Lena’s Eva Brooks is M&O MVP

Mike Wieting

It was a wild season for M&O hoops over this past winter. As many already know, one of our local teams went on a tear through conference play, carrying a 15-1 final regular season readout, and by force of will blazed a path all the way through the post season to the Division 5 state tournament, ending their run at the state final match and falling just short in overtime. They of course are the Lena Wildcats and with the 2023-24 All-Conference selections for the M&O the Wildcats took the most shares with two of their standout athletes making the first team list as well as one of them securing the M&O Most Outstanding Player of the Year. 

That Most Outstanding Player of the Year award went to none other than Lena Junior Eva Brooks. And to those who had the chance to see her play this year it should come as no surprise. The tall and powerful center exerted her will on her conference opponents, dominating the lane offensively and defensively while also displaying true dead eye ability from behind the arc. Brooks was a multi-threat opponent that could not be underestimated. She led the conference in PPG, RPG, assists per game and blocks. While also being 2nd in FG% & FT% and top 7 in steals and 3 PT %.

Brooks ended the regular season with 19.8 points per game while shooting 52% from the field. She carried a 70% free throw percentage and hit 31 three pointers. She wrapped up her season with 614 points made. In the rebound department she averaged 12.1 rebounds per game, pulling down 131 offensive rebounds and 245 defensive rebounds. She also piled up 109 assists for 3.5 assist per game and added up 83 steals and 102 blocks for a 3.3 blocks per game average.

“Eva being chosen as the Most Outstanding Player of the conference shows her athleticism & capabilities of being a complete player,” said Lena Head Coach Tim Goldschmidt. “She is an all-around player that is hard to contain as she is multi-purpose. She is a very hard worker that gives her all to the sport year around. 

Brooks led her team by example and that example has always been one that builds and encourages her team to grow. 

“She is very thoughtful and unselfish player who is always encouraging and involving her teammates to be successful,” said Goldschmidt. “It is an honor to coach her because she is not only a great athlete but a super person and student who is very caring.”

Lena had more than just Brooks’ talent on the court this season, they had a full starting lineup that all played to an extremely high level of competition. One of the key components of this team was the on-court communication and chemistry that Brooks shared with teammate and first teamer Madilyn Thomson.

“Eva and Madi read each other so well and are so hard to defend,” said Goldschmidt. “Eva’s outside game and ball handling skills have progressed from last year which has made her very hard to stop and when you emphasize to do that, she will distribute to her teammates, who produce because of her belief in them.”

Wildcat sophomore guard and forward Madi Thomson also found her name on the first team list this season. Thomson’s ability to find herself on fast breaks was undeniable throughout the year. It was many a time viewers had the opportunity to see this exceptionally court smart sophomore player slashing her way across mid court before finishing at the hoop with an always accurate scoring hit. Her lane presence was always a major part of the Lena offense, and she definitely made that presence known.

By season’s end Thomson had amassed 474 points. She averaged 15.3 points per game and had a 60% field goal percentage. She hit 85 free throws for a 50% make rate and piled up 83 offensive rebounds and 129 defensive rebounds for a 6.8 per game average. She had 103 assists, averaging 3.33 a game while getting 93 steals and 37 blocks.

“Madi is a unique player who leads our offense and plays at only one speed, which makes it hard to believe how she keeps under control,” said Goldschmidt. “She also is a hard matchup, as she can also play inside when needed forcing a dynamic duo that is very hard to stop inside.”

But Thomson’s offensive play is only half of what makes her such a threat on the court. Her feisty and hawk like ability to lock down opposing teams leading scorers turned out to be a nightmare for opponents this season.

“Madi also is the defensive player always asked to guard the opposing players leading scorers and normally contains them,” said Goldschmidt. “She has the versatility to guard a point guard, shooting guard or post player. She also is a great student and community role model who like Brooks is thoughtful & unselfish, always involving others in her success to help others obtain their own.”

There’s no denying that the Wildcats have been truly exciting to watch develop into a powerhouse this season. And that show will go on, as Lena is a relatively young team. Both Brooks and M. Thomson return next season along with nearly their whole squad. Minus two very talented players in Alabama Lambert and Whitney Potter who will graduate at the end of the school year.

“It has been a pleasure to coach both of these girls and I am looking forward to and honored to see where their game will progress for next year,” said Goldschmidt. “They are very coachable and emphasize team play which makes our program very successful, every coach should have the opportunity to be able to coach not only great players but great students and community role models like these two.”

The 10-6 M&O third place Crivitz Wolverines came away with one of the major honors on this season’s all conference list as their first team selection Kiya Brand was named the season’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. The truly standout freshman athlete from Crivitz has been showing her skills this season, as a soon to be unstoppable force in the Wolverine arsenal. Her quick striking characteristics and unassuming stature have left many teams this season wondering what just happened as they leave the site of competition. This hard-working freshman is quickly carving her name into the pages of the historic Crivitz sports book.

“Despite being generally quiet she has a solid presence on the floor,” said Crivitz Head Coach Brett Meyers. “She loves basketball, and all of her talent comes from the tons of time she puts in during the off season. She does exactly what I ask of her. But what’s unique about Kiya is that she goes 100 percent all the time. We all want to see that in a player.”

Meyers continued, “Kiya brings a solid court presence to our team.  She is a student of the game and understands what has to happen in order for our team to produce results.  She’s also a lock down defender which was noticed by every team we played. She also is overall one of the best shooters I’ve had in the years I’ve coached. Which I guarantee comes with practice.  I’m not 100 percent sure on the number but I believe she has logged close to 70,000 shots under our 10,000-shot program in the last two years. Having the ability to score from anywhere makes our team that much more difficult to defend.”

Brand wrapped up her 2023-23 conference campaign with 17.3 points per game with a total of 450 points on the season. She carried a 39% field goal percentage and made 75 free throws for a 63% free throw average. She also struck from long range 46 times for a 35% completion rate. She averaged 3.8 rebounds per game with 36 offensive and 63 defensive boards while getting 74 assists 111 steals and four blocks.

“Kiya brings a new level of intensity and skill to our team,” said Meyers. “She makes her teammates better and her will to play hard and win has become infectious.  We are excited to work on skills over the summer and bring that level of intensity into next season.  What I’m most excited about is the potential I see in her.  I don’t believe she has a limit to how good she can be, and I feel very fortunate to be able to coach her.  I’ve only had a handful of players in my career like Kiya.”

The Coleman Cougars ended their conference season 13-3 and in second place in the standings. A team that could play up to any challenge the Cougars showed they had a winning combination on the court, especially in the final days of conference play when they handed the Lena Wildcats their only loss of the season 53-43. One of the major components to the success of this Cougar squad was their first team senior selection, Kiersten Jensen.

“Kiersten has been a pleasure to coach for her high school career,” said Coleman Head Coach Todd Olsen. “It has been great to see her improve every year at all aspects of the game and as a person in the community and school.  She is a great example of how hard work pays off.”

Jensen ended the 2023-24 season with 13.5 points per game while toting 338 total points on the year. She carried a 36% field goal percentage while hitting 37 free throws for a 72% make rate. Jensen also struck from behind the arc 55 times. Off the boards Jensen pulled in 38 offensive and 89 defensive rebounds for 5.1 rebounds a game while adding up 40 assists, 31 steals and five blocks on the year.

Jensen has also been a great student and community activist as noted by Coach Olsen

“Kiersten was selected as a captain by her coaches this season and also to the All-State Academic Team by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association,” said Olsen.  “She currently has a 4.0 grade point average, is class valedictorian and she also volunteers for several local organizations including youth basketball.”

Jensen has also been selected to the Wisconsin Elite Academic ALL-STATE team.

As listed on their website, “This will be similar to what the WBCA has produced in the past, incorporating more robust academic review and incorporating on-court performance as well. This recognition continues to be for seniors only. This is the best of the best combining all aspects of what it means to be a student-athlete. Nominees are reviewed by a selection committee and only 15 boys and 15 girls will be selected for the Elite Academic All-State team. These 15 boys and 15 girls' players will be recognized at the WBCA All-State Banquet on April 14th and receive plaques recognizing their accomplishment.”

The Gillett Tigers who ended the season 10-6 alongside the Crivitz Wolverines also added a first teamer to this season prestigious list in junior Cilena Guns

 “Cilena was our go to person on offense,” said Gillett Head Coach Mike Kaczmarek. “When we needed to get a goal, we would run a set to get her a scoring opportunity.  We are looking forward to seeing her play next year.

Guns led her team in points per game and rebounds per game while adding up some impressive numbers in all categories. 

She finished the season with 198 total points for a 13.2 points per game average while ending the year with a 44% field goal percentage. She hit 35 free throws for a 69% make rate and struck from behind the arc 11 times. She averaged 6.2 rebounds per game with 29 offensive and 55 defensive rebounds and added up 16 assists and 20 steals.

Also making the first team list was Oneida Nations Jaylyn Caldwell. With the help of Caldwell the Thunder hawks finished the season fifth in the rankings at 10-6.

Caldwell ended the season with 16.4 points per game and a hefty 426 total points. She had a 40% field goal average and made 80 free throws for a 66% make rate. She sunk 45 three pointers and averaged 6.3 rebound a game with 44 offensive and 108 defensives. Caldwell also added up 76 assists, nine blocks and a whopping 109 steals, a true ball hawk.

This year’s second team saw Oneida Nation take a spot with Mariah Cloud while Suring added one in Bunny Cramer. Crivitz added Lucy Gruszynski while Coleman added Vivian Kostreva. Niagara added Mallory Sanicki.

Honorable Mentions went to Rhianna Danforth and Madalyn King of Oneida Nation. Lena added Kali Fischer and Whitney Potter. Coleman posted Alyssa Hoida while Gillett Honored Audrey Pate and Hope Soper. Wausaukee’s Melody Schaal made the list while STAA’s Kate Peters also made the list.

M&O Conference Girls All-Conference 2023-24

1st Team 

+Kiya Brand-Crivitz-Freshmen, *Eva Brooks-Lena-Junior, Jaylyn Caldwell-Oneida Nation-Junior, Cilena Guns-Gillett-Junior, Kiersten Jensen-Coleman-Senior, Madilyn Thomson-Lena-Sophomore

2nd Team

Mariah Cloud- Oneida Nation–Junior, Bunny Cramer-Suring-Junior, Lucy Gruszynski-Crivitz-Junior, Vivian Kostreva-Coleman-Sophomore, Mallory Sanicki-Niagara-Junior

Honorable Mention

Rhianna Danforth-Oneida Nation-Junior, Kali Fischer-Lena-Junior, Alyssa Hoida-Coleman-Senior, Madalyn King-Oneida Nation-Junior, Audrey Pate-Gillett-Freshmen, Kate Peters-Saint Thomas-Sophomore, Whitney Potter-Lena-Senior, Melody Schaal-Wausaukee-Senior, Hope Soper-Gillett-Freshmen

*Eva Brooks of Lena was selected as the Most Outstanding Player

+Kiya Brand of Crivitz was selected as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player


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