Waukon girls basketball team returns 11 letterwinners as new head coach Greg Criswell takes the helm for the 2017-2018 campaign

2017-2018 Waukon girls basketball returning letterwinners ... Left to right - Front row: Berklee Hanson, Aubree Cota, Ally Goltz, Maddie Ahlstrom, Molly Brodahl. Back row: Lauren Griffith, Sydney Ross, Brigid Berns, McKenzie Cooper, Carley Sweeney, Grace Howe.

2017-2018 Waukon girls basketball freshman through senior team members ... Left to right - Front row: Annika Headington, Alison Sherman, Regan Griffith, Bailey Shafer, Olivia Byrnes, Madelyn Mellick, Ella Hermeier, Maya Bossom. Second row: Mia Strub, Hailey Regan, Aubree Cota, Grace Howe, Ally Goltz, Maddie Ahlstrom, Molly Brodahl. Back row: Berklee Hanson, Lauren Griffith, Sydney Ross, Brigid Berns, McKenzie Cooper, Betsy Anderson, Carley Sweeney, Margaret Wacker, Faith Palmer. Not pictured: Abigail Shelton.

The past year has offered some trying moments for the Waukon girls basketball program, with some unique transitions in the coaching ranks - the permanence of one nobody ever hopes to have to deal with. After playing to just a 2-6 start to last season, the first of those coaching transitions took place during the holiday break and eventually played out to an 11-11 season record, with the return of all but one of those players from last season looking to improve on that mark during their 2017-2018 campaign following another coaching transition in the off-season.

But even before the Waukon basketball girls take to the court for the first time this season, the program is dealing with yet another transition and a loss that no amount of points or lock-down defense can overcome, as long-time junior varsity and varsity assistant coach Dave Schoeberlein passed away unexpectedly earlier this school year following complications from a surgical procedure. Schoeberlein served the Waukon girls basketball program in that varsity assistant/junior varsity coaching role his entire career at Waukon that spanned nearly three and a half decades.

“I did not know him very well, but we had become friends in the short period that I knew him,” new Waukon girls basketball coach Greg Criswell said, having just met Schoeberlein this past summer when he first came to Waukon after being hired to assume the girls basketball helm. “I know he really enjoyed coaching the girls...he just did not like some of the politics and other distractions that came along with the job! He will be sorely missed!”

Criswell comes to the Waukon program with his own extensive list of coaching experience that includes seven years as a head coach for girls basketball, first at Seymour before a five-year stint at Montezuma that saw him compile a 104-14 record and guide three teams to conference championships and trips to the State Tournament in the early 1990s before he pursued a career in school administration, later adding one more season of coaching at Van Meter in 2010. Most recently, he served as an assistant varsity boys basketball coach at Winterset and has also coached five years at the high school club level in the off-season with such squads as the All Iowa Attack, Kingdom Hoops and the Des Moines Dragons.

The Indians were scheduled to open their season with a non-conference home match-up with intra-county hoop squad Kee Tuesday, November 21 before also getting to open their Northeast Iowa Conference schedule at home against New Hampton Friday, December 1. The basketball Tribe will then play Hudson at Upper Iowa University in Fayette Saturday, December 2 before returning home to play Caledonia, MN Thursday, December 7 and then traveling to Oelwein Friday, December 8.

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