New London ended the Waupaca girls’ basketball team’s 2010-11 season by handing the Comets a 63-38 loss in March in a Division 2 regional final.
The two teams will hook up again at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, in the season opener for both teams.
The Bulldogs went on to win a Division 2 state championship, while Waupaca saw its season come to an end.
“Our girls embrace that challenge,” coach Brandon Temperly said of his team’s nonconference matchup.
“We’ve got a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth from that regional final,” he said. “They were clicking at the right time and we’d like to get another shot at them. We’d like to have two shots.
“It’s an important game, but we’re not going to overhype it too much,” he added. “It doesn’t do anything for us in the conference other than get us prepared for it. We’ve been playing New London since the girls were in third grade, so there’s that added competitiveness that the girls are going to have.”
As far as this season’s version of the Comets, Temperly is counting on four players in particular.
“It starts with the four seniors (Abbey Lazers, Lexie Marringa, Katie Barlow and Ashlie Hoffman),” he said. “All four have played varsity since their sophomore or freshman year and we do a lot of things through them. They all bring something different to the table and play really well together. We’ve got some experience and it’s showing. We’re farther ahead right now than we’ve been in any of my years so far. It’s a very good sign.”
Also on the varsity team are juniors Mikaila Johnson, Alta Littrel and Courtney Schmidt; and sophomore Morgan Smith.
“We have some athleticism from the junior class and that’s going to really help us defensively and get the ball up and down a little more,” Temperly said. “Morgan is progressing very quickly. She’s picking up the game and learning the speed of the game faster than most sophomores do.”
Waupaca will compete in the Eastern Valley Conference.
“Freedom has a great program and they’re going to be good,” Temperly said. “I don’t think Fox Valley Lutheran’s lost a key player from last year’s squad, (Appleton) Xavier’s always tough, Ripon has one of the best individual players in the conference and Berlin has another one, Callie Walker, that’s just a matchup nightmare. Once again, there’s not a game in our conference where we can sit down and say that we’re going to win.”
Despite having some experienced players back, the Comets will not field a freshman team this season. Those seven players will suit up for Mike Nellis and the junior varsity team.
“We might be short that freshman class down the line,” Temperly said. “We’re hoping this is just a one-year thing. The kids that we have in the program work hard. I’m glad they’re all here. There’s a lot of skill here right now. It’s disappointing with the numbers, but I really like the ones I have.”