Freshmen girls key to Spartans improvement

Brookfield East girls basketball

When Brookfield East hired Mike Goodman from Mondovi to take over the girls basketball program, I couldn't help but feel bad for him.

He was taking over a team that was 3-20, 0-14 in the Greater Metro Conference with a 15-game losing streak in league play.

With games against powerful Divine Savior Holy Angels Friday, West Allis Central, Whitefish Bay (non-conference) and Menomonee Falls to finish the year, the Spartans will probably lose three of those four games.

But now the good news. Goodman has done an excellent job with this year's Spartan team and the future looks bright.

If they go 1-3 that would leave them with a 7-15 record and a 6-8 conference record, with the latter being a 6-game improvement.

The main reason for the improvement has been the addition of three freshman, two who have made an impression from the start of the season.

Mariah Miller, an excellent inside player, and Angela Pichler, the starting point guard, have been the keys to the season.

"Mariah has come a long way from the beginning of the year and you could tell how good she was from the start," Goodman said. "I told her in our preseason meeting 'Every time you step out on the court, you are the best one out there. I've asked her ever since, 'Mariah, who's court is it?' and she would say 'It's my court, it's my court.'

"When you're averaging a double-double, it doesn't get better than that."

Miller is averaging 12 points and 12 rebounds a game for the Spartans, while Pichler is averaging 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

"When you have someone like that (Pichler being a freshman) there is a huge burden on her," Goodman said. "To start at point guard, take the ball up the court and have the ball in her hands as much as she does, you would expect some turnovers, but she is doing such an excellent job.

"Finding out the right time of when to drive, she has really come a long way. She had 22 points the other day, but still had 6-7 assists."

The third freshman is Abby Gregg. If the name sounds familiar it's because her older brother C.J. was a star football, basketball and track athlete the past four years for the Spartans. Of course, C.J. was 6-7 and at 5-5, Abby has a ways to go to catch him.

"She is good at what her role is - coming off the bench, she is a good shooter," Goodman said. "So if you leave her open, she's going to knock it down. She's getting some confidence too. The biggest thing for her is mentally. She still has ups and downs and you are going to get that as a freshman. She's still learning every day. She's very quick, so defensively it's a big help."

But the Spartans are also getting some senior leadership from Emily Utic and Lauren Kennedy, both captains.

"I keep telling them that it is a shame that I only get them for one year," Goodman said. "Lauren doesn't fill up a stat book but she does the little things that are important - boxing out the other team's biggest girl; making timing plays. She took our first and only charge of the year. Emily is getting her confidence back. She's been in double figures."

"I said to the coaches the other day. They don't have to say anything, they just have that presence about them."

Sophomore Kellie Goodman has averaged almost 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds a game to give the Spartans another threat and junior Adriana Gibbs has also had her moments.

There should be nothing but better things for East in the next few years. 

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