With seven returning players joined by some promising newcomers, the Whitnall girls basketball team enters the 2016-17 season with a positive outlook.
"We have a nice mix this season, with the experience on the top and the younger kids who will gain experience," coach Keith Larson said. "This should be a good season, and we are looking forward to it."
The Falcons have five seniors and two juniors back from last season's squad, which went 13-11 overall and 6-10 in the Woodland Conference.
Leading the returnees is 5-foot-8-inch senior forward Sierra Grubor, who averaged a team-high 14.8 points last season and earned first-team all-division honors.
Grubor, a four-year veteran, connected on 17 shots from 3-point range and hit 76 percent from the line in 2015-16.
Jaden Kelley, a 5-8 senior post player, averaged 8.8 points last season and earned honorable-mention all-division.
The other returning seniors are 5-6 guard Jessica Knackert, 5-5 guard Alexis Navarette and 5-6 guard Samantha Benzinger. All averaged about three points last season.
A senior new to the varsity is 5-6 guard Abby Franckowiak.
Returning juniors are 5-6 guard Kathryn Bay and 5-9 post Miranda Bass, and a new junior is 5-10 post Kaitlyn Bloomer, who is just back from competing in the WIAA Division 2 State Swimming Meet.
The varsity squad is rounded out by six sophomores.
"Our strength should be our perimeter play," Larson said. "We have the two returning post players in Kelley and Bass, and some other ones should develop. The experience of the seven players will help early, and we should have some depth as the season progresses."
Larson said the Woodland East favorites are three-time champion Shorewood and Cudahy, which boasts one of the top players in the area in Bailey Eichner, as well as veteran coach Bob Maronde, who led the Grafton girls team to two state championships.
The Falcons begin the season at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at home against Waukesha North. They then play at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, at Elkhorn and take part in the Brookfield Central Shootout, meeting Dominican at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 25.
Whitnall opens the Woodland season at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at New Berlin West.