FREEDOM, Wis. (NBC 26) — Led by two future Division I college players - Gabby Johnson and future UW-Green Bay Phoenix Callie Genke - Freedom girls basketball has a legitimate chance to win its first ever state championship this season.
But the path there will be more difficult than expected.
The Irish are one of several teams moving up to a higher division this year; this is because many larger schools in areas like Milwaukee and Madison opted out of the season, forcing the WIAA to re-align divisions.
Freedom will move from Division 3 to Division 2, where it will face teams like powerhouse Notre Dame and West De Pere, which has an enrollment nearly twice the size of Freedom's.
"There hasn't been a ton of explanation (from the WIAA)," head coach Mike Vander Loop said. "(That) to me, personally, has been a little disappointing. I think the WIAA could have been more transparent."
"But we're not complaining about it. We'll take any challenge that's laid in front of us," he added.
Freedom's top players say the move has not changed their outlook on the chase for a state championship.
"It was a big shocker at first but it's just like all the COVID stuff," Genke said. "You adapt to it and now we're ready and we're gonna get prepared for being in Division 2."
"Going to Division 2 we're kind of the underdogs," added Johnson. "Whoever we play it's gonna be high-quality basketball and we're just excited excited to play some high quality basketball and in the end we're just going play hard and play every game like it's our last."