TL: DR - I thought this season was a competitive one, but it looks like next season will be even better.
I was going to wait to make this post until the All-conference selection have been made, but I couldn't and decided to make it now.
Because All-conference selections aren't made yet, I'll start with what I think they will be:
1st Team: Lexi Wagner (GET, Sr) as POY is a lock. I think Kaitlyn Kennedy (LUT, Sr) and Linzy Sendelbach (ARC, Jr) also return as 1st team members. The final two or three spots (some conferences do 6 players per team but the Coulee usually does 5) are tough. Most likely it will be Ellie Hoesley (ARC, Jr) and Olivia Zielke (GET, Sr), but Mercedes Romo (ARC, So), Molly Schmitz (GET, Sr) , Brook Bentzen (WSA, Sr), and Grace Hebel (WES, So) are all great players.
2nd Team: Assuming Hoesley and Zielke round out the 1st team, I think the 2nd team will have Molly Schmitz, Cassy Schmitz (GET, Jr), Mercedes Romo, Grace Hebel, and Brook Bentzen. Chloe Halvorson (Arc, So), Macy Stellner (Wes, So), and Alexa Hammond (GET, Jr) are three good players who deserve to be on 2nd team, but with all the great talent, I think they will be included along with several other players (too many to try to list) as Honorable Mentions.
Final Standings [Last Season in Brackets]:
Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau: 24-3 (11-1) [20-5 (12-0)] - Conference Champions, Regional Champions, Sectional Champions, State Qualifiers
Arcadia: 19-5 (9-3) [14-10 (8-4)] - Conference Runners-up, Regional Champions, Sectional Qualifiers
Westby: 14-9 (8-4) [10-14 (6-6)]
West Salem: 13-10 (7-5) [18-7 (10-2)]
Luther: 10-14 (5-7) [8-15 (4-8)]
Black River Falls: 3-19 (2-10) [1-22 (1-11)]
Viroqua: 1-21 (0-12) [2-21 (1-11)]
My predictions from the start of the season was hit or miss. I expected Arcadia to tie with West Salem for second with Luther and Westby at fourth and fifth respectively. Westby really came out of no where and finished in third with West Salem at four and Luther at five. Other than that, I wasn't too far off in terms of total wins, conf wins, etc.
2019-2020 Early Preview
I'm not going to go into schedules and records yet, but I do want to look into returning players for next season, who is the next favorite for the Coulee crown, etc.
Next Season should be another really good one. Just about every team is returning several good, young players in the class of 2020 and 2021. There has almost always been a gap between the top four or so teams and the bottom two or three teams, but we will probably see a much tighter gap.
Arcadia: Arcadia's two juniors and two sophomores led the Raiders to a second-place finish in the Coulee including a three-point win over G-E-T to end the regular season, all four finishing with 7+ ppg. They were one of the most improved teams of the year, and with only one starter graduating, they look to be the favorites moving forward. Hoesley is very talented overall (though her shot selection could be better at times), and with the combo of Sendelbach in the post and Romo outside the arch, they have a lot of options offensively. There are a couple players that could replace Madden, their only senior starter. The most likely are Hailey Sonsalla (5'7" So) and Ali Pronschinske (5'8" Jr). This team will be dangerous.
Black River Falls: This season was an interesting one. From the two games I’ve watched (@G-E-T and vs Viroqua @ Coulee Classic), it seemed different players stepped up each time, all being young players. They will miss seniors Abby Ross and Mady McCormick, but I really think the Tigers were led by their newer, younger players. From the couple games I watched, Katie Dobson (So), Makayla Nortman (Fr), and McKenna Dutton (So) all played well. If they continue to play like they did in those games, they should be better than they were just this season despite losing some good seniors.
Gale-Ettrick-Tremp: Finding a replacement for Wagner, Schmitz, and Zielke will be tough, but the Red Hawks still have some returning players, starters and reserves, that made an impact when their big three needed a break. Two junior starters, Schmitz and Hammond, will definitely need to step up and lead. I expect the other three starters would be Lindsey Lettner (5'2" Fr), Genna O'Neill (5'5" Fr), and Rachel Amoth (6'1" So). Lettner is a quick little guard, but she made a lot of typical freshman mistakes by dribbling right into obvious traps and picking up her dribble way too early. O'Neill will pull up from 3 with confidence, and she isn't afraid to (attempt to) finish through traffic in the lane. Amoth is a tall, lanky big who's really good on the boards, but her offense isn't quite there yet. Leadership and depth are big question marks, but this team shouldn’t be bad at all, likely finishing in the top three teams.
Luther: Luther is really going to miss Kaitlyn Kennedy and her ability to score. She averaged just over 14 points per, and the rest of the team averages 6.5 points or fewer. They are returning three starters and a pair of pretty good bench players, but similarly to G-E-T, they don’t appear to have a clear leader to help guide their young players. Grace Manke, Annabelle Koenig, and Emily Wintrone have their work cut out for them to lead two new starters. There are three players who would best replace these seniors: Cassie Warren (5’8” So), Jenna Wahl (5’5” Jr), and Rachel Koenig (6’1” Fr). Next season will probably be another rough one for the Knights.
Viroqua: This team had a very rough season. I’ve been very critical of the offense and shot selection in the past, and I think a lot of that has to do with coaching (not saying I would be a better coach, just that there are a lot of issues this team needed to work out). They are missing two senior starters, but their leading scorer, Hallie Sherry (5’8” So) does return. Similar to BRF, Viroqua’s offense seemed to rely on someone different each time I watched them. Sherry got her touches being the point guard and leading scorer, but they do have a few other players returning that made some good shots, especially against BRF at the La Crosse Center. It will be another rough season for the Blackhawks, but they will probably be better next season.
West Salem: The Panthers had a very inconsistent season. They looked like they would finish in second again or maybe third, but they dropped a few games they should have won. They are graduating two starters, and the biggest loss will be leading scorer Brooke Bentsen. They return a lot of good, young players that should fit well into their system, but I’m not sure they will have the depth next season. The two obvious replacement starters are Maddie Quick (5’5” So) and Alyssa Gilster (5’7” Fr). I’m not sure who will step up and be that leader, but I think they will be fine as West Salem has always had good coaching and a good conference record.
Westby: Westby really surprised me this season. I expected them to finish in that bottom 2 or 3 teams, but they instead finished in third after a rough opening week. Wissports doesn’t have the same accurate stats as the other Coulee teams, so I may not have all of my info right. From the games I remember watching, Grace Hebel (5’7” So) was probably their best player, though WSN lists her as the third leading scorer. Closely following are Mollie Stenslien, Macy Stellner, and McKenna Manske, all of which are returning. Again, WSN doesn’t have accurate stats about games started or minutes, so I couldn’t tell you the starters. From memory, I believe all of the starters and impact players are returning. This team will probably have another great season, likely finishing with those top 3 teams.
4. West Salem
5. Black River Falls