After last year, Lightning enters state tournament with different mindset
GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- The Appleton North girls basketball team enters this year's state tournament with a much different mindset than a year ago.
The Lightning (26-0) plays Milwaukee King (25-0) on Friday in a state semifinal and unlike last season, North isn't just happy
"I definitely think our mindset this year has changed," junior Sydney Levy said. "I think last year we were happy to get there and now we're wanting to take care of business once we get there this year.
"There's definitely a change. It goes from getting to state is one thing, but winning state is another."
"Last year, we were kind of content to just be here," coach Joe Russom said. "This year, we want a little bit more."
North is led by a nucleus of players who have helped the program go a step further each year. Two years ago, North lost in a sectional semifinal and last year it made the state tournament.
To go a step further this season, it would be to at least make the state championship.
"Each year they've kind of gotten more stronger, more confident and you can see that in games where teams cut it down and we just put an end to it, we stop it right there and we just go on a run," Russom said. "That's a hallmark of a strong team."
Appleton North hasn't lost since last year's state tournament and the Lightning hopes that experience helps it this week when it shoots for a gold ball.
"I definitely think with going through last year the experience will help having been on the court and seeing the crowd and everything," Levy said. "I think we're ready this year and it will be less of a surprise and we're more prepared."
Appleton North returned much of its roster from last year, so the expectation had to be to make the state tournament again, right?
"We definitely didn't talk about it during the year but we knew in the back of our heads we were good enough to get there, so we're really happy to be practicing this week and have the opportunity to play on Friday and hopefully Saturday, too," senior Callie Pohlman said.
That's the plan and likely the expectation.
Appleton North (26-0) vs. Milwaukee King (25-0) - 6:35 p.m.
De Pere (24-2) vs. Middleton (23-3)*
Division 1 Championship Game, - 8:15 p.m.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay