The 2017-2018 girls’ basketball season in the area was exciting once again. Whether it was great games, or players reaching a career milestone, the season was filled with many moments to remember. Although none of the four local teams reached the state tournament this season, there was still plenty of talent on display in the local gyms.
Below is a look at the Herald Journal All-Area Girls Basketball First Team.
CJ Decker (HLWW)
When you go up against the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Lakers, you know you’re always going to get the best from junior point guard CJ Decker. One of the top players in the area in girls’ basketball, Decker delivers in so many different ways for the Lakers.
“CJ is a coach on the floor and one of the toughest competitors around,” HLWW coach Rick Baumann said. “She helps get teammates in the right places, and identifies defenses really well. She makes her teammates around her better, by getting them the ball at the right time. She is an unselfish player, who puts the team and others before herself.”
On the season, Decker averaged 13.7 points per game. She also recorded her 1,000th career point against Paynesville Jan. 25. To go along with her ability to score, she also averaged 3.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. Decker also led the team in steals with 83, which was 45 more than the next closest player.
While Decker’s stats are impressive, it’s her demeanor on the court that sets her apart. Not afraid to put the team first, she’s a player that Baumann hopes younger players are watching closely.
“She is a great player with an even better attitude, and a great role model for all the players in our program,” Baumann said. “She leads by example and is always willing to help the younger players with their game. When teams would run two or even three players at her to get the ball out of her hands, she never became frustrated, and did other things to help our team be successful.”
Alexa Schumann (HLWW)
While the Lakers enjoyed having Decker run things on the perimeter, they also had a nice option to go to inside with junior Alexa Schumann. The forward was the top scorer for the Lakers all season long, and gave HLWW a presence inside.
“Alexa was a force in the paint for us all year,” Baumann said. “She took games over for us, and when teams doubled her, she would not force things and would pass the ball to her teammates and crash the boards hard.”
Schumann led the way for HLWW, averaging 15.7 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. She also averaged one assist per game, and led the team in blocks with 30.
“She was a force in the middle on both ends of the floor for us scoring, blocking shots, and rebounding for us on defense,” Baumann said. “We ran a lot of our offense through her this year, and it allowed other players to get open shots.”
Lexi Schermann (Mayer Lutheran)
Over the first month and change of the season, Mayer Lutheran’s Lexi Schermann needed patience. Not eligible to play until Jan. 1 due to transfer rules, Schermann waited for her opportunity.
The Crusaders needed a true scorer in their lineup, and come Jan. 1, Schermann delivered that in a big way.
“Lexi led us in scoring this season,” Mayer Lutheran coach Kris Gustin said. “Her ability to score and get to the free throw line was a huge boost for the team following her entrance into the varsity lineup in January.”
Despite missing the first two months of the season, Schermann was the leading scorer for the Crusaders this past season. She averaged 13.6 points per game, and led the team in scoring in nearly every game she played. With Schermann’s emergence as a true scorer, Mayer Lutheran certainly became a stronger team with her on the floor.
“Lexi’s focus and effort in practice definitely made the team better,” Gustin said. “Her work ethic pushed others to be better, as well. We were a much better team in the second half of the season, due in large part to Lexi’s presence.”
Maggie Czinano (Watertown-Mayer)
Stepping into a bigger role this season with her sister, Monika, gone, Maggie Czinano became the top scoring threat for the Royals this season. The sophomore guard did it all for W-M, leading the way in almost every statistical category.
“Maggie led us in scoring, rebounding, and shooting percentage for the season,” W-M coach John Rosholt said. “She came within an eyelash of averaging a double-double for the season, averaging 16.5 points per game and 9.5 boards per game. Maggie recorded nine double-doubles in rebounding and scoring for the season.”
After a big taste of the varsity level as a freshman last season, big things were expected for Czinano in her sophomore year. Although she carried a big responsibility for the team, Czinano proved she could handle it time and time again.
“This season was an adjustment for Maggie as she went from the second or third scoring threat on the team to our leading scorer,” Rosholt said. “That may not seem like much of an adjustment, but it is a big jump as teams begin to focus on stopping your top scorer. Again, Maggie had a steep learning curve at the start of the season with her new role, but she met the challenges that were placed in front of her and gained in confidence and consistency as the season progressed.”
While Czinano carried the load offensively, she was also one of the top defenders on the team, as well, making her one of the top overall players in the area.
“Maggie was no slouch on the defensive end of the court as she has the athleticism to be a shut-down defender,” Rosholt said. “With her high basketball IQ, ball skills, athleticism, and fortitude, Maggie is on her way to becoming a complete basketball player.”
Emma Maas (Watertown-Mayer)
Hard work has payed off for W-M’s Emma Maas. The senior guard worked countless hours on her shot, and it paid off as she’s one of the top shooters from 3-point range in the area. Maas made a team-high 53 3-pointers this season.
“Emma’s work ethic was incredible again this year,” Rosholt said. “Her after-practice shooting workouts paid dividends as she consistently demonstrated why she was one of our top scorers from beyond the arc this season. In addition to her ball skills, Emma has continued to excel defensively. Game after game, Emma was repeatedly assigned to defend the opposing team’s best offensive guard. With her quickness, determination, and discipline, Emma was able to raise the anxiety level of some of the most confident and prolific offensive players.”
On the year, Maas had 57 steals and averaged 3.4 rebounds per game. She had a knack for making things difficult for opposing teams, as well as consistent leadership for W-M.
“Emma’s high basketball IQ, coupled with her athleticism and resolute attitude, produced a tenacious defender and productive offensive player,” Rosholt said. “Emma has grown in her skills, leadership and confidence over the years and this season, her senior year, she displayed why she is such a valued member of our team and community.”