Whitnall's Ashley Markowiak sprinted to the top in 2012-13
Senior guard on NOW's All-Suburban unit
With a comparatively small starting lineup, the 2012-13 Whitnall girls basketball team primarily used an up-tempo, open-court style of play.
That worked out beautifully for senior guard Ashley Markowiak.
"We played a fast-paced game," Markowiak said. "We were smaller, but we were able to out-run a lot of teams, and that helped us. I love the open court, because I can use my quickness."
Head coach Keith Larson added, "She excels in the open court, driving to the basket and scoring in transition. She can score off the dribble. She is good at generating offense in those situations."
Added outside shot
Markowiak had always been good at driving to the hoop, but this season, she added another weapon - the outside shot.
"I did develop a better shot, and I did hit a couple of 3's," she said.
That repertoire helped her average 16.4 points this season while shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor, but those were not her only contributions to the Falcons.
She also averaged 3.3 steals, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists to lead Whitnall to a 12-6 record in the Woodland Conference Eastern Division and a 16-8 overall mark.
"Her all-around game improved," Larson said, "and she had a well-rounded season."
In recognition of her many accomplishments for Whitnall, Markowiak is a part of the 2012-13 NOW Newspapers All-Suburban Team.
Made team better
"Right from the beginning, she had a solid year," Larson said of Markowiak, who was also the Woodland East player of the year. "She made the team better when she was on the court, and she gave the other players more opportunities."
Her importance to the team was clearly shown at mid-season when she was sidelined for about four games with a heel injury.
The Falcons had started 7-1, including 5-0 in the Woodland, but her absence, along with other injuries and illnesses throughout the lineup, led to a 1-6 stretch.
When Markowiak and some others finally returned, the Falcons ran off an eight-game winning streak that brought them to just one game behind South Milwaukee in the Woodland East standings.
"The injuries were our downfall," Markowiak said, "but when we got everybody back, we played team basketball again."
Markowiak said the team concept was vital.
"We had great team chemistry on and off the court," she added. "We had a bunch of team get-togethers, like sleepovers and movie nights."
Markowiak has played competitive basketball since she joined the YMCA while in first grade. Starting in fifth grade, she played on her St. Gregory the Great squad.
After coming to Whitnall High School, she was promoted to varsity late in her freshman season and stayed there the rest of her career, starting the past two years.
On All-Star team
She never played in the attention-getting venue of AAU basketball, but her senior season at Whitnall opened enough eyes across the state for her to be named to the Wisconsin Coaches Association Division 2 All-Star Game.
She will play on the South team in June in Wisconsin Dells, and she will see a familiar face on the sidelines - Larson, who is the head coach of that unit.
"That is awesome," she said about Larson being the head coach. "He was my high school coach, and now he's my all-star coach. He really helped me get better."
Larson is looking forward to coaching Markowiak one more time.
"That will be fun," he said. "We will have a couple of practices here before going to the Dells, and then a couple of scrimmages there. It will be interesting to see how Ashley plays in that type of environment."
Off to Oshkosh
After that, Markowiak is off to the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she has signed to play soccer and major in physical education or physical therapy.
She did not, however, rule out trying to play basketball there as well, because she does feel just at home on the court as on the soccer field.
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