Grafton sophomore guard, Port senior forward again named to All-North Shore first team in girls' basketball
This season’s All-North Shore Conference first team in girls’ basketball looks strikingly similar to last year’s version.
Four of the five members of the top squad were selected for a second straight year, including Grafton sophomore Hannah Belanger and Port Washington senior Amanda Baierl.
Grafton’s Chloe Doring was named to the second team in the coaches’ voting, and Port’s Karley Lehtikangas and Kate Lemkuil received honorable mention.
Belanger again led the Black Hawks in scoring, averaging 18.4 points per game. She often drove the lane to score or draw fouls and shot 76.5% at the free-throw line, making 88 of 115 attempts.
Belanger shot 44.5% from the field overall, including 32% behind the three-point arc.
“She’s a pure scorer who can put the team on her back,” Grafton coach Mike Grzesiak said.
Belanger’s stats across the board are nearly identical to her freshman season, when she averaged 18.2 points per game. Her consistency is telling, Grzesiak said, given opposing teams designed defenses to stop Belanger.
“As a freshman, nobody knows about you. As a sophomore, everybody knows about you,” Grzesiak said.
Belanger also averaged 4.6 rebounds and five deflections per game.
Already with more than 850 points in her career, Belanger could reach the 1,000-point milestone midway through her junior season.
Baierl, at 6 feet tall, was Port’s dominant force inside. She averaged 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and made 72 of 98 free throws (73.5%).
Port coach Jakob Wahl said Baierl improved statistically from last season among other all-conference players.
“It all comes back to her putting time in the offseason,” he said.
Baierl showed her force in the Pirates’ regional win over Brown Deer, scoring 21 points and ruling the lane on both ends of the court.
Besides her numbers, Baierl was a team leader.
“She was always encouraging others on the team, making sure the attitude and enthusiasm was in the right spot at practice and also was a vocal leader for us,” Wahl said.
For Grafton, Doring played some of her best ball on the defensive end.
“She always guarded the opponent’s best player regardless of their size,” Grzesiak said.
Later in the season, Doring focused on her offense and led the Hawks in scoring a couple of times when Belanger was getting double and triple-teamed. She averaged 10.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
“Statistically and from last season, she improved tremendously,” Grzesiak said.
The senior was also one of the Hawks’ leaders.
“Chloe set the tone for us. She kind of kept everybody together, just leading by example,” Grzesiak said.
“She came to practice every day and did what you had to do to get ready for a game, and the other kids followed suit.”
For Port, Lehtikangas served as an outside scoring threat. She scored 8.2 points per game and led the team with 36 three-point baskets.
“It’s really great to see her with that recognition. She put a lot of time in the last couple of years and really wanted to be a good basketball player,” Wahl said.
Lehtikangas played varsity ball for four years.
“She knew what it took to be successful. Along with Amanda, she had a great work ethic, too,” Wahl said.
Lemkuil, a junior, averaged 7.7 points per game and was second on the team with 17 three-point baskets.
“She was pretty consistent throughout the entire year, around the seven to 10-point range,” Wahl said.
The coach said it’s nice to see Lemkuil’s development from playing on the freshman team and then junior varsity.
“She’ll work hard over the summer. It will be great to see what she can do for us next year,” Wahl said.