The Port girls get the gang back together

Core of sophomores has eyes on more wins

THE PORT WASHINGTON girls’ basketball team includes (front row, from left) Kaylee Elgin, Izzy Meyer, Sierra Miller, Paige Scheunemann, (back row) Abby Grisar, Hope Gilhooly, Norah Merow, Lillian Merow, Peyton Keller, Maggie Zirbes, Savanna Miller and Marietta Knepfel. Photo by Sam Arendt


Ozaukee Press staff

It took the Port Washington High School girls’ basketball team all of one game to earn its first victory of the season, and there could be many more to come for a Pirates’ program that has righted its ship.

Nearly the entire squad is back from last year’s six-win season — more victories than the Pirates had in the previous four years combined — and two of the team’s six freshmen with familiar last names will be contributing.

“The core group is back,” coach Jakob Wahl said.

Most of the returning starters are sophomores. Lillian Merow is back after leading Port with 10.4 points and 1.4 blocks per game and finishing second on the team in rebounds at 6.8 per game. She earned North Shore Conference honorable mention.

Her sister, freshman Norah, who stands 5-11, comprises the other of Port’s twin towers.

“She’s used to being the biggest person on the court so it’s been really great to have her sister there,” Wahl said of Lillian. “It gives us good practice reps that we can go size on size.”

Sophomore point guard Sierra Miller will again run the offense after averaging 5.3 points, 2.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game.

She may be dishing often to her freshman sister, Savannah.

Two pairs of sisters on the team is an advantage, Wahl said, and they mix well with the rest of the Pirates.

“They all get along very, very well. All the girls that we have, they’ve known each other for a number of years. Even though they’re freshmen, they fit in very well,” he said.

“They play a lot of basketball so they’re used to being around each other in that setting, practicing with each other away from the time we have together.”

Sophomore guard Hope Gilhooly returns after leading the Pirates in rebounds with 7.4 and assists with 2.9 per game. She was fourth in scoring with 5.7 points per game.

Sophomore forward Paige Scheunemann brings her 7.1 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game back.

“They’re good athletes and are strong playing inside and outside,” Wahl said of Gilhooly and Scheunemann.

Port’s biggest outside threat last season is back as well. Sophomore guard Maggie Zirbes led the team with 34 three-pointers and averaged 4.4 points per game. She also had 1.3 steals per game.

Port only lost starter Kayla Johnson to graduation. She was second on the team with 8.1 points per game, second in steals at 1.4 per game and third in rebounds with 5.4 per game.

Last Thursday at Sheboygan South, Wahl started the Millers, Lillian Merow, Zirbes and Gilhooly.

“I’m not sure if it will stay that way,” he said. “I think we have a lot of flexibility in what we do.”

Port held a 26-17 halftime lead and ballooned it to 15 in the second half before the Redwings clawed back to make it a 43-37 final.

“It is good to get that first one. The first game is always a challenge,” Wahl said, adding he talked to the team about the score “getting closer than it needs to.”

Savannah Miller led Port with 12 points and had four steals. Lillian Merow had nine points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, and Zirbes had nine points, shooting 3-for-7 on three-pointers. Sierra Miller had eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Paige Scheunemann had seven points.

Wahl said he also talked to his team about making an impact on the game outside of scoring.

“When everyone’s doing their part, playing their role, that’s where you’re going to see a big jump from last year,” he said.

Senior guard Sierra Ertman led the Redwings with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Sophomore guard Alayna Lloyd had 10 points, and junior forward Keeyana Judkins had eight points and 10 rebounds.

Port shot 16-for-42 (38%) while holding the Redwings to 13-for-63 (20%).

Port went 6-20 overall last season and finished 2-16 in the North Shore Conference, tied for last place with Nicolet.

The Pirates ended a playoff win drought with their first victory since 2017.

“The big thing is we want to see a jump in our wins total from where we were at last year,” Wahl said. “I don’t want to put a number on it. We’re going to take it one day at a time.”

Port was to host the Milwaukee Academy of Excellence on Tuesday, Nov. 22, before opening conference play by hosting West Bend East on Friday, Dec. 2.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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