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Eighteen of the best teams not to make the girls’ 68-team Dream Tournament
NIT Girls
Every March Madness tournament has its snubs. Our SW Wisconsin Dream Tournament is no different. Here is what a "NIT" bracket of 18 of the best teams not to make the 68-team Girls Dream Tournament bracket might look like.

The same as our boys’ Dream Tournament, every deserving all-time great girls team couldn’t fit in our 68-team bracket. As a selection committee we researched more than a hundred girls teams for and tried to pick the 68-most deserving based on the criteria we created, including minimum one team per school in our coverage area, and not strictly the 68-best. Unfortunately, there were still snubs.

Here are 18 of the best teams that didn’t earn a place in our girls’ Dream Tournament for a variety of reasons, nine sectional qualifiers and nine that lost in regional play.

2012 Black Hawk 
(22–3, 11–1 SRE co-champion)
Sophomore sensation Jen Wellnitz (14 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 4.9 apg) won the first of three straight Black Hawk Player of the Year awards while leading the Warriors to a share of the Six Rivers East title and a regional championship, but couldn’t get by league rival Barneveld in the sectional semifinals, falling 43-40. Wellnitz went on to become the program’s all-time leading scorer and later played at D1 UW–Green Bay. Seniors Kate Quinn (8.5 ppg,), Kate Powers (6 ppg) and Chaest Shager (4.7 ppg) were also key contributors on the 2012 team.

2020 Mineral Point 
(21-4, 13-1 SWAL co-champion)
This year’s Pointers shared the SWAL conference title with Cuba City, then won the rubber match by defeating the Cubans 62–50 in a D4 regional final before suffering an 86–40 sectional semifinal loss to two-time defending state champion and undefeated La Crosse Aquinas. Senior Nicole Johnson (12.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.4 spg, SWAL MVP) and sophomore Ella Champbers (9.8 ppg) and Mallory Lindsey (9 ppg) were first-team All-SWAL picks for coach Michael Keyes’ team.

2009 Richland Center
(19-4, 10-0 SWC champion)
Senior Dani Templin (16.1 ppg, 2009 SWC MVP) and sophomore Alyssa Krajco (9.8 ppg, 2011 SWC MVP) led coach Steve Board’s Hornets to an undefeated conference title and a D2 regional title with a 42–30 victory over Reedsburg before a 63–53 sectional semifinal loss to Monroe. Templin went on to be a four-year starter at Viterbo University and Kracjo became a three-year starter at UW–Platteville.

1997 Black Hawk  
(18-6, 11-5 State Line League)
After a fourth-place finish in the State Line League, coach Dan Rayburn’s Warriors caught fire in the postseason winning a regional title over SLL champion Barneveld 51–43 before another upset of Mineral Point in the sectional semifinal 60–53. Black Hawk ended the year with a 48–34 sectional final loss to Hilbert. Juniors Susanna Bussan (13.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg) and Becky Halverson (7.5 ppg) were first-team All-SLL selections for the Warriors.

2004 Southwestern 
(17-7, 9-3 SWAL 2 runner-up)
Senior Lisa Wubben (13.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 4.3 spg) was named the SWAL 2 Player of the Year after leading coach John Klein’s Wildcats to a second-place league finish and a D3 regional title with a 57–56 upset of top-seeded Cuba City. Southwestern’s season ended with a 51–27 sectional semifinal loss to Clinton. Wubben and fellow senior Connie Droeszler (7.8 ppg) went on to play at UW–Platteville.

2016 Platteville 
(17-8, 8-2 SWC champion)
Seniors Sierra Brecke (20.6 ppg, SWC MVP), Claire Tashner (9.7 ppg) and Rachel Emendorfer (5.3 ppg, 3.5 apg), along with sophomore Skye Digman (10.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg), led coach Brandon Temperly’s Hillmen to a conference title and a D3 regional title before a 70-52 sectional semifinal loss to SWC rival Prairie du Chien.

1989 Bloomington 
(18-6, 13-3 Blackhawk runner-up)
Jody Bloyer and Paula Nies led coach Jeff Savatski’s Bluejays to a 38–35 upset victory over undefeated Benton in a sub-regional game and later beat Highland 63–58 to win a Class C regional title before a 41–31 sectional semifinal loss to Southwestern.

2014 Belmont
(17-8, 7-3 SRW runner-up)
Cousins junior Keegan Kamps (14.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and senior Jordyn Kamp (5 ppg, 6.8 rgp), and sophomore Alie Klein (7.4 ppg) led coach Kaleen McGettigan’s Braves to a runner-up finish in the Six Rivers West and a D5 regional title with a 52–47 win over SRW rival Potosi. Belmont’s season ended with a 52–18 sectional semifinal loss to eventual D5 state champion Barneveld. 

2007 Dodgeville
(16-9, 6-4 3rd in the SWC)
Senior Chelci Reynolds (12.7 ppg, 4.3 apg) and junior Ann Tank (12.6 ppg, 3.4 spg) led coach Josh Busch’s Dodgers to a 40-30 upset of defending state champion Monroe to win a D2 regional title, then upset top-seeded Reedsburg 33–31 in a sectional semifinal before a 43–21 sectional final loss to Greendale.

2017 Richland Center
(20-3, 8-2 SWC runner-up)
Senior Brooklyn Liegel (19.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 apg) was named the SWC Player of the Year after leading coach Steve Board’s Hornets to a runner-up finish in the SWC and a berth in the D3 regional finals. All three losses came to SWC champion and D3 sectional finalist Platteville, including a 60–44 regional final setback. Junior volleyball standout Madison Rizner (19 ppg) and senior Cassidy Whitney (7.6 ppg) were also key contributors for the Hornets.

1983 Lancaster
(19-2, 14-0 Southern 8 champion)
Seniors Kim Noble (1st-team AC) and Carol Wright (honorable mention AC), along with juniors Deb Ihm (1st-team AC) and Lisa Stelpflug (1st-team AC), led coach Jewel Henke’s Flying Arrows to and undefeated Southern 8 conference title, then beat conference rival Cuba City for the third time that season in the Class B regional semifinals before a season-ending loss 51–32 loss to Prairie du Chien in the regional final.

1993 Highland
(19-3, 14-2 Blackhawk champion)
Senior first-team All-Blackhawk selections Lori Gottschall and Robin McCarthy led the #7-ranked Cardinals to a conference title, but Highland was knocked out of the Division 4 playoffs with a 65–49 regional semifinal to conference rival and eventual state qualifier Bloomington (21–4).

2011 Highland
20-5, 10-2 SRW runner-up)
Senior Kendall Wienkes (13.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 3.4 apg, 3.4 spg) was named the SRW Player of the Year after leading the Cardinals to a share of the SRW title and a berth in the D4 regional finals before a 55–41 loss to SRW rival River Ridge. Freshman Leigh Drury (11.9 ppg), junior Taylor Wienkes (10.6 ppg) and senior Carlee Yanna (9.8 ppg) were also named first-team All-SRW. The 6’1” Wienkes went on to play D1 volleyball at Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne.

2008 Mineral Point
(19-3, 12-2 SWAL runner-up)
After a second-place finish in the SWAL, coach Chuck Bennett’s Pointers were defeated in the D4 regional finals by rival Cuba City for a second straight year, 62–54. Seniors Raeann Bennett (15 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Liz Lawigner (15.5 ppg, 5.7 apg, 5.5 spg) were first-team SWAL 2 selections in 2008.

2013 Platteville
(18-5, 8-2 SWC champion)
Seniors Julia Lawinger (10.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, SWC MVP), Elisa Bilderback (14.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Stephanie Philipps (8 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and sophomore Cassie Hamer (9.3 ppg) led the coach Wayne Jentz’s Hillmen to their first conference title in program history. Unfortunately, Lawinger tore her ACL at the end of the regular season, and after a first-round bye, Platteville was knocked out of the D3 playoffs by Nekoosa 53–25 in a regional semifinal.

2018 Potosi
(18-5, 10-2 SRW co-champion)
Senior Abby Kaiser (23.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4 apg) led the 2018 Chieftains to a share of the Six Rivers West title and berth in the D5 regional finals before a 54–39 loss to league foe River Ridge ended the season. Kaiser broke Potosi’a all-time scoring record and is currently playing at D3 UW–Oshkosh. Seniors Sophie Langkamp (14.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Hannah Udelhoven (7 rpg) and junior Amber Udelhoven (9.4 ppg) were also key contributors.

1995 Iowa-Grant 
(16-6, 10-2 SWAL 2 co-champ)
Seniors Mary Bunker (18.6 ppg, 8 rpg, 5 apg, 3 spg, SWAL 2 MVP) and Rebecca Huza helped coach Melissa Martinez’s Panthers win a share of the SWAL 2 title, only the second in program history. SWAL rival Mineral Point ended I–G’s season in the D3 regional semifinals 60–58. Bunker finished her career as the Panthers’ all-time leading scorer with 1,370 points, then went on to play D1 college basketball at Illinois State and later coached her alma mater. 

2017 Benton 
(15-9, 8-2 SRW runner-up)
Junior Emma Lawrence (19.8 ppg, 11 rpg, two-time SRW MVP), along with seniors Lilly Carver (10.7 ppg), Kayla Doughtery (8.5 ppg) and Ally Jensen (5.4 ppg) led Benton to a second-place finish in the Six Rivers West. The Zephyrs’ season ended with a 55–40 loss to Shullsburg and their former teammates from the Benton/Shullsburg co-op. Lawrence finished her career as Benton’s all-time leading scorer and is currently a member of the volleyball and track and field teams at UW–La Crosse.

For more coverage and team capsules of the girls' teams in the North and East regions of the 68-team Girls Dream Tournament, get your copy of this week Platteville Journal, Herald Independent, Republican Journal, Fennimore Times, Tri-County Press or Richland Observer.