Freshmen Flourish, Find Their Place in Varsity Girls’ Basketball

Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer

Seventeen points in one game. That’s what freshman Peighton Milton scored in a varsity girls’ basketball game. With a team high of 24 points, that’s pretty high, especially for a first-year high school student.

Milton, however, is not the only freshman on the varsity lineup. Lizzie Opichka, with a high of 14 points a game, is also playing on varsity. For the team that has won two back-to-back WIAA Division 2 state championships, but lost two star seniors, new blood might be just what is needed.

Milton and Opichka are still getting used to the team’s busy schedule. They practice every day but Sundays, and have 1-2 games a week. “It challenges me a lot more,” Milton commented.

Although they’re freshmen, they’re still playing regularly and scoring points. “They are adjusting to learning the system and becoming more vocal, but it takes time and is not something that happens overnight,” head coach Sara Rohde said.

Being on a team dominantly filled by upperclassmen, players are bound to encounter some difficulties. However, the freshmen don’t think it’s too bad. “It’s not as intimidating as people think. [The upperclassmen] are very welcoming,” Opichka said.

Assistant Coach Scott Mallien has also noticed the inclusion among the team members. “We’ve got a great group of girls who are really kind to each other,” he said.

According to Mallien, the dynamic in the team is such that, if he didn’t know what year each girl was, he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

When the girls, wearing their green and blue, take the court, they are one in the same.

“We are very fortunate to have really nice upperclassmen on our team, and they always welcome any player, regardless of their grade,” Coach Rohde commented.

In particular, Rohde pointed out seniors Tess Gapinski and twins Kayla and Carli Borseth and junior Olivia Campbell as team leaders.

Milton and Opichka are finding their place among the team, and are learning many things along the way. “I’ve learned to be more confident in myself, to do what I know how to do,” commented Opichka.

Milton, also, has picked up her fair share of lessons from playing on varsity. “Now, I don’t overthink things. I just play the game.”

Their hard work is what got them on varsity, according to Opichka, who ran cross country in the fall. Milton also plays soccer in the spring. Their dedication, Opichka claimed, coupled with keeping in shape during the off-season, really contributed.

Both girls said they plan to continue playing basketball throughout their Notre Dame de la Baie Academy career. The girls, who formerly played on the St. Matthew School girls’ basketball team together in middle school for years, said they are happy they are not alone.

“They’re two good basketball players,” Mallien commented. “And they’re two great people.