Over the past three seasons, New Berlin West's girls basketball team has made the climb up the Woodland West standings, going from fourth place in 2014-15 to third place in 2015-16 to winning a share of the league title this past season.
It is no coicnidence the rise of the Vikings has come as Alyssa Nelson has gone from freshman contributor to breaking out as a sophomore to cementing herself as one of the best players in the area as a junior.
Nelson has been named to Now Newspapers All-Suburban team for the second consecutive season after helping the Vikings to a 20-4 record and a share of their first conference championship since 1995-96.
"I thought Alyssa had a great year," New Berlin West coach Collin Thompson said. "We asked her to take on more scoring this year, and she was able to do so increasing her points per game total. She also made significant improvement on the defensive side of the ball with her ability to use her length to get tips and deflections of shorter guards."
After averaging 5.7 points over 16 games as a freshman, Nelson scored 13.0 points per game as a sophomore. She upped her scoring average to 16.0 points this season while also raising her rebounding average from 3.5 to 4.5.
Nelson shot 55 percent from the field and connected on 43.8 percent (53 for 121) from distance.
"I think I did pretty well this year," Nelson said. "There is obviously always room for improvements, but I was pretty proud of what I did my junior year. For next year, I still want to become a better leader. That's kind of the main job as a senior. I also want to get better defensively and play every possession with a purpose."
Nelson was a major reason why New Berlin West out forth one of the best seasons in school history, including winning 16 straight games at one point. The Vikings shared the Woodland West with New Berlin Eisenhower and won a regional game over Waukesha North before dropping a heartbreaker in double overtime to eventual Division 2 state runner-up Cudahy in the regional final.
"We did a lot better than what we are giving ourselves credit for just because of the way it ended," Nelson said. "Winning conference and breaking school records is something we all should be proud of, but it is getting overlooked with the loss at the end. But overall, it was a good season."
The Vikings will graduate four senior starters, which means they will rely on Nelson to step up in a variety of ways on and off the court as a senior.
"We are looking for Alyssa to grow her leadership skills as we head into her senior year," Thompson said. "We will continue to rely on her to elevate both her offensive and defensive skills in order for our team to be successful next year. I’m looking forward to seeing this growth in her and the leadership come to the forefront next year."
In addition to Nelson earning first-team All-Suburban, New Berlin West seniors Morgan Henrichs and Ewelina Schlomann (8.0 points, 4.8 rebounds) received honorable mention honors. In his first season as head coach, Thompson received high honorable mention All-Suburban in the coaching category for his efforts in leading the Vikings to their first conference title in 21 years.
Henrichs led New Berlin West in rebounds, assists and steals, averaging 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals.
"She held us together on offense and defense," Nelson said. "A lot of times when I scored you look who gave me the ball and most of the time it was her. We are going to miss her, that's for sure."