Burling, Andersen battle for top spot

Jessa Burling not only set four school records on the court, off the court she posted a 4.35 grade-point average. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk


Throw convention out the window.

This isn’t your mom and dad’s All-Area team.

A passion for the unusual and an overall unwillingness to leave out deserving stars has the third annual Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area Girls Basketball team featuring seven first team members, along with a second team and honorable mention.

There are all-state players, conference and county players of the year.

Sports Editor Mike Ramczyk and his talented team of sports writers, including Tim Wester, Jason Arndt, Dan Truttschel, Chris Bennett, Kevin Cunningham and Daniel Schoettler, weighed in on the best of the best from 16 area schools, all with athletes featured in our Kenosha, Racine, Walworth and Waukesha county publications.

This year, Burlington senior Jessa Burling became the Demons’ all-time leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals. For her astronomical numbers, including four triple-doubles and near 12 rebounds per game for a girl only 5-foot-7 inches tall, the extremely athletic point guard is our Southern Lakes Newspapers All-Area player of the year.

Burling had stiff competition from Mukwonago junior Natalie Anderson, a 6-foot terror that helped lead her squad to the Division 1 state championship game.


Stats, team performance, eye test all factor in

While statistics are considered heavily, what’s just as important is a player’s impact on his or her team, leadership, team success and a certain “it” factor.

Does that player wow you when she’s on the court?

Is she making those around her better?

If you take that girl off that team, do they still go to sectionals?

These athletes exemplified all the best traits, on and off the court, and all showed an ability to get the job done, no matter the adversity.

Continuing in the coaching ranks, we have a first-time honoree for All-Area Girls Coach of the Year, Dena Brechtl of Waterford.

Brechtl took a team that started 1-9 and finished 8-15 to the sectionals on an improbable run, with a sophomore steering the ship.

Follow us on Twitter (@mikeramczyk17), find our videos on the SLN Facebook pages and leave comments on the www.myracinecounty, mywalworthcounty and mykenoshacounty sites with your feedback, good or bad.

Please tell us what you think of the team, as it is sure to evoke some opinions from coaches, parents and players.

You can be assured we attend tons of games, talk to plenty of coaches and players and do our research, which was about a one-month process of phone calls, emails, long conversations and more.

Sit back, enjoy and experience the third annual SLN All-Area Girls Basketball squad:


Player of the Year

Jessa Burling, senior, Burlington

Sometimes, ridiculously good numbers can trump all.

Even a first team all-state player that led her Mukwonago Indians to the Division 1 state title game couldn’t match the year Burling put together.

A 5-foot-7 tri-sport athlete, Burling faced double and triple teams all season and still produced 16.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, 6-7 steals, 3.2 assists and 0.7 blocks per game.

Burling was vocal on and off the court, exemplifying a true leader with a goal of making those around her better. She ran the offense, was the best perimeter defender and had the versatility to play just about any position on the court.

She helped lead the Demons to 16 wins, their most in at least 15 years, including big victories over conference champion Union Grove and Wilmot.

Already the Southern Lakes Conference player of the year and all-Racine County player of the year, Burling follows up last year’s SLN All-Area first team selection and a second team nod in 2016 as a sophomore.

Burling earned honorable mention All-Area as a freshman.

Burling was also named honorable mention all-state this past season.

A humble, grounded person, Burling has an infectious smile and radiant personality, which draws others to her and makes her teammates better.

Poised for a strong postseason run, it took constant double teams from Waterford to slow down Burling, and she still almost led the Demons to victory by willing her way to buckets and rebounds. Burling showed up in overtime, but it took a Herculean effort from Waterford’s Katie Rohner to end the Demon season.

Blessed with all the talent in the world, Burling could easily rest on her laurels at times, but she hustles as hard as anyone on the court, as evidenced by nearly 12 rebounds and 7 steals per game.

Burlington coach Mary Parker summed up Burling’s season.

“She did it with other teams putting a tremendous amount of focus and pressure on her all year long,” Parker said. “For all she’s accomplished on the court, I would be remiss to not mention the unbelievable person she is on and off the court.”

“She is an extraordinary leader and teammate, and through her career Jessa has always put the team’s success first.”

She plays with passion, demonstrating a lion’s heart, and her basketball I.Q. is unmatched.

A straight-A student, Burling will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall.

Currently, she is a forward on the girls soccer team, and she ran cross country last fall.


Coach of the Year

Dena Brechtl, Waterford

Brechtl, a former Waterford player, paid her dues as an assistant before taking over the head coaching duties.

She led the Wolverines to the sectional final behind superstar Madison Blair in 2015, but this year she engineered an epic turnaround.

After a 1-9 start, Waterford went 10-7 including three playoff victories. The girls held a lead late in a sectional semifinal against favored Jefferson.

Brechtl’s basketball knowledge is matched only her communication skills and enthusiasm.

She flat-out gets girls excited to play the game of basketball, and she is a master of in-game adjustments.

Here’s the full story on Brechtl.


First team

Natalie Andersen, junior, Mukwonago

Averaging 15 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, Andersen, an SLN All-Area second team pick in 2017, made a quantum leap into the go-to girl for the Indians this season.

According to Brechtl, Andersen can do things on the court no other players can do.

She’s that special, and is certainly a Division 1 college prospect.

Down by double-digits in a sectional semifinal to Janesville Parker, Andersen scored 28 points and led her squad to a double-digit win.

Then, in the sectional final, she scored 25 and helped the Indians advance to the Division 1 state tournament, where she scored 14 points in a state semifinal victory.

Though Mukwonago didn’t win it all, the 6-foot student who can play like a guard asserted herself as the Indians’ top dog.

Andersen earned Classic 8 Co-Player of the Year honors and was a unanimous All-State selection.

Andersen also contributed 2.2 assists per contest.

Mukwonago coach Rick Kolinske said in a Journal Sentinel interview that Andersen has made huge strides since humble beginnings as a freshman.

“It’s playing with that confidence that she’s doing now where she’s really taking over games,” he said after her breakout sectional performance. “We’re excited to see her come out of her shell like that.”


Brooklyn Bull’s outside shot earned her a spot on the UW-Oshkosh basketball team this fall. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Brooklyn Bull, senior, Union Grove

Like Burling, Bull became a member of the 1,000-point club for her career and took it to another level.

Moreover, Bull, who possesses the purest, most lethal jump shot in the area, earned her spot atop the Broncos’ all-time scoring list and finished with more than 1,200 for her illustrious three years.

A Racine St. Catherine’s transfer, Bull quickly became the Grove’s go-to player her sophomore season, when her potential game-winning shot bounced off the backboard and rim as the Broncos lost the Division 2 sectional final by a mere one point.

By her senior season, Bull became a team leader on the court, raining 3-pointers, running the offense at times and leading Union Grove to a fourth consecutive Southern Lakes Conference title.

Bull was named first team all-county, all-conference and honorable mention all-state, thanks in part to 17.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

Bull canned 57 triples, good for 36 percent, and she added 3.2 steals per game.

The 5-foot-8 explosive scorer and deadly shooter will play Division 3 basketball at UW-Oshkosh.


Katie Rohner, sophomore, Waterford


That’s the best word to describe the sophomore sensation’s postseason performance, which featured games of 25, 26 and 27 points, including road upset victories over Burlington and Union Grove.

Katie Rohner was a playoff powerhouse for the Wolverines. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Rohner, a 5-foot-6 guard, can jet the length of the floor and score, knock down triples with unlimited range and possesses the power to score around longer, bigger opponents in the paint.

She nearly single-handedly propelled an 8-15 team to sectionals, where Jefferson was fortunate she finally had an off night.

Rohner was named first team all-conference and all-county, posting averages of 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.8 steals per game.

“Katie loves the game,” Brechtl said. “She is an all-around very good player. She was just a monster in the playoffs. She was so composed and so within herself.”

“Katie moved to point guard this year, and she has very good vision and handles. She can get to the rim and has the ability to attack with both hands. She still has goals for herself. She hopes to find her teammates more next season.”

One of few girls her age to perfect a consistent step-back jumper, Rohner plays for one of the better teams on the Lakers club program, which plays in Waukesha County.

Rohner is sure to challenge for SLN player of the year next season.


Grace Beyer, junior, Mukwonago

A three-year starter who was the Classic 8 player of the year as a sophomore, Beyer helped lead the Indians all the way to Madison.

She took a back seat to Andersen as the team’s top scoring option, but the 5-foot-8 Beyer still averaged 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4 assists per game.

Beyer was named first team all-Classic 8 and honorable mention all-state.

Beyer is a three-year starter.

With Andersen, Beyer, Angie Cera and Kat Lopez all returning next season for Mukwonago, the Indians could be the favorite to win that elusive state crown.


Courtney Oomens, senior, Lake Geneva Badger

The dominant 6-foot-3 post player averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds for a Badger squad that placed third in the competitive SLC.

Thanks to her efforts, Oomens earned a spot on the Janesville Gazette All-Area squad, first team all-SLC and will represent the South squad in this summer’s Division 1 Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-Star game.

“Courtney had a great season,” said Badger coach David Jooss.

Oomens was a double-double machine, producing 10 of them overall.

Oomens, who scored a season-high 25 points twice will join the UW-Whitewater basketball team this fall.


Courtney Schoenbeck, senior, Walworth Big Foot

A Division 1 South Dakota University commit, the 5-foot-10 Schoenbeck, coach Rick Schoenbeck’s daughter, missed her junior season with a knee injury.

She fought her way back for her final season and got stronger as the year progressed.

The team MVP and captain, Schoenbeck earned Janesville Gazette All-Area along with first team all-Rock Valley Conference.

She was also named Beloit Daily News All-Area.

According to her father, she’s rated 25th by Wissports in the class of 2018 in the state of Wisconsin.

A defensive nightmare for opponents, she scored 16.6 points per game with 5.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists, while adding 2.8 steals and nearly 2 blocks per contest.

Courtney Schoenbeck recorded seven double-doubles and a triple-double with 28 points in a sectional semifinal loss.

She helped lead the Chiefs to their first ever sectional appearance and scored 76 points in three playoff games.

“Courtney emphasizes defense over offense, which is unique and rare,” Rick Schoenbeck said. “She’s a very balanced player in all areas of the game.”


Second team

Lauren Stefanczyk, senior, Palmyra-Eagle

A second team All-Area selection last season, Stefanczyk’s dominance as a senior helped lead the Panthers to an undefeated regular season in their first year in the Trailways South Conference.

A first team all-conference pick, she surpassed the 1,000-point milestone, becoming the second Panther to do so. She scored a season-high 27 points in a 55-53 win over Delavan-Darien.

Stefanczyk averaged 15.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 3.2 steals per game while hitting 35 percent from long range.

“Lauren is a fantastic player offensively and defensively,” said Palmyra coach Dustin Burg. “She led the conference in scoring and free throw percentage. She also is in the top five in shots made, 3’s made, free throws made and steals.”

“Lauren was one of the biggest reasons we went undefeated in conference. She led us in scoring, steals and was in the top five in every other major category.”

Stefanczyk is currently tearing it up for the Panthers’ softball team.

She’ll continue her softball career at Milwaukee School of Engineering this fall.


Jaida Speth, senior, Delavan-Darien

A softball star, Speth was also dominant for the Comet basketball team.

A first team all-SLC pick, Speth averaged 17.4 points and 11.6 rebounds for a team that only won three games.

Jaida scored a season-high 32 against Elkhorn and added 1.6 assists and 1 block per game.

“She played point-forward, being our primary ball-handler, and would go into the post as well as outside,” said Delavan coach Hank Johnson. “Her points per game increased as the season went on. To state the obvious, she was very important to our team.”


Bella DeNotto, senior, Williams Bay

Another do-it-all type, DeNotto averaged 13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists en route to the Trailways South player of the year honor.

DeNotto will play college basketball at Cardinal Stritch University next season.

DeNotto added 33 3-pointers and snatched an astronomical 7.3 steals per contest.

The all-around star added 1.2 blocks per game.

“The knowledge Bella has for the game is unbelievable,” said Bay coach Alyssa Arneson. “Bella knows what she has to do and gets it done. The team follows her lead on the court. Bella has put in the time the last four years to become a great shooting and point guard.”


Angie Cera, sophomore, Mukwonago

A key piece to the Indians’ magical state title game run, the younger sister of former high school star Bre averaged 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

The 5-foot-11 dynamic guard is a UW-Milwaukee recruit.

Cera, Andersen, Beyer and Lopez, a Lake Geneva native and former Delavan-Darien star, will form the area’s best lineup in 2019.


Allison Heckert, senior, Whitewater

A future UW-Platteville Pioneer, the 5-foot-6 Heckert earned first team Rock Valley Conference honors and will represent the South in the WBCA All-Star game this summer.

The team MVP, Heckert averaged 13.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

Heckert also connected on 70 percent of her free throws.


Reagan Courier, sophomore, Walworth Big Foot

A predecessor to talented sister Jordyn, who starred for the Chiefs in the early 2010s, Reagan along with sister Payton helped Big Foot make school history.

Thanks to some sisterly synergy, the Chiefs advanced to the school’s first sectional in program history, and Reagan did her part in a big way.

Courier, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, scored 15.4 points per game, grabbed 3.7 rebounds, dished 2.6 assists and snatched 2.9 steals.

She earned second team all-Rock Valley and Beloit Daily News All Area honors.

“Extremely fast and athletic, Reagan is a pure scorer,” Schoenbeck said. “She’s long and aggressive on defense, with 118 deflections this season. She led the team with the most free throw attempts and free-throw percentage (80.7%).”

Alyssa Kus finished her strong career with 4 assists per game in 2018. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Kat Lopez, junior, Mukwonago

It’s been a tumultuous year for the lightning-fast Lopez.

After growing up in Lake Geneva schools, Lopez attended Delavan-Darien where she starred for the Comets her first two seasons.

For family reasons, Lopez had to move to Mukwonago as a junior, but she finally found some stability and was part of a historic, successful season.

Despite being the fourth option overall, Lopez showed her skills with 8.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for the area’s best team.

Her will to win and perseverance was on full display in 2018.

Lopez, a versatile combination guard, is being recruited by several colleges to play basketball.


Honorable mention

Leslie Olson, sr., WB

– 13.9 ppg, 10.6 rebs., 3.1 blocks, 1.6 steals

“Leslie is a great leader both on and off the court,” Arneson said. “She has really worked hard to become the dominant post player that she is today.”


Payton Courier, sr., WBF

– 10.2 ppg, 4.4 rebs., 2.7 asst, 1.4 steals, 2nd team all-RVC, team captain

“Great passing ability for a post player,” Schoenbeck said.


Morgan Zenon, sr., Wilmot

– Lakeland College commit

– 10 ppg, 6 rebs., 2nd team all-SLC

“Morgan is one of our best defenders and is able to handle the ball and shoot on the perimeter, but also score down low,” said Wilmot coach Jerod Boyd.


Ali Ketterhagen, sr., WW

– 9.6 ppg, 10 rebs., 1.1 steals, team captain, led RVC in rebounding

“Her enthusiasm and drive to succeed are contagious,” said coach Judy Harms.

Freshman Angela Slattery averaged 10 points for the conference champion Broncos. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Alyssa Kus, sr., UG

– 4 assists per game, all-SLC HM, 5.9 ppg, 2.2 steals, 3.8 rebs.


Angela Slattery, fr., UG

– 2nd team all-SLC, 2nd team all-Racine County, 2.7 steals, 10 ppg, 4.3 rebs., 23 3’s


Jada Moss, jr., Lake Geneva Badger

– 10 ppg, 8 rebs., 2nd team all-SLC

“She really improved this year and had a breakout season,” Jooss said.


Syd Lean, sr., PE

– 10.4 ppg, 3.3 asst., 1.7 steals, 47% 3’s

“Sydney was the heart and soul of our team,” Burg said. “She plays extremely hard all the time and will go all out for any loose ball.”


Stephanie Dopuch, sr., Westosha Central

– HM All-SLC, 9.8 ppg

“Her stats didn’t reflect all her skill and effort because she ended up spraining both ankles and having to sit out several games,” said coach Mindy Stewart. “Stephanie was key to our success as a program.”

Waterford junior Kathleen Fitzgerald (left) led the area with 3.5 blocks per game. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Kathleen Fitzgerald, jr., WAT

– 2nd team all-SLC, 8.4 ppg, 7.3 rebs., 3.5 blocks

– led area in blocks


Maddy Anderson, sr., WAT

HM all-SLC, 6.6 ppg, 2.4 asst., led Wolverines with 13 pts, 3 triples in sectional semifinal


Emma Klein, jr., Burlington Catholic Central

– 2nd team all-Metro Classic


Megan Czarnecki, sr., Williams Bay Faith Christian

– 1st team all-Indian Trails, 16.8 ppg, 9.3 rebs.


Payton Christensen, jr., Elkhorn

The lone senior on Waterford, Maddy Anderson had a memorable postseason, including 13 points in a sectional semifinal.

– 2nd team all-SLC, 8.9 ppg, 1.7 asst.


Erin Rice, jr., East Troy

  • 2nd team all-RVC, 15.4 ppg, 5.6 rebs.


Riley Alexander, jr., Wilmot

– HM All-SLC, 10.4 ppg, 28 3’s, 10 games in double digits


Scoring leaders

  1. Katie Rohner, soph., Waterford, 18.0 points per game
  2. Brooklyn Bull, sr., Union Grove, 17.9.
  3. Jaida Speth, sr., Delavan-Darien, 17.4.
  4. Courtney Oomens, sr., Lake Geneva Badger, 17.0.
  5. Megan Czarnecki, sr., Williams Bay Faith Christian, 16.8
  6. 6 (tie). Jessa Burling, sr., Burlington, Courtney Schoenbeck, sr., Walworth Big Foot, 16.6.
  7. Natalie Andersen, jr., Mukwonago, 15.7.
  1. Lauren Stefanczyk, sr.. Palymra-Eagle, 15.6.

10 (tie). Reagan Courier, soph., WBF, Erin Rice, jr., East Troy, 15.4.