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Youth Movement: Trio of sophomores lead the way for first place West De Pere Phantoms

Youth Movement: Trio of sophomores lead the way for first place West De Pere Phantoms
Posted at 10:34 PM, Jan 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-26 23:42:28-05

DE PERE — The West De Pere Phantoms girls basketball team is off to a terrific start this year, as they sit atop the Bay conference (15-4, 8-1).

Normally when you think of the top basketball programs in the state they’re pretty senior heavy, but this squad has a youth movement that puts them in a spot to be a contender for years to come.

“They are excited about right now, which is the great part,” said Phantoms head coach Chris Abaray. “As excited as they are about the future they are really focused on the moment at hand.”

It’s hard to deny the success the Phantoms are having this season. A key part of that is point guard Faith Walder along with guards Madisyn Berggren and Ella Francois.

“It’s been fun to watch them grow and remembering them when they were younger kids and seeing them now as high school kids and just kind of seeing them grow into young ladies,” Abraray said. “It’s been fun to go through the process with them. We’re excited about the future but we think we can do some things this year.”

The surprising part is, those three, they’re all sophomores. The trio leads the team in points per game and last year played significant minutes as freshman. Walder is averaging 14.1 points per game this season, Berggren is next with 14 and Francois with 11.3.

“Confidence and we’ve learned a lot of where our growths and how to use our growths for different people,” said point guard Faith Walder about the growth from their freshman year. Madison’s great at hitting her threes, Ella’s an amazing attacker and I think we work well off each other.”

Speaking of working well off of each other, it definitely helps that the trio are great friends who have been playing together for quite some time, since third grade.

“Ella and I were just looking back at clips the other night and we were watching each other play and it was crazy, we can’t even dribble but we’re just having fun out there and then we come back and we’re all sophomores now, we’re all playing together still, it’s so cool,” Walder said.

“We started basketball in third grade and always stuck with it,” said Francois. “We’re always working out, pushing each other, practicing and in school we’re buddies, really tight. It’s a cool friendship, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

And all that experience together has helped them become the best version of themselves, with plenty of room to grow.

“They definitely make me better everyday,” said Berggren. “They’re definitely pushing me to be my best because they know what I can do.”

The trio is excited about the future and has many goals, such as all three reaching 1,000 career points someday. 

“We’ve definitely set a goal of making it to the state championship because that’s been something that we’ve definitely dreamt of since we were little,” Berggren said. “I just think it would be great to actually see that happen.”

But those are future goals and those three along with the rest of their team feel like they can make a lot of noise this year.

“I think we have a lot to look forward to and I think we just need to find in ourselves that we’re capable of more than we think we are and bring it everyday and just work hard and keep working,” said Walder.