Three girls hoops stars represent local area well at WBCA All-Star event
by Beth Kraft
It’s relatively rare to have one area basketball player make an all-star game roster in a given year, but to have three reps be selected for the honor—one from each school district—is truly a special testament to their talents.
Mondovi’s Jenna Franzwa, Brittany Laehn from Gilmanton and Kara Enos of Eleva-Strum were all selected to take part in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association’s 2014 All-Star Games, held June 20 in the Wisconsin Dells.
Franzwa played with the Division 4 North team while Laehn and Enos were chosen for the D5 North team.
All three wrapped up their senior seasons at their respective schools with plenty of awards and recognition to their credit, but being hand-picked for the 10-member rosters can still catch even the most talented of players off guard.
“I was kind of surprised just because I know how few members get selected and being from a small school,” said Laehn, who led the Lady Panthers in scoring at 16.2 points per game during the 2013-14 season.
Franzwa and Enos were also top performers for the Lady Buffaloes and Cards, respectively. Enos averaged a team-high 17.1 ppg while Franzwa led an even Mondovi squad with 10.4 ppg while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.
Laehn and Enos have faced each other as Dairyland Conference opponents at the varsity level for the past four years, but last month the two had a chance to don the same colored jerseys and take the floor at JustAgame Fieldhouse together.
The area duo and their North teammates effectively crushed the South squad in the D5 game, 72-48.
Laehn scored four points, shooting a perfect 2-for-2 from the free throw line, and grabbed five rebounds. Enos was held scoreless, but chipped in two assists and two steals with three rebounds.
Franzwa and the D4 North team also won over the South by a convincing margin, grabbing the 75-55 victory. Franzwa knocked down a shot from 3-point range and grabbed three rebounds, two on the offensive glass.
Laehn pointed out that the experience wasn’t just about the all-star games themselves, it was also about having fun meeting new people and “spending time with other girls that enjoy playing basketball.”
The all-star events also serve as a fundraiser benefiting the MACC Fund, an organization dedicated to funding childhood cancer and related blood disorder research.
For more information about the WBCA All-Star event, please visit www.wisbca.org/page/show/448258-all-star-game.
Laehn to continue hoops at UW-Superior
For Laehn, the all-star game won’t be her last competitive basketball appearance. The Lady Panthers star plans to take her strong-willed talents on the hardcourt to UW-Superior to compete for the Yellowjackets this coming season.
“Their interest in me was a big factor,” said Laehn of choosing Superior over other schools, including other Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schools in Eau Claire and Oshkosh.
The university also awarded academic scholarships to Laehn, also Gilmanton High School’s 2014 salutatorian, and everything just clicked for her during a visit to the school that will be her new home away from home this fall.
“I like the campus and they have my major,” added Laehn, who intends to pursue a degree in exercise science.
Having teammates who are also from the local area was also a plus for Laehn. Other current Yellowjackets players include E-S grad Dana Karlstad, Augusta’s Allie Nelson and Katie Boone of Mindoro, making carpooling to and from Superior a potential option.
“The girls were very welcoming,” Laehn said.
However, UW-Superior’s decision this spring to leave the WIAC following the 2014-15 season after over 100 years in the league almost pushed Laehn to change her mind.
The university opted to exit the league in an effort to cut down on travel costs and to compete against institutions with similar enrollments. Instead, Superior will join the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, a move that was approved in early May, beginning with the 2015-16 season.
Laehn says she was initially disappointed with the decision because it meant she may not be able to play close to home at schools like UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout. But the switch will mean some shorter bus rides for the Yellowjackets as they will now play teams from schools close by, such as the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., and Northland College in Ashland.
After battling through various injuries during her prep days, Laehn said she was excited to start off her collegiate career without any nagging aches or pains.
An ankle injury she battled through this past season healed well. Laehn said the broken bone really wasn’t really a factor even as the Panthers clawed their way into the sectional finals.
“The last couple games my injury didn’t really bother me at all,” she said.
Not ready to end their season, the Gilmanton girls pulled off three victories over higher-seeded teams in the playoffs early this spring to face eventual state champion Barneveld in the sectional final.
“I knew we were capable of it, I just didn’t expect it,” said Laehn of picking up a regional title her senior year. “I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.”