Not often does a coaching change bring with it a level of familiarity like the one the New Berlin West girls basketball team will have this season, as longtime Viking assistant Collin Thompson takes over as head coach, while former coach Jef Radtke is staying on to serve as the top assistant.
Gone will be the usual period of adjustment that comes with a new coach, something that will benefit a New Berlin West team that should find itself again fighting for a spot near the top of the tough Woodland West.
But the Vikings will have holes to fill from last year's team that went 17-7 overall, finished tied for third in the Woodland West at 12-4 and dropped a close game to eventual state champion Eisenhower in the WIAA Division 2 regional final.
"We lost three senior starters, two of which were four-year varsity players," Thompson said. "We will be solid defensively as in past years, and we will compete with the upper-tier teams in the Woodland West."
Radtke went 52-22 in his second stint as New Berlin West's head coach from 2013-16. Thompson served as the program's junior varsity coach from 2008-13 before serving as a varsity assistant the last three seasons.
The Vikings must fill the gaps left by the graduation of Claire Radtke (second team All-Woodland West, 9.5 points, 3.5 assists), Sarah Meleski (honorable mention All-Woodland West, 6.5 points, 3.6 rebounds) and Liz Liska (5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds).
Leading the way for New Berlin West will be junior Alyssa Nelson, one of two returning first-team All-Woodland West selections. The 5-foot-7 guard averaged 13.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 43.5 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore.
The Vikings also bring back honorable mention All-Woodland West forward Morgan Henrichs, who averaged 5.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists last season.
Junior forward Maddie Fritz (6.5 points, 4.1 rebounds) and senior guard Ewelina Schlomann (5.8 points) will likely take on bigger roles, while junior guard Lauren Kunz, senior forward Lily Adkison, senior guard Skylar Berens and senior forward Ruwandi Wijenayake return as letter winners.
Newcomers to the New Berlin West varsity roster include junior guard Keelyn Berens, junior guard Lauren Meyers and junior forward Kierra Carter.
Thompson feels the Vikings will be strong with their man-to-man defense, aggressiveness and 3-point shooting. New Berlin West will have length at the wing positions, but it lacks size on the interior. Offensive efficiency and mental toughness are other areas Thompson would like to see his team work at early in the season.
Pius XI, Eisenhower, New Berlin West and Pewaukee are expected to again fill the top of the Woodland West, which is as competitive of a conference as there is in the state.
The Vikings were scheduled to open their season Nov. 15 on the road at Burlington before hosting Waukesha West on Nov. 17.