Bears building confidence with young roster

Bonduel clinches first conference victory
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Leader photo by Jacy Zollar Bonduel High School junior Jessie LaBerge looks to drive past Weyauwega-Fremont’s Taylor Folk during Tuesday’s 42-25 Central Wisconsin Conference-East victory.

Bonduel knew it would have some rebuilding to do this season after losing its starting lineup to graduation.

Despite growing pains, which have led the Bears on a 2-5 start to the season, the girls basketball team is starting to feel more comfortable on the court.

“Getting one more win definitely gives us more energy and confidence in ourselves,” senior Brynn Reinke said after a 42-25 win against Weyauwega-Fremont on Tuesday. “It helps us know that we’re capable of winning these games and that we’re improving each game.”

The Bears earned their first Central Wisconsin Conference-East victory over Weyauwega-Fremont (0-6, 0-2 CWC) after losing to two top teams in the conference, Wittenberg-Birnamwood (43-23) and Amherst (74-34).

“Those are obviously very tough teams,” head coach Jerry Reinke said. “So we knew it’d be tough, especially starting out with them.”

Reinke knew offense would be the team’s struggle at the beginning of the season, and he’s still looking for girls to take the lead in scoring.

“We’re still trying to get there offensively,” he said. “We still need some girls to step up and take charge and get scoring in the double digits. Offense is a often a challenge, especially when you don’t have those one or two scorers who are taking charge.

“We’ve got some decent depth, but we don’t have that player or two that you know are going to go out there every night and hit 11 or 12 (points). We’re still trying to see if we can develop that in someone. I think a lot of it has to do with confidence. We’re going to work more on individual skills in the next couple months and just try to improve on that.”

The Bears’ leading scorer so far this season is Jessie LaBerge, who is averaging nine points per game, followed by Kylie Guenther and Grace Petcka at about eight each.

Brynn Reinke sees the offensive struggle, too.

“I think we just have way too many turnovers on offense and we aren’t taking that second to make smart decisions before we pass,” she said. “I think if we made those better decisions we’d score a lot more, so we definitely need to work on that at practice.”

As the team works to gain confidence on offense, Bonduel has been relying on its defensive strengths.

“We’ve been playing pretty good defense for the most part and that keeps us in these games,” coach Reinke said. “We’ve been able to play more man-to-man than I’ve anticipated, which has certainly helped.

“We came out (against Weyauwega-Fremont) and we played with some energy and pressed, which we emphasized, we want to get the ball up the floor a little quicker, and they applied that during the game.”

The Bears hope to build off of Tuesday’s win, but coach Reinke isn’t trying to think too far ahead.

“I need to remind myself that we’re young,” he said. “We just really don’t have any experience from last year, other than Brynn (Reinke) and Kylie (Guenther), but Kylie was limited with an injury at the end of last year. So really we’re mixing and matching five new players, and it’s always a challenge trying to figure out where everyone fits.

“Hopefully we can get there and we’re focused on trying to peak at the right time, so we’re going to just keep our focus on that and hopefully improve a little each game until then and not overthink it.”