6-foot Plockelman scored 18 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and added 2 assists and 1 steal. She even was the guest on Spectrum Sports post-game show.
The Lions are 10-2 overall and Plockelman leads the team in scoring (13.9 points) and rebounding (8.1) and is second in assists (2.2).
Hannah was a member of the Lions State Championship team as a sophomore, averaging 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Then last year as a junior starter, she led the team in rebounding (6.2) and was third in scoring (7.5) and steals (31).
As for the 'unsung hero' tag?
"She was second team all-conference last year so people noticed it," Coach Gary Schmidt said of Plockelman's improved play. "It's just the way she goes about doing business. She's improved her game. I like the fact that people notice what kind of athlete she is. I don't see how she shouldn't be first-team all-conference and she should get some all-state recognition too.
"From a coaches perspective (being an unsung hero), that's awesome. She's kind of a hidden gem. I think that's a tribute to the way she has mastered her game. She just keeps getting better and better."
Plockelman gives the Lions a multi-pronged attack with sharp-shooting Julia Hintz (13.2 points), Katie Ludwig (7.3), 6-feet, 2 inch Erin Hedman (6.3) and Olivia Canady (5.8). Hintz, Ludwig and Canady are excellent 3-point shooters, which opens up the lane for Plockelman and Hedman.
Plockelman understands her new role this year.
"I'm more involved in the scoring aspect," she said. "In the previous years I just played defense and passed the ball but this year I'm more involved."
When asked if she feels more pressure in her new role, she talked about the talent on the team.
"I feel a little pressure, but I feel if I don't have the best game, my teammates will make up for it," she said. "We're a really deep team and everyone has a lot of strength.
"If teams focus on Erin or me, then that leaves Julia open," Hannah said. "Julia is also good at going to the basket and then dishing the ball off to us also. Katie and Olivia are also good outside shooters."
Plockelman is also a key player when it comes to defense.
"I guard the taller people and I have to make sure to box out and get rebounds," Hannah said. "I'm always working hard, I'm being aggressive. I've gotten stronger in these past years underneath the basket to get rebounds. It's very important if you're playing bigger girls, to get around them or you don't get the rebounds."
She not only wants to be out there, not just for her, but for her team. That’s part of being a good leader. It’s all about somebody else. She always reaches out to everybody. She’s just a great kid to have around.”
Lions coach Gary Schmidt
Schmidt knew he had something good when he first saw Plockelman in the Eisenhower youth program.
"In fifth grade, even though she was very tall, she also showed skills, and I was pretty excited knowing she was going to be in our program for the long hall. Right back when she joined our feeder program, I knew she would be something special for us."
Schmidt then talked about one of the key strengths her coaches mentioned to him.
"When all coaches feel that they have kids who are coachable - you could just tell when she went to camps - the coaches said how good she was on the court and how she listened," he said. "That right there spoke highly of her. Not only from her effort but how well she knew the game of basketball. She really worked hard. That's why I'm impressed with her. The way she was in fifth grade and the way she is now. That tells a story - that any kid could get good if they really wanted to without a doubt."
Schmidt didn't hesitate when asked about Hannah's strong points.
"Her athleticism No. 1 and her basketball instinct No. 2," he said. "One of the things I've been most impressed with her is her speed, how quick she can get to the ball and get to the basket. I think she's very hard to defend.
"And yet she is so good to get up and get the rebound. She has quite the strong presence out there when it comes to basketball and where to be on the court. This is something you can teach to some and some kids you can't. Because of her athleticism she gets to some of the spots so quick. Her speed possesses that.
"I also think she is one of best defensive players in the state. I mean that sincerely. I also think she's one of the best rebounders.
Plockelman also talked about her quickness and defense.
"I have a quick first step, so if I have a taller and slower person guarding me I can drive past them in the lane and get to the hoop," she said. "I feel I'm good at anticipating on defense, so I'm good at being able to get to the gap or be on help side if my teammates need me.
"Defense is probably the most important thing to me. Coach says you should never have a bad game on defense."
Both coach and player almost agree on what she needs to work on.
"I need to work on my shooting," Hannah said. "I usually drive to the basket instead of taking the jump shot. I feel that I've never really been a big shooter from the perimeter, which I regret. Coach doesn't discourage me. He encourages everyone to shoot."
But Schmidt wants her to work on the end of the shot.
"Finishing. We have to get her to be better at that," he said. "She's a great finisher as we speak. If I can find one flaw it's finishing. I would like to see her finish better around the hoop."
Not surprising, leadership is a key part of Hannah's makeup.
"It's extremely important. I think everyone is encouraging and stepping up when we have to," she said. "I think I can encourage people and pick them up when they're having a bad game. I like helping out (when younger players ask her questions). I like to see them succeed too. Once they understand it, they are really happy. That makes me happy too because they are improving and helping me too."
Schmidt is pleased with her leadership skills also.
"She leads by example," he said. "I can't think of a better kid who leads by example. She's very coachable. She listens, she responds, she never takes any time off. She's just a gamer.
"She not only wants to be out there, not just for her, but for her team. That's part of being a good leader. It's all about somebody else. She always reaches out to everybody. She's just a great kid to have around."
Schmidt was asked about Hannah's personality off the basketball court and his answer wasn't surprising.
"She's extremely polite," he said. "You can tell mom and dad (Jennifer and Mike) did a great job in raising her. She's always respectful. She treats people fairly. I never hear a bad word come out of her. She's always positive. To sum it up, she's the real deal. She treats people the way people should be treated."
Schmidt then asked if he could add one more thing about Hannah.
"There are two reasons people coach high school basketball," he said. "The love of game and the love of coaching kids. To have good kids is a coach's dream.
"I enjoy Hannah as much off the court as I do on. She's disciplined the way she looks at life. I'm the one who is honored to coach her."