Hales Corners - The members of the 2012-13 Whitnall girls basketball team will not require much of an adjustment period.
The Falcons returned nine players from last year's 12-12 squad, including four starters.
The team is led by 5-foot, 6-inch senior guard Ashley Markowiak, who averaged 14.6 points, four rebounds and three steals last season, earning first-team all-Woodland Conference Black Division honors.
Also back in the starting lineup is 5-7 senior forward Rachael Shulta, who tallied 9.1 points per game, connected on 32 shots from 3-point range and hit 86 percent at the free throw line. Shulta made the second all-division team last season.
'Experience is a strength'
Other returning starters are 5-8 junior forward Ann Marie Bay (6.2 points per game) and 5-6 senior guard Lizzy Menden (3.2).
Additional returnees from last year's varsity are 5-8 senior forward Jackie Gruszka, 5-6 senior guard Gabby Weis, 5-4 junior guard Candace Pollock, 5-9 junior post Krista Stribling and 5-7 senior forward Natalie Jankovic.
Other juniors are 5-8 post Kaitlyn Kenaston, 5-4 guard Mary Gaggioli and 5-6 forward Emily Yahnke. Kendall Stribling, a 6-0 freshman post and Krista's sister, rounds out the roster.
"Experience is a strength," said veteran head coach Keith Larson, who celebrated his 300th victory last season. "The girls have been in the program, and they understand our concepts. We are a small team overall, but quick. Ashley in particular is very quick."
Larson is expecting a solid - and enjoyable - season.
"This is a great group to work with," he continued. "They are great student-athletes, and they have a comfort level with each other."
Whitnall is in the reconfigured Woodland East Division this season, and Larson said the favorite is South Milwaukee, with a pair of 6-0 post players and the point guard all returning. The Rockets, like the Falcons, lost just one starter.
The Falcons opened the season on Tuesday at Brookfield East, and they will play in the big Brookfield Central Thanksgiving Shootout on Saturday, taking on Waukesha South at 11:45 a.m.
They then start Woodland action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against Brown Deer.
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