Laehn returns to guide Wolves program in positive direction
A familiar face has returned to coach the Elmwood/Plum City girls basketball team.
Shaughn Laehn, Plum City high school social studies teacher and dean of students at the Middle/High School, coached EPC's girls basketball team in the early 1990's for six years, and has reclaimed his head coaching position.
"I saw an opportunity to continue to move our sports co-op in a positive direction," Laehn said.
Elmwood and Plum City united their girls basketball programs in the 2014-2015 season, and the co-op has yet to produce a winning season.
EPC has grown accustomed to six- or seven-win seasons, but Laehn plans to alter the team's norms.
"We lack the height of previous EPC teams," Laehn said, "so in order to take advantage of our strengths, I hope to work on transitioning to more of a full-court pressing and fast-breaking style of play."
Laehn said he also hopes to see improvements in his new team's field goal and free throw percentages. Last year, the Wolves shot 50.2 percent from the line, 30.1 percent from two-point range, and 16.8 percent behind the three-point arc.
After just two games under Laehn's direction, EPC has seen improvements in all three shooting categories.
So far this year, the 1-1 Wolves are shooting 64.4 percent from the free-throw line, 35.3 percent from two-point range, and are 36 percent proficient in three pointers.
Laehn has made some obvious changes to the way his Wolves team does things, but said, "I stress that just because Coach Gilles and I have the players do some things differently than they have done in the past, does not mean that we think it was done wrong. It simply means there is more than one way to get things done."
So far, Laehn believes his players have adjusted well to the changes he's put in place.
"Team chemistry is improving, and everyone has a positive attitude," Laehn said. "The girls are working hard to be the best they can be."
Senior Ellie Funk said the team's top goal for this year is for new coaches and players to adjust to one another.
"We aren't going to have success if we aren't all on the same page," Funk said. "After the first two weeks, I have already seen improvement towards that goal."
Funk led the 2016-17 Wolves with 45 assists on the season (the next best season total was 16), and already has 12 assists after the first two games of this year's season.
The dynamic, 5'7" guard who's one of her team's primary ball handlers but can also pose as a threat down low in the post position, said she wants to have a memorable senior year.
Funk said that a memorable season may not always mean winning games; she recognizes that there will be close games that the Wolves may not come out on top of. To her, a memorable season means, "No matter what, we end every game knowing we gave it our all.
"When the season ends, I don't want to have any regrets."
Funk's fellow senior, Lexi Diesing, also does not want to end her high school basketball career with any regrets, and so far, she's playing with the mentality of leaving it all out on the court.
The 5'9" forward contributed 18 points, nine rebounds and three blocks to her team's victory over Gilmanton on Nov. 14, and continued to add to her personal success on Monday, Nov. 20 against the Eleva-Strum Cardinals. Although the Wolves lost 52-65 to the Cardinals, Diesing recorded her first double-double of the season with 11 rebounds and 10 points. She also contributed three steals, one block and one assist to her team's effort against the Cardinals.
Diesing said that with the loss of six seniors from the 2016-17 season, she and her teammates will have to "step up to fill their spots."
Senior Jessica Martin is one key player who will play a much larger role this season than she did last. The 5'4" guard walked into this season only having played in 12 of the Wolves' 2016-17 22 games, and quickly proved that she belonged on the varsity squad.
Although Martin went 0-4 in shot attempts in her team's first two games, she contributed to her team's efforts in almost every other category with nine rebounds, six assists, four steals and one block.
Martin is looking forward to a fun season with her teammates that will hopefully conclude with the team's first winning record since its co-op.
With the leadership of his team's five seniors (Tayler Whipple and Hannah Feuker, the team's other two seniors, were unavailable for comment), Laehn said Wolves fans can expect to see "a positive, hustling team that shows discipline and never gives up."