Though a final record of 4-18 doesn't indicate it, the freshmen-led Brown Deer girls basketball team was a far more cohesive entity this winter, according to second-year coach Scott Laurent.
"What's been very encouraging is that we're changing the culture," Laurent said. "They've taken it upon themselves to improve for next year, see what we can do differently (to get better).
"I really liked how we competed this year. We were in far more conference games this season than we were last year, and the girls never gave up."
The Falcons recently ended their season with a WIAA regional loss to Port Washington. Just a couple of weeks before that, though, they broke a 38-game Woodland Conference losing streak with a victory over Greendale.
Other wins included ones over St. Francis, University School and Hope Christian.
The fuel for the fire came from freshmen guards Mattie Schimenz and Jonisia Nash.
The 5-6 Schimenz, part of the hugely athletic and competitive Schimenz family that has produced many successful male athletes, earned first-team All-Woodland Conference East Division honors after scoring 16.4 points a game on 50 percent shooting from the field. She also hit 98 of 134 free throws (73 percent), grabbed 107 rebounds, snagged 74 steals and had 55 assists.
"She has an extremely high basketball IQ," Laurent said. "We just put the ball in her hands and had her create.
"And I don't think any of her brothers got first team all-conference in basketball."
Laurent also noted that Schimenz gained a huge amount of respect very quickly in the league as teams started scheming against her in the second half of the season.
Nash was honorable mention all-division after averaging 10.5 ppg., with a team high 124 rebounds with 12 blocks, 24 assists and 35 steals. Laurent thinks its the first time in many years that the Brown Deer girls have had two players mentioned on the postseason all-conference list.
The pair were part of a very egalitarian mix as the varsity team had a mix of all four classes, including fine leadership from junior forward Autumn Thompson and senior forwards Deasia Allen and Brianna Key.
"The two freshmen understood their roles," said Laurent. "What we wanted to do as a team (in terms of games) we knew would have to go through them, and people like Thompson and Strong worked well with them. There was no animosity."
Brown Deer is still small in terms of overall program numbers (16), but it managed to keep a combined freshmen/junior varsity team together all season, and the two teams combined for the most wins the program has had in awhile.
Schimenz was named team MVP, most improved when to sophomore guard Michaela Drake and Thompson was named the honorary captain.
Laurent is even more encouraged by what looks to be a good group of eighth-graders coming up who could have a major impact almost immediately next winter.
"We were competing this season, and we think we can win some more games next season based on what we have coming in," he said.